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Sounds familiar… July 7, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’d been wondering where I’d read similar stuff to Trump’s Warsaw speech – it seemed weirdly familiar. And then Slate goes and explains it perfectly… Jamelle Bouie put his finger on it… 

In these lines, you hear the influence of Bannon and Miller. The repeated references to Western civilization, defined in cultural and religious terms, recall Bannon’s 2014 presentation to a Vatican conference, in which he praised the “forefathers” of the West for keeping “Islam out of the world.” Likewise, the prosaic warning that unnamed “forces” will sap the West of its will to defend itself recalls Bannon’s frequent references to the Camp of the Saints, an obscure French novel from 1973 that depicts a weak and tolerant Europe unable to defend itself from a flotilla of impoverished Indians depicted as grotesque savages and led by a man who eats human feces.

For as much as parts of Trump’s speech fit comfortably in a larger tradition of presidential rhetoric, these passages are clear allusions to ideas and ideologies with wide currency on the white nationalist right.

And they are. Bouie points to American nativist traditions – those being far-right, conceptually underpinning such rhetoric.

This may sound trite but I’ve long been interested in the cultural forms of neo-fascist thinking, particularly in music and art and literature. And this idea of a failing civilisation is central to it (and of course isn’t limited to neo-fascism, the original varieties were much entranced with the idea of corruption and decadence). After all Nazism is a hard sell, one way to smooth the transaction to something that seems worse is to suggest that all around is actually worse again.

And Bouie makes a further point:

Kennedy and Reagan defined “the West” in ideological terms—a world of free elections and free markets. It’s an inclusive view; presumably, any country that adopts these institutions enters that community of nations. For Trump, “the West” is defined by ties of culture and religion. It’s why a government that disdains democratic institutions, like Poland’s, can still stand as a vanguard of Western civilization, and why Muslim immigration is a chief threat to the integrity of Europe. What makes this racial is its relationship to Trump’s other rhetoric. If Western civilization is defined by religion and culture, then Mexico—with its Catholic heritage and historic ties to European monarchies—is unquestionably an outpost of “the West.” But for Trump and his advisers, it too is a threat to the Western order.

Difficult to disagree with that analysis.


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