Behemoth Rises Again

Andreas Huyssen in n+1:

There is no question that radical right-wing fringe phenomena have been normalized under Donald Trump, most spectacularly when he claimed that there were good people on both sides in the Charlottesville riots. What used to be called the lunatic fringe in American politics is being made respectable by such pronouncements, as well as by the euphemism of “alt-right” itself, a term innocuous enough to disguise its white supremacist ideology. Adorno also warned that the afterlife of fascist tendencies within democracy is more dangerous than the afterlife of fascist tendencies against democracy. Today we face a situation where Adorno’s distinction has been cashed in. Tendencies from within, brilliantly analyzed by Wendy Brown in her 2015 book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, are merging in the US with outright tendencies against democracy. The Trump regime participates in both. Just think of the Republicans’ systematic attacks on voting rights through gerrymandering, recently legitimized by the Supreme Court. Or compare Mark Zuckerberg’s motto “move fast and break things” with Trump’s daily practice of attacking and dismantling American governmental institutions, a practice that is fully in sync with Steve Bannon’s demand to “deconstruct the administrative state” and with Breitbart’s call to attack the “Democrat media complex” online. Trump uses Twitter and his fake “fake news” mantra to gaslight the electorate, while much of the real deconstruction of governmental institutions regarding the law and the constitution, health care, the environment, housing, foreign policy, and climate change rarely catches the headlines in any sustained fashion. While right-wing parties in the European Union are gaining ground, with few exceptions they are not (yet) the mainstream. In the United States, the Republicans are the mainstream and further to the right than either the AfD in Germany or the latest incarnation of the National Front in France.

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