Thursday, April 4, 2013

Conservatism Is Radical Extremism

Although we thought that today's post would be "Goebbels, Limbaugh, And Ailes - Part 2, the subject will be postponed for now in favor of an examination of "Conservatism Vs. Right-Wing Conservatism," a self-contradictory term if there ever was one.

From the "first" Conservative Republican: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
A random peek at the GOP's most recent antics include:

1.  "Head of gun organization, former NRA lobbyist: 'The next election is the time to hunt Democrats.'” (
2.  "Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients. Blame the sequester." (

3.  Ken Cuccinelli, GOP nominee to succeed Va. Gov. 'Ultrasound' McDonnell wants sodomy outlawed." (

These are not stories about the thoughtful, philosophical belief system of the GOP, they are about the fact that Conservatives are fearless these days about announcing what they truly believe in.  The loss of Mitt Romney in the election last year notwithstanding, the hubris of the modern Conservative is apparent:  after years of falling for the propaganda spewing from the mouths of the Limbaughs, O'Reillys, and Hannitys, they believe that their underlying beliefs are correct, and that these beliefs can be crammed down the throats of the voters.

Conservatism has always been Radical Conservatism, just hidden under a mantle of lies and deceit to lull the masses into thinking that Conservatism is a political philosophy rather than the vast right-wing conspiracy it has always been.

From our stand-by, Wikipedia, some definitive excerpts from their entry on the Radical Right:

"Radical Right

"Especially historically in United States politics, the radical right is a political preference that leans toward extreme conservatism and anti-socialism.[1] The term was first used by social scientists in the 1950s regarding small groups such as the John Birch Society in the United States, and since has been used for similar groups worldwide.[2]

"The term 'radical' was applied to the groups because they sought to make fundamental (hence "radical") changes in institutions and remove from political life persons and institutions that threatened their values or economic interests.[3] They were called 'right-wing' primarily because of their opposition to both socialism and communism and their ultraconservative or reactionary tendencies which limited new access to power and status.[4]


There is disagreement over how right-wing movements should be described, and no consensus in terminology, although the terminology developed in the 1950s, using the words 'radical' or 'extremist' is the most commonly used. Other scholars prefer calling them simply 'The Right' or 'conservatives', which is what they call themselves. The terminology is used to describe a broad range of movements.[2] The term 'radical right' was coined by Seymour Martin Lipset in his article included in The new American Right, published in 1955.[5] The contributors to that book identified a conservative 'responsible Right' as represented by the Republican administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower and a radical Right that wished to change political and social life.[6] Further to the right of the Radical Right, they identified an ultraright. Most ultraright groups operate outside political life, call for drastic change and in extreme cases use violence against the state. These groups were seen as having developed from the Radical Right, both by adopting ideology and containing members drawn from them.[7] In The Radical Right a contrast is made between the main section of the Radical Right that developed in the 1950s and was able to obtain influence during the Reagan administration, and the related ultraright that had turned to violent acts including the Oklahoma bombing.[8]

"Ultraright groups, as defined in The Radical Right, are normally called 'far-right',[9] although they may be called 'radical right' as well.[10]

According to Clive Webb, 'Radical right is commonly, but not completely, used to describe anticommunist organizations such as the Christian Crusade and John Birch Society.... [T]he term far the label most broadly used by describe militant white supremacists.'[11]

"Paranoid Style Politics

"Two different approaches were taken by these social scientists. Historian Richard Hofstadter wrote an analysis in his influential 1964 essay 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics'. Hofstader sought to identify the characteristics of the groups. Hofstadter defined politically paranoid individuals as feeling persecuted, fearing conspiracy, and acting over-aggressive yet socialized. Hofstadter and other scholars in the 1950s argued that the major left-wing movement of the 1890s, the Populists, showed what Hofstadter said was 'paranoid delusions of conspiracy by the Money Power.'[14]

"Historians have also applied the paranoid category to other political movements, such as the conservative Constitutional Union Party of 1860.[15] Hofstadter's approach was later applied to the rise of new right-wing groups, including the Christian Right and the Patriot Movement.[12]
"Social Structure

"Sociologists Lipset and Raab were focused on who joined these movements and how they evolved. They saw the development of radical right-wing groups as occurring in three stages. In the first stage, certain groups came under strain because of a loss or threatened loss of power and/or status. In the second stage they theorize about what has led to this threat. In the third stage they identify people and groups whom they consider to be responsible. A successful radical right-wing group would be able to combine the anxieties of both elites and masses. European immigration for example threatened the elites because immigrants brought socialism and radicalism, while for the masses the threat came from their Catholicism. The main elements are low democratic restraint, having more of a stake in the past than the present and laissez-faire economics. The emphasis is on preserving social rather than economic status. The main population attracted are lower-educated, lower-income and lower-occupational strata. They were seen as having a lower commitment to democracy, instead having loyalty to groups, institutions and systems.[16]

"However, some scholars reject Lipset and Raab's analysis. James Aho for example says that the way individuals join right-wing groups is no different from how they join other types of groups. They are influenced by recruiters and join because they believe the goals promoted by the group are of value to them and find personal value in belonging to the group. Several scholars, including Sara Diamond andChip Berlet reject the theory that membership in the radical right is driven by emotionality and irrationality and see them as similar to other political movements. John George and Laird Wilcox see the psychological claims in Lipset and Raab's approach as "dehumanizing" of members of the radical right. They claim that the same description of members of the radical right is also true of many people within the political mainstream.[17]

"Hofstader found a common thread in the radical right, from fear of the Illuminati in the late 18th century, to anti-Catholic and anti-Masonic movements in the 19th to McCarthyism and the John Birch Society in the 20th. They were conspiracist, Manichean, absolutist and paranoid. They saw history as a conspiracy by a demonic force that was on the verge of total control, requiring their urgent efforts to stop it. Therefore they rejected pluralistic politics, with its compromise and consensus-building. Hofstadter thought that these characteristics were always present in a large minority of the population. Frequent waves of status displacement would continually bring it to the surface.[18]

"D. J. Mulloy however noted that the term 'extremist' is often applied to groups outside the political mainstream and the term is dropped once these groups obtain respectability, using the Palestinian Liberation Organization as an example. The mainstream frequently ignores the commonality between itself and so-called extremist organizations. Also, the radical right appeals to views that are held by the mainstream: antielitism, individualism, and egalitarianism. Their views on religion, race, Americanism and guns are held by a significant proportion of other white Americans.[19]


"Throughout history, conspiracism has been a major feature of the Radical Right, and subject to numerous books and articles, the most famous of which is Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay, 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics'. Imaginary threats have variously been identified as originating from Catholics, Mormons, Jews, American Communists, Freemasons, bankers, and the U.S. government. Alexander Zaitchik, writing for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), credited cable news hosts, including Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, the John Birch Society and WorldNetDaily with popularizing conspiracy theories. In the Fall issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report, he identified the following as the top 10 conspiracy theories of the Radical Right:[20]

Martial Law
FEMA Concentration Camps
Foreign troops on US soil
Door-to-door gun confiscations
9/11 as government plan
Population control
High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP)
Federal Reserve
North American Union

"Right-Wing Populism

Out of the closet

(From the Main Article: Right-wing populism)

"From the 1990s parties that have been described as radical right became established in the legislatures of various democracies including Canada, Norway, France, Israel, Russia, Romania and Chile, and had entered coalition governments in Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Italy. However there is little consensus about the reasons for this.[21] Some of these parties had historic roots, such as the National Alliance, formed as the Italian Social Movement in 1946, the French National Front, founded in 1972, and the Freedom Party of Austria, an existing party that moved sharply right after 1986. Typically new right-wing parties, such as the French Poujadists, the U. S. Reform Party and the Dutch Pim Fortuyn List enjoyed short-lived prominence.[22] The main support for these parties comes from both the self-employed and skilled and unskilled labor, with support coming predominantly from males.[23]

"However, scholars are divided on whether these parties are radical right, since they differ from the groups described in earlier studies of the radical right. They are more often described as populist.[24]Studies of the radical right in the United States and right-wing populism in Europe have tended to be conducted independently, with very few comparisons made. European analyses have tended to use comparisons with fascism, while studies of the American radical right have stressed American exceptionalism. The U. S. studies have paid attention to the consequences of slavery, the profusion of religious denominations and a history of immigration, and saw fascism as uniquely European.[25]

"Although the term 'radical right' was American in origin, the term has been consciously adopted by some European social scientists. Conversely the term 'right-wing extremism', which is European in origin, has been adopted by some American social scientists. Since the European right-wing groups in existence immediately following the war had roots in fascism they were normally called 'neo-fascist'. But as new right-wing groups emerged with no connection to historical fascism, the use of the term "right-wing extremism" came to be more widely used.[26]

"Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg argued that the radical right in the U. S. and right-wing populism in Europe were the same phenomenon that existed throughout the Western world. They identified the core attributes as contained in extremism, behaviour and beliefs. As extremists, they see no moral ambiguity and demonize the enemy, sometimes connecting them to conspiracy theories such as the New World Order. Most politicians are seen as traitors or cowards. Given this worldview, there is a tendency to use methods outside democratic norms, although this is not always the case. The main core belief is inequality, which often takes the form of opposition to immigration or racism. They do not see this new Right as having any connection with the historic Right, which had been concerned with protecting the status quo.[27] They also see the cooperation of the American and European forms, and their mutual influence on each other, as evidence of their existence as a single phenomenon.[28]

"David Bell argues that the ideology of the radical right is '...its readiness to jettison constitutional processes and to suspend liberties, to condone Communist methods in the fighting of Communism.'[29]Historian Richard Hofstader agrees that Communist-style methods are often emulated: "The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through 'front' groups, and preaches a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy." He also quotes Barry Goldwater: "I would suggest that we analyze and copy the strategy of the enemy; theirs has worked and ours has not." [30]

For Wikipedia's attempt to look at Conservative extremism in a historical light, see -->  The weakness in the concept is illustrated by their cutting of the historical thread in the 1970s:  The beginning take-over of the GOP by the social Conservatives under Goldwater, then Reagan, up to the present Civil War between the so-called Tea Party and the Country Club/Wall Street Republicans.

One of the more telling statements in the Wikipedia entry is, "The mainstream frequently ignores the commonality between itself and so-called extremist organizations. Also, the radical right appeals to views that are held by the mainstream: antielitism, individualism, and egalitarianism. Their views on religion, race, Americanism and guns are held by a significant proportion of other white Americans."  Thus the belief that the Republican Party is a bona fide, mainstream political organization and not the front group of the extremist fat cats of our society.

With apologies to writer Gertrude Stein, a Conservative is a Far-Right Radical is an Extremist.

Next: Far-Right Politics


"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

John Lennon