The enchantments of a rising illiberalism

Philip S. Gorski in The Hedgehog Review:

On his daily podcast, the conservative commentator and #NeverTrumper Charlie Sykes often refers to Donald Trump as “the orange god-king” and to the former president’s fervent MAGA following as a “cult.” The jibe may be intended for laughs, but it hints at a deeper truth: The neoauthoritarian leaders of the present era have more than a little in common with the divine kings of the ancient world, and the enchanted worldviews of those who follow Donald Trump and others like him often verge on premodern magical thinking. In this respect, Trump and Trumpism are but one example of a global phenomenon, with similar figures and their similarly devout followers everywhere from Russia, Hungary, and Turkey to Brazil, the Philippines, and—possibly, with its own special characteristics—the new-old Middle Kingdom of the People’s Republic of China.

In the American context, these phenomena are usually attributed to populist ideology, racial backlash, or Christian nationalism. Such explanations are not wrong, but they are incomplete.

More here.