History of Right-Wing Extremism: Collections

Far Right and right-wing extremism has had a noticeable presence throughout much of modern history, though its influence has risen and waned as global events like COVID-19, emerging politicians like Donald Trump, and the developing opinions of the public have shaped the political landscape. Usually characterized by a focus on race theory, especially white supremacy and antisemitism; apocalyptic discourse; and conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking like the New World Order, Far Right and neo-Nazi groups have appeared throughout Europe and America. Using Gale's Political Extremism and Radicalism series, researchers can examine the ideology and development of a wide range of these right-wing extremist groups.

Early fascism became prominent in the years after World War I. The carnage and dislocation caused by the Great War created the impetus fascism needed to gain and claim popularity. Initially, Mussolini's Italy was the dominant force, with fascist groups elsewhere in Europe and even in America keen to draw on elements of Italian fascism throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Rotha Linton-Orman's British Fascists for instance, which was the first explicitly fascist movement in Britain, was heavily influenced by Mussolini. By the years before World War II, however, Germany had overtaken Italy as the dominant fascist regime in Europe, an influence that continued to grow during the early part of the war.

Interest in fascism across Europe and America lessened dramatically after the war, with many conservative leaders avoiding any association with the radical Right. Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, for example, was one of the most successful fascist groups in the UK but, like many other groups, it did not survive the war, and the successors of Mosley's Blackshirts have largely been marginalized in the time since.

It wasn't until the 1950s and 1960s that the Far Right again began to rise, becoming a more dominant force with the formation of anti-democratic groups and political parties in the late 1960s and 1970s, including France's Front National, Austria's Freedom Party, and the UK's National Front, which joined most of the post-war extreme right groups in the UK under one neo-fascist umbrella.

Right-wing extremism has continued its presence in the new conspiracism of a post-truth, pro-Trump American culture—predominantly taking the form of white supremacy groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), who have had long histories in the United States. The KKK in particular, though first established as a secret society at the end of slavery, had a significant resurgence in the 1920s, staying close to the mainstream until the 1960s when a combination of the civil rights movement and wider political developments forced them into decline, with their remaining followers becoming even more extremist. Other uniquely American versions of Far Right extremism include the Christian Identity movement and white supremacist prison gangs such as Aryan Brotherhood.

The most recent iteration of right-wing extremism, the alt-right, has come about in the past few years with the growth of the internet and social media and is associated with right-wing terrorism. The alt-right continues the fixation on conspiracy, race, and white supremacy created by the extreme right-wing groups that came before it, but differs in its lack of a physical place—with its followers communicating almost entirely online—and a new focus on ultra-masculinity.

From conspiracy theories to white supremacy, far-right extremism has had a long, sometimes violent presence in Europe and America. The primary sources available in Gale's Political Extremism and Radicalism series are essential resources for researchers looking to explore the nature of far-right groups and political parties—from major figures and events to examining the ideologies of these groups—using the propaganda they created to express new conspiracism and promote violence.

  • Christian Identity and Far Right-Wing Politics

    This collection consists of periodicals, pamphlets, programs, and other printed ephemera regarding American Christian conservative groups' philosophies and conspiracy theories as well as far right-wing politics and election propaganda. It includes both ephemera and periodicals through which researchers can explore the intersection of Christian conservatism and the Far Right. Some notable newspapers included in this collection are Attack!, Christian Beacon, Christian Defense League, Citizens Informer, Instauration, Michael, The Confederate Leader, The Councilor, The Crusader, The Klansman, The New Order, The Thunderbolt, The Truth at Last, White Knight, White Patriot, and White Power.

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  • FBI File on Charles Lindbergh

    Charles Lindbergh thrilled the American public when he became the first man to fly an airplane solo over the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. However, Lindbergh's life was also marked by tragedy and controversy. In 1932, the infant child of Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, was kidnapped and murdered. Lindbergh was impressed by the power of the Nazi war machine—particularly the Luftwaffe—and advocated American neutrality in the volatile years before World War II. Covering the 1930s and 1940s, this FBI file focuses mainly on Lindbergh's activities as a Nazi sympathizer. This collection will appeal to anyone interested in American social history as well as to those studying the decades leading up to World War II.

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  • FBI File on Ezra Pound

    This intriguing FBI file deals with the World War II activities of the poet Ezra Pound. Pound, who wrote such major works as the epic “Cantos,” “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” and “Seafarer,” was an American expatriate for much of his life. He was active in promulgating fascist ideology, especially through radio broadcasts directed at the United States, while living in Italy during World War II. Charged with treason by the U.S. government, he was captured after the war in Geneva and was brought to the United States for trial. He admitted to voluntarily broadcasting fascist propaganda for pay. Pound was eventually confined to a mental institution in 1958 after being deemed unfit for trial. Included in this lightly excised collection are radio transcripts, correspondence with Italian and German officials, and a memo from Adolph Hitler.

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  • FBI File on the Posse Comitatus

    This FBI file is an excellent case study of the tracking of a hate group. A group of right-wing extremists, the Posse Comitatus was formed in Oregon in the early 1970s. Established as a group of citizens “voluntarily acting in the name of the local sheriff to enforce the law,” the Posse Comitatus hated Jews, African Americans, and government officials above the rank of sheriff. Holding the federal government in contempt as illegitimate, and recognizing lawful authority only on the county level, the Posse also advocated tax rebellion. Covering the period 1973–1977 and 1980–1996, this collection contains copies of hate literature, details of a bombing, and notes from several income tax evasion trials. This file will be of interest to those studying hate groups and the government's efforts to monitor them.

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  • HO 283 Home Office: Defence Regulation 18B, Advisory Committee Papers

    Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet of Ancoats, was a British politician and member of Parliament. In 1932, Mosley formed and became the leader of the British Union of Fascists. The party was renamed the National Socialists in 1936 and British Union in 1937 and was said to be modelled on Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers' Party. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the British Security Service and Special Branch became increasingly worried that the British Union of Fascists was gathering public support that might undermine the war effort. Mosley was therefore interned under Defence Regulation 18B in 1940.

    Papers of the Advisory Committee on Defence Regulation 18B is comprised mainly of transcripts of its hearings of individual cases of detainees. This collection concerns Sir Oswald Mosley's appeal against his detention during the Second World War and includes papers of Norman Birkett, K.C., concerning the British Union of Fascists.

    The records in this collection provide unique insight into the founding of the British Union of Fascists and how it operated.

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  • HO 45 Home Office: Registered Papers. Registered Papers, 1920 onwards

    This collection comprises of Home Office papers on individuals detained during the Second World War because of their involvement with right-wing nationalist groups, such as the British People's Party, the British Union, the Fascist January Club, the Imperial Fascist League, the Link, the National Socialist League, the Nordic League, and the Right Club.

    Defence Regulation 18B was one of the Defence Regulations used by the British Government during the Second World War that allowed the internment of people suspected of being Nazi sympathizers. Individuals could be detained without being formally charged with a crime.

    This collection is essential for researchers examining Second World War Britain and twentieth-century political movements.

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  • The American Radicalism Collection

    Since 1970, the American Radicalism Collection at Michigan State University has been collecting ephemera on radical groups across a range of terrorist and extremist movements, including those involved in religion, conspiracy theories, race, gender, the environment, and equal rights. The collection covers four general categories, each with a different focus: leftist politics and anti-war movements; religion and the radical Right; race, gender, and equal rights; and social, economic, and environmental movements. The collection also includes materials on such topics as survivalism, Holocaust denial, creationism, and anti-Catholicism from groups like the John Birch Society and the Black Panther Party. The materials represent a wide range of viewpoints, from the Far Right to the Far Left.

    The aggregation process did not end with materials from the late 1960s and 1970s. The collection includes materials from the 1980s, the 1990s, and the beginning of the twenty-first century. As a totality, the American Radicalism Collection provides a non-idealized and minimally brokered snapshot of social change concerns in the United States from 1970 to the present.

    This expansive collection offers researchers the opportunity to study, as well as compare, multiple fringe movements, their tendencies to conspiracism in the United States, and what impact they have had on American history and politics.

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  • Walter Goldwater Radical Pamphlet Collection

    The Library at the University of California, Davis established the Radical Pamphlet Collection in 1966 with a collection of pamphlets purchased from Walter Goldwater, a book dealer who specialized in radical politics and who was also one of the first book dealers to specialize in African American studies. Through the material in this collection researchers can explore the role that the Far Right plays in the United States, with titles authored by both those in support of and criticizing Far Right viewpoints, and which cover topics such as the Ku Klux Klan, communism, politics, racism, and fascism.

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  • Social Documents Collection

    The Social Documents Collection contains a large accumulation of materials published by conservative organizations; groups generally considered to be right-wing.

    Political Extremism and Radicalism: Far-Right Groups in America includes a number of pamphlets, publications, leaflets, correspondence, and ephemera focusing specifically on material related to Far Right groups that have been selected from the wider Social Documents Collection. Materials concern a range of right-wing and Far Right thinking, from Second Amendment gun rights and tax protest to anti-communist, racist, anti-Semitic, Neo-Confederate thinking, and much more.

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  • James Aho Collection

    The James Aho Collection is comprised of a variety of materials documenting right-wing extremism in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. Materials consist of printed matter, recordings, and ephemera with the bulk of the collection consisting of newsletters from various churches and organizations promoting their beliefs and conspiracy theories. Some notable publications featured in this collection include The Page, Destiny Magazine, Aryan Nations, The Covenant Message, Civil Liberties Review, Northwest Beacon, Christ is the Answer, and Youth Action News.

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  • The Security Service: Personal (PF Series) Files

    The Security Service: Personal (PF Series) Files series contains selected files from the First and Second World War periods and the interwar years on suspected spies, renegades, communist sympathizers, right-wing extremists, and other groups in which the British Security Service took an interest, including pacifist and anti-conscription groups.

    The records of the Security Service, better known as MI5, are grouped topically and this collection provides access to the Right-Wing Extremists, Soviet and Other Communist Front Organizations, and Communists and Suspected Communists, including Russian and Communist Sympathizers’ subseries. These series cover a period of about 50 years (1910s to 1960s) and detail the surveillance of several notable groups (British Union of Fascists, Imperial Fascist League, and the Communist Party of Great Britain) and individuals (Oswald Mosely, Arnold Leese, George Orwell, Alan Nunn May, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, Sylvia Pankhurst, Doris Lessing, and Unity Mitford) who were considered a threat by the British government.

    The records cover a range of subjects and span the Second World War and post-war era up to the mid-1960s. Due to these being personal files on private individuals, they were initially closed for an obligatory time period but have been made available to the public in recent years.

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  • Fascist and Anti-Fascist Booklets

    The 62 Group, an anti-fascist coalition set up in 1962 largely in response to the resurgence of fascism in Britain, appointed Gerry Gable to work with their intelligence operation. This led to the formation of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, alongside Searchlight Associates, an information service aimed at exposing racist and fascist groups. Searchlight Associates collected material from a wide range of radical Right groups, primarily in Britain, but also internationally. They especially focused on the British National Party, Combat 18, and the English Defence League as well as the activist groups that opposed them. The results of these investigations formed the Searchlight Archive, which is a major body of material documenting the activities of British and international fascist and racist organizations. It is also a unique archive and one of the most extensive and significant resources of its type in Europe. The archive features an array of material and documents related to the extreme right.

    This collection contains booklets from both fascist and anti-fascist activist groups from as early as 1918. Coverage includes a broad spectrum of propaganda penned by notable individuals, such as Arnold Leese and William Joyce, as well as the output of their opposition, such as the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

    The collection is vital for those researching Far Right movements, anti-fascist activism, racism, anti-Semitism, and radical politics.

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  • The Hall-Hoag Collection

    The Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda from the John Hay Library at Brown University began as a collection of material gathered by Gordon Hall. After returning from World War II, Hall investigated hate groups in the United States for Friends of Democracy, an anti-totalitarian group. He built a substantial collection of propaganda materials, mainly focused on anti-integrationist, anti-Semitic, and racist groups, such as the American Fascist Union and Ku Klux Klan organizations.

    The Hall-Hoag Collection is a treasure trove of primary source materials for academic researchers of modern American extremism. Extremist literature has always been difficult to find because its authors intend the material to be read by a limited number of true believers. Consequently, print runs tend to be small and erratic. It takes a dedicated effort to amass and organize collections of this type. Most of the material in this collection ranges from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s—the most heated days of the civil rights movement. Publications in this collection represent a cross section of opinion toward integration and civil rights activism, but it also contains materials on American anti-Semitism, Christian Identity theology, neo-Nazi groups, and white supremacy movements.

    This collection is the product of decades of collaboration between Gordon Hall and his research assistant, Grace Hoag. Hoag first worked with Hall as a volunteer and later as a collaborator. They were able to collect difficult-to-obtain materials from major American extremist organizations and groups from the mid-1940s until the early 1990s.

    Hall and Hoag gathered a representative sample of literature from a variety of groups. In examining the organization of the Hall-Hoag materials, the groups that had a particularly significant impact will be discussed in some depth. Hall and Hoag divided their collection into the following categories: Anti-Integrationist Organizations, Anti-Jewish Racist Organizations, Hate Groups Extreme Right, and Ku Klux Klan Organizations. Each of these groups shared a belief in, and a commitment to, white supremacy.

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  • Far Right Ephemera

    This collection contains leaflets, stickers, posters, and electoral ephemera from Far Right groups, such as the British Movement, British National Party, Combat 18, England First, International Third Position, National Front, National Socialist Movement, and the National Socialist Party of Australia. These materials offer a unique insight into the beliefs, actions, and campaigning strategies of several fascist and racist groups as well as mapping the evolution of Far Right movements throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century.

    This collection is highly important, not only for those interested in the Far Right movements in Britain and abroad, but any researcher trying to understand global politics in the twentieth century.

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  • Searchlight Oral Histories Collection

    In 2015, in collaboration with Gerry Gable and using Searchlight’s network, researchers from the University of Northampton recorded interviews with anti-fascist activists active from the 1940s to the 1990s. These are exclusive recordings with anti-fascists about their experiences, discussing the post-war history of anti-fascism and what caused them to get engaged in the movement.

    The collection includes recordings taken during interviews with members of the original 43 Group (Jewish anti-fascists who opposed Mosley after the war), informants who acted as anti-fascist moles infiltrating groups such as the British National Party, and anti-racist campaigners who formed advocacy groups in response to racial violence like the Stephen Lawrence murder.

    This collection is an important resource for researchers of British politics in the twentieth century as well as fostering new research into Britain’s current multicultural society and extreme right politics.

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  • Searchlight Magazine

    Searchlight was founded in 1964 as an occasional newspaper publication, but from 1975 to present it has been published as a monthly magazine. Its primary purpose is to investigate and publish exposes on fascist, anti-Semitic, and racist groups operating both in Britain and abroad.

    The 62 Group, an anti-fascist coalition set up in 1962 in response to the resurgence of fascism in Britain, appointed Gerry Gable to work with their intelligence operation. In 1964, he established a press agency to make the information they were gathering available to the public in the form of the Searchlight newspaper, under the editorship of Reginald Freeson, MP. It was relaunched as a monthly magazine in 1975 and continues to publish today.

    Coverage has included a number of British Far Right groups, including the British National Party (BNP), Combat 18, and the English Defence League (EDL), as well as international fascist and racist organizations, such as the Norwegian Nazi Party and the Australian National Socialist Party. Searchlight’s network includes several anti-racist organizations from around the world and it has published many notable journalists, including Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, whose magazine Expo is often considered Searchlight’s sister publication.

    Researchers interested in the evolution of Far Right groups around the world during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century will find this publication indispensable for its coverage of a wide range of groups, individuals, and topics.

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