NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 97

THE METHOD
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Trump ’ s accusations present the advantage of imprisoning the victim in a mocked identity whereby she — or he — has no future , only a discredited past and present . So a loser is not someone who has lost an election or a deal ; rather , it is someone who always loses and is a perpetual victim of circumstance . Trump on the other hand , he speaks as a free man from the future : in truth , ever ready for the latest deal or next primary , he has no identity , only a future-oriented readiness to negotiate anything ( real estate , the Constitution , the law ) and with anyone ( Putin , Kim Jong-un ). Others have an identity — which he names — and it is entirely deficient and disabling — and stuck . Such is Trump ’ s negative identity politics .
The real identity he embodies needs no naming : the great , mythical free-born White American male . Part of his peculiar power and privilege as inveterate aggressor is his ability to fend off attacks through pre-emptive self-parody ( his campy hair , his openly acknowledged penchant for violence ) and even claims of victimhood ( at the hands of women , immigrants , liberals , Muslims , the press , the judiciary , etc .).
Here , aggression and a very traditional conservative sense of grievance against an overwhelming modernity are intimately intertwined . One ’ s own weakness or vulnerability is the fault of maligned others . It is an aggressive discourse that is all-controlling but never accountable , a form of victimhood that according to historian Robert O . Paxton in his essay , “ The Five Stages of Fascism ,” is endemic to authoritarian and fascist movements . It is the re-assertion of violent personal sovereignty over others through identification with a charismatic and sadistic leader . 5 In neoliberal economies like the u . s ., this most likely means a businessman .
So what may seem hysterical or out of control is actually a method . And one that has often worked . In this world , no holds are barred and nothing is sacred . Bullying strives to impress upon both actual and potential victims its literally boundless character that exceeds all possible imaginings and logic . Trump ’ s nihilistic , entrepreneurial aggressiveness matches the limitlessly intrusive character of unregulated capitalism itself in daily life .
As it is with Trump as boss , so it is with Trump the politician : he never answers criticisms , he simply launches new attacks . Offense is everything . Relentlessly expansive and seeking out new targets , bullies like him are extremist and arbitrary by necessity : public bullying intimidates in part because it makes violently clear to one and all that it is supremely indifferent to any type of social , psychological or ethical boundary . Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly ’ s physiology . Heidi Cruz ’ physical appearance . New York Times journalist Serge Kovaleski ’ s disability . Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel ’ s ethnicity . Vulnerable Trump University students ’ private financial hopes and fears . Or Hillary Clinton ’ s physical safety .
For Trump what ’ s important is to grab the limelight and define the debate . So the content is often less important than the pre-emptive violence and excess that intimidate rivals and awe potential voters . In this onslaught Trump also issues contradictory statements , which he then turns to his advantage : they create an ambiguity that confuses opponents . Like the relentlessly opportunist populist leaders of far-right movements described by Paxton , Trump ’ s behavior follows no coherent program or ideology — nor apparently does it need to — other than the expression of the pure free energy and forward movement of his entitled self in defense of a declining America and its embattled middle and working classes . 6 And as the campaign has progressed , Trump ’ s violent , arbitrary personal style has become the very content of his campaign .
Trump treats political issues — and politics generally — like his business holdings , employees , clients , and family members as an asset to be manipulated — and abused . This is the force and freedom of a fully entrepreneurial politician . And now that the repellent details of his business and personal dealings are coming to light and reaching the general public , what will provoke revulsion may also stimulate perverse fascination with the fact that despite his sordid past that would have destroyed common mortals like ourselves , Trump has not only magically survived but flourished . This is one of the take-aways from a cursory read of Wayne Barrett ’ s biography of Trump titled aptly , The Greatest Show on Earth .