Newsletter of the
Vol.2, No.1, Spring 2001
Editors: Roger Eatwell & Cas Mudde
Assistant Editor: Karen Thomson
Word of Welcome
This is the first issue of our second volume, and we hope you agree that the Newsletter goes from strength to strength. A new innovation for this issue is the introduction of short Book Notes (100-250 words). These are meant primarily to cover works which are marginal to our main theme of contemporary extremism and democracy, but which should interest some readers. If you know of a work in this category which you would like to review, please contact one of the editors to see if we can obtain a review copy. For the next issue, we hope to use a web-publishing package which will allow a more professional look to the newsletter (currently we are using Microsoft Word). We welcome suggestions for further improvements to our journal – for instance, should we begin to include articles? Certainly the Standing Group’s membership is growing healthily. We know have approaching 300 members, covering an ever-broadening range of fields: for instance, recently we have had some religion and politics specialists join our numbers. We very much welcome this diversification, as the group was always intended to cover much more than the obvious categories (extreme right, revived communism, etc.) We also plan more activities to follow our first Group’s Workshop at the ECPR Joint Sessions in Grenoble this April. We received far more offers of papers than we could take, and we had to reject some very good ones. So we know that there is considerable interest in further joint work. Keep watching these pages. A final word - we hope you have taken note of our new main web address, with its professional new introductory graphics. http://www.bath.ac.uk/esml/ecpr/
I am currently working at the Department of Judaic Studies of Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. I am also co-chair of the contact group "Education for Tolerance" of the Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the OSCE. A researcher on Christian-Jewish relations I was a Pew Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University (1996) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in New York (1997). I am involved in numerous educational projects that focus on social, ethnic, and religious prejudices, and have given lectures and workshops for students, teachers and journalists. My main areas of interest are education to enhance tolerance, intercultural education, and methodology of teaching about the Holocaust.
Among my publications are: "The Influence of Religious Instructors on the Attitudes of Youth from Kraków Toward Jews" (together with Andrzej Mirski), in Church-State Relations in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Irena Borowik, Kraków: Zaklad Wydawniczy "Nomos", 1999, pp.388-402; "Teaching the Holocaust in Post-Communist Poland", Jews in Eastern Europe, vol.2, no.36, Fall 1998, pp.5-18; "Attitudes of Young Poles Toward Jews in post-1989 Poland", East European Politics and Societies, vol.14, no.3, Fall 2000, pp. 565-596; "Action Guide to Developing Teaching for Tolerance Programs in Central Europe", available at: http://www.pathsoflearning.net/guides/ambrguid.htm
Since 1997 I have been an assistant at the Department of Political Science, Masaryk University in Brno. I am working on a PhD thesis, entitled "Right-wing Extremism in the Czech Republic". My research interests include different forms of extremism in the Czech Republic (far-right, orthodox-communism, Moravian nationalism, "new extremes" etc.) and the comparison of these with the situation in other countries. I am also studying contemporary theories of extremism in political science and other social sciences. I am particularly interested in developing research into the forms of state and non-state opposition to extremism in democratic states. My further fields of interest include political parties, different organised groups of extremists, extremist publications and periodicals and other ‘outputs’ of extremism. Together with other authors I have published a book on Communism in the Czech Republic. I have also written articles on the right-wing scene in the Czech Republic and in Germany, on Moravian nationalism, and on theoretical problems with defining extremism, etc. (all in Czech).
This page, starting with a quote from Frank Zappa and the Mothers, includes information about anarchist thinkers and miscellaneous essays, articles, etc. by anarchists or on aspects related to anarchism. The anarchist thinkers covered are: Mikhail Bakunin, Noam Chomsky, Jacques Ellul, Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, Max Stirner, Leo Tolstoy, and Benjamin Tucker. The essays include works by Georges Fontenis ("The Manifesto of Libertarian Communism"), Daniel Guerin (his essay on the origins of the words Anarchism and Libertarianism), Samuel Edward Konkin III ("New Libertarian Manifesto"), and Albert Jay Nock ("Our Enemy, The State"), as well as a review of the "Anarchist" Cookbook and "Squatting the Lower East Side - An Interview with Rick Van Savage". Finally, the page includes a short list of anarchist links and a large page of anarchist images. The page can be accessed at: http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/index.html
This volume is the updated and enlarged second version of the Bibliography on Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe. Topics covered are ethnicity, nationalism, ethnic conflict, conflict resolution, institutions, political participation of minorities, and managing multiethnic co-existence. This new version is a selection of post-1989 literature in English, Russian, German, and in local languages. Most material is drawn from local contributors, the library of the Central European University in Budapest, and the Sociological Abstract and other bibliographies. For more information, see: http://www.osi.hu/lgi/ethnic or e-mail Petra Kovacs at email@example.com
RUS-NAT is a new email discussion list devoted to Russian nationalism and the Russian national consciousness in all its aspects. This will be a multidisciplinary list, welcoming contributions from historians, political scientists, sociologists, web watchers and others, both students and academics, as well as anyone interested generally. In the spirit of the Cahiers du monde russe, the list will be trilingual (English-French-Russian). Messages can be sent in any of the three languages. To subscribe to the list, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the following text: join rus-nat Firstname Lastname. Interested individuals can also sign on via the website at http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists/rus-nat/.
Probably one of the most eclectic collections of links in the field of nationalism and nationalists is provided by Nation Planet of Paul Treanor. It contains (links to) articles on nationalism, histories of nations, nationalist organisations, etc. The page has a global focus and the diversity of organisations covered is enormous, ranging from, for example, Europe of Democracies and Diversities to the Campaign for a European Constitution, from the Ostpreußenblatt to the PKK, from Academica Gadelica to Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan. The webpage was recently fully revised, and can be found at:
To be launched in September 2001, this new authoritative peer-reviewed online journal, The Global Review of Ethnopolitics [ISSN 1471-8804], will provide a forum for serious debate and exchange on one of the phenomena that had a decisive impact during the last decades of the 20th century and will continue to be of great importance in the new millennium. The journal will give a voice to established as well as younger researchers and analysts from both academic and practitioner backgrounds. We will publish original work of the highest quality in the field of ethnopolitics with methodological approaches covering mainly the disciplines of political science and international relations and taking primarily a contemporary, current affairs perspective. Maintaining a fair balance between theoretical accounts of these matters and case studies both of a comparative as well as a singular nature and covering all geographic areas, the major focus will be on the analysis, management, settlement, and prevention of ethnic conflicts, on minority rights, group identity, the intersection of identity group formations and politics, on minority and majority nationalisms in the context of democratisation, and on the security and stability of states and regions as they are affected by any of the above issues. Particular attention will also be devoted to the growing importance of international influences on ethnopolitics, including external diplomatic or military intervention, as well as the increasing impact of globalisation on ethnic identities and their political expressions.
We invite the submission of original papers (6,000-8,000 words), research notes (2,000-4,000 words), review essays (3,000-4,000 words) and book reviews (800-1,000 words). Please email your papers, including 100-200 word abstract, as attachments in MS Word format to Stefan Wolff: email@example.com
The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action invites people to submit papers for its 30th annual conference (29 November-1 December 2001, in Miami). Scholars as well as nonprofit organization executives, foundation staff, consultants, policymakers, and graduate students are eligible to participate.
Proposals for papers, panels, or posters may be submitted at:
Deadline for proposals is 11 March.
Calls for Help and Cooperation
1. Recruit extremists into groups (terrorists)
2. To promote the goals and/or ideology of the organisation
3. To justify the use of violence as a response to perceived injustices
4. To communicate, overtly or covertly, tactical plans for extremist or terrorist attacks
I would appreciate citations, locations, and/or clues for locating some. Please contact me, David Ballard, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our research team is on the verge of launching a series of research projects devoted to the political situation in Antwerp, a traditional cradle for new fringe and extremist parties: recently the radical Flemish nationalists of the Vlaams Blok obtained 33 % of the vote in the communal elections.
We would be interested to know who has been or still is interested in similar research projects in comparable West European cities. The factors we intend to focus on are associational life, political distrust, and political ideology.
Professor Guido Dierickx, Faculteit Politieke en Sociale Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen (UFSIA), Prinsstraat 13, B 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium. Tel: 00 32 3 220 43 02. Fax: 00 32 3 220 43 01. E-mail: Guido.Dierickx@ufsia.ac.be
A conference organised by the Lipman-Miliband Trust for Socialist Education and Research. To be held at the University of Leeds on 20/21 April 2001. Speakers from Palestine, Israel, Scotland, Austria, Slovenia, Sweden and England, including Tommy Sheridan (MSP) and Francis Mulhern (Middlesex University).
Sessions on: Nationalism and the Left today; The problem of national identity; the conflict in the Middle East; Western Europe and the challenge of right-wing nationalism; nationalism in the post-communist world; the response of parties of the Left to problems of nationalism.
Friday afternoon/evening: Nationalism and the Left Today
(followed by drinks reception for all participants)
National Identity and Zones of Conflict
National Identity and Nationalist Politics in Western Europe
Nationalism in the Post-Communist World
The conference will be held in Lecture Room LG15, Michael Sadler Building (Arts Block), Leeds University. The Friday session will be from 4.30 to 7.00 p.m., followed by a drinks reception for all those attending the conference. The Saturday session will be from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Registration 4.00-4.30 on Friday, 9.30 to 10.00 on Saturday. Cost of the conference is £10; students/unwaged free.
Further details from John Schwarzmantel, POLIS, The University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT (0113) 233 4396, email: email@example.com
Or from Susannah Lane, (0113) 230 2821 (or mobile 07967 11 60 24) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Book Reviews and Book Notes
This section includes book reviews of 600-900 words, as well as some book notes of 100-200 words, on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If members either have a review that they consider of interest to the SG, or a recent book of their own, which they would like to see reviewed in the newsletter, please contact Cas Mudde at: email@example.com.
Reviewed by Despina Papadimitriou (Panteion University, Athens)
Although Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal is one of several books on political ideologies, it is recommended for anyone who is interested in the subject, but especially to students of political theory and political ideologies. Moreover, the third edition is revised and updated, including a new section on native people’s liberation movements in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, which are treated as an expression of identity politics within the chapter on "Liberation Ideologies".
The authors use a functional definition of political ideologies in order to distinguish them from some other "isms" that are not considered ideologies, such as terrorism, anarchism and nationalism. They distinguish political ideologies from democracy which is praised by liberals, conservatives and socialists, except for fascists and Nazis. Its "astonishing popularity" (p.19) and its varying content, lead the authors to the assertion that democracy is an ideal rather than an ideology, "it is something toward which people aim or aspire" (p.39).
This thesis is, however, vulnerable to some criticism. First, in analysing ideologies, the functional approach cannot provide their ideational profiles. This becomes obvious in the conclusion that follows the chapter on liberalism, in which the authors discuss how liberalism performs the four functions that every ideology performs. Here, the omnipresence of the liberal core concept, in Michael Freeden’s terminology, is evident even if the focus is on the explanation, evaluation, orientation and program of this ideology.
Second, it is argued that it is better not to treat nationalism as an ideology because it is entwined with so many different ideologies. However, ideologies are traced in their mutual relations and in the articulation of concepts that are present in various ideological discourses. Categories such as nation or democracy make sense as long as they are considered in the context of a particular discourse. On the other hand, the fact that nationalism is an ideology with a minimum theoretical corpus, compared to other ideologies, never diminished its extensive appeal for the masses. Pierre-André Taguieff, author of L’effacement de l’avenir (2000), argues that within nationalism, as a political ideology, the richness of passion seems proportionate to its conceptual poverty.
Thirdly, characterising democracy as an ideal raises the question of whether the dividing line between ideologies and ideals is clear or blurred. In other words, ideals are indistinguishable from ideologies as long as they are part of them. We could be, however, in a position to choose an ideal – for instance, democracy perceived as a social or a political structure – which could give us a rationale for a critical operation of ideologies. Besides, every concept that is in common use has a disputed meaning. To put it differently, the more widely a concept is accepted, the more contestable it is, as Reinhart Koselleck has observed.
In spite of these remarks, the book is worthy of praise because it offers, in accurate and clear terms, summaries of complex philosophical interpretations and examines political theory in connection with the historical background and the conditions of the historical formation and development of ideologies as doctrines. Hence, the authors draw on the political experience of Great Britain, the USA, France, Germany, Italy, ancient Athens, Russia and the Soviet Union and China. For all these reasons, Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal is an outstanding textbook and an important contribution to the literature on political ideologies.
Reviewed by Tim Hayward (University of Edinburgh)
The central aims of the book are to lay bear the systematic connections between the problems that ecologically-minded social critics address, and demonstrate the coherence of a radical green response to them. The emphasis here is very much on the radical: for Carter’s argument leads to the conclusion that the extent of the changes necessary to avert ecological catastrophe would need to be very great indeed: "any green political practice would have to be radical in the extreme for it to be genuinely green at all." (p.ix)
Green theory to date, Carter believes, has been inadequately developed, because while radical activists have not been sufficiently concerned with the internal coherence of their objectives, academic outsiders who may have applied greater rigour of analysis have nevertheless shown an inadequate appreciation of the scope of green concerns.
The book is thus distinctive in combining something of the prescriptive stance and apocalyptic tones of early green writings with the rigour of academic political theory. It is also relatively unusual in that its guiding inspiration comes from the anarchist tradition.
The book is further distinctive when compared to much recent green political theory in that instead of focusing on primarily normative issues, it takes the theory of the state to be the core task. Carter begins by briefly explaining why he finds authoritarian, reformist and Marxist approaches to be inadequate in their conceptualisation of power and the state, and then outlines his own ‘interrelationist’ alternative.
A key feature of this theory is his argument for the explanatory primacy of the state. He argues in some detail, and particularly in opposition to Cohen’s Marxist theory, for the view that "ordinarily, a structure of political relations selects economic relations that are functional for it" (p.121). He does not want to claim that all events have to be explained by means of state interests - which many would find implausible for a variety of reasons - but he does think that epochal changes can be (p.152), provided that state is understood as having sufficient compliance. In anticipation of certain counter-arguments based on considerations of weak states in poor countries, and the power of transnational corporations, he devotes a chapter to a defence of his position.
The centrepiece of the book as a contribution to green theory specifically is its critical analysis of an ‘environmentally hazardous dynamic’, whose political, economic, technological and military elements fuel and reinforce one another: thus the state, as a pseudo-representative and centralised bureaucracy, selects inegalitarian economic relations, which in turn favour the development of environmentally damaging technologies; these in their turn provide support for nationalistic military forces that then empower the state. The various elements of radical green political thought can be seen to consist in the systematic negation of every element of the environmentally hazardous dynamic (p.251). The aims of green politics can therefore be seen as an attempt to replace it with an environmentally benign dynamic (pp.230ff) whereby a decentralised and participatory democracy selects self-reliant and egalitarian relations which in turn encourage the development of appropriate, convivial technologies; these tend to support the population in using non-violent forms of social control, something that then feeds back to foster a decentralised democracy. Hence the values greens espouse can be linked together and in a quite distinctive manner.
The reason why green politics has to be radical in the extreme is that it is necessary to transform each element of the dynamic - a daunting task made all the more so by the need to change them all together. Nevertheless, singled out for particular attention is the need to break into the vicious circle at the level of the state - something which follows, albeit in a complex and qualified manner, from the state primacy thesis. Thus while Carter does not claim that anarchism is sufficient on its own, he does think that "only an eco-anarchist political theory reveals the full extent of the changes that may well have to be made if we are to survive as a species." And how are these to come about? In the closing pages the argument is advanced in terms of moral obligation and exhortation to civil disobedience, and even to ecological sabotage where this may be an effective strategy: he calls this, ‘radical disobedience’, arguing that this is not merely acceptable, nor merely commendable, but in fact a duty of each and every one of us.
This is a closely written book which presents its arguments with clarity and force. Carter’s theorisation of the environmentally hazardous dynamic is compelling. If he is right in allowing the assumption that ecological collapse is imminent, and in believing that any strategy for its avoidance depends on a moral conversion to eco-anarchist principles, then green politics must, as he says, be radical in the extreme. A problem for greens, though, has always been that of rendering radical theory practically effective; this is why so many have come to favour a more reformist strategy of critically but constructively engaging with the state ‘from within’. Those who are not persuaded by Carter’s state primacy thesis are perhaps unlikely to be dissuaded from this strategy. Nevertheless, at a time when most green political theorists are exploring the scope for immanent critique of liberal democratic institutions, it is salutary to be reminded of the dangers of cooption into a system which, at root, they must still oppose.
Reviewed by Roger Eatwell (University of Bath)
Although the general reader is still fascinated by the genre, academics tend to eschew biography. Ian Kershaw’s major new life of Hitler opens with an apologia for his extended essay in the field. Intellectual fashion tends towards structuralist approaches, rather than high politics-agency ones. Kershaw defends his work by noting that Hitler is one of the few men who clearly changed history. The same cannot be said of Francis Parker Yockey. Thus it comes as no great surprise that his biographer is a journalist rather than an academic. An American by birth, Yockey was assigned as an attorney to war crimes trials in post-war Germany. However, in 1948, under the pseudonym ‘Ulrick Varange’, he wrote his magnum opus - Imperium. The Philosophy and History of Politics. Whereas most on the extreme right have demonised communism, Yockey’s main enemy was Western decadence. He revived the call for a red-brown coalition, encompassing the USSR. For the next twelve years he led a murky existence on the fringes of various extremist groups, before dying in custody after being arrested by the FBI. Obscure? Yes, but a fascinating character whose writings have unquestionably exerted influence on sections of the post-1945 extreme right, including the leading theorist of the French Nouvelle Droite, Alain de Benoist, and the American David Duke (who now spends time in Moscow seeking very different converts from the days when he was in the Ku Klux Klan).
Reviewed by Michael Minkenberg (Europa-Universität Viadrina)
Despite the increasing attention paid to the American right (radical, extreme, Christian or otherwise), the complexities of the phenomenon and its corollaries have, in comparison received little attention. Usually, serious studies focus on fragments or single movements only. Martin Durham’s comprehensive survey wants much more: "to give a sense of the modern American right as a whole" (p. xi). This ambitious claim, however, is immediately qualified when the author introduces the book’s focus on the Christian Right, the Pat Buchanan movement, the Patriot movement and several movements surrounding single issues such as abortion or gun control. Thus, other facets which might be included in "the American right", such as mainstream conservatism, are not analysed although occasionally touched upon. But the author also pursues another goal. He wants to take issue with some of these movements’ self-images and projections, as well as some of their critics‘ interpretations.
To do this, Durham has perused and analysed an impressive amount of literature. Most notably, the author has taken the pains to study most relevant primary right-wing sources such as National Review, National Journal, Human Events, Spotlight, Soldier of Fortune, National Right to Life News, Christian American et cetera. The structure of the book is straightforward. It is organised into chapters based on issue areas in which movements and lobbying groups have emerged, such as race relations, gay rights, gun rights, and abortion, and on movements which encompass more than single-issue groups such as the Christian Right, the Patriot Movement, and the Pat Buchanan Movement. The first ("The Rise of the Right") and last chapter ("The Dispossessed") attempt a more general overview and interpretation.
The overall result of the book is the presentation of a vast array of information on the various issues, groups, movements and, in particular, leading individuals, from the Christian Coalition to White Aryan Resistance, from Newt Gingrich to David Duke. Moreover, the book contains many insightful narratives of particular events, debates, and developments. This alone is an invaluable source for anyone interested in the American right and its original voices, and it meets the author’s claim to provide a comprehensive overview of the American right, the relationship between its various groups and individuals, but also the differences and antagonisms between them.
But the author‘s preoccupation with the various positions and strategies of individuals and groups and their relationships to other individuals and groups, his obsession with nuances and labels for each group and individual often obscures the analytic value of his study. For example, he reserves several pages for the stances of Buchanan supporter Samuel Francis and "paleolibertarian" Justin Raimundo towards the Buchanan movement and the differences in their arguments (pp.155-160) but the reader wonders whether or, if so, how this has influenced the mobilisation of Buchanan supporters or Buchanan himself, and what the difference is between a "paleolibertarian" and the presumably also existing (but never mentioned) "neolibertarian".
There are several reasons for the confusion. Rather than developing his own concept of a radical or far right, and contrary to his claim to take issue with the movement’s own understanding, Durham all too quickly takes over the individuals‘ and groups‘ self-labelling in characterising their positions and differences. His distinction between "radical right", "extreme right" and "far right" (pp. xii, 178) does not help much either, because it is arbitrary and the author repeatedly demonstrates that each group contains elements which fall outside of the category. In general, the terms "conservative movement", "the American right", and the far right are all too often intermingled and sometimes seem exchangeable. Finally, it remains unclear what the relationship is between "mainstream conservatism and its radical right sibling" (p. 1).
The author’s loose handling of concepts is also reflected in his repeated reference to "the conservative movement" without clarifying whether we are dealing with a movement at all while at the same time demonstrating the various differences and nuances between elements and leading individuals of this "movement". Moreover, his methodology in criticising some interpretations of the American right is far from convincing. Durham either refutes arguments which no-one has made in the literature (e.g. "we would be mistaken if we assumed that it is the Patriot movement that is responsible for most of the anti-abortion violence", p.99) or he singles out texts from controversial, non-mainstream authors, such as Leonard Zeskind or Rosalind Petchevsky, while largely ignoring some substantive academic accounts (such as the works of James Aho or Michael Barkun on Christian Identity or Justin Watson on the Christian Right). Most surprisingly, the author does not take into account one of the most solid analyses of the American radical right, Seymour M. Lipset and Earl Raab’s The Politics of Unreason, which in its second edition (1978) also covers the Christian Right and could have provided some conceptual and historical grounding.
In sum, the reader learns a great deal about ideas and individuals of the American right, but remains confused as to the concepts of these ideas and their ‘movements’. Moreover, s/he learns next to nothing about the organisational strength and anchoring of these groups in American society, their impact and their limits, as well as the reasons for their rise in the 1970s and 1980s.
Reviewed by Aaron Winter (University of Sussex)
This is a critically insightful and engaging work which provides a tour through the world of conspiracy theory and fantasies of secrecy and power which pervade popular and unpopular American culture and politics. The exploration of the diverse sites and forms of conspiracy theory is not simply illustrative but posits a challenge to conventional academic and popular stigmatisation of conspiracy theory and its ‘adherents’.
Fenster begins by introducing conspiracy theory’s position as the ‘Other’ to mainstream political discourse (p.xii). It is this characterisation and rejection of conspiracy theory as illegitimate, pathological or threatening to ‘proper’ political order that he wishes to undermine. Fenster argues that such approaches ignore both a popular cultural form of interpretation and narrative, and a political expression of populist antagonism between ‘the people’ and ‘power’, scepticism of truth in the political order and utopian desire for transparent order (p.vii). He argues that the prevalence and circulation of conspiracy theory is an expression of contemporary subjectivity as a condition of political insignificance and the manifestation of political life "in-significance" (p.xiv). As such, conspiracy theory operates as a political interpretation within a specific narrative framework that enables those to whom politics is inaccessible to read signs, locate and expose power (p.xiv). It is for this reason that Fenster not only attempts to undermine the stigma but also explores conspiracy theory as a cultural practice and an important political expression.
‘Part I: Conspiracy Theory as Political Ideology’, begins with an analysis of Richard Hofstadter’s essay "The Paranoid Style", which established the framework for analysing conspiracy theory as ‘political pathology’. Fenster argues that this discourse is based on the political-structuring principle of ‘order’ and ‘Other’ (p.17), in which the pluralist-consensus view of American political order is defined as rational and legitimate (p.3), and that which challenges or resists this consensus is disorder, an irrational and illegitimate threat. Chapter 2 examines the influence of Hofstadter’s discourse in the context of the Senate hearings convened in response to the militia movement (post-Oklahoma). Fenster argues that the role and function of the Senate, law enforcement and militia leaders was procedural, reaffirming the rationality and authority of American politics, limiting analysis to their preconceptions and justifying the expansion of state disciplinary powers (p.30). Chapter 3 examines the ‘progressive’ approach to conspiracy theory, which associates it with fascism (p.56), condemns it as ideological misrecognition, misrepresentation, manipulation or a pathological expression of anxiety (p.54). Such arguments, Fenster argues, fail to understand conspiracy theory as a discourse and its meaning as a cultural practice and political expression (p.xvii).
‘Part II: Uncovering the Plot of Conspiracy’ is an analysis of conspiracy theory as cultural practice. Chapter 4 looks at conspiracy theory as a form of interpretation, in which "history and politics serve as the reservoirs of signs that demand (over)interpretation" (p.78). Fenster points out that the endless desire for signs prevents the final interpretation that drives the search (p.79), hence the signs are placed within an interpretative structure to stop the semiosis and produce connections and meaning (p.80). Chapter 5 looks at conspiracy theory as a form of narrative, which enables the organisation of excessive signs and interpretations into a coherent spatial/temporal structure (p.111). Although closure is the objective, Fenster points out that it cannot contain the structural challenge of secrecy which defines conspiracy (p.128). Thus looking to film and fiction, Fenster analyses the role of heroic redemption in revealing truth and reinstating order (p.128).
‘Part III: Conspiracy Theory in Everyday Life’ examines three case studies, of Christian millennialism, the conspiracy ‘community’ and conspiracy role-playing games, respectively. In the ‘Afterword: Conspiracy Theory and Cultural Studies’, Fenster looks at theorising populism in liberatory ways. He argues that we must challenge its racist and reactionary tendencies without defining it as necessarily such, and understand it as a discourse which expresses a desire for significance in the political order (p.xxi). His problem is that ultimately conspiracy theory fails to put its populism into practice, as a political movement (p.226).
Through his analysis Fenster manages several complex feats: by rereading conspiracy theory as a political and cultural form of expression, he not only rescues it from pathology, but also avoids normalising or negating its exceptionality or potential implications, whether violent or disabling. He also captures the paradoxes of conspiracy theory, between utopian desire for transparency or truth and the dystopian nature of the conspiracy, the impossibility of closure or transparency within a structure of secrecy, and the reaffirmation of the theory upon denial or closure. Moreover, Fenster’s interdisciplinary approach allows him to interrelate everything from militia discourses and Senate hearings to semiotics, with great effect.
In spite of this, Fenster’s argument ties the legitimacy of conspiracy theory to the retrieval of its populism. This is problematic for two reasons: firstly, in spite of the stigma attached to populism, it is redefined unproblematically as remainders, resistances and the desire for popular political recognition, participation and equality. Secondly, Fenster appears to need to assert the positive value of the stigmatised, as if presuming the reader’s bias. I would argue that appealing to this positive counter-value actually serves to reinforce the stigma and, by Fenster’s own admission, this populism ultimately fails. As the analysis operates on a more sophisticated level throughout, Fenster not only successfully undermines the stigma, but also opens up conspiracy theory as a significant political and cultural form of expression, interpretation and practice quite persuasively so. It is for this reason that I recommend this book as a fascinating and welcome contribution to scholarship on conspiracy theory as well as on American politics and culture.
Reviewed by Terri Givens (University of Washington)
As someone who recently wrote her dissertation on extreme right parties in Western Europe, I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to find anything new in the latest volume on the extreme right edited by Paul Hainsworth. However, this is a worthy successor to his previous volume, The Extreme Right in Europe and the USA (1992). Beginning with Hainsworth’s introduction, the book provides a well written and insightful analysis of the extreme right, not only in countries where they have been successful, but also in countries where they have only had a marginal presence. The book focuses mainly on Western Europe, but also includes chapters on Russia, Romania, Serbia and the United States.
One of the problems in studying extreme right politics is determining exactly what is meant by extreme right. This is a difficult subject which Hainsworth handles well, beginning with a review of definitions developed by other authors. Since the book deals with a broad range of extreme right parties and groups, it is important to specify certain characteristics which have guided the choice of parties and movements to be studied. Hainsworth shows that there are certain characteristics of the extreme right which can be identified and do allow for comparison.
The authors go beyond current descriptions of extreme right parties and movements. Most of the chapters provide a very useful historical analysis of the extreme right, beginning with the early part of the 20th century. The authors describe the historical developments which have influenced the ideological development of the extreme right in a particular country. The policy positions of the different movements and parties are also detailed. In countries where parties have developed, the authors explore the parties’ electoral participation, in some cases using survey data to describe the parties’ supporters.
What makes this book stand out from the rest of the field, is that countries where the extreme right has been less successful, such as Britain, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries, are examined in detail. The analyses provide insight into the political systems of these countries, as well as those countries where the extreme right has been more successful. For example, in Roger Eatwell’s chapter on Britain, he argues against the idea (as developed by Kitschelt) that extreme right parties will choose "free market appeals" to attract voters. He explains in some detail other factors that led to the success of the British National Party (BNP) in certain areas, while they remained unable to make an electoral breakthrough in the rest of the country. Eatwell and other authors also highlight the role of electoral systems in determining the strategy and success of extreme right parties.
Another strength of the book are the chapters on countries which aren’t usually covered in volumes such as this. The chapters on Russia, Romania and Serbia provide insight into the development of the extreme right since the break up of the Soviet Union. It is important to take the development of the extreme right in these countries into consideration. Although there are different dynamics which have led to the development of the extreme right, in comparison with Western Europe, political developments in these countries may have an impact on the EU and its planned expansion.
As in all edited volumes some chapters are stronger than others. I found the chapter on Austria to have particularly good insights into the development of the Freedom Party (despite being written prior to the Freedom Party’s entrance into government). However, I felt that the chapter on Germany lacked the historical detail found in most of the other chapters. The chapter on the United States also shows some of the difficulties in defining the extreme right.
I would strongly encourage students and practitioners to read this book, even those who feel they have a strong background in the study of the extreme right. This book provides a useful survey of the (relatively) current standing of the extreme right in Europe and the United States, and raises important issues related to the study of the extreme right.
Reviewed by Cas Mudde (University of Edinburgh)
In the words of the authors, "(t)his encyclopedia covers ethnic separatism and related topics" (p.xi). Separatism is interpreted in a fairly broad way, including (re-)unification or irredentism; though, anticolonial movements are excluded.
The encyclopaedia starts with a short theoretical introduction, setting out the extent of ethnic separatism and its causes and outcomes. Organised alphabetically, and covering the entire globe, the entries start with Abkhazia and end with Zimbabwe, followed by a useful chronology, bibliography, and index. The entries include countries and geographical areas (e.g. Corsica, Sikkim); supranational organisations (e.g. East African Federation, NATO); political movements and parties (e.g. Cordillera Autonomy Movement, Scottish National Party); ‘ethnic’ groups and minorities (Armenian Georgians or Mongolians); individuals (e.g. David Ben-Gurion, Odumegwu Ojukwu); as well as topics (e.g. German Unification, Meech Lake Accord).
It is always easy to criticise encyclopaedia for either what is not covered or for what is insufficiently covered. However, they are necessarily limited and concise, and so is this one. If there is one weakness, it is the relationship between the title and the content – movements are not the dominant theme in this book, which could have more accurately been called the Encyclopaedia of Ethnic Separatism. That said, this is a very useful overview of a highly topical subject, which will be a welcome addition to any library.
Reviewed by Cas Mudde (University of Edinburgh)
This is in many ways an unusual book. First of all, while the general encyclopaedia deals with at least a whole discipline (i.e. philosophy), if not everything on earth (and beyond), this one deals with a rather narrow topic: "white power". Second, its main focus is US groups and individuals, with a few Norwegian and Swedish groups and individuals also included. Third, it includes, next to contributions by academics, entries by and about right-wing extremists themselves as well as a section of so-called primary sources. This makes for both confusing and exciting reading.
In the Introduction, Jeff Kaplan argues the need for an encyclopaedia of the radical right-wing on both sides of the Atlantic. Reiterating the conclusion of his earlier book, with Leonard Weinberg, The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right (Rutgers University Press, 1998), he states that "(m)ore recently (…) American ideological and theological exports such as the Ku Klux Klan, Christian Identity, and the Church of the Creator have made strong inroads into the European radical right" (p.xix). He then continues to explain both "who will be contributing to this encyclopaedia" and "what will be included under the heading of ‘radical right’" (p.xxii). His brave decision to also include "the words of activists" (p.xxi) is based on the question: "What light could (or would) they shed on their own world that no outsider, regardless of how knowledgeable he or she might be, could hope to provide?" (p.xx).
Well aware of the controversy this inclusion of the outsiders will raise, the introduction ends with the text of an earlier lecture (Racism, Anti-racism, and the Americans: Reflections on the European Year Against Racism), in which Kaplan answers the anticipated question: "where do I stand in relation to this material?" (p.xxvii). The lecture is an interesting and at times rather personal attack on anti-racists and watchdogs, who are accused of their own extremism and exclusion, and a passionate defence of most right-wing extremists (who are portrayed as confused and in it against their will), of academic freedom, and of the American interpretation of freedom of speech. Warning against simplification and ideological fanaticism, he states: "By so demonizing the many, we cloak the few, and, however unwittingly, ourselves facilitate the existence of evil in the world" (p.xxiv).
Regarding the question what will be included, Kaplan presents the following criteria: the movements and individuals should be (i) strongly racialist, (ii) revolutionary, and (iii) have a strong religious streak (pp.xxii-xxiii). However, he interprets religiosity in a more general way: "The dream is thus frankly apocalyptic, and the outcome of the timeless struggle between good and evil that the faithful see as the true reality underlying the dross of everyday events is invariably interpreted in a way strikingly similar to the Christian apocalyptic scenario of the Bible’s Book of Revelation" (pp.xxiii-xxiv). This leads to a selection of organisations ranging from the American Nazi Party to the Order of Nine Angels, subcultures from Black Metal to Wotanism (Jungian), topics from Internet Recruiting to the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), and individuals from Louis Beam to Francis Parker Yockey. In the second section (Resources), a first part includes two reports on the American right-wing (one by the US government and one by an activist) and a second part presents 18 (classic) letters and declarations from American right-wingers.
How to evaluate such an unusual volume? Let me first discuss the selection of cases. Obviously, one will always miss certain groups and persons. However, let’s focus on what is included in the book. Most problematic is the choice of non-US items, such as the Swedish Hembygdspartiet or "Women (Norwegian)". Though most will meet the criteria for inclusion set out in the introduction, there are 1001 other groups and individuals for which this applies as well, and which might actually be more relevant (e.g. Michael Kühnen and his Die Bewegung, the Austrian VAPO, or the National Socialist Irish Workers’ Party). The reasons for inclusion seem to a large extent based upon availability, i.e. the personal expertise of Kaplan’s European network of colleagues. In addition, various subcultures are included which only partly, if not marginally, belong to the radical right (such as Black Metal or Religion of Nature). Furthermore, various entries are confusingly labelled; for example, "Skinheads (Origins and Music)" deals mainly with Ian Stewart (Donaldson), his band Skrewdriver and organisation Blood and Honour, who would have deserved a separate entry. Finally, several of Kaplan’s own contributions include very personal attacks on watchdog organisations and certain right-wing extremists, or very generous praise for the skills and intellect of right-wing leaders. Also, most political scientists will have problems with his usage of the terms ‘success’, ‘importance’ or ‘influence’, most notably regarding the European organisations and individuals, as, in political terms, the encyclopaedia deals merely with the fringe of the fringe.
In conclusion, did the Encyclopaedia of White Power succeed in its self-acclaimed intent, i.e. "to some degree (…) [bringing] to life for the reader not only the beliefs but also the personalities of the individuals who comprise the transatlantic radical right" (p.xxxvi)? If we define the transatlantic radical right as the non-party fringe in the US and Scandinavia, than probably yes. However, the question remains whether that is worth 100 dollars to many scholars and libraries.
Reviewed by Richard C. Thurlow (University of Sheffield)
Although the study of British Fascism has been an academic growth industry in recent years, there is an increasing demand for a new synthesis which incorporates the most recent research. Tom Linehan’s admirable survey of the rise and fall of this interesting, if peculiar phenomenon in the interwar period, helps fill this gap. Building on his groundbreaking study of the impact of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) on the east end of London (East London for Mosley, Frank Cass, 1996) the author provides a well written overview of the background, context, membership and impact (or lack of it) of the varieties of British fascism, from one man bands to a critical dissection of Mosley’s men. He has a particularly interesting discussion on the ideas of the BUF which is broadly consistent with the ‘new consensus’ interpretation of the nature of generic fascism. There is also much that is stimulating with his discussion of the British Fascisti and the Imperial Fascist League. As would have been expected his analysis of BUF anti-Semitism is particularly sharp, although more needed to be said about the responsibility for political violence and how Mosley’s impact led to the growth of the CPGB led anti-fascist opposition.
British Fascism 1918-39 is, however, more than an effective synthesis. It also includes three chapters on fascist culture which pioneers new ground in the study of British fascism, effectively analysing what the BUF did not like about the modern world. Whilst many of the views examined are idealised reactionary visions of a world which never existed, a rural romantic ideal and much beefing about the alleged decadence of contemporary art, literature, ‘Hollywood’ and the media in the 1930s, aspects of modernity are incorporated with the BUF love affair with modern technology, motorways, fast cars and even faster aeroplanes. Much of this gives cause for reflection, particularly with the inherent contradictions and the often nasty anti-Semitic imagery and innuendo used to demonstrate the argument in BUF publications. Whilst its political ideology and economic ideas projected a dynamic modernisation, official BUF views on culture in their publications were regressive, repressed and replete with Victorian prudery. Such views, in short, appeared closer to the ghastly artistic taste and petit-bourgeois values of the Nazis than the heroic vitalism and modernism of Italian Fascism. This again contrasted sharply with the hedonistic life-style and serial womanising of Mosley’s life outside the moral crusade of his Blackshirted revolutionaries. This side of British fascism is well worth examining, although perhaps more attention should have been given to why such views as expressed in BUF publications made so little impact on British culture and society in the 1930s, which was demonstrated by the general response of public opinion of indifference and even ridicule of the organisation after 1934. The strange mixture of moral rectitude, anti-Semitism, a jeremiad against the flappers and the jazz age, whilst demanding a ‘new man’ with ‘new values’ was bound to have difficulty finding a political constituency. It would have perhaps been better if the analysis of British fascist culture had been incorporated into the discussion of fascist ideology; the last four chapters on the subject are free-standing and do not logically develop from the previous discussion.
The major drawback to this book is that it only tells half the story. Like many of the early studies of British fascism it ends in mid air in 1939. It ignores almost completely British fascist connections with continental fascism and its consequences for British fascists. Hence it lays itself open to the charge that it over-emphasises the ‘Britishness’ of British fascism. This is not because Tom Linehan, with his new emphasis on British fascist culture, is over keen to emphasise this. On the contrary, one of his most effective chapters in East London for Mosley was on the BUF peace campaigns, ‘Mind Britain’s Business’ and ‘Mosley and Peace’, and of the impact of internment on British fascists, issues which indelibly linked the BUF, however much it protested its innocence, with continental fascism. Similarly the symbols, style and organisation of the BUF owed much to its derivation from the practice of its counterparts in Italy and Germany, hence the Blackshirts, jackboots, fasces symbol and the ‘flash in the pan’, let alone the vexed issue of foreign funding with the evidence from Italian state archives and the Goebbels diaries, which suggested a literal ‘quid pro quo’ and helped explain why the BUF never criticised any of the actions of the fascist dictators in the 1930s. The point is that the author thinks this material should be covered in a separate volume. Let us hope he is given the opportunity to deliver it. As it stands, this good overview of British fascism is, nevertheless, somewhat two dimensional in its impact.
Reviewed by Michael Barkun (Syracuse University)
Protestant fundamentalism began its political mobilisation in America in the late 1970s, a process that has continued up to the present. During that time, a once insular segment of Christianity has had a rapid and substantial impact, having spawned best sellers (the "Left Behind" series) and interest groups (e.g., the Christian Coalition) as well as paramilitary and survivalist organisations.
While these changes have made fundamentalism in America a matter of broad academic concern, the associated phenomena have rarely been examined in as broad a context as Philip Melling employs. Unlike earlier scholars who limited their inquiries to matters of history and doctrine, Melling searches for manifestations of fundamentalism in every medium and at every intellectual and spiritual level. In addition to the usual monographic studies and primary-source tracts, he draws illuminatingly on contemporary novels and films into which fundamentalist motifs have filtered. Just as Paul Boyer’s When Time Shall Be No More mapped the domain of fundamentalist popular religion, so Melling demonstrates the penetration of fundamentalism into popular culture.
While Fundamentalism in America displays an admirable breadth, it is not without difficulties, some structural and some substantive. At the structural level, much of the book consists of what are in effect critical commentaries on the work of others. These are frequently brilliant ‘rifts’, but they will mean relatively little to those unfamiliar with the works under examination. Hence this is less an introduction for the untutored reader than it is a sophisticated guide for those already generally familiar with the fundamentalist terrain.
In substantive terms, the most puzzling elements of the book are Melling’s emphasis upon the contemporary importance of two themes rooted in the past: the belief, widely held during the colonial period, that American Indians were descendants of the ‘lost tribes of Israel’, and Christians’ traditional desire to convert the Jews. The first, while intriguing, had weakened significantly by the nineteenth century and figures little if at all in contemporary fundamentalism, which itself can only be said to have begun at the turn of the twentieth century. Only among Mormons (about whom Melling in fact says little) does the Indian/Israel thesis retain resonance. Melling appears to believe that because the Puritans thought Indians were wandering Israelites, modern conservative Protestants, by virtue of their ultimate spiritual descent from the Puritans, must also believe it. This is a striking hypothesis but not, unfortunately, borne out by the argument presented here, which largely consists of parallels between motifs in seventeenth and twentieth century literatures rather than evidence of a causal connection between them.
A considerably stronger case can be made for the importance of Jewish conversion, but its significance has actually been muted by two factors: first, the tendency of fundamentalists to place more emphasis on the security of the state of Israel than on the religious commitments of American Jews; and, second, the tacit American ‘social contract’ that inhibits unwanted attentions by religious groups toward one another. While some Christian organisations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, have attempted large-scale Jewish evangelisation, their efforts have foundered.
Inevitably, a book as ambitious as this will contain some factual errors. Regrettably, there appear to be more than the normal quota here, which in some cases consist of the repetition of erroneous statements made by the authors Melling discusses. In the chapter closest to my own research interests, dealing with the Christian Identity movement and the extreme right, for example, despite what is said in the text, it is not true that the nineteenth-century British-Israelite Edward Hine believed that Cain was the first Jew; Identity theology does not attempt to reconcile anti-Semitism with dispensational premillennialism; Christian Identity believers have no difficulty maintaining a consistent anti-Semitic position; and Wesley Swift was not a "historian and genealogist." The list might be considerably extended. These lapses are all the more regrettable in a work otherwise well informed and intellectually open.
Reviewed by Timothy J. Power (Florida International University)
Leigh Payne’s fine new book explores a timely and important topic: the role and influence of armed right-wing extremist movements in Latin America’s nascent democracies. Based on three case studies, she sketches an elegant theoretical model of the rise and development of these antisystem forces and their relationship to democratic consolidation. Her findings, while troubling, also suggest some interesting hypotheses regarding ways in which new democracies might overcome the challenges of "uncivil movements."
Uncivil movements are defined as "political groups within democracies that employ both civil and uncivil political action to promote exclusionary policies" (p.1). The term "uncivil" denotes the use of violence and intimidation. And in recognising extremist groups as authentic "movements," Payne forces her readers to acknowledge, probably against their normative biases, that these groups share several important characteristics with social movements (frequently the popular ‘heroes’ in many mainstream narratives of democratisation). Like social movements, uncivil movements adopt strategies of mobilisation while practising "double militancy" -- that is, they jealously guard their movement autonomy while at the same time engaging in conventional political institutions (parties, elections, and lobbying). It is the combination of "movement" characteristics with blatantly "uncivil" behaviour that makes these groups so fascinating. Uncivil movements attempt to overthrow governments; they use violence, destruction, and political extortion as their weapons; they attempt to physically eliminate their political adversaries; and they attempt overtly exclusionary strategies. Uncivil movements use the machinery of democracy to undermine the very fabric of democracy itself.
Payne’s case studies demonstrate that uncivil movements do not need crises or calamities in order to emerge and prosper -- rather, "they can generate political threats and opportunities out of fairly banal sets of events" (p.21). In her theoretical model, the mobilisation of uncivil movements is explained via a three-variable framework. First, uncivil movements engage in political framing, meaning that they define threats in subjective terms via "naming, blaming, aiming, and claiming" (not to mention occasional maiming). Second, uncivil movements dust off "cultural cues" and use them to great effect -- that is, they "cue up" the movement with events and movements from the past, and occasionally align their movement with foreign models and/or strategies. This process involves the adoption of heroes and icons and the demonisation of opponents. Third, uncivil movements adopt "legitimating myths" that serve a variety of functions in the political development of the movement. These myths allow members to insist to outsiders that their movements are perpetually misunderstood, and that "they are actually neither violent nor extremist" (p. 30). These myths also hold the movement together, because they appeal both to hard-core elements and to "pragmatic" supporters as well. These myths are usually packaged in the "discourse of antipolitics" (which Payne claims to be a universal characteristic of extremist movements), but the credibility of the myths depends in part upon the quality, charisma, and communication skills of the primary leader[s], whose responsibility it is to "code" the myths for a wider audience. Uncivil movements must successfully execute all three elements of the mobilisational process -- political framing, cultural cues, and legitimating myths -- in order to become viable political actors.
The heart of the book is found in the case studies of Argentine military officers (the carapintada or painted-faces, who launched several unsuccessful coup attempts and later founded a party, MODIN), the Brazilian UDR (an association of landowners violently opposed to agrarian reform), and the Nicaraguan contras (veterans of the U.S.-backed insurgency against the Sandinista regime in the 1980s). The case studies are models of empirical work, thoroughly researched and elegantly presented. Much like Payne’s earlier portrait of Brazilian industrialists, these case studies are based heavily on direct quotations drawn from wide-ranging dialogues with the protagonists. These interviews were complemented and cross-checked by press accounts, secondary sources, and a great deal of firsthand observation. Some of the most interesting passages in the book are Payne’s personal reflections on the process of interaction with her informants, many of whom have either directly or indirectly killed other human beings.
Payne’s concluding chapter offers some interesting comparative observations on the South African AWB, the Haitian FRAPH, the Colombian paramilitaries, and especially the U.S. militia movement, demonstrating the generalisability of her theoretical framework. It also contains some suggestions for ways in which democratic governments might neutralise uncivil movements. Although this section of the book may be shorter and more tentative than many readers would prefer, it still offers some intriguing advice. Payne argues that democratic governments should engage in negotiations with the pragmatic factions of uncivil movements, thus attempting to separate them from the hard core; that democratic governments should simultaneously undertake investigations and prosecutions of hard-core militants; and that successful convictions create countervailing myths that change public perceptions of the movements.
This well-researched and powerfully argued book should be read by every scholar interested in extremism and democracy. To date, most political science work on this topic has focused on Western Europe and/or North America, and there is no comparable work on Latin America. Few Latin Americanists deign to study the conventional political right, much less the violent and extremist right that constitutes Payne’s object of research. Anyone familiar with the region will recognise instantly that this was a courageous piece of fieldwork. Thankfully, Payne lived to tell about it, and the result is this innovative and first-rate book.
Reviewed by Cas Mudde (University of Edinburgh)
This is both a conventional and an original book, combining a fairly common Gramscian-Marxist critique of globalisation with, most notably, serious analysis of the extreme right critique of globalisation. Moreover, because of its clear writing and empirical grounding, it goes well beyond the bulk of (anti-)globalisation books that are flooding the market these days, providing mainly a (left-wing) theoretical critique of the capitalist and anti-democratic underpinning and effects of that new buzzword, globalisation.
The introduction obviously refers to the ‘Battle of Seattle’, which Rupert interprets as, rather than a sudden unexpected outburst, "the product of historical-structural transformations and political struggles which have been unfolding for years" (p.1). Not surprisingly, this is followed by a (neo-) Marxist interpretation of capitalism and globalisation, in which it is argued that the current process of liberal globalisation is capitalism on the loose. To democratise globalisation one has to go to the root, i.e. defeat capitalism, as "democracy is an unfulfilled promise of liberal capitalism" (p.5). After also pointing out the racist and sexist bias of capitalism, Rupert presents his Gramscian understanding of the world as follows: "I understand this to mean that the class-based relations of production under capitalism create the possibility of particular kinds of agency, but this potential can only be realised through the political practices of concretely situated social actors, practices which must negotiate the tensions and possibilities – the multiple social identities, powers, and forms of agency – resident within popular common sense." (p.14)
Rupert sees the meaning of ‘globalisation’ as a battleground, in which different ideologies compete over hegemony. Before outlining the competing ideologies, he first sketches the ‘historical-structural context’ within which this ideological and cultural battle is fought. He argues that the dominance of ‘Americanism’ and ‘Fordism’, i.e. "the presumptive identification of American working people with the interests and profits of employers" (p.40) has crumbled as a consequence of social, economic and political changes. As a consequence, Rupert states, "it seems to me unwise to presume that the formerly dominant ideology will continue to define the ways in which ‘globalization’ will be interpreted and acted upon" (p.41).
In the post-Fordist world, (at least) three very broad ideological groups are competing over the meanings assigned to globalisation. The first is ‘liberalism globalisation’, which is ‘the politics of a depoliticised world economy’. This is the project of "an identifiable constellation of dominant social forces" (p.420), including the World Bank, IMF, WTO, big business, and the two major American political parties. The second, which Rupert clearly adheres to, is ‘global democratisation’. This is supported by a very broad, but not so powerful, international group of progressive groups, who want to create a non-racist, non-sexist, socially just, democratic global community. The third, and last, ideology that is fighting for hegemony over the term globalisation is the ‘far right’ or ‘new populism’. These groups fear the New World Order and are reactionary, rather than progressive, in their critique of globalisation, wanting to defend their racist, sexist and still capitalist national communities.
The arguments of the three different streams are presented on the basis of the NAFTA, GATT, and, to a lesser extent, ‘Fast Track’ debates in the United States. In these analyses, Rupert is clearly very negative about the liberal globalisationists and the populists, although he does take some of the latter’s critique of globalisation very seriously. On the other hand, he openly endorses the moral and ideological case of the ‘progressives’, using many of their sources as counter-evidence to that of ‘liberal economists’, warning against the recently developed "globalisation with a human face" (i.e. a softer version of liberal globalisation, developed in the wake of growing progressive and populist critique), and repeatedly stating his own credentials as an activist. Nevertheless, the analyses are interesting and often convincing (despite, rather than because of, the political bias of the author).
Overall, this is a very useful, though unfortunately also limited study for people interested in the field of extremism and democracy. It is particularly useful because it provides the first serious analysis of the anti-globalisation critique of the far right (stretching from the National Alliance to Pat Buchanan) – the Marxist critique of ‘liberal globalisation’ and the progressive agenda of ‘global democratisation’ can also be found in various other books. It is limited in that it focuses purely on the American debate and sheds little light on the actual politics (rather than ideas) of the groups involved, most notably of those opposing globalisation.
Reviewed by Yves Meny (European University Institute)
Paul Taggart’s book on "Populism" is very welcome indeed. To anyone familiar with elections, parties, ideologies, or social movements, populism remains one of the vaguest concepts in political science. This might be the reason why newspapers and the mass media are so fond of a word which encompasses many phenomena and political manifestations without necessarily being obliged to provide a clear definition.
At the end of the 1960s, political scientists such as Gellner and Ionescu had already confronted this definitional vagueness when attempting to clarify the problem in a collection of essays which has remained, for years, the best analysis in the field. However, in line with Sir Isaiah Berlin’s humoristic remark about the Cinderella syndrome (i.e. there is certainly a foot fitting the shoe but we have not yet found it!), the successive studies of populism have, more often than not, obscured rather than enlightened the debate. Over the past fifteen years, populism has been equated to extreme-right parties, movements or ideologies.
The merit and value of Paul Taggart’s book is his linking of populism to representative politics, i.e. to relate the concept to the functioning/-dysfunctioning of contemporary democracies. The book starts by defining in a very careful fashion the concept of populism, and then proceeds by examining cases of populism, and finally by listing its characteristics. The book is short, concise and incisive, all qualities requested by the series but particularly difficult to implement when it comes to the study of such a wide, spongy and multifaceted concept. This study is certainly of great value not only for students of politics but also to anybody wishing to make sense of the confusing and messy reality encapsulated by the catchword of populism.
If I had a regret to express, it would be regarding the choice of cases which gives somewhat more weight to the past than to the present, and to the rest of the world rather than to Europe. A more critical approach to the so-called populism of twentieth century Russia would have also been useful. It is commonplace to consider these intellectual movements in favour of the peasantry as "populist", but it might be time to reconsider such a label which has been given without proper attention to their nature and possible common features with other "populist" movements.
This being said, one can only benefit from such a clear, sharp and well-informed analysis of one of the most intricate and complex labels provided by political science.
Reviewed by Dirk Voorhoof (Ghent University)
"Does the First Amendment’s neutrality principle really prevent recognition of the special harms attendant to hate speech, pornography or racist fighting words ?": that is the central question in this book in which James Weinstein, professor of Constitutional law at Arizona State University, develops a sharp analysis of the characteristics of free speech protection in the US.
Free speech doctrine, referring to the central tenet that government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas, is strongly rooted in American legal culture. In its First Amendment the US Constitution guarantees nearly in an absolute way the freedom of speech and of the press. It is strange, however, that supporters of free speech doctrine react so sharply against radical critique and often defend traditional free speech doctrine like high priests. One could expect them to apply the very fundamentals of their own premises, i.e. that radical critique should be regarded as an antidote to intellectual stultification, keeping good ideas from becoming a dogma.
Radical critique on the traditional free speech doctrine is specifically suspicious of its neutrality, which it considers a lie. According to radical critics free speech doctrine is biased against minorities. When powerful forces in society complain that speech is impairing their interests, courts readily find exceptions to free speech principles, as in the case of commercial speech or industrial libel. But when minorities complain that racist speech interferes with their social interests or causes severe emotional injury, these harms are not taken seriously. Radical feminist legal scholars make similar claims.
Weinstein starts from the viewpoint that radical critique serves to warn against the dangers of uncritical and mechanical application of free speech doctrine. He develops a critical analysis of free speech doctrine, while at the same time criticising the arguments of the radical critics in this debate. The burden of his book is to demonstrate that the ultimate radical claim that the First Amendment doctrine is rotten to its core cannot be sustained. At the same time, he demonstrates that around the edges free speech doctrine has failed to account for injury suffered by minorities and by women.
The first part of the book presents a very educational and critical analysis of the basics of the American free speech doctrine. He makes clear that the distinction between content-based regulations and content-neutral restrictions of the freedom of expression is more problematic than commonly recognised. At the same time, Weinstein also refers to the relative impact of this classification. He clearly demonstrates that there is no blanket rule against content discrimination, despite some rhetoric in the Supreme Court case law. Weinstein develops and discusses the thesis that in denying an exception for hate speech and pornography but allowing numerous other content-based exceptions from First Amendment protection, modern free speech doctrine discriminates against the interests of minorities and women.
In the very interesting second part of the book the author demonstrates that the relationship between free speech and equality is far more complex and ambivalent than either the radical critics or many liberal defenders of the free speech doctrine acknowledge. Weinstein investigates very critically the radical critique that free speech doctrine is in the service of the rich and the powerful and selectively discriminates the interests of women and minorities.
In the third part of the book, he goes beyond what the law and the jurisprudence is, to what it should be. He develops his normative approach in a very well structured way, trying to find an answer to the question why, ultimately, it should be possible to regulate hate speech and pornography. After a broad assessment of the costs and benefits, Weinstein comes to the conclusion that it is unlikely that broad hate speech and pornography bans, or the modification of free speech doctrine that these bans would entail, would have disastrous consequences for free speech. But at the same time he recognises and emphasises that the most important benefits that banning hate speech and pornography might produce are extremely speculative. Because proof of the relationship between these forms of speech and violence and illegal discrimination against women or minorities is sparse, it is very unclear whether a ban would alleviate these harms.
Weinstein’s interesting final conclusion is that ‘on the present state of the evidence’, it is better to combat the harms that free speech and pornography might cause through means other than speech repression. But at the same time he is aware that this is not a definitive answer. He argues that "if future studies demonstrate with more certainty that certain types of pornography are a significant cause of sexual violence or discrimination, then modifying the doctrine to allow for the suppression of this speech might be justified". And similarly, if hate speech were to proliferate, and it could be demonstrated that this expression was contributing to increased violence or discrimination against minorities, Weinstein is prepared to re-evaluate his general conclusion. His main purpose is to provide the background for people to reach their own conclusions about this perennial problem of social policy.
Weinstein’s book is a balanced and stimulating examination of the difficult question concerning the need and the danger of hate speech and pornography in a (post)modern democracy. It is a welcome analysis of moderation amidst the often shrill, extremist claims by each side.
Rather than providing reviews of publications, this section intends simply to bring publications within the broad field of extremism and democracy to the attention of our readers. With the ongoing growth in the number of journals it is hard to keep track of what is published. We therefore encourage our members to keep us posted about recent publications of relevance to the interests of the group’s members.