Jun 18, 2011

Right-Wing Movements 101

by Matthew N. Lyons

Presentation at a political study retreat in Monroe, New York, on 5 June 2011.

I'm going to try to give you an overview of right-wing movements in the U.S. and how they've developed over the past several decades. This is not going to be comprehensive. Instead, I'll focus on a few examples of specific movements and some of the kinds of issues and dynamics that I think are important for an overall understanding of the right. But before that, let me make a few general points about the right and how I approach it.

Rightward shift since the 1970s

The United States has seen a major upsurge of right-wing movements more or less continuously since the late 1970s -- from the so-called New Right and the Reagan Revolution of thirty years ago to the Tea Party and the anti-immigrant movement of today. Part of the impact of this upsurge is that it's helped to bring about a whole rightward shift in what people consider mainstream political discourse.
To help put this in perspective, here's a little exercise: Imagine a president who expands affirmative action, actively promotes school desegregation, enacts important new laws in social welfare, environmental protection, occupational health and safety, and consumer protection, supports comprehensive health insurance and a system of guaranteed income for all citizens, and whose Justice Department opposes the RICO Act on the grounds that it gives the government powers that are much too broad and sweeping for prosecuting criminals. In 2011, such a president would be considered far to left of Barack Obama and far to the left of almost everyone in Congress. Forty years ago, such a president was called Richard Nixon. That's the shift I'm talking about.

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Jun 11, 2011

Signalfire post: "Homeland Security Department curtails home-grown terror analysis"

The leftist blog Signalfire has an interesting post about the federal government's monitoring of domestic right-wing forces.

From the article:

"The Department of Homeland Security has stepped back for the past two years from conducting its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremism, according to current and former department officials, even though law enforcement and civil rights experts have warned of rising extremist threats.

"The department has cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups, the officials and others said.

"The decision to reduce the department’s role was provoked by conservative criticism of an intelligence report on “Rightwing Extremism” issued four months into the Obama administration, the officials said. The report warned that the poor economy and Obama’s election could stir “violent radicalization,” but it was pilloried as an attack on conservative ideologies, including opponents of abortion and immigration."