Whether in the form of spreading laissez-faire libertarianism or militant single-issue organizing--like anti-abortion...


THUNDER ON THE RIGHT: The ""New Right"" and the Politics of Resentment

Whether in the form of spreading laissez-faire libertarianism or militant single-issue organizing--like anti-abortion groups--the ""New Right"" has troubled many on the left of the political spectrum. But they're not the only ones who are worried, as evidenced by conservative Crawford's attack. A former editor of a Young Americans for Freedom journal and aide to ex-Senator James Buckley, he takes an interesting elite-rightist view of the far-out competition. Cataloguing the major organizations of the New Right, and its chief activists, he emphasizes the key role played by fund raisers and direct-mail entrepreneurs like Richard Viguerie, who keeps popping up as the financial focal point. The groups Crawford analyzes include the Conservative Caucus (an umbrella coordinating group for the ""home and family"" activists), the National Right to Work Committee, public interest law firms like the Washington Legal Foundation, and such old standards as the John Birch Society; among the publications discussed are the Conservative Digest, Human Events, and The New Right Report, a newsletter. Crawford details the opposition by the New Right, which is Western and Southwestern based, against traditional conservatives like William F. Buckley and George Will, and New-York-centered ""neoconservatives"" Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, et al. Here, Crawford takes his stand, seeing the New Right as ""populist"" and committed to direct democracy (via plebiscites such as California's Proposition 13) while the conservatives favor representative democracy as conducive to stability and order. He is unperturbed, moreover, by the New Right's attack on Buckley and company as elitists, and sides with the elitists against the vulgar populists--when did Buckley ever have to resort to petty-cash fund-raising? Crawford's polemical excesses debase both populism and democracy, but his information is worth consideration.

Pub Date: July 14, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1980

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