Paul Mason is a British writer, journalist, and filmmaker. A former economics editor for Channel 4 News and BBC 2’s Newsnight, he is the author of several books: most recently, PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future (2015) and Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being (2019). (May 2019)
If Hannah Arendt’s descriptions of the dynamics of totalitarian movements hold good—and they largely do—her explanations for them do not. As a result, if Trump has triggered a crisis of progressive thought, it is in particular a crisis for the cult of Arendt. The United States of America was her last and enduring hope: the only political institution on earth that was supposed to be immune to totalitarianism, nationalism, and imperialism. Arendt’s optimism about postwar America stemmed from her belief that people can learn to take self-liberating actions, learn to distinguish good from bad, and the ugly from the beautiful. But if you share her optimism—and I do—then you are now up against a very dangerous opposing force.