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Abstract

In this conclusion, I provide an overview of the continuing relevance of each contributing author’s analysis, in light of the rapidly evolving political events of the past four years.

In: On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump

Abstract

The US left, such as it is, has shown itself inadequate to the task of confronting right wing ideologies, which have only intensified since the election, culminating in the white supremacist Unite the Right torch rally at Charlottesville in August 2017 and on a larger scale, the mosque shootings in New Zealand in March 2019. Whether underestimating Trump by downplaying his seriousness during the primaries, trivializing the concerns of women and minorities as “identity politics,” or rushing to prioritize the free speech rights of fascists over the targets of their speech, the left has found themselves unable to use its traditional arsenal of evidence, rational discourse, and appeals to diversity of viewpoints. With Trump we see immediately the limits of depoliticized celebrations of relativism used as resistance, unmoored from any specific allegiance or ideological vision. What has essentially happened is that the right wing has effectively borrowed the language of the left, taking advantage of the loopholes of classical liberalism. This chapter provides an overview of key issues taken up by subsequent authors of the text.

In: On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump

Abstract

The most disheartening outcome of the election was the profound disregard for racism as a key factor motivating Trump supporters, from leftist and liberal commentators and academics who then found themselves slammed upside the head with reality. Among the most flawed race-free analyses is the “economic anxiety” thesis: that people voted for Trump not because of racism, but because they were deep down “worried about the economy.” The economic anxiety thesis is often attached to recommendations for liberal politicians to move away from identity discourse and only emphasize issues that white voters will respond to, though this is couched in universal terms as part of a whitewashing project. This chapter critiques the received truth of the economic anxiety thesis from a classical Marxist perspective, dialectically examines its origins in the work of Thomas Frank and David Brooks, and posit how it serves to normalize white supremacist discourse and the current administration’s personnel and policies.

In: On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump
Chapter 1 Introduction

Abstract

The US left, such as it is, has shown itself inadequate to the task of confronting right wing ideologies, which have only intensified since the election, culminating in the white supremacist Unite the Right torch rally at Charlottesville in August 2017 and on a larger scale, the mosque shootings in New Zealand in March 2019. Whether underestimating Trump by downplaying his seriousness during the primaries, trivializing the concerns of women and minorities as “identity politics,” or rushing to prioritize the free speech rights of fascists over the targets of their speech, the left has found themselves unable to use its traditional arsenal of evidence, rational discourse, and appeals to diversity of viewpoints. With Trump we see immediately the limits of depoliticized celebrations of relativism used as resistance, unmoored from any specific allegiance or ideological vision. What has essentially happened is that the right wing has effectively borrowed the language of the left, taking advantage of the loopholes of classical liberalism. This chapter provides an overview of key issues taken up by subsequent authors of the text.

In: On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump
Chapter 8 Conclusion

Abstract

In this conclusion, I provide an overview of the continuing relevance of each contributing author’s analysis, in light of the rapidly evolving political events of the past four years.

In: On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump
Chapter 5 The Populist Masquerade of Attributing Trump’s Win to “Economic Anxiety” among White Voters

Abstract

The most disheartening outcome of the election was the profound disregard for racism as a key factor motivating Trump supporters, from leftist and liberal commentators and academics who then found themselves slammed upside the head with reality. Among the most flawed race-free analyses is the “economic anxiety” thesis: that people voted for Trump not because of racism, but because they were deep down “worried about the economy.” The economic anxiety thesis is often attached to recommendations for liberal politicians to move away from identity discourse and only emphasize issues that white voters will respond to, though this is couched in universal terms as part of a whitewashing project. This chapter critiques the received truth of the economic anxiety thesis from a classical Marxist perspective, dialectically examines its origins in the work of Thomas Frank and David Brooks, and posit how it serves to normalize white supremacist discourse and the current administration’s personnel and policies.

In: On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump
Volume Editor: Faith Agostinone-Wilson
Using a range of critical perspectives, On the Question of Truth in the Era of Trump closely examines notions of “truth in crisis” leading up to and after the election of Donald Trump. The authors explore how truth is constructed along the lines of race, social class, and gender as filtered through the self-referential characteristics of social media in particular. The authors assert that the US left has shown itself inadequate to the task of confronting right wing ideologies, which have only intensified since the 2016 election, resulting in increased mobilization of white supremacist and nationalist groups.

Whether underestimating Trump by downplaying the threat of his candidacy during the primaries, trivializing the concerns of women and minorities as “identity politics,” or rushing to prioritize the free speech rights of the far-right, left academics and the media have found themselves unable to use their traditional arsenal of evidence, rational discourse, and appeals to diversity of viewpoints.

The authors assert that political resistance to the right is not a matter of playful use of signs and symbols or discourse alone and has to be fought directly and in solidarity. At this point, it is clear that Trump and his supporters have not just deployed relativism as a form of strategy, but have fully weaponized it against their perceived enemies: women, immigrants, minorities, LGBTQ people along with educational, scientific, and journalistic institutions. It is hoped that this in-depth, critical dissection of truth in the current political reality will assist in the project of resistance.

Contributors are: Faith Agostinone-Wilson, Mike Cole, Jeremy T. Godwin, Jones Irwin, Austin Pickup, Daniel Ian Rubin, and Eric C. Sheffield.
This text explores the re-assertion of right-wing populist and fascist ideologies as presented and distributed in the media. In particular, attacks on immigrants, women, minorities, and LGBTQI people are increasing, inspired by the election of politicians who openly support authoritarian discourse and scapegoating. More troubling is how this discourse is inscribed into laws and policies.

Despite the urgency of the situation, the Left has been unable to effectively respond to these events, from liberals insisting on hands-off free speech policies, including covering "both sides of the issue" to socialists who utilize a tunnel vision focus on economic issues at the expense of women and minorities. In order to effectively resist right-wing movements of this magnitude, a socialist/Marxist feminist analysis is necessary for understanding how racism, sexism, and homophobia are conduits for capitalism, not just ‘identity issues.’

Topics addressed in this text include an overview of dialectical materialist feminism and its relevance and a review of characteristics of authoritarian populism and fascism. Additionally, the insistence on a colorblind conceptualization of the working class is critiqued, with its detrimental effects on moving resistance and activism forward. This was a key weakness with the Bernie Sanders campaign, which is discussed. Online environments and their alt-right discourse/function are used as an example of the ineffectiveness of e-libertarianism, which has prioritized hands-off administration, allowing right-wing discourse to overcome many online spaces. Other topics include the emergence of the fetal personhood construct in response to abortion rights, and the rejection of science and expertise.
Chapter 2 Fascism and Right-Wing Populism

Abstract

There is much conflation of fascism with authoritarian populism, which makes fighting these movements more challenging. An overview of characteristics of right-wing movements are presented, including rampant misogyny and racism. This chapter discusses what each has in common, but also presents important differences. The common media approach of equating historical events to the present will also be critiqued for its role in hyperbole and spreading confusion.

Open Access
In: Enough Already! A Socialist Feminist Response to the Re-emergence of Right Wing Populism and Fascism in Media
Chapter 3 Who Is the Real Working Class?

Abstract

One of the major media talking points about Trump supporters was that deep down they were anxious about the economy, thus driven to right wing movements. Endless articles and blogs investigated the plight of the white, male, rural, heterosexual worker, with few pieces devoted to the majority of people who rejected Trump. This de-racialization of the working class in particular flies in the face of reality, which is a multicultural, female young, urban workforce occupying service industry jobs. A major assertion of this chapter is that unless labor movements and the media acknowledge the diversity of the working class, it will be impossible to fight what is happening under capitalism.

Open Access
In: Enough Already! A Socialist Feminist Response to the Re-emergence of Right Wing Populism and Fascism in Media