Why the world is turning to Hannah Arendt to explain Trump

George Orwell’s “1984” is not the only classic that’s celebrating a comeback. Hannah Arendt’s philosophical essay “The Origins of Totalitarianism” has also spiked in interest recently. Here’s why it’s so relevant.

Born in Germany to a Jewish family, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) fled when Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933. She spent time as a stateless refugee in France and was deported to an internment camp under the Vichy regime. She emigrated to the United States in 1941, later becoming a US citizen.

Having experienced first-hand the near collapse of an advanced civilization, she also became one of the first political theorists to analyze how totalitarian political movements could rise in the early 20th century.

The roots of Nazism and Stalinism are described in her first major book, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” originally published in English in 1951.

It has been compulsory reading for many college students ever since, but the dense political work of over 500 pages isn’t typically a bestseller. It has been flying off bookshelves in the US since Trump’s inauguration; Amazon even briefly ran out of stock this week.

These new Arendt fans are presumably trying to understand what Trump’s presidency could lead to. As it might take a while for readers to get through her heavy essays, here are a few spoilers: “Trump is not a totalitarian in her understanding; he incorporates what she calls ‘elements’ of totalitarianism,” Roger Berkowitz, professor and head of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanity at Bard College in New York, explained in a recent DW interview.

However, strong warning signs shouldn’t be ignored, added Berkowitz: Arendt believed that “one of the core elements of totalitarianism is that it’s based in a movement… and Trump has explicitly called himself the mouthpiece of a movement. That’s a very dangerous position for a politician.”

DW News Hannah Arendt Zitate ENG

Populism: easy fixes in times of global anxiety

Arendt’s analysis focuses on the events of that period. Although her observations obviously couldn’t explain everything about today’s complex political developments, many are still revealing even now, as the right-wing populism that’s spreading throughout Europe and the US is reminiscent in different ways of the situation in the 1920s and 30s that allowed the Nazis and Communists to rise.

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For Trump, the cruelty IS the message

Trump cruelty
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich) appeared on Fox News’ a day after Donald Trump mocked her late husband during a reelection rally in the congresswoman’s home state
(photo courtesy Fox News)

Rick Wilson on Trump’s Cruelty

We probably didn’t share a single issue. We used to occasionally scrap on Twitter in good fun. For a guy in his 80s when he hit Twitter, he was damn good at it, and that was for a reason. He’d been to the big show. He’d seen it all. For a guy in his 80s when he hit Twitter, he was damn good at it, and that was for a reason. He’d been to the big show. He’d seen it all.

I know that people I admired and admire thought the world of him personally. Republicans. Democrats.

In my long life in politics, I’ve always loved sitting down with anyone who knows the real, lived history of our time. I regret I never got to do that with John. I bet he had some hella stories.

Both parties to live too in the now and believe nothing existed before today.

What Trump’s attack betrayed, in case you missed the four obvious points of it, was as follows.

A. For Trump, the cruelty IS the message. He knew Debbie’s wounds were fresh, her pain real. He’s a sadist of the worst order; one who exploits the pain of the grieving.

B. He always projects. Trump knew in MI Dingell is still a beloved figure, and respected. Trump knows he’ll never have that. He’ll be a figure of fun, a term of insult, a sad clown womp womp laugh track.

He knows he’s more likely to be “looking up” from Hell.

C. His boundless, ravenous ego is a singularity of need, an insatiable maw demanding abject loyalty when he shows even the most minimal courtesy. Everything is transactional and disproportionate. Nothing is ever enough. It’s always “What have you done for me lately?” and FYPM.

D. Trump exists only in Trump nation, the agitprop bubble of his media lackeys and enablers.

He plays only to the mob, the unwashed and furious masses of a cohort educated only in their grievances and the imagined slights of their betters.

I wish to the gods there was one goddamn elected Republican in the world to call out his b.s.

Just. One.

But Profiles in Cowardice is the order of the day, and it is a party not only without stalwarts but one where the collaborators with evil see themselves are heroes.

So endeth.


Source: The Twitter account of Rick Wilson.
HOBBLEDEHOY apologies to Mr. Wilson, as this was originally written as a multi-part tweet, and not a proper news piece, with all the limitations of Twitter.
Mr. Wilson describes himself as “Apostate GOP Media Guy, writer, NYT #1 best-selling author of ETTD. “Digital assassin.”

You can preorder Mr. Wilson’s “Running Against The Devil” here: http://bit.ly/RATD2020

BACKGROUND TO THE CONTROVERSY

(CNN) President Donald Trump attacked Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell and her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, during a rally on Wednesday, implying the former congressman was “looking up” from hell.”Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump said of the congresswoman, noting he was watching her on television during impeachment proceedings.Trump said that he gave the family the “A-plus treatment” after John Dingell died, and that the congresswoman, who now holds his seat in the House, told Trump during an emotional call following John Dingell’s funeral that her husband would have been “thrilled” by the respect shown for him during his funeral and “he’s looking down” on the ceremonies.”Maybe he’s looking up,” Trump said, drawing some moans and groans from those in Battle Creek, Michigan, about two hours away from Debbie Dingell’s district. “Maybe, but let’s assume he’s looking down.”

Is Trump worried about impeachment? Her answer is awesome!

On the Quora website, Kelly Schweighsr from Philadelphia replied to the question “does Donald Trump worry about impeachment?” THE HOBBLEDEHOY think her answer was awesome:

“I think that Trump worries a great deal about impeachment, but less about the political ramifications than the potential criminal prosecution. I believe that Trump only wants to stay in office because he believes it gives him blanket immunity and allows him to enrich himself at tax-payer expense.

If his tax returns become public he may have to pay back taxes and fines, or it may be revealed that he committed bank fraud which could send him to prison and result in a hefty fine. Trump’s finances have always been dodgy, He has never been as wealthy as he has claimed to be. He presidency has actually harmed his brand and would be costing him money if he weren’t charging the Secret Service full rack rate to protect him (and getting foreign governments to book rooms at his hotels but not stay in them).

He accuses Hillary of cheating because he cheated. He accuses everyone of treason because he knows he is breaking laws he swore to uphold.

Trump has always projected what he is doing or planning on doing on to other people. He accuses Hunter Biden of profiting from Joe Biden’s position because his children, Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka (and Jared) are profiting from his presidency. He accuses Hillary of cheating because he cheated. He accuses everyone of treason because he knows he is breaking laws he swore to uphold.

The Presidency is stressful. Donald Trump has never had to manage so many people – his business only employed a few dozen people directly. He doesn’t understand how politics works, the duties and responsibilities of the office or the limits of his power – and that frustrates him. While he loves the attention, particularly that of the adoring crowds at his rallies, he hates the way the media covers him. Trump is used to controlling the message – either through cozy arrangements with the National Enquirer, or by distracting the press with some new outrage. But he has lost that control and he is flailing as a result.

Trump is 73 years old, he is obese, his health is failing, his diet is crap and he doesn’t exercise. He is showing signs of cognitive decline – and his father suffered from dementia, so Trump may be aware that his mind is going. Now pile on all the investigations, the impeachment inquiry, the disaster in Syria and it becomes obvious that he is under more mental stress than he has ever been in his life.

I believe that Trump is worried about the almost inevitable impeachment – but that he is more worried that he will be exposed before the world for what he is and what he has done – and the idea that he might be revealed as a con-man, a cheat, a liar, a thief, a money launderer – or even worse, a poor man who colluded with Vladimir Putin is an effort to make millions and an incompetent manager – terrifies him.

Like a cornered rat, Trump is fighting for his very life – and I believe that he will become much less rational and much more dangerous as the walls close in.”

Source QUORA.COM https://www.quora.com/Does-Donald-Trump-worry-about-impeachment

Is this not the greatest song about Donald Trump – ever?

Fergus he builds and builds, yet small is his erection. Fergus has a fine head of hair, when the wind’s in the right direction

Richard Thompson

Roughly five years ago, Richard Thompson wrote a Celtic folk ballad about an unscrupulous businessman and his shady dealings in Scotland.

It’s called Fergus Laing and, to say the least, is a little bit cheeky.

“Fergus he builds and builds, yet small is his erection. Fergus has a fine head of hair, when the wind’s in the right direction,” Thompson sings.

There was probably little doubt as to who Fergus Laing was inspired by, even if this rule-bending American businessman wasn’t president yet and the details about his controversial development of a golf course on environmentally sensitive lands were better known in the United Kingdom than North America.

But when Donald Trump took over the White House in 2016, Thompson thought the song might take on a new life.

“I continued to sing it a little bit as he rose to prominence in the political sphere,” says Thompson, in an interview from a tour stop in Wisconsin. “I very quickly realized that I could just not keep up. There was too much information every day. I’d have to write a new verse a day. I just had to stop singing that song because it was out of date immediately.”

A songwriter with a knack for sardonic humour and sharp storytelling, Thompson’s political output includes everything from 1991’s stinging Margaret Thatcher rebuke Mother Knows Best to 2007’s tormented Iraq-war anthem Dad’s Gonna Kill Me.

So it says something about the political atmospheres in both Thompson’s adopted country and his native England, which is currently engulfed in its own circus-like, Brexit-inspired chaos, that the songwriter feels unable to properly reflect them in song.

“The political situation in America and in Britain is so strange and so unprecedented in both countries, you have to be a very nimble songwriter to keep up,” says Thompson, who now lives in Los Angeles. “So far, I haven’t managed to. As much as I like writing political things and deflating political egos, I haven’t managed to keep up lately.”

LYRICS
Fergus Laing is a beast of a man
He stitches up and fleeces
He wants to manicure the world
And see it off in pieces
He likes to build his towers high
He blocks the sun out from the sky
In the penthouse the champagne's dry
And slightly gassy
Fergus Laing, he works so hard
As busy as a bee is
Fergus Laing has 17 friends
All as dull as he is
His 17 friends has 17 wives
All the perfect shape and size
They wag their tails and bat their eyes
Just like Lassie
Fergus he builds and builds
Yet small is his erection
Fergus has a fine head of hair
When the wind's in the right direction
Fergus Laing and his 17 friends
They live inside a bubble
There they withdraw and shut the door
At any sign of trouble
Should the peasants wail and vent
And ask him where the money went
He'll simply say, it's all been spent
On being classy
Fergus' buildings reach the sky
Until you cannot see 'um
He thinks the old stuff he pulls down
Belongs in a museum
His fits are famous on the scene
The shortest fuse, so cruel, so mean
But don't call him a drama queen
Like Shirley Bassey
Fergus Laing he flaunts the law
But one day he'll be wired
And as they drag him off to jail
We'll all shout, "You're fired!"
Fergus Laing from a RT show

Still, Thompson is nothing if not prolific. So it’s possible these songs may be pending. In any case, biting political commentary is just one of many colours Thompson has in his songwriting palette. Next month, New West Records will release Thompson’s score for Erik Nelson’s Second World War documentary The Cold Blue. While Thompson is no stranger to soundtrack work, fans might be surprised that it features a relative dearth of guitar. Instead, Thompson enlisted a small chamber orchestra featuring French horns, a string quartet, double bass, oboe, clarinet, harmonica and percussion to musically back Nelson’s film about the brave pilots of the Eighth Air Force.

Meanwhile, as of this week, Thompson is also busily working on songs for both an acoustic album and his next full-band release.

“I’ve got two piles of songs,” Thompson says. “We’ll see which one wins, which one is the next record.” [ . . . ]

Source CALGARY HERALD: Richard Thompson brings 50 years of music to Bella Concert Hall | Calgary Herald

“I use the best, I use the rest”