The Far Right Regards Human Inequality as “Natural” (book excerpt)

This book is about far right politics in the United States. It is an
effort to understand movements such as the alt-right: what they want,
what they do, who they appeal to, and how they interact with other
political forces. It is also an effort to place these movements in
historical context, to analyze how and why they have developed over the
past half-century, and how current circumstances affect their strengths
and limitations. has made Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire its latest Progressive Pick of the Week and has published an excerpt from the book’s introduction. Here are a few more snippets:

Before 2015 or 2016, most mainstream reporters and political pundits
had never heard
of the alt-right, and they scrambled to figure out what
the movement was and what it stood for. Because alt-rightists didn’t
look or act like stereotypical Neo-Nazis, people accused them of trying
to hide their white supremacist politics behind a “benign” label, even
though in fact many of them went out of their way to sound as offensive
and bigoted as possible. Because alt-rightists were explicitly white
nationalist, many observers didn’t notice that they also promoted a
misogyny so extreme that even many Neo-Nazis criticized it. And because
some “anti-globalist” conservatives started using the alt-right label,
many critics missed the distinction between fellow travelers and
committed adherents — between those Trump supporters who wanted to
reclaim control of the American republic for white Christian men and
those who hoped for the republic’s collapse. Although media coverage of
the alt-right gradually improved, this initial confusion underscored the
need to rethink superficial, overgeneralized, and outmoded conceptions,
and to recognize the far right as a dynamic, changing collection of

*                     *                     *

Instead of focusing on a specific doctrine, my approach begins with a
specific historical turning point: in the 1970s and 1980s, for the first
time since World War II, rightists in significant numbers began to
withdraw their loyalty from the US government. This marked a sharp break
with the right’s traditional role as defender of the established order,
as one of the forces helping economic and political elites to maintain
social control. In my view, the resulting division between oppositional
and system-loyal rightists is more significant than ideological
differences about race, religion, economics, or other factors.

*                     *                     *

The far right presents multiple kinds of threats. In the short
term, it’s extremely unlikely that far rightists could seize power and
bring about the kind of society they envision. While this cannot be
ruled out in the longer term, there are several more immediate reasons
to take the far right seriously. First, far rightists carry out
harassment and violence against targeted groups, and they encourage
other people to do the same. Second, far rightists create more space for
system-loyal forces to intensify their own bigotry, scapegoating, and
violence, both by offering an example for system-loyal groups to learn
from, and also by providing an “extreme” example that helps more
“moderate” versions look legitimate by comparison. Third, far rightists
can exploit popular grievances to draw support away from left-wing
liberatory alternatives. Fourth, far rightists can infect the left
itself with their poisonous ideas or recruit leftists to work with them

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Photo credit: By Mark Dixon from Pittsburgh, PA (Charlottesville-1520282) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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