Dr. Simon Strick

Populism is over. Digital Fascism and Trump's Afterlives

Zeit: 21.07..2021, 18-20 Uhr

This talk argues that the concept of populism, insofar as it is used to describe rightwing opinionmongering on digital platforms, is no longer useful to describe the amorphous actors, algorithmic strategies or neofascist swarm-movements of the present. Analysing so-called memetic warfare, their exploitation of digital attention economies, and the affective strategies of the alt-right, this talk calls for a granular perspective on the contemporary far right. Rather than presenting a top-down authoritarian mindset or digital crowds seduced by aspiring totalitarians, the vernacular fascisms thriving in digital networks constitute bottom-up movements and user-driven dynamics: leaderless, volatile, consumer-oriented and embedded into the ordinary digital lifeworlds afforded by social media. This talk will present an affective model to think about contemporary rightwing agitations and movements, and argue for cultural studies as a prime methodology to explain the current turn to what I call "reflexive fascism".

Simon Strick is a scholar of Cultural, Media and Gender Studies. He received his phD from Humboldt University with a thesis on pain, sentimentalism and biopolitics; the book American Dolorologies was published with SUNY Press in 2014. He has held positions at Humboldt University, Paderborn University, JFK-Institute Berlin, ZfL Berlin and the University of Virginia.  In 2018 he received a grant by the VW-Foundation for his research project Feeling (Alt)Right: Affective and Identity Politics of Online Extremism. The monograph Rechte Gefühle: Affekte und Strategien des digitalen Faschismus is published by transcript in May 2021. He currently works at the ZeM Brandenburg. Together with Susann Neuenfeldt and Werner Türk, he founded the performance group PKRK, which is active in Berlin theatres since 2009.