In his 2004 novel The Plot against America, Philip Roth invoked the spectre of a fascist regime in the United States of America. Squarely in the tradition of counter-factual narrative Roth asks: what if? What if not Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but Hitler fan and airflight pioneer Charles Lindbergh, courted by Goebbels, had made it to the White House as the thirty-third US President? Many in conservative circles at the time thought that would be a good idea…
Hitherto, to a European observer such a scenario would have seemed far-fetched. Roth’s historiography in that case would have been just a fantasy. Although, to be sure, we – and our parents’ generation of 1968 – nurtured our anti-Americanism, our easy criticisms focused less on possible fascist structures and rather on the excrescences of American finance capitalism, commerce and consumerism.
The “Great Satan” served as the explanation for every ill and thus anti-Americanism became an “ideological all-purpose explanatory model”. So far, so unsatisfactory. But is the latest expression of Transatlantic friction – Donald Trump – solely an American phenomenon?