The History of Right-Wing Extremism

Posted on July 19, 2022

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It’s easy to blame poor Donald Trump for the current extremism of the Republican party from blah-blah-blah-we-hate-taxes to raped-10-year-olds-shouldn’t-have-abortions. The truth is that the roots of right-wing extremism can be traced back to the moment that early humans first realized that their environment was fraught with danger. “Things were better before poisonous snakes and Neanderthals and shit like that came along,” they complained to each other. “At least mammoths and giant elephants give us food. Snakes and Neanderthals just take, take, take and give nothing. How can we get rid of them?”

Hunter-gatherers required many square miles to find adequate roots, grubs, berries and whatever else it was that kept them alive. The last thing they wanted was to pen themselves in. The advent of agriculture created a need, for the first time in human history, for security to protect the crops that humans worked really hard to maintain. Walls were invented, and humans discovered the joy of looking out on their walled-in fields and yelling “Hey you SOBs out there! Don’t even think about coming close! I was here first and I will take you out! Go back where you came from!”

As small settlements gradually turned into the beginnings of empires, humans had to invent religion (“Hey, I didn’t make this shit up. God told me to do it.”) and slavery (“OK, so there are humans and something else that also has arms and legs. Let’s make them slaves.”) to manage people. Otherwise, everyone would be running amok and the pyramids would never have gotten built and people would have to kill each other using just their bare hands.

As civilizations became more sophisticated over the millennia, a relatively small group of humans found that they could sort of control a relatively huge group of humans, mostly by having a lot of laws that people couldn’t read. But that still left way more people who needed controlling than people who controlled. They found a solution. “The gods told us that women must serve men” effectively cut in half the number of people who needed controlling. The top guys only needed to control the men and the men controlled their women. Bingo, division of labor was born.

This entire system worked fairly well until the industrial revolution, when hands became passe and machines started to take over. In the US, to make matters worse, slavery was abolished, and nobody knew what to do with all the extra humans who were wandering around, demanding to be taught how to read. Public service organizations like the Ku Klux Klan were formed, to deal with this issue (“This country was created solely by white people. We know all the shit. Don’t even try.”)

As time passed, technology replaced religion for a lot of humans, and many black people managed, under the most extreme obstacles, to forget their assigned place in the pecking order and get advanced degrees. The white humans who were left behind were not happy (“Things were better before blacks came along. Why did they come here, anyway, and ruin our lives?” “We need religion back, real religion, meaning Christian religion, not fake religion.” “We need what created this great country: white men who could shoot straight at anything that moved and then go to church on Sunday.”)

The aftermath of World War II created a new demon for American humans to go after. (No, not Nazism or Hitler.) It was Communism, that thing that Russia invented to get back at all the rich people. The John Birch Society and The McCarthy trials railed against this new enemy and they had their moment in the sun. But they were short-lived. They failed at capturing the imagination of the American people.

Then, in the 1980s, humans re-discovered their power. Going after other countries was a waste of time. It was far more efficient to go after ourselves. Any number of people were ripe for the picking (“Blacks just want to watch TV all day and collect welfare.” “Jews control the liberal media.” “Gays and women who want abortions and people who follow any religion except Christianity are an abomination against God.” “People who hate guns aren’t patriots.” “All those people crossing the southern border either just want our jobs ((or no jobs at all))” “My taxes are going to support deadbeats.”).

Throughout time, humans have always been angry (“I hate those Neanderthals” “My boss is a dick.”) But now they discovered that their anger had been misplaced. Now they were given a target: all the groups identified above, as well as the liberal media, higher education, and Democrats. They started to have a field day with their anger. And one man (No, not Trump.) solved the pesky issue of truth: the great visionary, Roger Stone. He coined the phrase “Stop the steal” in 2016, even before Trump was elected. Stone knew that he had invented a phrase that could be used in just about any situation one desired. The website http://www.stopthesteal.org was registered, and history was made.

“Stop the Steal” was brilliant. It galvanized folks. It was a phrase that fit anything they were angry about. It was originally used against Ted Cruz’s win in the Iowa Caucus. (Yes, true.) It was locked, loaded and ready to blast away, should Hillary have won the 2020 presidential election. And it was used against Biden’s presidential win. The right wingers were on a roll.

The train of right-wing extremism continues to barrel on, its cars festooned with more American flags than Betsy Ross could have stitched in 100 lifetimes. Aside from that, it looks like any other train, except for the fact that it’s going backward at alarming speed, and there don’t seem to be any brakes on it. Beneath its wheels are crushed whatever and whoever tries to get in its way. Some believe that it hurtles backward toward a future none of us could have imagined. Still others are convinced that the train will shortly run out of steam. The rest focus solely on what’s available in the dining car. The train doesn’t care. It just keeps moving.

Posted in: politicians, politics