What follows is a Work in Progress attempting to explain a quite apparent paradox: how is it that Donald Trump, a billionaire real estate developer, whose claim to fame includes popularizing the slogan : “You’re fired!” can end up leading a right wing populist following that in fact is plagued by the very activities he as businessman epitomizes? How it is so many people enthusiastically and vociferously support him, in apparent contradiction to their own interests?
The argument here begins by suggesting that Donald Trump is in fact operationally three different persons, three Trumps (perish the thought, if taken literally!), three entities he has struggled to keep separate: Trump the Individual, Trump the Businessman, and Trump the Political Campaigner. His individual psychological characteristics, idiosyncrasies, if not neuroses, have been extensively examined elsewhere, and are not examined here.
As Businessman, Trump’s activities are a combination of conventional exploitation, underpaying workers in the conventional businesses he operates, principally managing real estate, and an entrepreneurial instinct expanding profit-making by commodifying desires for consumption, for luxury activities providing status over and above actual use. He seeks support as a Political Campaigner for his political ambitions as well as for his businesses, by exploiting conventional aspirations for economic security and social safety, both linked to private enterprise and dreams of wealth accumulation.
As Political Campaigner Trump gains support by latching onto what might be called a Deep Story, an emotionally held ideology and set of values that explains, rationalizes, and legitimates how the world works. Such a Deep Story has long existed as to how the industrialized capitalist world works. Trump has modified that old Story to proclaim a New version counting on the vulnerabilities of voters and popular media to changes in the economies of the world that have frightened masses of ordinary people seeking assurances that the supposed promises of the old Deep Reality, seemingly vanishing, could be restored quickly and easily by his authoritarian rule. He has used promises of “Making America Great Again” to propagate a new right-populism and a New Deep Story appealing to those susceptible to promises of quick and easy solutions to deeply threatening and hard to understand changes.
Major economic and social developments in the Deep Real Economy have underlain Trump’s success as a Businessman. In these developments profit is derived not primarily from industrial production but also in the process of its realization in user consumption. The commodification of luxury consumption in which Trump specializes, and the financialization which he is adept at manipulating, is then justified by a New Deep Story resting on a widespread popularly accepted account of how the changed reality works.
I hope in the next week to flesh out the argument here in a series of perhaps six blogs, perhaps as follows
This Blog #90 – The Trump Series: The Paradox of Trump and His Followers
- Blog #90a – The Three Trumps: Individual, Campaigner, Businessman
- Blog #90b -Trump the Businessman: The Commodification of Luxurious Living
- Blog #90c – Trump the Campaigner and his Opposition
- Blog #90d – The Deep Realities and The Deep Story of Industrial Capitalism
- Blog #90e – The New Deep Realities of the New Economy and its New Deep Story
- Blog #90f The Philosophic Explanation of the Persuasive Power of the new Deep Story
- Blog #90g The Alternative Reactions to the New Deep Reality: Right, Middle, and Left
**** WORK IN PROGRESS ****