The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970

By Seymour Martin Lipset; Earl Raab | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
1 Political Extremism

Extremist movements designated "left" and "right" in America have frequently shared the same political technology, such as a working impatience with dissent. They have often moved in the same surface ideological directions, such as isolationism, or opposition to Wall Street banking. If there has been one constant, it has been the perception of extreme rightist movements as those which have risen primarily in reaction against the displacement of power and status accompanying change; while left- wing extremism has been seen as impelling social change, and, in that course, attempting to overthrow old power and status groups.

By that definition, extreme rightist movements have been more indigenous to America and have left more of a mark on its history. America's short life has been packed with a succession of social changes affecting or threatening displacement. There has been the shift of power from farms to cities, from agriculture to industry, from South to North and Midwest to East. There have been massive waves of immigration. There has been large-scale migration within the country. There has been the many-staged shift from slavery. The predominant positions of various regional, religious, economic, ethnic, and racial groups have continually been shaken and diminished.

Extremist politics is the politics of despair. The politics of despair in America has typically been the politics of backlash rather than that of thwarted progress. It is the politics of backlash, defined as right-wing extremism, which is the subject of this inquiry. This does not mean that

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The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xv
  • Notes xxiii
  • Chapter 1 Political Extremism 3
  • Notes 31
  • Chapter 2 Before the Civil War 34
  • Notes 67
  • Chapter 3 the Protestant Crusades from the Civil War to World War I 72
  • Notes 104
  • Chapter 4 the Bigoted Twenties 110
  • Notes 145
  • Chapter 5 the 1930's: Extremism of the Depression 150
  • Notes 202
  • Chapter 6 the 1950's: Mccarthyism 209
  • Notes 245
  • Chapter 7 the Era of the John Birch Society 248
  • Notes 282
  • Chapter 8 the Birch Society and Its Contemporaries: Social Base 288
  • Notes 333
  • Chapter 9 George Wallace and the New Nativism 338
  • Notes 373
  • Chapter 10 George Wallace: the Election and the Electorate 378
  • Notes 424
  • Chapter 11 Extremists and Extremism 428
  • Notes 482
  • Chapter 12 Political Extremism: Past and Future 484
  • Notes 515
  • Methodological Appendix to Chapter 11 517
  • Notes 522
  • General Index 525
  • Index of Proper Names 537
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