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Judith Butler on Trump and neofascism


The website of the journal Cultural Anthropology has translated excerpts of an interview Judith Butler gave to a French magazine about Trump, neofascism, and “post-truth” politics. In the excerpt below, she addresses the question of how Trump got elected by a minority of the US population, and whether he represents a new form of fascist politics:

My own sense is that Trump unleashed a rage that has several objects and several causes, and we should probably be skeptical of those who claim to know the true cause and the exclusive object. The condition of economic devastation and disappointment, the loss of hope in the face of an economic future brought on by economic and financial movements that leave whole communities decimated, is surely important. But so, too, is the increasing demographic complexity of the United States, and forms of racism old and new…

This may well be a moment to distinguish between old and new fascisms. The key reference point remains the mid-twentieth-century forms of European fascism. With Trump, we have a different situation, but one which I would still call fascist. The fascist moment comes when Trump arrogates to himself the power to deport millions of people or to put Hillary in jail after he assumes office (he has now taken that back), to break trade agreements at will, to insult the government of China, to call for the reintroduction of waterboarding and other modes of torture. When he speaks that way, he acts as if he has the sole power to decide foreign policy, to decide who goes to jail, to decide who will be deported, which trade agreements will be honored, which foreign policy will be made and broken. Many of us took his arrogance, his ridiculous self-importance, his racism, his misogyny, and his unpaid taxes to be self-defeating characteristics, but all of those were frankly thrilling for many who voted for him. No one is sure that he has read the Constitution or even cares about it. That arrogant indifference is what attracts people to him. And that is a fascist phenomenon. If he puts deeds to words, then we have a fascist government.

Image of Judith Butler via Verso.


He has began to try to implement those fascist ideas…