What ideas influence the new right and how is it spreading around the world, including in Africa? This week on AIAC Talk we have Chelsea Stieber, a scholar of French and Francophone Studies, who will speak on the ideas that inspire today’s violent, white, right-wing populism, and how they draw inspiration from an obscure 1970s racist, apocalyptic novel from France, Camp of the Saints. This novel has been publicly quoted by Trump’s former advisor Steve Bannon, and by the openly racist US congressman Steve King among others. The book imagines a scenario where France is invaded by a group of South Asian migrants and its hero, a white Frenchmen, murders these migrants as well as their white allies. As Stieber wrote previously on Africa Is a Country, “This fixation on the president’s predilections for TV screens and phone calls tends to mask the highly textual nature of Trumpism, and the script that informs it. Indeed, many of his aides and advisors love to read, but what they’re reading is a body of work that most educated Americans are entirely illiterate in.” Camp of the Saints gives us a sense into his, and his aides and advisors, racist thinking.
Then, political scientist Christopher McMichael, from South Africa, will speak on the spread of right-wing ideas, conspiracy theories, and political movements on the continent, especially in South Africa where there is a significant white minority.
The tactic by right-wing and authoritarian leaders to confuse and obfuscate information for personal gain has gotten particular attention this week, as the public receives mixed messages about Donald Trump’s personal battle with COVID-19. It reminds us of the tendency of leaders on the African continent to give unreliable information on the status of their health, whether it was Ali Bongo who vanished for two months and reappeared after a stroke, Muhammadu Buhari’s annual medical checkups in the UK, or Paul Biya’s extended stays (for months on end) in a Swiss hotel. But as the photographer, Fati Abubakar, remarked on Twitter, “I thought as Africans we had seen it all but this time America wins the Oscar for Drama, Suspense, Comedy, Tragedy. Even the sick President saga has outdone the African President stories ill health and lies with the classic mix of pomposity and pride.”
Clips from last week’s episode are now archived. If you missed them, watch highlights from our discussion with writer Michelle Chikaonda and media scholar Jimmy Kainja on Malawi’s “most interesting 24-months” and the events that led up to its historic 2020 presidential elections. Also, watch our spirited discussion (here and here) with South African legal scholar Sohela Surajpal on reimagining what we mean by feminist justice.
All shows are archived in their entirety, and in podcast form on our Patreon page.