Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Populism in Europe, Russia and America - Berlusconi, Putin and Trump

, a brilliant and very knowledgeable columnist for the New York Times had a column in today's paper where he compared American populists with their European siblings.
Here are a couple of quotes from his article:

Euro-Trump 

Long before the destruction and death in France last week, Trump’s presidential campaign was following the path of right-wing working class parties in Europe. Over the past decade, these parties have capitalized on animosity to immigration and the perceived threat it presents to Europe’s autonomy, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” its “postwar economic model,” and its Christian identity.” 
Further down, he writes:
In an effort to place Trump in an international perspective, I asked Herbert Kitschelt, a professor of international relations at Duke, for a more encompassing view of Trump:
A populist leader ventures to establish a personal, intimate relationship with his followers, unmediated by political organizations. Populists have an aversion against organizations and are conspiracy theorists. Consider when Trump invokes that he is in “no one’s pocket” financially. His aversion against the Republican Party establishment. This idiom of the little guys against the machines, with a heroic leader coming to the rescue of the powerless underdogs, is a procedural template in politics that has, of course, inspired many political movements, particularly in times of crisis and economic decline: Think of Latin American populism (especially Juan Perón in Argentina in the 1940s), but also European fascism (Hitler, Mussolini), to Hugo Chávez in the 1990s and 2000s.
Kitschelt added, however, that he associated Trump most closely with Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy:
You have there the same swagger of the self-made billionaire, even if they are not self-made, the womanizer suggesting unlimited sexual prowess and appetite, the slayer of organizational dragons, the Manichean contrast of good and evil, as well as the substantive programmatic vacuity.
Right behind Berlusconi, “I probably would nominate Vladimir Putin,” Kitschelt said.
For an interesting take on Trump and how he attracts low-educated white racist and fascist supporters, read Evan Osnos' article The Fearful and the Frustrated in The New Yorker,
On June 28th, twelve days after Trump’s announcement, the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, endorsed him for President: “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” The Daily Stormer urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

Hannah Arendt would have recognized what's going on. Highly frustrated people with little knowledge and little political experience are starting to listen to charismatic protofascist demagogues who plays the game as it almost always is played. Attack minority groups. Promise a return to the "good old days" when only white lives mattered, and not even all of those.

Read more about Arendt here:

Does history repeat itself? Does this sound familiar? On the origins of Trumpism...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Headlines that ask questions about the future

Too many people for the future job market...

Artificial intelligence: ‘Homo sapiens will be split into a handful of gods and the rest of us’

Too few people for diverse reasons... 


Or maybe it's a matter of how the spoils of progress are divided...

Hubble Telescope Images