Friday January 08, 2016
Quote of the Day
“It is the truth that right-wing populist nationalism, of the sort that Donald Trump currently offers, far from being a special growth of our period and its specific discontents, has been constant and mostly unchanging throughout America's modern history. ...
”The contours of the ideology are always exactly the same, even if its internal shadings, its chiaroscuro, differ: an evil foreign force (Freemasonry, Communism, terrorism) awaits outside to destroy all that we value, and is working in collusion with an élite who either don't oppose it adequately or are actually in secret collusion. (It is difficult to recall now that Cold War liberals like Adlai Stevenson were routinely condemned as traitors to their country, but they were.) At the same time, the élite is said to look down on the ordinary people who have detected their treachery. These elements—the exaggerated outside threat, the insistence on élite collusion—and a third, the hysterical certainty that an assertion, any assertion, of national strength will be the antidote, manifest themselves over and over, and probably always will. The keynote is insecurity, and the insecurity is a function not really of the specifics of the moment but of the permanent insecurities of modernity, with its constant dissolution of hierarchies and stable orders.
“The most persistent mistake that historians and politicians have made in analyzing the modern world is to imagine, again and again—a fallacy shared by liberals and Marxists alike—that people will pursue their own economic interests in preference to their ideological fixations. They don't. They never will.”
-- Adam Gopnik, “Why We Remember The Beatles and Forget So Much Else,” in The New Yorker.