Michiko Kakutani’s high-minded study of the intellectual crisis that has gripped the west is a disappointment
he resistance to Trump is currently tripped up by a disagreement over rhetorical tactics. The question, to use Michelle Obama’s terms, is whether to go high or low – to invoke the lofty constitutional principles Trump violates or to stoop to his own mud-wrestling tactics and call him a liar and (who knows?) perhaps a criminal, as well as a fraud, an oaf, a sleazy groper and an egomaniac as absurdly puffed-up as the nappy-clad balloon that bobbed above Westminster during his visit earlier this month.
In this account of the mental malaise that made Trump possible, Michiko Kakutani chooses to go high, or highbrow. She explains him as a postmodern phenomenon, a product of the deconstructionist assault on absolutes that raged through American universities in the 1980s: Trump’s erstwhile tactician Steve Bannon, co-opting leftist jargon for the “alt-right”, describes his mission as “the deconstruction of the administrative state”, which means replacing governance with a paranoid reign of chaos [ . . . ]
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