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afloweroutofstone:

The fact that the mail bomber had his house improperly foreclosed on by the company of Steve Mnuchin, then-banker and now-Trump’s Secretary of Treasury, is such a perfect encapsulation of how right-wing populism works. You provide cover for one segment of elites by scapegoating marginalized people and a competing segment of elites, who you claim are in cahoots with one another. 

Right-wing populism a powerful enough ideological tool that you can literally get someone to join a cult of personality around a man even as he empowers someone who directly harmed them, simply by acknowledging the potential for the redirection of raw anger. The Trump administration literally, personally damaged the bomber’s life, but he likely never even knew it, never even knew that the man behind his foreclosure was now working with the man he idolized. Following the foreclosure, he was probably just angry at the prevailing system, but his anger had no structure, no ideology (it seems he wasn’t even politically active before 2016). In absence of a popular leftist systemic critique, the hard right was able to monopolize the response to anger among many white people, redirect it, and mold it in the shape of producerism. Rather than being led to realize the way the construction of power in society actually functions to disadvantage him along the lines of class while keeping him invested in the system with compensatory privileges along lines of race, gender, etc. (see Du Bois’ “wages of whiteness” argument [pg. 700-701 here]), he instead was led to follow the fraudulent right-wing alternative: that corrupt liberal elites were using their power to ruin his life through their promotion of “globalism,” multiculturalism, cronyism, etc. 

Things like this always make me think back to an anecdote from Chip Berlet’s extremely insightful “Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close For Comfort”:

Posse [Commitatus] and [Christian] Identity organizers capitalized on the farm crisis of the 1980s. Rural America faced its worst economic slump in half a century, owing largely to unfair and inequitable policies by the federal government and private banks. While most of society ignored angry and desperate rural families’ legitimate grievances, far-right activists urged resistance and offered ready scapegoats, namely, the Jews who supposedly controlled the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve. In the early 1980’s, Posse activists helped to split the influential American Agricultural Movement, while Identity theology and antisemitic conspiracy theories gained an alarming level of acceptance in rural America. One poll in 1985 found that in the farm belt 27 percent of respondents felt that ‘international Jewish bankers’ were responsible for the farm crisis.

Right-wing populism is an ideological mechanism which mobilizes people who are are wronged by elites to fight in defense of certain factions of elites rather than against the system of elites as a whole by redirecting their anger towards scapegoats who are perceived to threaten privileges that they hold along other dimensions than the one they were wronged on.