Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Friends, Romans, Alt-right countrymen ...

by digby

In the New York Times today there's a really fascinating article about Trump's rhetoric. It compares him to Shakespeare's Caesar and Mark Antony even --- his appeals to the common man, "I am your voice" etc, etc. Great stuff.

But here's where it gets interesting:
The quality to which every anti-rhetorician aspires is authenticity. But there is a big difference between proclaiming your authenticity and actually being true to yourself and the facts. So let me use a different term: authenticism, for the philosophical and rhetorical strategy of emphasizing the “authentic” above all.

Modern authenticism began as a reaction to the Enlightenment program to recast language to conform to the notion of Reason. Immanuel Kant’s friend Johann Georg Hamann was one of the first to make the case that, if you take ideas and words out of their behavioral and cultural context, they lose meaning and relevance. A purely rationalist language would no longer be able to express community or faith. Hamann’s contemporary, the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, made the critical link between language, culture and nationhood, and soon authenticity of language became associated with another product of Enlightenment thought: nationalism.

These ideas entered European thought through a chain of influence that stretched from Hegel to Kierkegaard to Nietzsche. By the early 20th century, Martin Heidegger was distinguishing not just between authentic and inauthentic modes of being, but between authentic and inauthentic language.
“Once you heard the voice of a man, and that voice knocked at your hearts, it wakened you, and you followed that voice.” That was Adolf Hitler, the man whom Heidegger would praise for helping the German people rediscover their authentic essence, addressing government and Nazi party leaders in September 1936. According to Hitler, the miraculous appearance of the “voice” — by which he meant the profound bond between himself and his audience that let him express their deepest feelings — allowed ordinary men and women, who were “wavering, discouraged, fearful,” to unite as a Volk, or national community. It was at once a political and a personal “voice” that, thanks to the invention of radio, could reach out not just to audiences at political rallies, but into any living room.

Authenticism was banished to the fringes of politics after World War II and the defeat of European fascism. Technocratic policy-making delivered relative prosperity and security for the majority, and many voters found the rationalist rhetoric of mainstream politicians credible. Authenticism does not even rate a mention in George Orwell’s landmark 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” But the uncertainty and division that have followed the global crash, mass migration and the West’s unhappy wars in the Middle East have given it a new opportunity. 
Today’s authenticists come in many different guises, from pure anti-politicians like Mr. Trump and Italy’s Beppe Grillo to mainstream mavericks as diverse as Britain’s Boris Johnson and Ted Cruz. None of them are Hitlerian in intent, but nationalism typically looms large (“Make America Great Again!”), as does the explicit or implicit contrast between the chosen community and a dangerous or unacceptable “other,” which in 2016 almost always means elites and foreign immigrants.
The "blue-collar billionaire" schtick sounds ridiculous to a lot of us (most of us I hope) but it does have resonance with millions. And as I've been writing, Trump is not just a garden variety racist demagogue in the mode of George Wallace. His nationalism isn't isolationist --- it's aggressive militarism. He doesn't care about continuing the post-war security consensus to be sure. Alliances are fine as long as they pay protection and he feels like they "deserve" it.  He's got some other ideas. He will make America great again by making the world "respect" us again. Trump is all abut dominance. And anyone who doesn't see what he means by that is being naive.

One little side-note about this piece is his observation that Trump's "authenticism" is especially potent in comparison to the "cerebral, calculating" Clinton, a perfect example of the "technocratic, policy-making" that's going out of fashion.

Of course, it must be noted, as Todd Gitlin does here:

It's also interesting that the NY Times piece left out President Obama, widely considered to be one of America's great presidential orators who is also very cerebral and possibly even somewhat calculating (although that's a gender freighted term) and for similar reasons that Clinton might be --- Obama cannot be too emotional because of the racist assumptions about angry black men. Similarly, Clinton cannot be too emotional because of the sexist assumptions about hysterical women. These are not necessarily determining factors, but they do exist, so the analysis is a little bit two-dimensional. Still, fascinating stuff.