Reflections in Miniature

Philip Jenkins' book is a gold mine of information on pro-fascist and pro- Nazi groups in Pennsylvania during the 1930's. Jenkins makes informative distinctions among the various bearers of Camicie fasciste, differentiating silver, khaki, black, and brown shirts and explaining the significance of each. He is also careful not to exaggerate the importance of any of the groups he studies—including the Pennsylvania Ku Klux Klan—explaining that these groups, singly or collectively, were never in a position to influence significantly the national government, and that even within Pennsylvania, they exercised only limited regional power. What they did do, according to Jenkins, was to strengthen a conspiratorial view of political life that Richard Hofstadter called the "paranoid style" of American politics, beginning with the Populists. According to Jenkins, this same quest for hidden enemies, which Hofstadter identified with rural and small-town America a century ago, characterized the right-wing extremism found in interwar Pennsylvania and supposedly left its imprint on the anticommunist politics of the postwar era, where Jenkins' study breaks off. "After 1946 fanatical anti-Communism became a sine qua non of the participation in American public life." Moreover, "the far Right tradition should not be dismissed too lightly, if only because many of its basic assumptions became political orthodoxy...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here