The culture war is now eating the right from within.
Over the course of the last decades the growing consensus of the populist right has been partly built by pursuing a culture war against liberal elites and the left accused of imposing on ordinary people alien ideas. 1/
This culture war is multifarious. On the one hand it revolves around conservative rejection of progressive values (LGBT rights, racial equality etc). On other hand it comprises a suspicion of science and technique, seen as a means of imposing progressivism and rationalism. 2/
During the pandemic this strategy has led to populist right politicians dallying with (if not overtly espousing) conspiracy theories on the origins of the virus, masks and vaccination as popularised by anti-vaxx movements. 3/
In many circumstances this was clearly informed by a rather opportunistic attempt to reap short-term electoral advantages by tapping into this minoritarian but highly militant pool of believers. 4/
Trump obviously never believed for a moment that bleach was a cure for Covid. Yet, it was politically expedient for him to pretend he was believing it to look good in the eyes of conspiracy theorists. Same applies to many others. 5/
Legitimising conspiracy theories was conducive to propaganda objective of discrediting urban elites associated with left and liberals, as hypocritical if not altogether evil. This has been key ingredient of national populism and its construction of the metropolitan enemy. 6/
Yet, now a strategy that long served to antagonise the left is eating the right from within, creating a divide between "true believers" and "free riders": more moderate voters and leaders who have been exploiting popular suspicions of science out of sheer opportunism. 7/
In many country populist right leaders are finding themselves caught between two fires: on the one hand centre and left accusing them of irrationalism, on the other hand true believers accusing them of betrayal. 8/
Trump was booed by own supporters when he invited them to get vaccinated. In France the conspirationist Eric Zemmour is outflanking Marine Le Pen on the right. In Italy Salvini and Brothers of Italy are distancing themselves from more radical sectors of the anti-vax movement. 9/
Like sorcerer's apprentice the populist right seems to have woken up force that cannot control. In so doing it risks splitting its own fragile electoral coalition, which comprises sectors of well-oiled bourgeoisie, but also disgruntled workers & impoverished small business. 10/
This poses a serious strategic problem going forward. The right has made a promise of radicalism that it cannot keep if it is to maintain support from business , that has little patience for popular superstititions and want to go back to business as usual. 11/

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More from @paologerbaudo

9 Aug
While we wait for release of new IPCC report it is ever more apparent that to avert climate disaster we need massive state interventionism, the like of which we have not experienced for decades, and we are not culturally/psychologically prepared for. /thread
1/ For a long time climate policy discourse was framed either as changes in individual consumption patterns or local areas (do you remember transition towns?) or multilateralism and action at global level. "Think global act local" or "planetary solutions to planetary problems".
2/ Fact that changes in individual consumption patterns is only an illusion (for how it may give a little help) has already been demolished (at least in the activist milieu). But idea that only planetary solutions will deliver us from global problems is more stubborn.
Read 13 tweets
7 Aug
If Italy is the country of the future, expect to have not just one rightwing populist party but two (Lega + Brothers of Italy). I struggled a bit yesterday to explain to foreign journalist why this is the case.
My sense is that there are 2 parties because of 2 main reasons: 1. territorial divides, 2. divides within the Italian bourgeoisie. Ideology also matters ("post"-fascism in case of Brothers of Italy vis-a-vis post-regionalist populism in the case of Lega). But not as important.
In terms of territorial divides despite Lega becoming national party its heartland still very much in the Po valley, and its free market policy reflects it. Brothers of Italy strong in Centre-South and more economically marginal areas. Its economic policy is more protectionist.
Read 8 tweets
5 Aug
The problem of Agamben and philosophical allies is not that they are Foucaultian, but that they are not Foucaultian enough! It is as if they have only read Discipline and Punish skipping the lectures at the College de France.
Discussing rise of political economy Foucault says that entire point of biopolitics is circulation, facilitating movement of people and things. Agamben and the like instead operate with a vision of government as confinement, using the concentration camp as paradigm of modernity.
For example vaccine passports are not about confining people at home. Much to the contrary they are about persuading them to get out of their homes, winning over their reluctance for fear of contagion. It is a means of circulation not confinement.
Read 4 tweets
5 Aug
We are moving from 'exopolitics' of neoliberalism (externalisation, outsourcing, offshoring, exports) to 'endopolitics' of postneoliberal era (reterritorialisation, isolationism, rescue-repair-recovery, domestic demand, insourcing, onshoring).

(The Great Recoil, Intro) Image
1/ Idea here is that we are facing a topological inversion in contemporary politics. Outwardness of high globalisation gives way to a countervailing trend. This is not just a moment of involution/backlash, but also of re-centering and internal re-organisation of political units.
2/ This trend is similar to many previous Polanyian counter-movements. Globalisation's expansionist drive was unsustainable politically (as shown by populist revolts) and economically (global supply chain disruption, stagnating domestic demand).
Read 11 tweets
4 Aug
History and ideology come in waves. After the socialdemocratic era (1940s-70) and the neoliberal era (1980s-2010s) we seem to be entering a new phase in the evolution of capitalism, in which the “protectivist” state takes centre stage.

(The Great Recoil, Ch. 1)
This is key to the overall approach/method of the book. What matters to politics is not just ideology (in the sense of specific left/right positions), but "master ideology" at any given historical time, broad social consensus on key issues.
When people referred to neoliberalism as "unique thought" they alerted to broad consensus cutting across centre-left/centre-right on benefits of free market, with disagreements on how it should be handled. Even anti-neoliberals ended up accepting some of neoliberalism's premises.
Read 12 tweets
3 Aug
Best way to read anti-vaxxers is as extreme coping mechanism: control mania as balancing response vis-a-vis a world out of control. When political control is eroded desires of control focus on the only thing one can still partly control: one's own body.
Anti-vaxx sentiment in this sense is similar to many new age practices: extreme diet regimes, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises. Shared aim is control over body and its functioning.
NIMB: not in my body.
Read 4 tweets

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