Friday, December 11, 2020

American Fascism and the Decline of America

In “Why [Trump] Now? It’s the Empire, Stupid,” a June 2016 article in The Nation, the NYU historian Greg Grandin argues that Donald Trump’s politics is effective in the context of 2016 because it comes at a time of decline for the American Empire. We are witnessing the passion of an era after the end of the Cold War in which the Untied States reigned supreme in the world as the only remaining superpower. In the article, he argues that an empire gives rise among its citizens to a comforting myth of superiority, thereby concealing the various social and structural problems that otherwise would lead to political difficulties. With its demise, the citizens of a once powerful empire must confront the fact that their exceptionalism was a myth. Grandin writes that beginning in 2008—about when Barack Obama won the presidential election—“the safety valve of the empire closed, gummed up by the catastrophic war in Iraq combined with the 2008 financial crisis…Because Obama came to power in the ruins of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, empire [was] no longer able to dilute the passions, satisfy the interests, and unify the divisions.

When imperial hierarchy collapses and social reality is laid bare, hierarchical sentiment in the home country tends to arise as a mechanism to preserve the familiar and comforting illusion of superiority. Fascist politics thrives off the resulting sense of aggrieved loss and victimization that results from the ever more tenuous and difficult struggle to defend a sense of cultural, ethnic, religious, gendered, or national superiority.

-- Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works, pp 91-92


Entropic man said...

Welcome to the post-Imperial world.

The UK hit that particular change-point in the 1950s and, as our ridiculous departure from the European Union demonstrates, still have delusions of grandeur.

China is about to overtake you, which isn't helping.Being No 2 in the world will be traumatic for a country which spent 75 years as No 1.

David in Cal said...

Trump's slogan was "Make America Great Again", which supports Stanley's analysis.

However, IMO voters were concerned with domestic greatness, not an international empire. The "Greatness" that Trump promised to restore was a country where things worked properly. E.g., good jobs would again be available


Entropic man said...

David in Cal

" The "Greatness" that Trump promised to restore was a country where things worked properly. "

Now why does that sound familiar?