back to

e-flux conversations

Franco "Bifo" Berardi on Trump

Bifo Berardi writes about the increasingly blurred margins between politics and reality television, and how Trump is exploiting this confluence in tandem with a rise in white working class nationalism–seen historically as a common effect of white working class impoverishment–to gain votes and potentially become president. “The dynamics that brought National Socialism to power are operating once again,” writes Berardi. Read the whole piece on Verso, or in partial below.

After the Summer of the Greek humiliation, came the Autumn of rejected migration, then the Winter of European disintegration, before at last the Spring of Donald Trump.

I don’t know if Trump will win the election of November, I don’t think so, although the polls are now exposing a minor advantage to Hillary Clinton. Either way, his impressive ascent needs to be understood.

Let’s begin from afar.

To the German workers, impoverished and humiliated by the Anglo-French financial aggression, Hitler said: you’re not exploited nor unemployed workers, you are Aryan winners. National-Socialism came out from this change in perception.

The same change of self-perception and political prospect is proposed today by a large front that ranges from Trump to Putin and includes Katzinskij, Orban, Le Pen, Boris Johnson and so on. To the impoverished workers of Euro-America they simply say: “stop thinking of yourselves as defeated workers, think of yourself as the white race that is raising again.”

The dynamics that brought National Socialism to power are operating once again. Simultaneously, in the Mediterranean basin, the old colonial order is falling apart. The coinciding stagnation and impoverishment of the white working-class and the deflagration of the geopolitical order is producing an original form of aggressive white nationalism. Trump and the growing forces of the European far right encourage a subjectivity related to a colonial and racial identity that is desperately resurfacing as a consequence of its own economic, demographic and geopolitical decline. The looming war between neoliberal globalism and nationalist anti-globalism will turn towards tragedy.

To the journalists who were asking questions about Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican Party, Obama answered with intelligent irony: “We are not talking of entertainment, this is not a reality show, this is a contest for the Presidency of the United States…” Sadly, Obama is wrong. The borders between politics and reality shows have shifted, and modern political rationality seems unable to understand that the contest for the US Presidency is, in fact, a reality show. Obama is becoming a character in the show of which Trump is on the way to be the director.

*Image of Trump via Verso

A lot of folks, especially non-Americans, are baffled that someone like Trump could ever come this close to the presidency. His rise involves a complex set of demographic factors and Republican Party miscalculations, as explained in the incredibly useful piece below by David Frum, himself an establishment conservative. Nothing else I’ve read has explained so soberly and cogently how we got here.