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31

Triumph of the Shill

The political theory of Trumpism

by Corey Robin

3
terms
4
notes

except from his book "The Reactionary Mind"

Robin, C. (2017). Triumph of the Shill. n+1, 29, pp. 31-44

33

Trump also upends the delicate relationship on the right between elite and mass, privilege and populism. Conservatism is an elitist movement of the masses, an effort to create a new-old regime that, in one way or another, makes privilege popular. Sometimes conservatism has multiplied the ranks of privilege, creating ever-finer gradations between the worse off and the worst off. Sometimes it has simplified those ranks into two: the white and black races of the white-supremacist imagination. Sometimes it has offshored society’s inequalities, seeing in the people of an imperial state a unified rank of superiors, “a kind of nobility among nations,” in Arendt’s words, subjugating less civilized peoples abroad. And sometimes it has turned elites into victims, encouraging the masses to see their abjection reflected in the higher misery of those above them.

—p.33 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Trump also upends the delicate relationship on the right between elite and mass, privilege and populism. Conservatism is an elitist movement of the masses, an effort to create a new-old regime that, in one way or another, makes privilege popular. Sometimes conservatism has multiplied the ranks of privilege, creating ever-finer gradations between the worse off and the worst off. Sometimes it has simplified those ranks into two: the white and black races of the white-supremacist imagination. Sometimes it has offshored society’s inequalities, seeing in the people of an imperial state a unified rank of superiors, “a kind of nobility among nations,” in Arendt’s words, subjugating less civilized peoples abroad. And sometimes it has turned elites into victims, encouraging the masses to see their abjection reflected in the higher misery of those above them.

—p.33 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

(stagnation + inflation) when inflation is high, the economic growth rate slows, and unemployment remains steadily high

34

The sun of Reaganomics--which saw in the unfettered market the answer to the political, economic, and cultural stagflation of the 1970s--no longer warms the lower orders of the right.

—p.34 missing author
notable
11 months, 2 weeks ago

The sun of Reaganomics--which saw in the unfettered market the answer to the political, economic, and cultural stagflation of the 1970s--no longer warms the lower orders of the right.

—p.34 missing author
notable
11 months, 2 weeks ago
34

[...] Without a genuine enemy to tutor it, the right has allowed the long-standing fissures of the conservative movement to deepen and expand.

That absent tutelage is most visibly embodied in Trump, whose whims are as unlettered as his mind is untaught. Trump is a window onto the dissolution of the conservative whole, a whole that can allow itself to collapse because it has achieved so much. Battling its way to hegemony in the second half of the 20th century, the American right would never have chosen a Trump — not because it was more intelligent and virtuous or less racist and violent, but because it was disciplined by its task of destroying the left. With that left now destroyed, the foot soldiers of the right wing think to themselves: We’ve had conservative Republican presidents. We have a conservative Republican Congress. Why haven’t they delivered on the promises they’ve made for so long? Why haven’t they made us great again? Why not Trump? The more established voices in the party, many of whom opposed Trump in the primaries (though not with the focus and energy the right used to possess), think to themselves: What’s the worst that can happen in a general election? Another Clinton in the White House? She’ll not do much to disrupt our tax and regulatory regime. Why not Trump? Unlike Nixon, Reagan, or even Bush, who managed to invoke the threat of the left — whether as present reality or recent memory — to bring the factions of the right in line, Trump tweeted his way to the nomination because no one could bring any of the factions in line. Truth be told, none of them needed to. There was no threatening left waiting in the wings to dispossess them of their privileges. Once Trump secured the nomination, the party elders figured: What the hell, let’s roll the dice.

whoa

—p.34 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] Without a genuine enemy to tutor it, the right has allowed the long-standing fissures of the conservative movement to deepen and expand.

That absent tutelage is most visibly embodied in Trump, whose whims are as unlettered as his mind is untaught. Trump is a window onto the dissolution of the conservative whole, a whole that can allow itself to collapse because it has achieved so much. Battling its way to hegemony in the second half of the 20th century, the American right would never have chosen a Trump — not because it was more intelligent and virtuous or less racist and violent, but because it was disciplined by its task of destroying the left. With that left now destroyed, the foot soldiers of the right wing think to themselves: We’ve had conservative Republican presidents. We have a conservative Republican Congress. Why haven’t they delivered on the promises they’ve made for so long? Why haven’t they made us great again? Why not Trump? The more established voices in the party, many of whom opposed Trump in the primaries (though not with the focus and energy the right used to possess), think to themselves: What’s the worst that can happen in a general election? Another Clinton in the White House? She’ll not do much to disrupt our tax and regulatory regime. Why not Trump? Unlike Nixon, Reagan, or even Bush, who managed to invoke the threat of the left — whether as present reality or recent memory — to bring the factions of the right in line, Trump tweeted his way to the nomination because no one could bring any of the factions in line. Truth be told, none of them needed to. There was no threatening left waiting in the wings to dispossess them of their privileges. Once Trump secured the nomination, the party elders figured: What the hell, let’s roll the dice.

whoa

—p.34 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

(adjective) requiring immediate aid or action / (adjective) requiring or calling for much; demanding

35

If it's a little money, the dream must not be fervently felt. If it's a lot of money, the dream is exigent.

—p.35 missing author
notable
11 months, 2 weeks ago

If it's a little money, the dream must not be fervently felt. If it's a lot of money, the dream is exigent.

—p.35 missing author
notable
11 months, 2 weeks ago
38

[...] In his objection to people who oppose casinos, Trump says there’s only one difference between gambling and investing: “the players” in the New York Stock Exchange “dress in blue pinstripe suits and carry leather briefcases.” Bets are a way to make money; casinos are just another market. Such statements, which collapse profit into profiteering, used to be taboo among the ruling classes. “No man of spirit will consent to remain poor if he believes his betters to have gained their goods by lucky gambling,” Keynes warned. “The business man is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relations to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to Society.” Any suggestion to the contrary would “strike a blow at capitalism,” destroying “the psychological equilibrium which permits the perpetuance of unequal rewards.” Trump’s genius is to recognize the truth of Keynes’s dictum yet ignore its dictates, knowing full well there is no revolution in the offing. The more likely consequence is that people will want to know Trump’s secrets. Or elect him President.

—p.38 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] In his objection to people who oppose casinos, Trump says there’s only one difference between gambling and investing: “the players” in the New York Stock Exchange “dress in blue pinstripe suits and carry leather briefcases.” Bets are a way to make money; casinos are just another market. Such statements, which collapse profit into profiteering, used to be taboo among the ruling classes. “No man of spirit will consent to remain poor if he believes his betters to have gained their goods by lucky gambling,” Keynes warned. “The business man is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relations to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to Society.” Any suggestion to the contrary would “strike a blow at capitalism,” destroying “the psychological equilibrium which permits the perpetuance of unequal rewards.” Trump’s genius is to recognize the truth of Keynes’s dictum yet ignore its dictates, knowing full well there is no revolution in the offing. The more likely consequence is that people will want to know Trump’s secrets. Or elect him President.

—p.38 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago
40

[...] politics has assumed an economistic guise. As Wendy Brown has argued, neoliberalism is, among other things, the conquest of political argument by economic reason. The dominant rationale for public policy is not drawn from political philosophy but economics: choice, efficiency, competition, exchange. In 1975, Jimmy Carter helped launch the neoliberal turn in American politics by campaigning on the claim, “I ran the Georgia government as well as almost any corporate structure in this country is run.” Four decades later, managing a firm no longer provides a standard of leadership. It is the substance of leadership.

good angle

—p.40 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] politics has assumed an economistic guise. As Wendy Brown has argued, neoliberalism is, among other things, the conquest of political argument by economic reason. The dominant rationale for public policy is not drawn from political philosophy but economics: choice, efficiency, competition, exchange. In 1975, Jimmy Carter helped launch the neoliberal turn in American politics by campaigning on the claim, “I ran the Georgia government as well as almost any corporate structure in this country is run.” Four decades later, managing a firm no longer provides a standard of leadership. It is the substance of leadership.

good angle

—p.40 missing author 11 months, 2 weeks ago

(adjective) tending to break up into parts; divisive

41

the fissiparous nature of American institutions has helped stop Trump

—p.41 missing author
confirm
11 months, 2 weeks ago

the fissiparous nature of American institutions has helped stop Trump

—p.41 missing author
confirm
11 months, 2 weeks ago