Trumpism: The Ideology

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Jeffrey Tucker via,

It’s not too interesting to say that Donald Trump is a nationalist and aspiring despot who is manipulating bourgeois resentment, nativism, and ignorance to feed his power lust. It’s uninteresting because it is obviously true. It’s so true that stating it sounds more like an observation than a criticism.

I just heard Trump speak live. It was an awesome experience, like an interwar séance of once-powerful dictators who inspired multitudes, drove countries into the ground, and died grim deaths.

His speech at FreedomFest lasted a full hour, and I consider myself fortunate for having heard it. It was a magnificent exposure to an ideology that is very much present in American life, though hardly acknowledged. It lives mostly hidden in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it. You bump into it at neighborhood barbecues, at Thanksgiving dinner when Uncle Harry has the floor, at the hardware store when two old friends in line to checkout mutter about the state of the country.

The ideology is a 21st century version of right fascism — one of the most politically successful ideological strains of 20th century politics. Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable bourgeois resentment: race, class, sex, religion, economic. You would have to be hopelessly ignorant of modern history not to see the outlines and where they end up.

For now, Trump seems more like comedy than reality. I want to laugh about what he said, like reading a comic-book version of Franco, Mussolini, or Hitler. And truly I did laugh, as when he denounced the existence of tech support in India that serves American companies (“how can it be cheaper to call people there than here?” — as if he still thinks that long-distance charges apply).

Let’s hope this laughter doesn’t turn to tears.

As an aside, I mean no criticism of FreedomFest’s organizer Mark Skousen in allowing Trump to speak at this largely libertarian gathering. Mark invited every Republican candidate to address the 2,200-plus crowd. Only two accepted. Moreover, Mark is a very savvy businessman himself, and this conference operates on a for-profit basis. He does not have the luxury of giving the microphone to only people who pass the libertarian litmus test. His goal is to put on display the ideas that matter in our time and assess them by the standards of true liberty.

In my view, it was a brilliant decision to let him speak. Lovers of freedom need to confront the views of a man with views like this. What’s more, of all the speeches I heard at FreedomFest, I learned more from this one than any other. I heard, for the first time in my life, what a modern iteration of a consistently statist but non-leftist outlook on politics sounds and feels like in our own time. And I watched as most of the audience undulated between delight and disgust — with perhaps only 10% actually cheering his descent into vituperative anti-intellectualism. That was gratifying.

As of this writing, Trump is leading in the polls in the Republican field. He is hated by the media, which is a plus for the hoi polloi in the GOP. He says things he should not, which is also a plus for his supporters. He is brilliant at making belligerent noises rather than having worked out policy plans. He knows that real people don’t care about the details; they only want a strongman who shares their values. He makes fun of the intellectuals, of course, as all populists must do. Along with this penchant, Trump encourages a kind of nihilistic throwing out of rationality in favor of a trust in his own genius. And people respond, as we can see.

So, what does Trump actually believe? He does have a philosophy, though it takes a bit of insight and historical understanding to discern it. Of course race baiting is essential to the ideology, and there was plenty of that. When a Hispanic man asked a question, Trump interrupted him and asked if he had been sent by the Mexican government. He took it a step further, dividing blacks from Hispanics by inviting a black man to the microphone to tell how his own son was killed by an illegal immigrant.

Because Trump is the only one who speaks this way, he can count on support from the darkest elements of American life. He doesn’t need to actually advocate racial homogeneity, call for a whites-only sign to be hung at immigration control, or push for expulsion or extermination of undesirables. Because such views are verboten, he has the field alone, and he can count on the support of those who think that way by making the right noises.

Trump also tosses little bones to the Christian Right, enough to allow them to believe that he represents their interests. Yes, it’s implausible and hilarious. But the crowd who looks for this is easily won with winks and nudges, and those he did give. At the speech I heard, he railed against ISIS and its war against Christians, pointing out further than he is a Presbyterian and thus personally affected every time ISIS beheads a Christian. This entire section of his speech was structured to rally the nationalist Christian strain that was the bulwark of support for the last four Republican presidents.

But as much as racialist and religious resentment is part of his rhetorical apparatus, it is not his core. His core is about business, his own business and his acumen thereof. He is living proof that being a successful capitalist is no predictor of one’s appreciation for an actual free market (stealing not trading is more his style). It only implies a love of money and a longing for the power that comes with it. Trump has both.

What do capitalists on his level do? They beat the competition. What does he believe he should do as president? Beat the competition, which means other countries, which means wage a trade war. If you listen to him, you would suppose that the U.S. is in some sort of massive, epochal struggle for supremacy with China, India, Malaysia, and, pretty much everyone else in the world.

It takes a bit to figure out what the heck he could mean. He speaks of the United States as if it were one thing, one single firm. A business. “We” are in competition with “them,” as if the U.S. were IBM competing against Samsung, Apple, or Dell. “We” are not 300 million people pursuing unique dreams and ideas, with special tastes or interests, cooperating with people around the world to build prosperity. “We” are doing one thing, and that is being part of one business.

In effect, he believes that he is running to be the CEO of the country — not just of the government (as Ross Perot once believed) but of the entire country. In this capacity, he believes that he will make deals with other countries that cause the U.S. to come out on top, whatever that could mean. He conjures up visions of himself or one of his associates sitting across the table from some Indian or Chinese leader and making wild demands that they will buy such and such amount of product else “we” won’t buy their product.

Yes, it’s bizarre. As Nick Gillespie said, he has a tenuous grasp on reality. Trade theory from hundreds of years plays no role in his thinking at all. To him, America is a homogenous unit, no different from his own business enterprise. With his run for president, he is really making a takeover bid, not just for another company to own but for an entire country to manage from the top down, under his proven and brilliant record of business negotiation, acquisition, and management.

You see why the whole speech came across as bizarre? It was. And yet, maybe it was not. In the 18th century, there is a trade theory called mercantilism that posited something similar: ship the goods out and keep the money in. It builds up industrial cartels that live at the expense of the consumer. In the 19th century, this penchant for industrial protectionism and mercantilism became guild socialism, which mutated later into fascism and then into Nazism. You can read Mises to find out more on how this works.

What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is non-leftist in its cultural and political outlook and yet still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and places no limits on state power. The left has long waged war on bourgeois institutions like family, church, and property. In contrast, right fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

Trump believes himself to be that man.

He sounds fresh, exciting, even thrilling, like a man with a plan and a complete disregard for the existing establishment and all its weakness and corruption. This is how strongmen take over countries. They say some true things, boldly, and conjure up visions of national greatness under their leadership. They’ve got the flags, the music, the hype, the hysteria, the resources, and they work to extract that thing in many people that seeks heroes and momentous struggles in which they can prove their greatness.

Think of Commodus (161-192 AD) in his war against the corrupt Roman senate. His ascension to power came with the promise of renewed Rome. What he brought was inflation, stagnation, and suffering. Historians have usually dated the fall of Rome from his leadership. Or, if you prefer pop culture, think of Bane, the would-be dictator of Gotham in Batman, who promises an end to democratic corruption, weakness, and loss of civic pride. He sought a revolution against the prevailing elites in order to gain total power unto himself.

These people are all the same. They are populists. Oh how they love the people, and how they hate the establishment. They defy all civic conventions. Their ideology is somewhat organic to the nation, not a wacky import like socialism. They promise greatness. They have an obsession with the problem of trade and mercantilist belligerence as the only solution. They have zero conception of the social order as a complex and extended ordering of individual plans, one that functions through freedom and individual rights.

This is a dark history and I seriously doubt that Trump himself is aware of it. Instead, he just makes it up as he goes along, speaking from his gut. This penchant has always served him well. It cannot serve a whole nation well. Indeed, the very prospect is terrifying, and not just for the immigrant groups and imports he has chosen to scapegoat for all the country’s problems. It’s a disaster in waiting for everyone.

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Winston Churchill's picture

The J in Trumps name is for Jingo.

NihilistZero's picture

If you truly believe this you can't be saved...

Publicus's picture

God bless Donald Trump and keep him and his family safe from harm.

ILLILLILLI's picture

Well, if you're tapping into 'Murican ignorance, that's a gift that just keeps giving.

Well played, Donald!

Jlasoon's picture

I'll take the xenophobic nationalist billionaire over another Bush or "Hitler-ry". The sideshow alone is worth the price of admission. 

greenskeeper carl's picture

looks like ZHers have found yet another authoritarian douche bag to worship along with Putin and varoufakis. Thats quite a group of people the supposed libertarian/anarchist/minarchists who comment here have selected. do you guys REALLY want this clown ruling over you? what happened to all the Ron Paul guys that used to frequent this site, and who I loved discussing things with in the comments? Surely a Ron Paul type hasnt decided to throw their support behind trump?


Supporting Trump just beacuse in your mind he would be better than bush or billary is an exercise in stupidity. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Remember what we all rail on about- End the Fed, sound money, end the war on drugs, end bailouts, end our insane foreign policy, this farcical "war on terror"? where does trump stand on those issues? anyone?

Billy the Poet's picture

Ron Paul called Trump a dangerous authoritarian. As usual, the doctor is correct.

p00k1e's picture

Dollar vote.  Send a few bucks to Hillary then. 

Billy the Poet's picture

Yeah, becaue there are only two ways to live one's life, under Trump's thumb or Hillary's.

Arnold's picture

Though I do not dismiss either of you, Mr Bill or  Mr pOO,  I find Mr Trump's point of view refreshing.

I am in no position to change anything, but a salmon swimming against the slogging stream always interests me.

Arnold's picture

(and you know)


I completely endorse Hillary as POTUS 2016

Billy the Poet's picture

"I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within seventy-two hours if a potential gun owner has a record." -- Donald Trump, The America We Deserve, 2000

Arnold's picture

Doesn't worry me Mr Bill.

With all the female hormones we get daily, yogurt, soy. (beer) and through drinking water recycle, I am surprised that I am not crying now.

Son, I've got to stop preaching to the choir and head towards the sinners.

Billy the Poet's picture

“I mean, I’ve contributed to Schumer, I contribute — I’ve known Schumer for many, many years. And I have a good relationship with him. The fact is, that I think it is time maybe that we all do get along,” -- Donald Trump

Dolar in a vortex's picture

Hold on, Obama was going to teach us all to get along.

You mean that we don't yet?


I don't support Trump for president, but I sure as shootin' support him for tearing democraps and republicraps limb from limb.

macholatte's picture


The author, Jeff Tucker, lives in fantasyland.

The communist community organizer racist pig Progressive has a different plan:

The new sign at the Statue of liberty next to the poem... WHITE FOLK NEED NOT APPLY

The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

Billy the Poet's picture

That article has nothing to do with either Jeffrey Tucker or Trump, so how does it prove that Tucker lives in fantasy land?

Tucker is in favor of individual liberty and free markets. Your disagreement with those principles puts you on the side of the central planners and it is the central planners who are keeping the database in the article you cited.

Anusocracy's picture

Trumpism is just another sign of Idiocracy.

Billy the Poet's picture

I should have known not to get between an idiot an his batin'.

cookie nookie's picture

Electing Trump sends a message to the status quo.  The unwashed smelly masses want change.  And I'm cool with that. I'd rather have warren or Sanders.  But I'll take the Donald in a pinch. 

Billy the Poet's picture

Yeah, the elites just hate it when you vote for career politicians or a billionaire media hound. That'll show 'em!

Headbanger's picture


The Donald has got my vote!

Just send her over to deal with Putin... He'll melt into a puddle at her feet and do whatever she says.

"You want the Crimean back?  Sure sure... take it....  And free gas to Ukraine"

Al Gophilia's picture

If you haven't seen the Corporate lobbyists holding a closed-door meeting with The Corporation's Legislators, with the lobbyists casting votes with legislators in Georgia, and you fail to understand that government isn't what you assume it to be, then you do live in fantasy land. The MSM talking heads are gob-smacked over the fact that local, armed sherrif''s deputies were prepared to summarily escourt the reporter (a hotel guest) from the premises and pay for or "take care of" the reporter's hotel bill. It was also obvious to me that they were executing their "duties" without fear of recourse. I'm sure that these posts are designed to distract, or, if I'm not mistaken, designed to divide. That anyone on this site would continue to support the "red team over the blue team" distraction, over a demand for the return to Lawful Representation via supporting the Constitution and Bill of Rights, is beyond the ken of this outside observer.

The United States is no longer a representative government; it is as a matter of record, a registered corporation. The distraction of voting is just that. Ask a Greek. It will take a revolution to fix this as the voting public is too distracted to figure it out to demand it peacefully and the Corporation will not dissolve itself because of its own altruistic plan for sovereign, individual liberty.

Je suis, Georgio. (Google Greek pensioner denied access to accounts to see where we all stand in this. It's global)

  " Elite Legislators Secretly Meet With Lobbyists In Georgia When This Happens…".

Bendromeda Strain's picture


That article has nothing to do with either Jeffrey Tucker or Trump, so how does it prove that Tucker lives in fantasy land?

True - I went to his Beautiful Anarchy website and I rather like almost all of what I saw. I'm sure Tucker hates Obama's databases as much or more as anyone in Fight Club. The question is, however, would anyone besides Trump have the stones to dismantle it?

Anusocracy's picture

"would anyone besides Trump have the stones to dismantle it?"

Start from the basis that everything candidates say that you agree with is a lie and that everything that little country on the ME agrees with is the truth and then you'll know.

Billy the Poet's picture

"Obama's databases as much or more as anyone in Fight Club. The question is, however, would anyone besides Trump have the stones to dismantle it?"


Trump has the stones to call for the death of those who reveal secret databases.


Donald Trump: NSA Whistleblower Snowden Should Be “Assassinated”

Dolar in a vortex's picture

Hold on, Obama was going to teach us all to get along.

You mean that we don't yet?


I don't support Trump for president, but I sure as shootin' support him for tearing democraps and republicraps limb from limb.

greenskeeper carl's picture

looks like you and I are mostly alone in this one. SO much for the libertarians. I guess they are sittin this one out. And maybe donald trump is the america we deserve. Anyone who supports an 'assualt weapons' ban will never, under any circumstances, get my support, or vote. He'd probably take back that statement now, but that just proves he is nothing but an opportunist. People who fall for such people and the bullshit they spew are beyond saving. They deserve to get what the want, and get it good and hard.

Arnold's picture

14+_ years ago, with Billy's quote.

I was hitting hundreds then, I cannot now.

(skeet and trap)

Billy the Poet's picture

Me, you and nmewn. The three amigos.

Not only does Trump want to ban certain arms but he uses a progressive talking point in calling them "assault rifles.That goes right along with his friendship with the Clintons.

LetThemEatRand's picture

You three amigos are missing several important points. Trump is a sideshow, but he's saying a few things that none of the candidates are saying, such as 1) the very obvious truth that globalization and free trade are destroying the US; 2) that unchecked immigration is helping to further destroy the middle class; and 3) that the candidates from both Teams will not change either of these things even though the vast majority of the electorate want changes in both.

The other thing you're missing is that your ideological purity, and the ideological purity of the author of this article, is a joke.  You're never going to get a libertarian president, so why do you bother?

Finally, there is no point in voting any longer.  Trump isn't going to be on the ticket.  It will be two individuals selected by the oligarchs.  Period.  The only value to debating the "issues" is to vent.  Most here are simply enjoying the fact that Trump is saying some things on the national stage that people are thinking.  The fact that he's also a neo-con when it comes to the military, and certainly a believer in a strong central government, would probably make most not vote for him if he were actually a viable candidate.  But he is not, so who cares.

greenskeeper carl's picture

"The other thing you're missing is that your ideological purity, and the ideological purity of the author of this article, is a joke.  You're never going to get a libertarian president, so why do you bother?"


I know that, and you are right. My point is that despite all of the praie these people are heeping on him, why the fuck would you want trumo ruling over you? He is a stooge, a fraud, and a neocon. People on here tend to get really confused. Just because the rest of the media and 'establishment' don't like him doesn't automatically make him good. Its like so many here are so desperate for someone to worship they just latch on to anyone who seems a little different. Its sad, really. I thought most on here were smarter than that.


g speed's picture

time to reread the "heros" chapter in Voltaire's Bastards

nmewn's picture

"Trump is a sideshow,"...yes he is, much like Sanders.

"...but he's saying a few things that none of the candidates are saying, such as 1) the very obvious truth that globalization and free trade are destroying the US;"

You do realize there is a difference between free trade and fair trade right?

"2) that unchecked immigration is helping to further destroy the middle class;"


"and 3) that the candidates from both Teams will not change either of these things even though the vast majority of the electorate want changes in both."

Yes, its pretty clear he's following the classic demagogic line, to be modulated, reformed and/or abandoned once in power at a later date.

So, when exactly are we (or the MSM or Obama, who instituted the policy of freeing violent predators onto the streets) going to talk about deporting IMMEDIATELY any non-citizen who has committed a crime?

The answer is NEVER...they all committed a crime by crossing illegally.


Dolar in a vortex's picture

Why deport them when the border is a sieve?

Let's first get serious about keeping them out, then get serious about kicking them out.

But the dems and pubs have no stomach for this fight, only the people do.

carlnpa's picture

No need to deport illegals if you fine the shit out of anyone caught employing them.


Offer generous rewards to anyone turning in an illegal employer.

Arnold's picture

Billy, This is the world now.

I would be friendly to any one getting me on a premium range.

The mush heads every where look for the same thing, what benefits me?

Do not let Nativity cloud your better judgement.

You must be able to make a decent judgement to survive.

Nobodys Safe's picture
Nobodys Safe (not verified) greenskeeper carl Jul 18, 2015 8:35 PM

I'm with you and I to find it amazing, almost unbeleivable that the ZH crowd is jumping on the Trump bandwagon. I think you're absolutely correct that voting for the lesser of two evils is still FUCKING EVIL!!! How hard is that to understand? What it comes down to is they're lazy and that's why they'll take the easiest path to choose their Masters.

Here's a good video for you voting cattle, it's 20 minutes long and I doubt that you'll make it past 3 minutes because of your laziness and the possibilty that you might see yourself in the video and learn something new about yourself.

Down vote away all you want, that's what lazy people do!!!!

cheech_wizard's picture

Between Hillary, Bush, and Trump, that technically means you'll be voting for the lesser of 3 evils.

Nobodys Safe's picture
Nobodys Safe (not verified) cheech_wizard Jul 18, 2015 10:17 PM

You're correct as it stands now, but it will be between Bush and Hillary and all the ZH voting cattle will vote for one or the other, history doesn't lie.

bhessel's picture

Well if you are going to get all nitpicky on us, then choosing one of three alternatives would amount to voting for the LEAST of three evils.

ljag's picture

I think you are absolutely correct that voting is FUCKING EVIL

There...fixed it for you

Nobodys Safe's picture
Nobodys Safe (not verified) ljag Jul 19, 2015 12:27 PM

Thank you for fixing it.

How can any regular reader of ZH still believe that voting for slave Master A or slave Master B is ever going to fix anything? How many examples in history do you need?

garcam123's picture

Sounds to me like you've been watching too much porn......get a job or something give your hands something else to do....HEY? There's one......try reading a book!

BTW the Donald is doing a great job flushing the cockroaches out into the light. nuts?

This is our country we're trying to save here, not just the annointed, you must be one of those kooks who say only a certain number are going to get to heaven and there sure ain't no welcome, or mexicans, unless they can keep the yard.

EddieLomax's picture

I'm not surprised if he has some disagreeable views, but if they are not too strongly expressed then I'd be more concerned about the positions the other candidates are taking.  Unrestricted immigration and more lunacy spending is the order of the day, when a better candidate then Trump appears vote for him, but today he is the best option the system has presented.

Billy the Poet's picture

So the same system which engages in "unrestricted immigration and lunacy spending" has offered us Trump? You're right but that's hardly an endorsement.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Trump's not pushing an ideology, he's not shilling for any corporate interests (he doesn't need their money), he's not in organized labor's pocket, and he's not Muslim.

He's only out for one thing: himself.

It is sad that I actually find this refreshing.

MsCreant's picture

"He's only out for one thing: himself."

I have followed this guy since I was a kid. I read "The Art of the Deal." There is a flavor there that has never changed.

You are 100% correct and this is all you need to know about him when thinking about ANYTHING he does.