Robert McHenry: The Radical Right in Retrospect





[Robert McHenry is a former editor-in-chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica and author of How to Know.]

In 1955 the sociologist Daniel Bell edited a volume of essays under the title The New American Right. The essays addressed, from various standpoints and with the tools of various disciplines, the phenomenon of McCarthyism and related expressions of far-right-wing politics. A new edition, with supplemental essays by many of the same authors, appeared in 1963 as The Radical Right.

Reading these essays requires some effort by the contemporary reader to recapture, or imagine anew, the political and cultural atmosphere in the United States of the early 1950s. But the effort pays its great dividend in yielding the shock of the familiar: McCarthyism, minus the leader who in the decades since his heyday has receded into a figure of sinister absurdity, was not so very different from its direct descendant, the so-called Tea Party movement....



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