So you think “President Trump” is the worst case scenario?
The rise of American authoritarianism provides the best article I’ve read explaining the Rise of Trump, even if it’s a bit longer than previous favourites. It covers psychological research into authoritarianism, the profile characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders:
“People who score high in authoritarianism … look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear… authoritarianism seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator”.
– The rise of American authoritarianism, Amanda Taub, Vox
Seriously, go and read it. Now. Then come back here.
The real story lies in the electorate
You’re back? Then I hope you agree that the analyses in Taub’s report are useful because while most coverage of Trump-the-Candidate is about his numerous “WTF!??! He didn’t just say that, did he!??!?” moments, the real story lies in the electorate.
Trump didn’t mass-lobotomise the US public. He simply tapped a hidden, ugly, underestimated, disenfranchised and disillusioned part of it and … gave it a voice
And he wasn’t pilloried for it — quite the opposite. So it’s here to stay.
Which is why it’s not Trump which scares me most.
Because Trump-the-Individual is, let’s face it, a bit of a buffoon. He may or may not come unstuck during his campaign — God, I hope he does — but whether he self-destructs in the White House or before he gets there, the real damage has already been done: he’s shifted the goalposts on what’s acceptable in the public sphere.
It’s not just Trump uttering the unutterable and winning votes — all the US Republican candidates have started saying things unimaginable just 4 years ago. So it’s only a matter of time Europe’s quasi-fascist demagogues take a leaf from that playbook.
Is Europe at last leading the US at something?
In fact, maybe they were ahead of Trump. You may have forgotten France’s National Front’s success in last year’s regional elections, because they didn’t actually break through.
But only because the other parties banded together (CNN) — exactly the sort of manoeuvre that the disenfranchised and disillusioned loathe, and which eventually makes their anti-establishment groundswell stronger.
They achieved a New Normal.
My overwhelming memory from France’s regional elections were the manicured middle class voters on my nightly news, explaining that they no longer felt ashamed of telling friends and family that they support the National Front. They achieved a New Normal.
And that, to be frank, scares the hell out of me. American Nazis are, like Trump, a bit of a joke. European fascists are far more intellectual, far more professional, and No Laughing Matter At All.
Plus: I live here.
- The rise of American authoritarianism
- Why Fascism is Rising Again (And What You Can Learn From It)
- How the P.C. Police Propelled Donald Trump
- Trump happens
Some of these are also tagged psychology — as are almost 60 resources, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I share resources like these on my Hub (almost) every day and (in theory) every fortnight via my newsletter — why not subscribe?
Originally published at mathew.blogactiv.eu on March 11, 2016.
Update, May 2016 onwards
A few days after my post, above, Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) “a party that did not exist a little more than three years ago… has shaken up Germany’s political landscape with dramatic gains at regional elections” (the Guardian), led by their new leader:
Refugees should be shot 'if necessary', says party leader in Germany
German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the head of far-right party Alternative…
Around the same time, the NYTimes weighed in on France’s far-right:
A Terror Attack, Then Far Right Moves In
MARSEILLE, France — In the United States and Europe, mainstream political parties find themselves besieged. Two-party…
And a few weeks later, in Austria:
Austria run-off vote may usher in far-right president - FT.com
Austrians are voting for a new president in an election that could usher in a far-right nationalist as head of state…
As it happened, he lost by the thinnest of margins, leading the NYTimes to post this useful interactive infographic:
And then this:
Which means this is probably already out of date:
And I added some more recommended reading to my Hub:
I cannot recommend Andrew Sullivan’s piece on Plato’s extraordinary prescience enough — a prediction 2400 years in the making:
America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny
Illustration by Zohar Lazar As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage…
Sarah Kendzior’s parallels between Trump and the dictatorships of former Soviet Central Asia:
In 1991, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islam Karimov was elected Uzbekistan's first - and heretofore…
Some stark warnings for the Republican Party …
The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump - The New Yorker
"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, / As, to be hated, needs but to be seen," the poet Alexander Pope wrote, in…
This is how fascism comes to America
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post. The Republican…
… and for everyone else: Umair Haque (again) on how and why establishments fail to get to grips with the rot at their core:
How Establishments Fall
Or, Why Our Leaders Make Believe Everything’s OK When You, Me, and My Pet Hamster Knows Its Not
If you got this far, why not give this post a recommend?