The new extremism in 21st century Britain, edited by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin considers both far-right and Islamic extremism, their causes and possible responses. It is unusual for a study to look at both these forms of extremism, and as the books editors explain that is not just a publishing phenomena; academics and experts predominantly focus on one or the other with as a result relatively little opportunity to learn from comparing and contrasting different extremist movements.
Eatwell and Goodwin’s book also has a dual approach in another respect: looking at both the ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ sides of extremism. That is, both the circumstances in which societies become fertile recipients for extremism and the more specific question of where extremist activists come from.
It is an academic tone, heavy on jargon and classification schemes at times but also therefore heavy on evidence, polling data and references.
In many respects the book’s conclusions are optimistic ones, including that “the Muslim community is far less alienated from British society than is commonly assumed, and that while there have been some problems important progress is being made in countering the threat from Islamic extremism”. On the BNP, however, the conclusions are more pessimistic: “there are good grounds to fear the threat posed by the BNP to democratic stability and values” with its support strongest in white enclaves located in ethnically diverse areas. Subsequent events and the demise of the BNP, however, show that the book is a little too deterministic in its approach to whether or not extreme parties will flourish.
Even so, for both forms of extremism the book provides a wealth of detail on sources of support and ideological motivations, making it a handy reference work for anyone trying to draw up practical policies or campaign tactics.
If you like this, you might also be interested in New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party.
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