Empire of Resentment: Populism’s Toxic Embrace of Nationalism
Empire of Resentment: Populism’s Toxic Embrace of Nationalism offers an unapologetic account of how Donald Trump recognized and exploited right-wing discontent to bring together white Evangelicals, free-market fundamentalists, and white nationalists: forming a coalition that is vehemently loyal to his administration. This movement is not confined to the U.S.: it is spreading across other Western democracies, such as Italy and the U.K. “Economic populist” and “othering nationalist” movements that scapegoat minoritized groups are devolving to fascism, giving rise to despots who willfully erode trust in democratic institutions, such as the mass media and the electoral system. Author Lawrence Rosenthal, chair of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, focuses much of his analysis on the rise of disillusionment and distrust of government in the U.S., from the fiscal conservatism of the Tea Party Republicans to street terrorism among militia-inspired white nationalist groups. His take on the “alt-lite” was illuminating, as it takes apart the motivations of a nihilistic subculture of men – mostly white and fearful of feminism – who found a haven for their discontent in alt-right constituencies. This is an important book for all Americans to read, as it reveals the disturbing rise of white identity populism that is provoking racist and xenophobic violence against citizens and society. Rosenthal’s analysis doesn’t attempt to inspire sympathy for the disillusioned. Perhaps with more awareness about us/them dynamics of white nationalism, we can recognize these trends in our own communities and mobilize efforts to halt the further infectious spread of distrust and resentment.
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