Today's radical right

Bob Wing, courtesy of Speak Out
By Lynn Koh
Aug 7, 2013

I hope you will take a few minutes to read Bob Wing's latest essay, "Rightwing Neo-Secession or Third Reconstruction?"  It is a very good description of the radical right's strategy and program, and what it might take to defeat it and create deep progressive change.  

Here is Bob's assessment of the right-wing's current strength:

Meanwhile the Republicans control 28 states and numerous local jurisdictions in which they are moving to nullify federal legislation with which they disagree, qualitatively cutback on and privatize government and public education, drastically rollback the rights of people of color, women, workers, children and gays and eliminate progressive income taxes in favor of regressive sales taxes. Lara M. Brown recently reminded us in that “the vast majority of the laws under which each of us abide are state laws, not federal laws.”

In North Carolina, the right-wing controls the state legislature and is attacking the social safety net and passing anti-democratic restrictions on voting.

The essay calls for a broad Third Reconstruction, centered on organizing in the South, which would incorporate racial, economic, and environmental justice, as well as peace.

Here are my initial thoughts on the far-right, spurred by Bob's essay:

Presently, the far-right program can be described as uncompromising anti-statism, and anti-democratic politics.    There is a clear split in the ruling class over the far-right's anti-democratic program, since it is an immediate attack on the political base of the Democratic Party; this overlays the democratic and egalitarian sentiments of most people of color.  

There is also a great deal of tension in the Republican Party about the anti-statist extremism of the far-right, which we saw in the confrontation with Boehner over whether a fiscal compromise was permissible.  Mike Davis, in his New Left Review article at the beginning of the year, says that the far-right is more in sync with the Club for Growth than the National Business Roundtable. 

But I am not convinced that finance, which is still the dominant fraction of capital, is at all antagonistic to the far-right program. In fact, they seemed very willing to play ball with Tea Party radicals in 2010 in order to halt any progressive motion from Obama.  In this, they were successful.  Who knows how this will influence political dynamics, but it raises the possibility that moderates, centrists, and even current liberals will adopt parts of the far-right program as happened with neoliberalism, rather than sharpen the conflict.

Still, it is clear that the Republican Party base is radicalized to an unprecedented extent, with real consequences on the future of US politics.  What accounts for this?  Demography, certainly, and the election of a Black president as a metaphor for declining white power.  But also the fact that the U.S.-dominated neoliberal world-order has run out of steam, while there is no energized alternative to the status quo, perhaps tempered with some form of regulatory regime or Keynesianism.  The result is that the richest 20 percent need an upward redistribution of wealth and income to hold onto what they have even more than the top .1 percent, which  accounts for the tensions between even the Republican 'establishment' and 'Tea Party radicals'.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

Lynn Koh is a long-time activist in the anti-war movement, and is a labor organizer in the Bay Area.

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