Conceptualizing & Mapping
the US Political Right
A Study Guide for Serious Research into the US Political
by Chip Berlet
This is an early draft of “When Alienation Turns Right: Populist Conspiracism, the Apocalyptic Style, and Neofascist Movements,” in Lauren Langman & Devorah Kalekin Fishman, (eds.), Trauma, Promise, and the Millennium: The Evolution of Alienation, pp. 115-144, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).
The footnotes and table of contents have been removed. For the full text of the footnoted material, please refer to the version found in the book.
The political right in the US is composed of a complex and organic network
of overlapping political, electoral, cultural and social structures.
There are distinct sectors of the right in terms of ideology, zealousness,
and methodology. Each sector is composed of elite institutions, core
leaders, information networks, and grassroots social movements that form,
unform, and reform coalitions over time based on multiple factors. There
is a corporate right and a Christian right with various wings that sometimes
agree and sometimes challenge each other over issues such as commercial
materialism, federal intrusion into private matters, and whether or not
Hollywood is the new Babylon.
To deepen our understanding of the political right, it is useful to
review three important analytical frameworks: stylistic, topical, and
methodological. These need to be used along with a study of historic
political and social movements of the right.