the populism of Mr Trump

FT columnist Philip Stephens writes that the populism of Donald Trump is more than a protest against declining living standards or increasing income inequality. It is also (more, in my opinion) about protecting “the privileges of the native, white, Christian majority”.

Mr Trump, spurred by his White House strategic adviser Stephen Bannon, imagines an … order … that is robustly nationalist and protectionist and guards the privileges of the native, white, Christian majority. The values of the old order — human dignity, pluralism, the role of law, protection for minorities — have no place in this identity politics. Nor do the institutions of democracy. Judges, media and the rest are “enemies of the people”.

An “America first” foreign policy is part of the same construct. Mr Bannon, the ideologue who informs Mr Trump’s impulses, anticipates a civilisational clash with Islam and a war with China. The flirtation with Mr Putin is about confessional and cultural solidarity against an imagined barbarian threat. ….

[I]n Orwell’s words, “human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working hours, hygiene, birth control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades”. ….

Nazism and Fascism, Orwell was saying, had caught a psychological current. Emotions elbowed aside economic calculation. Something similar is happening today if not, thankfully, on the same level of evil delusion.

Philip Stephens, “What George Orwell would have made of Donald Trump“, Financial Times, 23 February 2017 (gated paywall).

There are already 179 comments on Mr Stephens’ column, which is a “must read” for me.  Is it an accurate description of Donald Trump’s movement? I think so. Many disagree. Read the full column, if possible, and decide for yourself.

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