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

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

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

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

Excerpt

This particular analysis of right-wing extremism in America began to emerge in reaction to the McCarthyism of the early 1950's. Lipset's article attempting to place that phenomenon in a historical and sociological context was the first to apply the concept of the "radical right" to American social movements. That article briefly surveyed some of the earlier movements from the Know-Nothings to the Ku Klux Klan, and pointed to ways in which American values made for a greater degree of political intolerance here than in other relatively stable democratic countries.

In 1959, the two of us addressed ourselves to another aspect of the problem, the social sources of prejudice against minority groups. In this analysis, we developed the concept of the "Prejudiced Community," suggesting that analytically racism was more to be identified as discriminatory social situation than as prejudiced mind-set, however closely these two phenomena might become intertwined. We argued that as disadvantaged racial groups developed new and higher levels of aspiration, the commitments of the privileged to practices which sustained their special advantages would increasingly confront the American society with "an active social problem which would threaten . . . its functioning as an effective social order."

The analysis of the sources and consequences of the "Prejudiced Community" was developed further in subsequent publications by Raab and Gertrude Selznick. They argued that ethnic tension in America "has been created largely by the changing nature of American society." And they described in brief the way in which the changing position of various . . .

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