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What comes after Trump?

Much of the commentary on the possibility of post-Trump Trumpism has tended to focus on the possibility of a much more competent populist emerging to lead this movement i.e. one who is disciplined, strategic and serious in contrast to the impulsive and instinctive character of the outgoing president. However this […]

Trump’s regrets about Twitter

From today’s Protocol newsletter: President Trump’s (otherwise relatively boring) interview last week with Barstool Sports CEO Dave Portnoy brought a somewhat unprecedented look into how @realdonaldtrump thinks about Twitter. Here are a few excerpts: On what happens to the account when he leaves office: “Well it’s mine, and I don’t know that I’ll […]

Anti-Trumpism mirrored Trumpism

From Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc loc 120: In 2016 especially, news reporters began to consciously divide and radicalize audiences. The cover was that we were merely “calling out” our divisive new president, Donald Trump. But from where I sat, the press was now working in collaboration with Trump, acting in […]

The vested interests of the media in Trump

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 […]

It’s The Political Economy, Stupid

My notes on Pacewicz, J. (2018) It’s The Political Economy, Stupid: ​A Polanyian Take On American Politics In The Longue Durée. Perspectives 40(2) This short piece is a valuable reminder that Trump’s capacity to endure countless scandals while retaining the support of his party wouldn’t have been possible without a degree […]

The mundane reality of neo-fascism

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 […]

Donald Trump as spectacle and fetish

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 […]

When the populists inspire the ad men

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 […]

Trump and the ascent of the spiralists

In a recent article, Michael Burawoy warned about what he termed the spiralists. These are “people who spiral in from outside, develop signature projects and then hope to spiral upward and onward, leaving the university behind to spiral down”. While he was concerned with university leaders, I observed at the time […]

Post-Truth as Personal Incapacity

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 […]

Trump as a tactician of post-truth

This observation by the journalist David Cay Johnston in the recent channel 4 documentary Trump: An American Dream stood out to me: Donald understands that most reporters accurately quote what they’re told but they really don’t know what they’re writing about. Once his story is out there then anything else […]

Brand Corbyn and Brand Trump

What do Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump have in common? On the face of it, two people could not be more dissimilar but I’m curious about what might be their analogous position in relation to mainstream political culture. After all, in a sense Corbyn came from outside party politics, albeit not in […]

The disruptive presidency of Donald Trump

One of the more irritating framings of Donald Trump’s rise to power has been to stress his ‘disruptive’ credentials*. Such accounts often focus on the role of Jared Kushner, who has been granted a dizzying array of responsibilities in the Trump Whitehouse, prompting Gary Sernovitz to observe the overlap with recent […]