Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Fighting the Last War: Confusion, Partisanship, and Alarmism in the Literature on the Radical Right

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Jeffrey M. Bale and Tamir Bar-On

The authors argue that the potential threat of a resurgence of “fascism” has been consistently exaggerated from 1945 until present day; that the ongoing lack of conceptual and definitional clarity with respect to terms like “fascism,” the “radical right,” the “alt right,” “white supremacism,” “populism,” “racism,” etc., has enabled ill-informed or dishonest commentators to distort their meaning and abusively misapply those labels so as to delegitimize their political opponents; and that the political and economic elites in charge of contemporary Western societies are now deliberately exaggerating and exploiting the threat posed by the domestic radical right in order to facilitate vilifying, harassing, de-platforming, censoring, “canceling,” and repressing disgruntled citizens (no matter where they may lie along the political spectrum) who openly criticize and vigorously oppose their agendas. The authors also advocate the use of well-established scholarly methods for carrying out research on the right and provide precise definitions of various terms in order to facilitate the development of more accurate categorizations.

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