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Understanding the Socio-psychological Roots of Contemporary Right-wing Populism

Samir Gandesha
One of the key problems of contemporary politics is the presence and growing power of right-wing populist movements throughout the Western world from the US "Tea Party," to Britain's UKIP to Pegida in Germany and Golden Dawn in Greece. This paper poses the following question: To what extent is it possible to draw upon the social-psychological concept of the "authoritarian personality" in the work of Erich Fromm and Theodor W. Adorno et. al. to understand the distinctive populist personality structure of contemporary neo-liberal capitalism?
Samir Gandesha is an Associate Professor in the Department of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. He specializes in modern European thought and culture, with a particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. His work has appeared in Political Theory, New German Critique, Kant Studien, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Topia, the European Legacy, the European Journal of Social Theory, Art Papers, the Cambridge Companion to Adorno and Herbert Marcuse: A Critical Reader as well as in several other edited books. He is co-editor with Lars Rensmann of "Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations" (Stanford, 2012). His book (coedited with Johan Hartle) "Reification and Spectacle: On the Timeliness of Western Marxism" (University of Amsterdam Press) is forthcoming later this year and he has also recently completed (also with Johan Hartle) "Poetry of the Future: Marx and the Aesthetic." He has recently lectured at the Centre for the Study of Marxist Social Theory at the University of Nanjing, the Taipei Biennale and at the School for Language, Literature and Cultural Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.


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