The Institute’s analysis of ‘modern demagogy’
in Critical theory and demagogic populism
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A detailed reconstruction of the Institute’s full theorization of ‘modern demagogy’ is provided. The use of ‘demagogic’ rather than ‘authoritarian’ in ‘demagogic populism’ is explained as is the division of labour between the demagogy studies and other sections of the Studies in Prejudice project. The reconstruction in this chapter and the following contest the common view that the Institute’s work simply imposed European understandings of fascism onto the US case.

The psychoanalytic dimensions of this analysis are elaborated, notably the key role played by paranoia, false projection and narcissism. Also elaborated is the Institute’s little-known critical engagement with ‘liberal’ propaganda critique and its ‘liberal exposure’ strategy of countering demagogic propaganda with ‘truth’ and the popularization of critical awareness of demagogic ‘devices’. This leads on to the introduction of the relationship that both Lowenthal and Adorno saw between demagogic propaganda and the culture industry.


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