Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Inner Trump - Deutsche Welle

A timely article in Deutsche Well explores what Hanna Arendt would have made of Donald Trump. It's less and yet much more than you might have imagined but Arendt's philosophy is compelling.

Arendt helps us understand what Trump is not: He's not a totalitarian. There are a number of ideas in Hannah Arendt's work that I think are very helpful in understanding what Trump is. While Trump is not a totalitarian in her understanding, he incorporates what she calls "elements" of totalitarianism. She thinks that one of the core elements of totalitarianism is that it's based in a movement. A movement doesn't actually pursue achievable policies because if you achieve the policy, the "Bewegungsgrund," - the driver, or the reason for the movement - is lost and the movement will lose its energy.

Trump has explicitly called himself the mouthpiece of a movement. That's a very dangerous position for a politician. Because it actually means that what he cares about more is the mobilization of people rather than the achievement of some particular aim. Whether he understands and cares about that, I don't know.

Who knows what policies he wants to enact or achieve; he changes his mind every day. He's much more interested in exciting and mobilizing a base of people. He feeds on that and that's dangerous because you constantly have to continue to push the boundaries. Anytime something is achieved, you have to find something else that is transgressive and shocking, that will keep the people excited and mobilized. Hannah Arendt understands that deeply and she argues that movements are particularly attractive in the modern era. They are important in our society because what movements do is give people a sense of purpose in their lives.


Gyor said...

"A movement doesn't actually pursue achievable policies because if you achieve the policy, the "Bewegungsgrund," - the driver, or the reason for the movement - is lost and the movement will lose its energy."

You just described feminism perfectly.

Lorne said...

I was talking to a friend of mine last evening, and he wondered how Trump can champion supremacists when his son-in-law is Jewish. I opined that I don't think Trump is necessarily much of a racist, but rather that he keeps cultivating them because they form such a large part of his base, having responded to the xenophobic diatribes he embraced during the campaign. if this is true, he is clearly a politicians without any convictions, exclusively an opportunist, even more dangerous than your average demagogue, given his high office.

Anonymous said...

So Eeyor, are you saying Drumpf's a feminist?

mr perfect

The Mound of Sound said...

I think Trump established his appetite for racism at the outset of his real estate career when he brought the force of law down on his head for refusing to rent/sell apartments in renovated buildings to blacks. That's when he moved to high-cost real estate in Manhattan where he wouldn't have to confront black activists.

And, when you look at his cabinet today, who do you see representing African-Americans - Dr. Ben Carson in the HUD portfolio.There's your token black man in a perfectly token department.

Anonymous said...

Lorne, Trump not much of a racist???!!! This is the man who in 1989 took out a full-page ad in the NYT calling for the execution of the Central Park Five. Trump's ad came AFTER a court had found the five black teens had be wrongfully convicted of raping a white jogger.

This is the man who began his political career with the wholly racist "birther" campaign, questioning the legitimacy of the first black US president by falsely claiming he was a Kenyan-born Muslim.

This is the man who built a presidential campaign on stoking racial resentment and fear, who called Mexican immigrants rapists, who went to war with the Gold Star parents of a Muslim soldier killed in battle, who encouraged violence against minority protesters at his rallies, and who promised to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

This is the man who began his presidency by attempting to ban Muslims from entering the country, who put together a commission to "investigate" his lies about millions of illegal voters with the intent of disenfranchising minority voters, and who equivocates and refuses to explicitly condemn KKK and Nazis violence. Here's a hint: Even when someone's daughter is a Jew, if they're going to this much trouble to absolve white supremacists of guilt... THEY JUST MIGHT BE A FULL-ON RACIST!!!


Anonymous said...

Wow 1:52 AM, are you sure you know what you are talking about?