The restorationist impulse

Hankering for the old ways

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  • Published 20170801
  • ISBN: 9781925498417
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE CHILDREN COME home from school to be greeted by their mother, who is wearing an apron. They then go off to play with their neighbourhood friends, from families very like their own. After dinner, and after husband and wife have cheerfully washed and dried the dishes together, they all sit around the family TV watching Father Knows Best.

This image of stability, security and contentment is only slightly more ridiculous than the nostalgic illusions sometimes peddled by politicians and media. Right-wing populist politicians increasingly invoke an imaginary past, one that is selective at best. The two most important and successful slogans of 2016 – Trump’s Make America Great Again, and Brexit’s Take Back Control – both appeal to moving from an unsatisfactory present back to a romantically remembered past.

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