“From the Islamic State to Sri Lanka, modern people are looking to connect with an ancient past.”
This is nothing new. Golden Age myths have long been useful to ambitious demagogues. This narrative is at the heart of all nationalist movements. The basic formula consists of a simplistic narrative of a glorious past of a particular group (whether national, ethnic, or religious) whose decline must be explained. Someone must be responsible this decline. Enter scapegoat (usually a marginalized, feared, or hated minority). The same pattern can be seen from Nazi Germany, to Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbiain the 1990s, as well as the present movements from Donald Trump (“We’re going to take our country back”) to Vladimir Putin in Russia, to the Islamic State, etc.
The anecdote is not less history, but more history. The distortions of these white-washed histories and their purposes need to be exposed. The comforts these narratives provide do not justify their existence. The consequences are too dangerous.
Source: The Return of History – The New York Times
“Demagogues are only a joke until they win.”
Another interesting take on what Trump’s campaign tells us about ourselves: What Ronald Reagan Teaches Us About Donald Trump | VICE | United States
The historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg weigh in on the present state of politics (spoiler alert: it’s not pretty). They note the long history of demagoguery in the U.S., but they also point out what is different today: “a pliant media and a reality TV culture.” These two additional factors make today’s demagogues significantly more dangerous.
This excerpt sums up the problem: “We have no indication that Trump thinks very hard about consequences. Half-baked generalizations roll off the tongue of the superlative-seeking demagogue. Will his followers ever demand facts from him? Probably not. When you are a demagogue, you only have to promise stuff, identify and threaten the bad guys, make bold declarations like, “I’ll be the best president for the military,” and keep the fans excited. Nothing is real. That how politics operates when it’s all reality TV. And don’t forget to wear your flag pin in the next scene.”
Read the article here: Donald Trump is our creepy new face of demagoguery – Salon.com