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

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

Preface

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. 1 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. 2 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." 3

The analysis of the sources and consequences of the "Prejudiced Community" was developed further in subsequent publications by Raab and Gertrude Selznick. 4 They argued that ethnic tension in America "has been created largely by the changing nature of American society." 5 And they described in brief the way in which the changing position of various

-xv-

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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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