Judith Butler on Trump


Rather than hand-wringing moralism, there is always the need for rigorous and sustained thought. And, unlike much of the rubbish that passes for analysis and insightful opinion by columnists, pundits and observers all across the political spectrum in the media, Butler is capable of providing a much more coherent and accurate analysis of the situation, expressed with both clarity and brevity.

From a recent interview with Judith Butler (published originally in French and then translated and published on the Verso blog.)

 Let us not forget that he was elected by less than a quarter of the population, and that he is on the brink of becoming president only thanks to the existence of an archaic Electoral College.


So we should not imagine that Trump enjoys wide popular support. There is a general disillusionment with the political field and a certain scorn for the two main US parties. But Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump. So when we ask about the support for Trump, we should also ask ourselves how it was that a minority of Americans was able to bring him to power.


The minority that supported Trump, the minority allowing him this electoral success, was able to achieve its goal not only thanks to its own rejection of the political field but also the fact that almost 50% of the electorate expressed their disaffection by not going out to vote. Perhaps we ought to speak of the collapse of democratic participation in the United States. 

I think that Trump unleashed a rage that has many causes and many targets, and we should probably be sceptical of those who claim to know the true cause, the one single object of this anger. The state of economic devastation and disappointment and the loss of hope for the future — born of economic and financial movements that have decimated whole communities — certainly did play an important role. But so, too, did the United States’ increasing demographic complexity, as well as forms of racism both old and new… There is a desire for “firmness,” expressed through the strengthening of state power against foreigners and undocumented workers, but this is also accompanied by a desire for greater freedom from the burden of government: a slogan simultaneously serving both individualism and the market.


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