Right-Wing Populism in America:
Too Close for Comfort

by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons
New York: Guilford Publications, 2000

What the Book is About

Right–wing militias and other anti–government organizations have received heightened public attention since the Oklahoma City bombing. While such groups are often portrayed as marginal extremists, the values they espouse have influenced mainstream politics and culture far more than most Americans realize. This important volume offers an in–depth look at the historical roots and current landscape of right–wing populism in the United States. Illuminated is the potent combination of anti–elitist rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and ethnic scapegoating that has fueled many political movements from the colonial period to the present day.

The book examines the Jacksonians, the Ku Klux Klan, and a host of Cold War nationalist cliques, and relates them to the evolution of contemporary electoral campaigns of Patrick Buchanan, the militancy of the Posse Comitatus and the Christian Identity movement, and an array of millennial sects. Combining vivid description and incisive analysis, Berlet and Lyons show how large numbers of disaffected Americans have embraced right–wing populism in a misguided attempt to challenge power relationships in U.S. society. Highlighted are the dangers these groups pose for the future of our political system and the hope of progressive social change.

About the Authors

Chip Berlet has written about right wing movements for over twenty years, with bylines in The New York Times, Boston Globe, the Progressive, and scores of other publications. He is senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, MA, and editor of Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash (South End Press, 1995). He has contributed articles and chapters to several scholarly books and journals and his media appearances and cites as an expert include Newsweek, National Public Radio, and Nightline.

Matthew N. Lyons is a historian, activist, and writer whose work has focused on systems of oppression and social movements. He is research associate for the Hansberry–Nemiroff Archival, Educational, and Cultural Fund, and author of The Grassroots Network: Radical Nonviolence in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1972–1985 (Cornell University Center for International Studies, 1989).

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