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Comparative Analysis of Violent Left-and Right-Wing Extremist Groups in the United States

NCJ Number
M Blumberg
Date Published
19 pages

The violent extremist groups on both the left and the right in the United States have both similarities and significant differences in their ideologies, goals, tactics, membership, recruitment techniques, and involvement in violent criminal activity.


The left-wing groups arose during the late 1960's, whereas right-wing groups have been a problem throughout much of the Nation's history. Left-wing groups emphasize class struggle and support for people in the Third World, whereas right-wing groups often believe in-white supremacy, extremes of Christianity and patriotism, and involvement in the survivalist movement. Both extremes are antidemocratic, see their mission as bringing about the revolution, and blame all the Nation's problems on a particular group. Leftists usually have urban backgrounds, are highly educated, and include blacks. Extreme right-wing groups consist entirely of white Christians and are often blue-collar and poorly educated. Both types of groups exploit legitimate political issues to attract members. They both also recruit from the military and prison populations. Their criminal offenses are similar and include bombings, murder of law enforcement officers, and attacks on government installations. Both types of groups pose a danger to the United States and need to be monitored. However, right-wing groups have greater potential for mounting a significant effort because they espouse traditional American values. 3 notes and 22 references.