Decoding Trump

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Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

Observers have been collectively scratching their heads at the unfolding Trump presidency. Trump’s campaign braggadocio opposed the establishment of both parties and pointedly continued into his inauguration. However, his anti-establishmentarianism has since been thrown into question as a ‘shock and awe’ scale flurry of confusing executive orders and announcements rocks the US polity. Some actions grandiloquently purport to fulfill election promises – reversing Obamacare or the post-2008 Dodd Frank financial regulation – but appear not to on closer examination as the ongoing uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions announced against seven countries shows. Other actions demonstrate eerie continuities with recent administrations – supporting Japan on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands against China, continuing sanctions against Russia or the choice of countries on which to impose travel restrictions.

One might simply dismiss him for the fraud he is, full of false promises. But doing no more would miss identifying the form of his fraudulence, the pattern of his pathology, and thus the dynamics of his presidency.

Let’s begin with some basics. All parties capable of coming to and staying in power in a capitalist society must have what political scientist, Andrew Gamble, in his classic study of the British Conservative Party, called a ‘politics of power’ and a ‘politics of support’. German philosopher, Jürgen Habermas…

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