Right-Wing Extremism: In Search of a Definition
Right-wing extremism serves as a point of entry to the wider-ranging problems of hatred, xenophobia, and nationalism that frustrate the healthy functioning of democracy. This chapter first identifies right-wing extremism by examining its most salient features. Next, it explores the ways in which the extreme right is different from other similar phenomena. The chapter sketches the four models offered in explanation of right-wing extremism: social-psychological theories; socioeconomic theories; political theories; and international, or global, theories. What distinguishes the extreme right variant from the other styles of the right is the persistence and preservation of anti-Semitism. Specifically, the ideology of anti-Semitism, contained in an elaborate conspiracy theory, is intrinsic to the extreme right. According to this conspiracy theory, an insidious cabal has been plotting to take over the world by positioning its members in places of power in the media, government, finance, and business. Finally, the chapter assesses the impact of right-wing extremism and its ultimate significance.