Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Far Right, Radical Right: Defining Terms

Do you ever get frustrated by the loose way we throw around terms like "far Right," "radical Right," etc? I do. Most of the stuff I read uses phrases like these without explaining what they're supposed to mean. That leaves me in the uncomfortable position of assuming that I know and/or agree, when maybe I don't.

If you had to pick one thing, one variable, that distinguishes the "far" Right from the "radical" Right, what would it be? What one attitude or behavior or ideology would clarify the difference, if any, between the US "far" Right and the US "radical" Right?

What about the one thing that distinguishes the "far" or "radical" Right from the regular garden-variety Right, or from "conservatives"?

What sparked my latest round of OCD was reading Heidi Beirich's review of a book about Willis Carto and the American Far Right (current issue of the Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center). She castigates author George Michael for using such terms loosely. Well, he's not the only one. So I'm trying to work out a coherent typology--if only for myself.

While I'm emailing Heidi for clarification and discussion, do you guys have any thoughts? Please, pitch in if the subject interests you at all.