In Jeremiah Morelock (ed.), How to Critique Authoritarian Populism: Methodologies of the Frankfurt School. Leiden, Netherlands: pp. 200-219 (2021)

Claudia Leeb
Washington State University
In this chapter, I analyze Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day to outline the interaction of socio-economic and psychological factors in today's rise of the global far and extremist right. The ego-ideal refers to the ideal view of ourselves and what we aspire to achieve and is generated through societal standards. The main character, Mr. Stevens, who works as a butler for Lord Darlington in England during World War II, replaces his ego-ideal with his employer to view himself as a "great professional." However, being a "great professional" also implies eradicating his capacity to empathize with prospective victims. Thus, ego-ideal replacement, together with his incapacity to empathize, leads to a scenario where he not only fails to challenge his employer's unethical deeds in his involvement with National Socialist Germany. On the contrary, he actively contributes to such deeds through unconditionally serving him.
Keywords Kazuo Ishiguro  Extremist right  Freud  Adorno
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