Elites / Political / Right

Anderson, Scott and Anderson, John Lee. Inside the League. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1986. 322 pages.

The World Anti-Communist League (WACL) was founded in 1966 as a public relations arm for Taiwan and South Korea. WACL didn't attract much notice in the U.S. until John Singlaub's United States Council for World Freedom, the American branch of WACL, was launched in 1981 with a loan from Taiwan and soon began raising money for the contras.

Singlaub and his supporters also operated through a network of similar groups: Western Goals, Council for the Defense of Freedom, American Security Council, Council for Inter-American Security, and the Conservative Caucus. But WACL is particularly known for its international conferences that attract "American congressmen and senators, archbishops, members of Parliament, bank presidents, and scientists. There, they have been in the company of Nazi collaborators, Japanese war criminals, Latin death squad leaders, disciples of Moon's Unification Church, and fugitive Italian terrorists."

There's even a CIA connection. Ray Cline, station chief in Taiwan from 1958-1962 and later deputy director for intelligence, attended conferences in 1980, 1983, and 1984. The authors believe that covert U.S. funding played a role in the establishment of WACL, and note that Cline was in a position to be helpful when preparatory meetings were held in 1958.

Bellant, Russ. Old Nazis, the New Right and the Reagan Administration. 2nd ed. Political Research Associates, 1989. 96 pages. (Reissued as "Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party" and available for $9 from South End Press, 116 Saint Botolph Street, Boston MA 02115, Tel: 800-533-8478.)

This publication first appeared during the 1988 Bush campaign, and with the help of a series of articles in "Washington Jewish Week" it provoked a minor scandal. At issue was the close association of the Republican Party with Eastern European nationalists who had emigrated to the U.S. when their pro-Nazi regimes collapsed. Pages 17-34 are on the National Republican Heritage Groups (Nationalities) Council, pages 35-50 on the American Security Council, and a final chapter on other "domestic fascist networks."

Bellant, Russ. The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism. Political Research Associates, 1990. 96 pages.

Coors was behind much of the influence of think-tank Reaganism, as shown by this detailed analysis. Some of the 1980s groups that received Coors money are profiled: the Heritage Foundation (pages 11-20), the Free Congress Foundation (pages 21-36), the Council for National Policy (pages 37-45), and smaller sections on the National Strategy Information Center, the American Security Council Foundation, and the Conservative Caucus. Obligatory sections on PC diversity are also included: Coors and women, Coors and gays, Coors and African-Americans, Coors and Chicanos, etc.

Political Research Associates (678 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 205, Cambridge MA 02139, Tel: 617-661-9313) began in Chicago as Midwest Research in 1981, and moved to Cambridge with their new name in 1987. Russ Bellant (Detroit) and staff analyst Chip Berlet are the principal writers, and Jean Hardisty, Ph.D., is chairman of the board and the major donor. Besides Ms. Hardisty, other directors include Prof. Lucy Williams (Northeastern Law School, Boston), Rev. Sally A. Dries (Shamokin PA), Prof. Robin Gillies (Northwestern University), and Prof. Deborah Bright (Rhode Island School of Design). Their 10-year report is titled "Unmasking the Political Right."

Blumenthal, Sidney. The Rise of the Counter-Establishment. New York: Harper & Row Perennial Library, 1988. 369 pages.

Journalist Sidney Blumenthal believes that changes within elite circles, rather than within the electorate at large, explain the dramatic upheavals of U.S. politics in the 80s. No "Republican realignment" has taken place among voters, who still favor progressive domestic policies. But the centrist U.S. political establishment has been outflanked by a conservative "counter-establishment" that operates outside traditional parties. Through its network of magazines, think-tanks, and other institutions, this "counter-establishment" keeps up a permanent blitz in favor of its ideological agenda. It has an "idea," or at least a catch- phrase, for every problem you can think of. Many of these ideas (e.g., supply-side economics, Star Wars, enterprise zones) don't work, but this matters far less than how they play in TV's war of images.

Much of Blumenthal's book consists of portraits of key counter- establishmentarians (e.g., Bill Buckley, Milton Friedman, the neocons) and their institutions. His joshy tone often seems out of synch with what he reports. But Blumenthal, a neoliberal and lately a Clinton man, believes that the U.S. right is headed for a crack-up -- brought on by its own contradictions. We shall see. -- Steve Badrich

Crawford, Alan. Thunder on the Right: The "New Right" and the Politics of Resentment. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980. 381 pages.

Almost everyone concedes that future historians will not deal kindly with the Reagan revolution, but Alan Crawford is the only conservative who can say "I told you so." He saw something unpleasant coming even before Reagan was elected, and took the trouble to spell it out for us. Crawford is a former editor of a Young Americans for Freedom journal, a former editor of Conservative Digest, and a former aide to Senator James Buckley. After exposing almost everything he knows about the people and groups on the Right (his knowledge is impressive), Crawford concludes that "unfortunately, the more I saw the less I liked, and the more convinced I became that the political activities of the New Right were not only unconservative but anticonservative."

Crawford objects to the paranoid style of the New Right, and the "us against them" single-issue campaigns that use morality and religion as a front for dishonest fund-raising and back-room power and greed. His major contribution is his detailed description of the groups and networks, interlocking directorates, direct-mail wizards, and media spin doctors who ran the New Right in 1979 -- and took over in Washington after the 1980 election.

Forster, Arnold and Epstein, Benjamin R. Danger on the Right. New York: Random House, 1964. 295 pages.

Epstein, Benjamin R. and Forster, Arnold. The Radical Right: Report on the John Birch Society and Its Allies. New York: Vintage Books, 1967. 240 pages.

Turner, William W. Power on the Right. Berkeley CA: Ramparts Press, 1971. 272 pages.

Nikitin, Vyacheslav. The Ultras in the USA. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981. 351 pages. Revised and translated from the 1971 edition.

NameBase includes four books on the U.S. far right during the 1950s and 1960s -- "Danger on the Right" and "The Radical Right" by Benjamin Epstein and Arnold Forster, "Power on the Right" by William Turner, and "The Ultras in the USA" by Soviet historian V. Nikitin. Radical conservatism during this period began with McCarthyism and included the John Birch Society, the Minutemen, certain retired generals, and religious broadcasters backed by various corporate millionaires. It continued through the 1964 Goldwater campaign and then the Young Americans for Freedom, which became heavily endowed by the not-so-young and attempted to counter the left-wing campus activism of the late 1960s.

As directors of the Anti-Defamation League, Epstein and Forster are concerned with both the "radical right" and with "extreme conservatives." One of their books is almost entirely on the John Birch Society, while the other, "Danger on the Right," has a chapter on each of ten radical groups and five conservative groups. They name the major players and describe their beliefs and activities, as well as their sources of income, making this one of the more complete works on the subject. But it is weak on coverage of the paramilitary right, and needs to be supplemented with William Turner's 1971 book.

Furgurson, Ernest B. Hard Right: The Rise of Jesse Helms. New York: W.W. Norton, 1986. 302 pages.

Ernest Furgurson, chief of the Baltimore Sun's bureau in Washington, and formerly in Moscow and Saigon, has also written a biography of William Westmoreland. This unauthorized biography of Jesse Helms follows him from boyhood and through his early career as a television commentator speaking out against the "Communist infiltration of the civil rights movement."

In 1972 Jesse Helms won his Senate seat with money from conservative financiers. He and his old friend Thomas F. Ellis put together a national political money machine, one of the most effective ever seen on the Right. Called the Congressional Club, it funded candidates and solicited support on favorite issues through direct-mail campaigns. Some of its affiliates included Jefferson Marketing and Hardison Corporation (for-profit companies to handle logistics), and non-profit institutes such as the Coalition for Freedom, the Institute of American Relations and its Foreign Affairs Council, the American Family Institute, the Center for a Free Society, and the Institute on Money and Inflation. Helms came into his own during the Reagan years, when ideological conservatism enjoyed a resurgence at the same time that many fundamentalist Christians with homespun values felt under siege. In the Senate, Helms is mainly a maverick "spoiler," who uses his seniority to gum up the works in one area until he gets what he wants in another.

Lee, Martin A. The Beast Reawakens. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1997. 546 pages.

With 100 pages of end notes and a 29-page bibliography, this book is a thorough examination of post-World War II fascism in Germany, and to a lesser extent in the U.S. and Russia. The author feels that the Fourth Reich is lurking just around the corner. He's wrong about this, but the people he tracks are worth watching, and that by itself makes this a worthwhile book.

Martin Lee follows the links between ex-Nazi Otto Skorzeny and the skinhead, anti-immigrant neo-Nazis in Germany today, and expects us to be worried. But why not, for example, examine the links between the bankers behind Hitler and transnational corporations of today? Why should skinheads be more worrisome than international organized crime, or fundamentalist religious warfare, or terrorism, or for that matter, the CIA? Lee is unable to define fascism, but believes that it requires identity politics and a racial component. (While doing this, he ignores an eerily similar politics that has dominated the U.S. Left in recent years.) Populism, for example, might be fascist or it might be progressive, depending on whether Lee's instincts tell him it is Right or Left. That leaves everything in a muddle, and Lee needs to learn when to get off of his soapbox. This is an okay book, but it should have been more understated, without trying to sound an alarm based on historical precedents that may never again appear in the same guise.

Lind, Michael. Up From Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America. New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1997. 295 pages.

Michael Lind was just another name on our NameBase list of Heritage Foundation internal phone numbers in 1988, and on the Council on Foreign Relations membership roster, until he bolted from the neocons and decided that he'd rather be a liberal again. If only the liberals weren't messed up even worse than the conservatives! Earlier at Yale, he was a Humphrey- Johnson liberal. Then he embraced conservatism and became a protege of William F. Buckley, Jr. Having since parted company with Buckley, Lind is now an editor for liberal Harper's magazine. Is this guy confused, or what? Not really. He was merely born in 1962, meaning that he cannot understand the 1960s. With the 1960s under your belt, American politics since then is still impossible to digest, but at least it's somewhat less confusing.

Lind makes a valiant effort to put it together, in the course of which he makes some trenchant observations about today's conservates and liberals, and where each falls short. The conservatives betray genuine populism and cozy up to Wall Street, by tricking their populist base into thinking that culture wars are more important than the disappearing middle class. And the politically-correct liberals are so absurd that they're almost extinct. Meanwhile, nothing is happening in the reasonable middle. Hang in there, Lind. You'll never get drafted, but the 1960s will return in another guise.

Saloma, John S.III. Ominous Politics: The New Conservative Labyrinth. New York: Hill and Wang, 1984. 177 pages.

The liberal magazine The Nation sponsored this little volume packed with names and facts about the neoconservative or New Right movement. John Saloma, the first president of the liberal Republican Ripon Society, died in 1983 and never saw the finished work. Two other books in NameBase on the same topic are Thunder on the Right by Alan Crawford (1980) and The Rise of the Counter-Establishment by Sidney Blumenthal (1988). Crawford wrote before some of the important players were visible, while Blumenthal is more interested in neoconservative ideology.

Saloma, on the other hand, gives a succinct overview of who's who, who's connected to who, and where the money comes from. His chapters include think tanks (17 pages), the foundations (14 pages), political action groups (12 pages), the religious right (13 pages), the corporations (18 pages), conservatives in Congress (13 pages), the Republican Party (10 pages), conservatives and the media (14 pages), the public interest law firms (5 pages), conservative Democrats and Libertarians (7 pages), and Black Republicans (8 pages). His selected references consist of eight pages of magazine and newspaper citations from 1978-1982.

Wilcox, Derk Arend; Shackman, Joshua; and Naas, Penelope, eds. The Right Guide: A Guide to Conservative and Right-of-Center Organizations. Economics America, 1993. 444 pages. (Available for $49.95 postpaid from Economics America, Inc., 612 Church Street, Ann Arbor MI 48104, Tel: 734-995-0865.)

The first half of this guide consists of short profiles of numerous groups, along with a subject index. These profiles average over three per page on 185 pages, and include the name of a contact person, some officers or principals, and frequently several board members. The last half of this guide has 30 pages of international organizations (name, address, and telephone only), 49 pages of "status unknown" (addresses of groups that failed to respond to their questionnaire), 12 pages of "return to sender" addresses, 25 pages of addresses of periodicals, 5 pages of campus newspaper addresses, 39 pages of "features" (further descriptions of selected groups, one per page), and 59 pages of a comprehensive key word index of all group and periodical names in the guide.

The indexing in this guide by group or periodical name was too exhaustive for our purposes, and they also chose not to index the names of any individuals. For NameBase we indexed from the profiles and features only, but we selected both individuals and groups from these two sections, for a total of 2000 names.

NameBase book reviews               CloudFlare Watch