Tag: populism

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 […]

This excellent essay by Jan-Werner Müller in the London Review of Books raises an important issue about the forms of political mobilisation facilitated by social media: Trump has called himself the Hemingway of the 140 characters. He has ‘the best words’. He loves Twitter, he says, because it’s like having one’s own newspaper, but without […]

Reading the excellent Selected Exaggerations, a book of interviews with Peter Sloterdijk, I was struck by his remarks about taxation and the state in an interview from 2001. He bemoans the punitive taxation he claims exists in Germany, arguing that it reflects a broader domination of society by the state. German citizens are “punished for success” and the […]

An absolutely fascinating article from Arlie Hochschild, whose new book on the American right sounds like a must read: Traditional Tea Party supporters wanted to cut both the practice of cutting in line, and government rewards for doing so. Followers of Donald Trump, on the other hand, wanted to keep government benefits and remove shame […]

There’s an interesting extract in this Guardian article about the growing civil war in the Republican party, concerning the adoption of Trump’s tactics by aspirant politicians within the party: Trump’s refusal to support McCain and Ryan comes exactly one week before Ryan faces a primary challenge from the businessman Paul Nehlen, a candidate who has […]

I really like this framing by Zizek on pg 177 of his Trouble in Paradise. The discourse on ‘populism’ should be read through this lens: the bewilderment and scorn elites feel when this polite agreement breaks down. In this sense, in a democracy, every ordinary citizen effectively is a king –but a king in a […]