Against the Politics of Fear


Corey Robin over at his website:

In the last few days, I’ve gotten a lot of emails and comments asking me why I seem, in my Facebook posts and tweets, to downplay the threat of Trump. Why I resist the comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis, why I emphasize the continuities between Trump and previous Republicans, why I insist on attending to the fractures and cleavages within his coalition.

Now, of course, nothing I say is meant to downplay the threat at all; it’s all designed to get us to see it more clearly (clearly, of course, by my lights), and while I don’t see my posts or tweets primarily or even secondarily as organizing tools, I’d like to think they give us some potential sense of leverage over the situation. But let me not get too fancy or fussy in my response; let me simply take this criticism head on.

There are a lot of academic, intellectual, and scholarly reasons I could cite for why I say what I say about Trump, and you probably know them all, and they’re all relevant and important. But there is, I recognize, something deeper going on for me. And that is that I am fundamentally allergic to the politics of fear. That term is complicated (I explore it a lot in my first book), so forgive the very truncated, simple version I’m about to give here.

The politics of fear doesn’t mean a politics that points to or invokes or even relies on threats, real or false. It doesn’t mean a politics that is emotive (what politics isn’t?) or paranoid. It means something quite different: a politics that is grounded on fear, that takes inspiration and meaning from fear, that sees in fear a wealth of experience and a layer of profundity that cannot be found in other experiences (experiences that are more humdrum, that are more indebted to Enlightenment principles of reason and progress, that put more emphasis on the amenability of politics and culture to intervention and change), a politics that sees in Trump the revelation of some deep truth about who we are, as political agents, as people, as a people.

I cannot tell you how much I loathe this kind of politics.

More here.