The recent "Unite the Right" march by a couple of hundred white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists across the University of Virginia campus offered a glimpse of the growing danger of authoritarian movements both in the United States and across the globe, reeking of the 1930s. The image of hundreds of fascist bullies chanting anti-Semitic, racist and white nationalist slogans, such as "Heil Trump," and later attacking peaceful anti-racist counter-demonstrators makes clear that the radical right-wing groups that have been on the margins of American society are now more comfortable in public with their nihilistic and dangerous politics.
They appear especially emboldened to come out of the shadows because elements of their neo-fascist ideology have found a comfortable if not supportive place at the highest levels of the Trump administration, especially in the presence of Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller, who espouse elements of the nefarious racist ideology that was on full display in Charlottesville. As is well known, Trump has embraced the presence and backing of white nationalists and white supremacists while refusing to denounce their Nazi slogans and violence in strong political and ethical terms, suggesting his own complicity with such movements...
The authoritarian drama unfolding across the United States has many registers and includes state violence against immigrants, right-wing populist violence against mosques and synagogues, and attacks on Muslims, Black people and others who do not fit into the vile script of white nationalism. The violence in Charlottesville is but one register of a larger mirror of domestic terrorism and home-grown fascism that is growing in the United States...
The growing call for illiberal democracies (code for authoritarian regimes) first begins with the popularization and normalization of hate and bigotry, which we have witnessed under the Trump regime, and then morphs into right-wing groups developing their own militias, organs of violence and paramilitary forces.
Charlottesville provides a glimpse of authoritarianism on the rise and speaks to the dark clouds that appear to be ushering in a new and dangerous historical moment.
Redoing the Demos? An Interview with Wendy Brown
Theory, Culture and Society, June 8, 2017