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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .


The Revival of Right-Wing Extremism in the Nineties
Edited by Peter H Merkl and Leonard Weinberg.

(London: Frank Cass, 1997).
289pp. Index. £32.00; ISBN 0-7146-4676-8.
Pb.: £16.00; ISBN 0-7146-4207X.


Numerous developments in recent years provide chilling illustration that the 'ghosts of half a century ago', as they are described in this collection of essays, have returned to haunt very many European nations as well as the United States. Given the recent emergence of Vladimar Zhirinovsky in Russian politics, the electoral strength of Jean Marie Le Pen in France and Jörg Haider in Austria, and David Duke's near success in Louisiana's gubernatorial race, this volume provides a timely and extremely informative review of developments in extreme right movements. The book eschews generalisations about the re-emergence of such groups, maintaining that the specific context of particular cases must be taken into account. The essays contained here provide excellent insights into the wider political and social mileux in which neo-fascist and extreme nationalist parties have emerged in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the countries of Central and Western Europe, as well as South Africa and the United States. A potential danger in stressing the distinctive nature of political movements is, of course, that their commonalties may be over-looked. In the conclusion to this volume, it is argued that the diverse movements identified can be organised around the dichotomy between right-wing extremism that is fundamentally retrograde and conservative, and that which seeks to be dynamic and revolutionary. It is suggested that the extreme right in the former Soviet bloc correspond more or less to the former, whilst those in Western Europe and the US are closer to the latter. This collection will be of enormous benefit to anyone seeking an informative and measured analysis of a phenomena that is often treated with hysteria in popular debate.


Michael Rowe, University of Leicester



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