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Thread: New Yorker article on history of US far-right ideology

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    Politics.ie Member borntorum's Avatar
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    Default New Yorker article on history of US far-right ideology

    Interesting article from the New Yorker on the development of the far-right in America, currently personified by Glenn Beck and the Tea Party. Their paranoia and extremism is not a new phenomenon. The article discusses Robert Welch's John Birch Society in the 1960s:

    Wherever he looked, Welch saw Communist forces manipulating American economic and foreign policy on behalf of totalitarianism. But within the United States, he believed, the subversion had actually begun years before the Bolshevik Revolution. Conflating modern liberalism and totalitarianism, Welch described government as “always and inevitably an enemy of individual freedom.” Consequently, he charged, the Progressive era, which expanded the federal government’s role in curbing social and economic ills, was a dire period in our history, and Woodrow Wilson “more than any other one man started this nation on its present road to totalitarianism.”
    An even crazier 1960s right-winger was a Canadian Mormon called Willard Cleon Skousen:

    A year before Richard Condon’s novel “The Manchurian Candidate” appeared, Skousen announced that the Communists were creating “a regimented breed of Pavlovian men whose minds could be triggered into immediate action by signals from their masters.” A later book, “The Naked Capitalist,” decried the Ivy League Establishment, who, through the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rockefeller Foundation, formed “the world’s secret power structure.” The conspiracy had begun, Skousen wrote, when reformers like the wealthy banker Edward M. (Colonel) House, a close adviser to President Woodrow Wilson, helped put into place the Federal Reserve and the graduated income tax.
    In 1981, he produced “The 5,000 Year Leap,” a treatise that assembles selective quotations and groundless assertions to claim that the U.S. Constitution is rooted not in the Enlightenment but in the Bible, and that the framers believed in minimal central government. Either proposition would have astounded James Madison, often described as the guiding spirit behind the Constitution, who rejected state-established religions and, like Alexander Hamilton, proposed a central government so strong that it could veto state laws. “The 5,000 Year Leap” is not a fervid book. Instead, it is calmly, ingratiatingly misleading.
    Even though this guy was so extreme he was shunned by even the further reaches of the US right, after his death he found a willing disciple in Glenn Beck:

    By the time Skousen died, in 2006, he was little remembered outside the ranks of the furthest-right Mormons. Then, in 2009, Glenn Beck began touting his work: “The Naked Communist,” “The Naked Capitalist,” and, especially, “The 5,000 Year Leap,” which he called “essential to understanding why our Founders built this Republic the way they did.” After Beck put the book in the first spot on his required-reading list—and wrote an enthusiastic new introduction for its reissue—it shot to the top of the Amazon best-seller list. In the first half of 2009, it sold more than two hundred and fifty thousand copies. Local branches of the Tea Party Patriots, the United American Tea Party, and other groups across the country have since organized study groups around it. “It is time we learn and follow the FREEDOM principles of our Founding Fathers,” a United American Tea Party video declares, referring to the principles expounded by Skousen’s book. If Beck is the movement’s teacher, “The 5,000 Year Leap” has become its primer, with “The Making of America” as a kind of 102-level text.
    Just to prove that the world has gone completely crazy, Beck has now established an online 'university' dedicated to imparting these wacky beliefs.

    Beck University

    The article goes on to show the relationship between the far right and the Republican party during the 1960s and 70s, and then into the Reagan era. It provides an interesting guide to how the US Right arrived at the extreme position it currently occupies, and is worth reading for anyone interested in American politics.

    Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and the Republicans : The New Yorker

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    Politics.ie Member ONQ's Avatar
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    When looking at this kind of stuff, you go to the source.
    I think Carroll Quigley's book is probably more accurate and informative than this 2nd hand window dressing.
    Carroll Quigley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they think when they see a lot of doing something - "its a conspiracy!"

    There may be no consipracy, just a lot of stupid, greedy, agressive, murderous people doing what comes naturally.

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    Beck's show on Fox News is fascinating. Unhinged, but fascinating. It's basically become an hour of Beck pointing at blackboards and ranting about reds under the bed. Unintentional comedy can also be the order of the day, such as one gem last week when he, with a straight face, talked about Tony Blair as a socialist. I can think of many words to describe Blair, but socialist wouldn't be one of them.

    Of course, when you set aside the comedy factor, you're left with an ultra-right polemicist who has become incredibly, disturbingly popular in the US over the last 12-18 months. I hate to make broad sweeping statements, but what the hell is wrong with that country?

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    Politics.ie Member louis bernard's Avatar
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    I sometimes watch Glen Beck’s show on Fox news for some light relief. He strikes me as being completely off the wall and unhinged. I believe he’s a recovering alcoholic which may be something to do with his bizarre slant on affairs. Says a lot about the USA that so many people (albeit not very intelligent people, but “not very intelligent” is quiet a chunk of the US population) takes him seriously. He reminds me of Matthew Harrison Brady played so well by the late Frederic March in the film “Inherit the Wind”. Totally mad but entertaining.

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    Politics.ie Member owedtojoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by borntorum View Post
    Interesting article from the New Yorker on the development of the far-right in America, currently personified by Glenn Beck and the Tea Party. Their paranoia and extremism is not a new phenomenon. The article discusses Robert Welch's John Birch Society in the 1960s:

    An even crazier 1960s right-winger was a Canadian Mormon called Willard Cleon Skousen:

    Even though this guy was so extreme he was shunned by even the further reaches of the US right, after his death he found a willing disciple in Glenn Beck:

    Just to prove that the world has gone completely crazy, Beck has now established an online 'university' dedicated to imparting these wacky beliefs.

    Beck University

    The article goes on to show the relationship between the far right and the Republican party during the 1960s and 70s, and then into the Reagan era. It provides an interesting guide to how the US Right arrived at the extreme position it currently occupies, and is worth reading for anyone interested in American politics.

    Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and the Republicans : The New Yorker
    William Buckley, the Conservative intellectual, had the likes of the John Birch society and other crazies pushed out of the Conservative movement.

    Now they are back at the heart of it again. Says it all.

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    Politics.ie Member owedtojoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louis bernard View Post
    I sometimes watch Glen Beck’s show on Fox news for some light relief. He strikes me as being completely off the wall and unhinged. I believe he’s a recovering alcoholic which may be something to do with his bizarre slant on affairs. Says a lot about the USA that so many people (albeit not very intelligent people, but “not very intelligent” is quiet a chunk of the US population) takes him seriously. He reminds me of Matthew Harrison Brady played so well by the late Frederic March in the film “Inherit the Wind”. Totally mad but entertaining.
    Good comparison. Harrison Brady was based on William Jennings Bryan, a man embittered by failure. Let's hope Beck reaches that stage soon enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by louis bernard View Post
    I sometimes watch Glen Beck’s show on Fox news for some light relief. He strikes me as being completely off the wall and unhinged. I believe he’s a recovering alcoholic which may be something to do with his bizarre slant on affairs. Says a lot about the USA that so many people (albeit not very intelligent people, but “not very intelligent” is quiet a chunk of the US population) takes him seriously. He reminds me of Matthew Harrison Brady played so well by the late Frederic March in the film “Inherit the Wind”. Totally mad but entertaining.
    You've got it in one.

    At times entertaining, but utterly demented.

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    People are in awe of Beck, who is nothing more than an eejit with the common touch and a mind addled with paranoia. This paranoia may be related to the fact that he smoked cannabis every day for 15 years!

    Here's an unintentionally hilarious video of interviews of people at the Beck/Palin faith rally in Washington:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht8PmEjxUfg]YouTube - Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally - Interviews With Participants[/ame]

    P.s. Beck did indeed call Obama a racist.
    "The war against drugs is unique in all conflict: we can win it, simply by ceasing to fight it."

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    Politics.ie Member borntorum's Avatar
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    I used to watch Beck for the freak-show aspect, but he's a broken record these days, repeating the same crackpot conspiracy-theory paranoia night after night ad nauseum. I suspect that eventually the novelty will wear off for many of his current fans. Mind you, the fact that he's now set up his own online 'university' (for profit, of course) to spread his lunacy is scary

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    Politics.ie Member borntorum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ONQ View Post
    When looking at this kind of stuff, you go to the source.
    I think Carroll Quigley's book is probably more accurate and informative than this 2nd hand window dressing.
    Carroll Quigley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    That's lovely, feel free to post relevant quotes from that book and we can all discuss them.

    Until then, we'll have to make do with the available New Yorker article

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