Saturday, August 29, 2015

Paging Donald Trump

The fascist leader types are frequently called hysterical. No matter how their attitude is arrived at, their hysterical behavior fulfills a certain function. Though they actually resemble their listeners in most respects, they differ from them in an important one: they know no inhibitions in expressing themselves. They function vicariously for their inarticulate listeners by doing and saying what the latter would like to, but either cannot or dare not. They violate the taboos which middle-class society has put upon any expressive behavior on the part of the normal, matter-of-fact citizen. One may say that some of the effect of fascist propaganda is achieved by this break-through. The fascist agitators are taken seriously because they risk making fools of themselves.

Educated people in general found it hard to understand the effect of Hitler’s speeches because they sounded so insincere, ungenuine, or, as the German word goes, verlogen. But it is a deceptive idea, that the so-called common people have all unfailing flair for the genuine and sincere, and disparage fake. Hitler was liked, not in spite of his cheap antics, but just because of them, because of his false tones and his clowning. They are observed as such, and appreciated. Real folk artists, such as Girardi with his Fiakerlied, were truly in touch with their audiences and they always employed what strikes us as ‘false tones.’ We find similar manifestations regularly in drunkards who have lost their inhibitions. The sentimentality of the common people is by no means primitive, unreflecting emotion. On the contrary, it is pretense, a fictitious, shabby imitation of real feeling, often self-conscious and slightly contemptuous of itself. This fictitiousness is the life element of the fascist propagandist performances.

Theodor W. Adorno, “Anti-Semitism and Fascist Propaganda”

No comments:

Post a Comment