Saturday, November 12, 2016

The irate middle class

A few days ago it seemed the people of the world were, at least for several hours, shocked by the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. This followed a drawn out campaign of isolationist and nationalist rhetoric: making America great again was the catch-cry.  

But this is not unfamiliar territory. Writing from Hamburg in January 1924, Joseph Roth wrote - in one of his short articles for the Prager Tagblatt - "Die völkische Propaganda wird in positivem Sinne begünstigt durch die Nachgiebigkeit auch des erregten Bürgertums, dem man die Neigung zu so phantastischer Lächerlichkeit nicht zugetraut hätte."

Michael Hofmann translates this as "Nationalist propaganda appeals to the irate middle class, which one wouldn't have thought so absurdly susceptible."

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