Tag: populism

The closing passage from Richard Seymour’s latest essay has been reverberating in my mind since I read it: Should we fail to posit the alternative, the constructive reworking of civilisation that is so urgently required, and that accommodates us to inhospitable nature, we do not get the boom years and centrist orthodoxy. We get harder […]

This extract from Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchants pg 343 captures something important about the sociology of Donald Trump’s presidency. I think he’s correct about the use of constant strife, echoing the argument by Will Davies about the blurring boundary between war and peace, to dominate the media agenda in a way which ensures the […]

From Andrew Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System pg 149: The Obama campaign was, in the words of Jon Carson, its national field director, a “highly structured, accountable system …. ” “Despite this decentralized system” he says, “I knew every single morning how many phone calls had been made, how many doors had been knocked, where, […]

Hampered by the need to defend the EU as a site of cosmopolitanism in the name of stopping Brexit, many remainers have framed any opposition as a threat to a political order that has no need for change. The rightward drift of the Lib Dems as they look to rebuild their vote by becoming the […]

From this extremely astute essay by Isaac Reed: A widespread ideational feature of monarchical societies (variably realized) is the investment of the common people in a king or queen as their protector against the predations of the aristocracy. The peasant, immediately subject to his lord, reaches to the monarch—the ultimate location of the sacred, the place where […]

From Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth pg 386: The “Trump bump” was mostly responsible for its strong financial reports following the election as the paid digital readership began to explode. By the end of the second quarter there were 600,000 new subscriptions, bringing the total number of digital subscribers above two million. In 2017 paid […]

From Corbynism: A Critical Approach, by Frederick Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton, loc 3122 It is the Corbyn movement’s reliance on this kind of hyper-moralised Schmittian identitarian politics of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ which explains why the Corbyn movement appears at its strongest when it comes under attack from internal or external foes, real or imagined, while […]

There’s a profound scepticism running through Corbynism: A Critical Approach concerning the people and its role within Corbynism. Their concern is that a prevailing sense of socialism as natural, what people do when left to their own devices, constructs them as “inherently moral and naturally good beings, and ‘the people’ as a whole a unified, self-sufficient, organic community” (loc […]

I thought this was an excellent account in Corbynism: A Critical Approach by Frederick Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton. From loc 627: Austerity is often taken to have caused the contemporary rise of populism. In retrospect, however, it is abundantly clear that austerity itself was a populist project –both in Chantal Mouffe’s sense of the creation […]

There’s a really powerful piece by Pedro Rocha de Oliveira in Red Pepper placing Jair Bolsonaro’s rise to power in Brazil in socio-political context: There have been hints of fresh horrors ahead during the presidential campaign. A young woman in Porto Alegre was punched and held by a group of men while one cut a swastika […]

I’ve always been ambivalent about Slavoj Žižek, not least of all with the alt-right turn seemingly underway in his new book. Nonetheless, I think he gets to the point in his analysis of how Trump has been elevated into a fetish object within the liberal establishment, his garish buffoonery standing in the way of an […]

There’s a provocative argument on pg 81-82 of Žižek’s Like a Thief in Broad Daylight concerning the role of fascism in the contemporary liberal imagination. The invocation of the epochal enemy emerging from outside the political sphere allows the antagonism within it to be suppressed: The demonized image of a fascist threat clearly serves as a new political […]

I found this review of Trump and the Media by Nicholas Carr in the LA Review of Books immensely thought-provoking. His focus is on the book’s historical contribution, contextualising the enthusiasm with which social media was greeted in terms of long term concerns about the centralisation of mass media. We can’t understand the ideal of […]

I came across this extract on loc 1342-1360 of Frenemies, Ken Auletta’s new book about the declining fortunes of the advertising industry, detailing an intervention made by thought leader extraordinaire Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist at  Publicis groupe. It was in the context of a meeting between executives from a range of agencies and Bank of America to […]

One of the most interesting arguments in Kill All Normie by Angela Nagle was her claim that transgression has been decoupled from its contingent association with the left, being taken up by the alt-right in a profoundly reactionary way. I’ve been thinking back to this while reading Fire & Fury by Michael Wolff. Trump seems to […]

The evidence would suggest I’m not alone in being somewhat gripped by Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury. One of the central themes of the book is how no one, including the candidate himself, expected Trump would win and what we have seen since then has been a rapid adaptation, self-serving and bewildered in […]

One of the most obvious ways to read Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States is as the emergence of a neoliberal populism. The popular backlash against a socio-economic system unable to provide an acceptable quality of life for the majority of its citizens is harnessed by entrenched elites, with the intention of leveraging […]

The important argument I took from Angela Nagle’s Kill All Normies is that the ‘alt-right’ reflect transgression detaching from progressivism. The idea that an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct is inherently progressive ceases to be tenable when progressive movements have institutionalised laws, rules and codes that serve progressive ends. Under these circumstances, transgressing against […]

In an important essay earlier this year, Jan-Werner Müller identifies a dangerous tendency for leftist critics to take the claims of right-populist demagogues at face value. Suddenly vindicated in their struggle with the ‘third way’ that has dominated the centre-left, the claims of nascent populists to speak for a ‘left behind’ majority, created by the […]

How do we explain the election of Donald Trump? Far too much of the media’s response to this question has been to take Trump’s account of his own powers at face value. This scion of the elite, who never felt at home amongst the elite into which he was born, imagines himself as able to […]