Trump, Isolationism, and the Slide Towards Totalitarianism

The class was divided into four parts: the decay of political institutions, the growth of the masses, imperialism, and the emergence of political parties as interest-group ideologies.

Let me reframe the above as a numerical list to make my point more apparent (perspective is everything):

  1. The decay of political institutions
  2. The growth of the masses
  3. Imperialism
  4. The emergence of political parties as interest-group ideologies

In her opening lecture, [Arendt] framed the course by reflecting on how the relationship between political theory and politics has become doubtful in the modern age. She argued that there was an increasing, general willingness to do away with theory in favour of mere opinions and ideologies.

If this sounds like populism to you, then you’re seeing my point.

‘Many,’ she said, ‘think they can dispense with theory altogether, which of course only means that they want their own theory, underlying their own statements, to be accepted as gospel truth.’

In the case of Donald Trump, I wouldn’t suggest he is espousing a theory — unless you want to call it chaos theory — rather, his approach is a non-stop barrage of declarative, often simplistic and patently false or misleading statements, often disassociated from reality, to appeal to the “disenfranchised” voter who no longer knows who to trust.

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