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Monday, October 17, 2016

IS ECONOMIC ANXIETY OR RACISM AT THE HEART OF TRUMP'S SUCCESS -- AN IMPORTANT DISCUSSION

I just finished reading this fascinating survey of research done in Europe and America regarding the roots of the rise of far right nationalist parties.  It is quite troubling.  Bottom line:  Trump's appeal really is xenophobic racism, not economic anxiety.  I strongly recommend it.

11 comments:

LFC said...

I just wrote a long comment that apparently did not post. Maybe it went into the spam filter. Anyway it was taking issue with your assertion that economic anxiety or insecurity has nothing to do with Trump's support.

LFC said...

See a piece by Henry Farrell (also at Vox) that contains this passage:

"Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, has used survey data on nearly 113,000 Americans to ask what really drives Trump support. He finds that support for the mogul turned politician is concentrated in the middle-income categories; in contrast, those who are relatively rich and those who are relatively poor are less likely to support him. Furthermore, economic insecurity is a huge factor – those who worry about their economic future are much more likely to vote for Trump. Rothwell builds on work by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren at Harvard to find that people in living in areas with weak mobility for kids from middle-class families are more likely to vote for Trump."

howie berman said...

The American version of the revolt of the angry white man is primarily political rather than violent (as the Vox article claimed)- if you listen to Trump closely, they foam at the mouth and auger a storm- whether in the guise of the "rigged election" vigilantism or a broad fire of a new movement in the ashes of defeat- or government tolerated or sponsored violence if Trump triumphs

LFC said...

To clarify, I do think xenophobia/racism is a very major factor in Trump's support, but not the only one. A fair number of commenters, when they pull back from the polemics, seem to be recognizing that there is a mixture.

David E. said...

This is also a worthwhile article, reminding us it's not just Trump:

"Evil is not one man, but rather the process of normalization via which exclusion, deportation, and finally extermination are all rendered morally justifiable."

http://lithub.com/the-banality-of-donald-trump/

richard lewis said...

I'm somewhat skeptical of Peterson's positivistic methods in the original research. Talking about dominant majorities being threatened in a series of homogeneous 'cases' seems to abstract from the 'bigger picture' about the rise and subsequent 'fall' of nationalism and the nation state as political forms, and from particular regional histories of nationalism (especially its troubles in E Europe following the great 'unmixing' of peoples post 1919 and 1990).

For example, some of his examples of xenophobia could be re-described as defenses of the nation state as a form, rather than as (just) a dominant majority feeling threatened. In the UK and Hungary for example the stats seem to suggest that Muslim immigrants are hardly 'displacing' white Christian-ish folks from positions of economic dominance. Indeed immigration is a boon to holders of capital for obvious reasons, suggesting that the reaction must be coming from rather less dominant groups in society. If those sub-dominant groups see immigration as a threat to horizontal solidarity/social capital among resident groups, are they completely foolish?

I'm not trying to defend Trump btw - but the academic left generally has been utterly at sea in trying to account for the nation state as a political unit, and these cries of 'racism' and 'xenophobia' every time people object to unlimited immigration are examples of that.

Pete S said...

Very interesting and extensive piece of work there (i needed about an hour to read it). Two aspects of it were particularly interesting. 1) Why are people so disgusted by the thought of sharing their well-being with others? Why is power so essential to them? If someone asked me would you like these 500 people who are poorer and suffer more than you do instantly climb up to the same level as you are, I would say "Hell yeah bring them on". So maybe they actually fear being overcome by others. Secondly, as a very young person myself, I consider the fact that young people are the least biased, or racially prejudiced extremely pleasant. My opinion on far-right is that it will be overcome by society in general, as will be religion, racial division, and capitalism.

Anonymous said...

Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they’re actually saying
Updated by Dylan Matthews dylan@vox.com Oct 15, 2016, 9:50a
http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/15/13286498/donald-trump-voters-race-economic-anxiety

LFC said...

link to piece from which I quoted earlier:

http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2016/10/13/13259860/twilight-elites-trump-meritocracy

I. M. Flaud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

But racism isn't a final causal explanation, it is a fact in need of causal explanation. Why the rise in xenophobic racism? How can it be prevented or reduced? Why assume economic remedies cannot be part of a solution?

What is the solution? Wait for all the racists to die and hope the planet survives that long? Is racism just original sin, that the chosen among us were not born with?

Isn't treating racism as a substantial explanation not just short-sighted, but a kind of magical thinking that prevents solutions while assuaging our personal conscience? A utopian or moralistic, rather than scientific, left politics.