Angela Nagel, The Baffler, March 2017
In her 2011 book Demonic, which explained how ‘the liberal mob is endangering America,’ Coulter praised the work of Gustave Le Bon, the first Frenchman to set about measuring the craniums of Nepalese peasants in an effort to lend pseudoscientific credence to elite European imperialist and economic projects. Le Bon’s influential 1895 book The Crowd drew admiring praise from Hitler and has been a reliable touchstone for misanthropes and eugenicists since. In fact, the whole anti-immigration discourse, marked recently by Trump’s ‘build the wall’ rallying cry, is steeped in the legacy of Le Bon and those who have always feared the teeming masses and the great unwashed, whether foreign or homegrown. Their alarmist outcries were typically first deployed upon the toiling white masses within Western societies, and then would find a new subject in new foreign ethnic minorities.
In both settings, the rhetoric is remarkably consistent: There are too many of them. They breed too much. They’ll swamp our limited resources. There isn’t enough room. They’ll destroy and vulgarize our culture. But what’s striking in our own new political order is how ideologically fungible such sentiments are becoming before our eyes. Put another way: if Hillary had won—or Brexit had been resoundingly voted down—we would be hearing more populism from the liberals and more misanthropy from the right.
More confusing still, in the web-native invective of the overtly white-separatist subculture of the new online right – the self-styled ‘alt-right’ -anyone who does not carry into adulthood the strangely adolescent impulse to distinguish herself from the hated mainstream of society is derisively called a Normie or a Basic Bitch, as though white separatism were an obscure punk genre. A common thread of masses-deriding misanthropy runs through the writing and rhetoric of the online white-nationalist right. Indeed, the longer you look at all the forces of reaction marshaled behind the billionaire president, the more opportunistic his populist turn seems.