Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Slates David Greenberg examines the psychology of ultra-conservative outrage.
referencing historian Richard Hofstadter's classic essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
"Hofstadter's 1954 essay introduced the concept of "status politics." It suggested that the far right's obsessions—which he judged inexplicable solely by reference to conventional material interests—were tied to a distinctly modern anxiety: "[t]he rootlessness and heterogeneity of American life," felt as the old order of the rural village collapsed. Once-dominant WASPs of native stock feared displacement by rising ethnic groups, while Irish and German Catholics embraced "hyper-patriotism," "hyper-conformism," and kindred values to strut their American bona fides. Patriotic societies, veterans' groups, and McCarthyite causes helped these groups equate their own values with American ones.
"The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt," furthermore, situated these individuals within a rapidly shifting culture."