Trump

Populism unleashed

Prescient piece by Niall Ferguson who back in May was taking Trump’s chances of winning the election seriously.

He describes Trump not as a Fascist – he doesn’t go in for the marching in uniforms and military conquest – but as an anti-immigration populist.

Ferguson describes populism as containing five ingredients (1) rise in immigration which in the USA declined markedly from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s; (2) rising inequality; (3) perception of corruption in the political establishment; (4) a big financial crisis; (5) a demagogue.

The demagogue makes a macho appeal to the most embittered parts of the electorate. Trump is to be compared, not to Mussolini, but Denis Kearney, leader of the  Workingmen’s Party of California in the 1870s during another time of financial crisis. The Party’s slogan – “The Chinese Must Go”. Success for the anti-Chinese campaign came with the 1882 Exclusion Act.

Chinese

The anti-immigration sentiment swept the western world, taking the form of vicious anti-semitism in Germany and France, and the UK too. (The 1905 Aliens Act in the UK was passed to control Jewish immigration, and anti-Irishism was fairly virulent as well).

Ferguson did not dismiss Trump’s chances of winning when many pundits were scoffing at the idea, and he found the thought frankly terrifying.

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