Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Susan Buck-Morss

Subject Categories

American Politics | Political Theory | Social Psychology | Theory and Philosophy


Psychoanalysis and Mass-Psychology, Minuteman, We Build the Wall, Critical Theory’s Critique of Authoritarianism, Civil Religion, Frankfurt School


In trying to grasp the authoritarian surge in the U.S. since 2016, political theorists have increasingly turned their focus back to the Studies of the Authoritarian Personality. In response to the risk of these contemporary studies’ use of psychoanalysis in a de-historicized and individualized way, this paper opts for a double historicization of modern mass-formations. In analyzing the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, the Minuteman Border Fence and We Build the Wall, civil initiatives that aim at fortifying the U.S.-Mexican border wall (D. Trumps central campaign theme), the current surge to the right is shown to be based on and made possible through long grown and widely prevalent institutionalized formations of U.S. nationalism. The unity that the fortification of a border promises calls for the externalization of ambivalence, by which continuous crises of capitalism, class and social contradictions are falsely cured with the illusion of a strong, united America enclosed by an ‘impenetrable’ wall.