ROADS TO DOMINION: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States by Sara Diamond

ROADS TO DOMINION: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sociologist Diamond writes on the four-fold mobilization of conservative power in the United States. In the past 35 years American conservatives have gone from a sometimes loud but disenfranchised group to the controlling force behind the Republican party. They have occupied the White House for 12 of the past 15 years and now have a majority in both houses of Congress. This has not been a simple process, but rather a complicated piece of mobilization and coalition-building. Diamond identifies four distinct strands within the conservative movement: anticommunists, antisegregationists, the Christian Right, and the neoconservatives. The first provided a rallying point, the second an ugly racist overtone, the third a grassroots movement left in the cold by the Reagan administration, the fourth one of the movement's cadres of intellectuals (many of them former CCNY radicals). How these four groups made common cause--that David Duke should share a binding with Irving Kristol--is a riveting story, sometimes a grim one. Perhaps a brief section on Rockefeller Republicanism would have added context. And there is no mention of significant phenomena such as the Cambridge-based Ripon Society of the early '70s or the very influential American Spectator. Although the book is billed as ""non-judgmental,"" Diamond clearly isn't writing from a centrist perspective. In the first paragraph of the first page of chapter one, the US drops the Bomb, while the Soviets offer ""models for . . . anti-colonial national liberation movements."" And one continually wishes that someone had done a search-and-replace for every instance of the author's veiled hostility and snide tone. That said, Diamond's book is an absorbing, painstaking, overdue typology and elucidation of the central phenomenon in American politics of the last 20 years. Not a particularly balanced book, but a valuable one in a sparse field dominated by even more egregious cant from both sides.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 425pp
Publisher: Guilford