Throughout his campaign Trump’s rhetoric has been vilified as racist sexist nativist and populist – depending upon the audience and the crisis.
Reductive explanations are always problematic in that they ignore previous historical forces in play when technology – shifts in demographics – wealth disparity and immigration have given rise to similar ‘movements’ of leaders with nativist tones.Recently two scholars from Oxford University – Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna – published an audacious text about the lessons that could be drawn from the dislocation and demographic shifts that occurred during the Renaissance – a period of rapid advancement much like our own today.
They argue the upheaval at the time due to technology led to a politics whose complexion is very similar to ours today.
‘Now like then – new media have democratized information exchange – amplifying voices of those who feel they have been injured in the upheaval – said Goldin.
In a column by Thomas Friedman- who reviews the book – he goes on to show how this turbulence led to the rise of an obscure firebrand friar – Girolamo Savonarola.
He quotes Goldin as writing that ‘he and his zealous supporters – though a small minority – swept away the Medici establishment and seized control of the city’s councils’.‘From there’ the article continues ‘Savonarola launched an ugly campaign of public purification – introducing radical laws including laws against homosexuality and attacked public intellectuals in an act of intimidation that history still remembers as the Bonfire of the Vanities.Savonarola was amongst the first to tap into the information revolution of the time and while others produced long sermons and treatises – Savonarola disseminated short pamphlets – in what may be thought of as the equivalent of political tweets’.(cont..)