“How far right extremism is becoming a global threat” published by The Economist details the ways in which radicalization has infected numerous places around the world—such as the United States, Norway, Germany, Hungary and more. It analyzes the storming of the Capitol on January 6th in the United States and how it has influenced surrounding countries. It continues to explore how extremism is represented and portrayed throughout these last two years following the beginning of the pandemic and how it has escalated the threat to be considered global.
Through careful analysis of this article, I strongly agree that extremism is becoming a global threat and continues to contribute to democratic erosion. The Economist utilizes the example of Gina Bisignano as representation of a particular demographic involved in right-wing extremism—the middle class. The Economist article states “the owner of Gina’s Eyelashes and Skincare in Beverley Hills from citizen to insurrectionist is symbolic of the coalition responsible for the riot” (The Economist, 2021). According to Lee, the primary reason why the United States is vulnerable to extremist groups is because of lack of trust citizens have in liberal democracy. The republican party system does not have the compacity to maintain an effective system when a populist leader rises from extremism. Two necessary components to maintaining center-right and center-left parties in avoidance of polarization are economic development and a large middle class, without it extremist leaders are left with a “window” which they can enter (2020). In reference to an article “Why Did So Many Small-Business Owners Storm the Capitol? Here’s What One of the Most Outspoken Had to Say”, some of the right-wing extremists involved were more young, likely unemployed and possibly members of a gang, however, this is only part of the demographic which took part in the riot. It was revealed that many businesses owners were rioters as the general insurrectionist movement was on the rise and was larger than anticipated (Inc Staff, 2022). Through Gina Bisgnano, The Economist article was able to effectively depict that and support my congruence with the views of this article.
Moreover, The Economist article continues to reiterate the point that far-right extremism is not only increasing in the United States, but also around the world. It mentions how the pandemic has aided right-wing populists and conspiracy theorists due to the controversies it has ensued. It states how “the secretary-general of the UN, Antonio Guterres, called white supremacist terrorism ‘a grave and growing danger’” (The Economist, 2021). I believe this pathology is characteristic throughout American history in extremism in various ways. According to Lipset, the sources of right-wing extremism include status and class politics. Class is about the “left vs. right” and how some citizens favor redistributions versus others favoring the preservation of the status quo.
For this argument, I believe status is more at play and present. Status refers to appeals by groups possessing status who feel that change threatens their position, in which they would be enabling the lower class to be equal. This is represented through “white supremacy”. For example, with the 2016 presidential election arguments mostly entailed on the effects of globalization and how it may cause job loss. The silent majority in this scenario were white. The narrative created by the radical right states how “the whites” were going to become the minority (Lipset, 1995). The Economist connects this narrative to that of extremism in Norway; It states how, after the massacre in Norway by Anders Breivik, transnational online narratives on the elimination of the white race grew internationally. Even though Breivik was a lone-actor terrorist, all of his methods in funding his attack were legal (The Economist, 2021). As it states in “White Supremacy Extremism: The Transnational Rise of the Violent White Supremacist Movement”, Breivik purchased all the materials needed years prior and even established a company to allow him to make these purchases (2019). This demonstrates how easy accessibility-wise it is to act on extremist views, thus reaffirming the notion that it is a threat everywhere. Moreover, The Economist details how the storming of the capitol on January 6th, inspired citizens of Germany. On August 29th in Germany protesters attempted to invade the Reichstag, however, were stopped by the police (The Economist, 2021). Therefore, portraying on this incident in the U.S. has translated into other countries.
The spread of these extremist views was mostly over social media accounts. The Economist states how Facebook and Twitter deleted accounts related to these radical groups in January. However, still they managed to welcome newcomers to the resistance from many different countries. As extremist rhetoric rises in the media it has not only created a moral dilemma, but also made it harder for it to be identified as it may not pose any ‘clear’ dangers to democracy (Gutmann, 2007). This can be seen through the pandemic as it has created an audience who were willing to believe conspiracy theories about COVID-19. For instance, in extremism, it is very common to use minority groups as “scapegoats” to protect traditional values. Such as the Ku Klux Kan, it was a prosperity-born movement against minority groups during the 20’s. Today, there are still active members (Lipset, 1959). This is depicted as The Economist mentions how the virus was blamed on the Jews and Chinese.
Additionally, in Hungary, it details that most people believed the elite encouraged immigration to weaken Europe. In reference to the “The Anti-Immigrant Extremists in Charge of the U.S. Immigration System” it explains how even top administrative positions in the Department of Homeland Security were and still are occupied by these extremists that are involved with hate groups. Thus, they have the power to create laws against immigration and the dehumanization towards them have become normalized in the media (Cobian, 2019).
Extremist groups have continued to rise throughout these past few years and through the analysis of The Economist article along with further research, I argue it has clearly impacted communities both in the U.S. and surfacing beyond. The pandemic these last two years has undeniably had an impact on the polarization with these extremist groups and will likely continue to have that effect. Thus, the reason it is extremely important to recognize these patterns in different countries and times.
Work Cited (MLA)
Amy Gutman, “The Lure and Danger of Extremist Rhetoric,” Daedalus, Vol 136, No. 4, (Fall 2007)
Frances Lee, “Populism and the American Party System: Opportunities and Constraints,”
Perspectives on Politics; Cambridge Vol. 18, Issue 2, (Jun 2020).
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and
Political Legitimacy.” American Political Science Review 53(1): pp. 69-105.
President, Julia Cusick Interim Vice, et al. “The Anti-Immigrant Extremists in Charge of the
U.S. Immigration System.” Center for American Progress, 7 Mar. 2019,
Seymour Martin Lipset, “The Radical Right: A Problem for American Democracy,” The
British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 6, No. 2 (June 1955).
Staff, Inc. “Why Did so Many Small-Business Owners Storm the Capitol? Here’s What One of
the Most Outspoken Had to Say.” Inc.com, Inc., 6 Jan. 2022, https://www.inc.com/inc-staff/capitol-insurrection-business-owners.html.
Written Statement for House Committee … – the Soufan Center. https://thesoufancenter.org/wp-