Anti-Mimesis

More on Thiel’s Girardian machinations at the Business Insider:

On a deeper level, perhaps Trump fit into Thiel’s grand historical plans. Here was a man who would disrupt the runaway mimesis caused by globalization, which encouraged people around the world to compare their lives to everyone else’s.

The thesis is certainly neat.

Previous (extended) ruminations on the topic linked here.

Quotable (#214)

Calm realism from Shadi Hamid:

I could try to explain what I think our nation is, but I can no longer be sure if tens of millions of my fellow citizens would agree. But I cannot simply take solace in the fact that soon there will be more non-whites and therefore more people who share my ideology. This is a recipe for more conflict, not less. […] Well before Brexit and the rise of Trump, Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev wrote that “threatened majorities — those who have everything and who fear everything — have emerged as the major force in European politics.” They feel threatened in the United States as well; the only difference, perhaps, is that they do not have everything but still fear everything. Yet as demographics inexorably shift, both the perception and reality of this “threat” will only grow. Unless something changes, American politics will continue to collapse along ethnic lines.

Quotable (#213)

Girard in contemporary politics (insightfully explored):

In one of his seminars, Thiel made the political stakes of his concern with scapegoating more explicit, making reference to Occupy Wall Street: “The 99% vs. the 1% is the modern articulation of this classic scapegoating mechanism. It is all minus one versus the one.” The central task of controlling what Girard calls the “victimage mechanism,” for “founders” like him, is to deflect collective violence from themselves. Gawker, on the other hand, seemed to specialize in identifying targets for that violence, or at least for collective online vituperation – and those targets often belonged to the capitalist “founder” class, although many debated whether Gawker at times abandoned its proclaimed commitment to “punching up.” Crushing Gawker was not simply an attack on a particular organ of scapegoating that had offended Thiel, but an attempt to disarm a certain politicization of scapegoating in a digital world given over to it.

(The entire piece is excellent.)

The Alt-Right Moment?

Oh, wait

Trump made big gains among blacks. He made big gains among Latinos. He made big gains among Asians. The only major racial group where he didn’t get a gain of greater than 5% was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population.

(UF full-sentence emphasis.)

Scott Alexander is so sane it’s actually annoying.

Quotable (#204)

Badiou is not amused:

I don’t say that there is noth­ing at all on this [Left] side. We know new riots, new occu­pa­tion of places, new mobil­isa­tion, new eco­lo­gic­al determ­in­a­tion and so on. So, it’s not the absence of all forms of res­ist­ance, prot­est­a­tion — no, I don’t say that. But the lack of another stra­tegic way, that is, some­thing which is at the same level as the con­tem­por­ary con­vic­tion that cap­it­al­ism is the only way pos­sible. The lack of the strength of the affirm­a­tion of another way. And the lack of what I name an Idea, a great Idea. A great Idea which is the pos­sib­il­ity of uni­fic­a­tion, glob­al uni­fic­a­tion, stra­tegic uni­fic­a­tion of all forms of res­ist­ance and inven­tion. An Idea is a sort of medi­ation between the indi­vidu­al sub­ject and the col­lect­ive his­tor­ic­al and polit­ic­al task, and it’s the pos­sib­il­ity of action across and with very dif­fer­ent sub­jectiv­it­ies, but under the same Idea in some sense. […] … the gen­er­al and stra­tegic dom­in­a­tion of glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism, the decom­pos­i­tion of clas­sic­al polit­ic­al olig­archy, the pop­ular dis­or­i­ent­a­tion and frus­tra­tion, and the lack of another stra­tegic way — com­pose in my opin­ion the crisis of today. We can define the con­tem­por­ary world in the term of a glob­al crisis which is not redu­cible to the eco­nom­ic crisis of the last years, which is much more, I think, a sub­ject­ive crisis, because of the des­tiny of human beings is more and more unclear for them­selves.

Quotable (#202)

Greenwald on the recent awkwardness:

… opinion-making elites were so clustered, so incestuous, so far removed from the people who would decide this election — so contemptuous of them — that they were not only incapable of seeing the trends toward Trump but were unwittingly accelerating those trends with their own condescending, self-glorifying behavior.