Trump's Authoritarianism: Rethinking Orwell's 1984 and Strategizing the Resistance
By Henry Giroux
With the rise of Donald Trump to the office of president of the United States, politics has descended, like never before, to a theater of the absurd. Unbridled anti-intellectualism, deception and "vindictive chaos" offer the rhetorical tools for repeating elements of a morally reprehensible past in the guise of "making America great again." Advancing an aggressively alarmist agenda bolstered by "alternative facts," the Trump administration has unleashed a type of anti-politics that unburdens people of any responsibility to challenge, let alone collectively transform, the fundamental precepts of a society torn asunder by blatant misogyny, massive inequality, open bigotry and violence against immigrants, Muslims and poor minorities of color.
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In the new age of Trump, justice becomes the enemy of democratic leadership and the capacity to name this collectively agreed-upon reality recedes with each assertion of fakery in infinite repetition. When evidence, science and reason are purged of their legitimacy, politics capitulates to the venomous ideals, policies and practices one associates with a totalitarian past. Despite his populist posturing, Trump's contempt of democratic processes is matched by his commitment to the market and economic policies that favor the financial elite. In short, as The Washington Post observed, Trump is a "unique threat to democracy," and a triumph for the forces of nativism, racism and misogyny.
Trump's ascendancy has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason that has been decades in the making. It also points to the withering of civic attachments, the decline of public life and the use of violence and fear to shock and numb everyday people. Galvanizing his base of true-believers in post-election rallies, the country witnesses how politics is transformed into a spectacle of fear, divisions and disinformation. Under President Trump, the scourge of mid-20th century authoritarianism has returned, not only in the menacing plague of populist rallies, fear-mongering, hate and humiliation, but also in an emboldened culture of war, militarization and violence that looms over society like a rising storm.
Reviving the memory of a dystopian past strikingly represented in George Orwell's fiction, is a way to understand, perhaps the only way left for us to fully grasp, the present descent of the United States into an authoritarian nightmare. Focusing on their engagement with authoritarian visions, language, truth and lies offer a critical arsenal of defense against a Trump era of tweets and news fakery, and the more generalized and more lethal attacks on reason, science and liberal modernity.
For the full article, including remarks by Bill Moyers, please go here: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/39750-our-president-is-up-to-no-good