Culture and the "deplorables"


supporter of Donald Trump - photo credit: AP/Matt Rourke (source:

At one point during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton suggested that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in “a basket of deplorables” which she described as consisting of “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it.”

Clinton later apologised, but the remark was nevertheless not without foundation. Whether such “deplorables” are really half in the Trump camp or not, they have indeed reached a critical mass across the world. People who loathe too many alternatives, despise negotiated compromises; who favour clear, simple truisms instead. They are the fuel for populism, for illiberal, intolerant, simplistic theories in political power game; for nationalist and other kinds of collective egoism.

Many of the features that the “deplorables” share are “cultural”. They feel alienated from, and tired of the establishment, the established authorities; abhor intellectualism with too many nuances; liberalism where everything goes; political correctness where you must tolerate; democracy with complicated decision making and compromises; foreigners’ presence and influence. They argue for inherited merits (heritage!) as invested rights; they nurture the cult of force and myths; national rivalry instead of trans-border cooperation and shared identity.

This text is a reconstruction of the talk given by Péter Inkei at the course on ‘Cultural policies in Europe in the face of integration challenges: citizen participation, active citizenship, and European identity’, organised by the European Academy of Yuste Foundation on 5-7 October, 2016.

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