AFTER THE STORM: The U.S. far right is at a crossroads.

AuthorLyons, Matthew N.

As President, Trump echoed and validated far-rightists more than any of his predecessors, with his racism and misogyny, demonization of political opponents, celebration of violence, and blatant authoritarian tendencies. In the final months of his administration, Trump refused to accept his electoral defeat, a stance that fueled far-right politics in a way no other President has done.

Tens of millions of people have bought into Trumps fraudulent claim that the vote was rigged, thereby calling into question the legitimacy of the U.S. government itself. The great majority of those who stormed the Capitol, according to one detailed study, had no apparent affiliation with far-right organizations, but rather were "normal" Trump supporters suddenly ready to use force to overturn a presidential election.

The far right has grown dramatically in recent months, but its newer adherents are not yet well organized, and their long-term commitment to the movement is uncertain.

Insurgency reflects the far right's contradictory relationship with the established order. Far-rightists want to bolster systems of oppression and exclusion that have been integral to U.S. society since the beginning. Yet they're deeply angry at the status quo and the people in power.

Part of this anger comes from a fear of losing the relative social privilege and power they traditionally held over oppressed groups; another part comes from a sense of being beaten down and disenfranchised by elites. This double-edged anger coalesces into the belief that economic and political elites are using people of color, feminists, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people to weaken and destroy white Christian America.

Far-right anti-elitism is real, but it doesn't challenge real social or economic hierarchies. Rather, it takes people's sense of disempowerment and channels it in ways that bolster inequality and oppression all the more.

The U.S. far right encompasses several different ideologies. Most notorious is white nationalism, an openly racist doctrine that literally aims to establish an all-white nation through migration, mass expulsion, or genocide. White nationalism is promoted by such groups as Patriot Front, but it's less common among far-rightists than other ideologies that bolster racial oppression in ways that are easier for proponents to deny.

The Proud Boys, for example, advocate "Western chauvinism" (i.e., European cultural dominance) but also include people of color as members; notably, the group's current leader, Enrique Tarrio, identifies as Afro-Cuban. The Oath Keepers, a leading Patriot movement group, routinely scapegoat and demonize Muslims and immigrants but uphold "color-blind" ideology, which reinforces racial oppression by denying that it's there.

Other major far-right ideologies don't center on race at all. The theocratic wing of the Christian right wants to "take dominion" over society, meaning that it advocates a form of supremacism based on religion rather than race. One of the largest theocratic formations, the New Apostolic Reformation movement, has a multiracial membership and active branches in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Christian right mobilization efforts have largely centered on issues of gender and sexuality through campaigns...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT