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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nightwish's picture

iF Trump ever debates Hillary, he better be ready for that debate. Those liberals are crafty. Trump should prepare for a bunch of setup questions, and practice not making himself look stupid or desperate when addressing them. 

Expect the usual liberal trope - "america has always been a country built on immigration. your parents were immigrants", and picture Hillary saying with such conviction "a strong immigration policy is what has made our country what it is today, and immigrants will continue to make america great in the future. They are our future!" followed by rousing applause.

What's wrong with the americans we have now? America has the people necessary to continue to make our country the great nation it is. Look around you.  We must continue to invest in all americans who are part of our country here and now. THEY deserve it. AMERICANS FIRST.

steveharless's picture

Donald trump is a great debater .....But everyone knows Hillary is the MASTER-DEBATER

Jumbotron's picture

< chuckle >

No.....she's a CUNNING LINGUIST. 

Just ask Huma.

Teamtc321's picture

Well HRC, there you go again, I can now see why your public trust rating poll has just crashed to a horrible 33 %. HRC, do you understand that means that 66% of those polled feel you are untrustworthy? 66%? 66% of Democratic voters say you are untrustworthy, HRC?

My point is, before you go off the med's, I mean rails again, my campaign, as you know are 100% for LEGAL IMigration, securing our borders against those who do not have our best interest at hand. Do you understand the difference between Legal and Illegal, HRC? Or did you delete those emails to?

Let me share with you trustworthy facts ....HRC, a few simple but true facts you choose to ignore, although I do see why you poll at 33%, these facts that true Americans, along with those who have came into this great country Legally feel that you have supported. HRC, I intend to make America great again while you support Illegal IMigration, just look at the Buetiful Kate who was shot in the back in San Fransico by a 5 time deported felon. Was shot in the back while walking with her father, HRC. For the record HRC, did you attend their funeral? Did you call the family to insist on stronger rules for Illegal Felons walking the streets freely?

No You say HRC? Well let me share some facts for you in San Fransico that you need to explain to all Americans you have supported. Facts that our hard working Legal Imergrants do not support either, HRC.

Explain why over 400 Thousand Illegals have been issued Drivers Licenses in San Fransico in the first part of this YEAR ALONE!?

We will make America Great Again.

>>>> End Rant but Trump will dissect HRC in any debate. She is weak, has huge issue that will just expose her, trust rating even by Libs is massive and running behind Obolo. Game, set, match......

Here are the facts if your still reading.


"Nearly 400,000 California driver’s licenses were issued to undocumented immigrants in the first half of this year as part of a massive effort to allow them to drive legally in the Golden State, officials announced Friday.

During the first six months that the Safe Driver and Responsibility Act — or AB 60 — went into effect, the Department of Motor Vehicles saw more than 600,000 applications from undocumented immigrants. Of those, state officials said, 397,000 met all requirements to drive in California — more than half the overall total of 759,000 licenses distributed for the same time period."

Dolar in a vortex's picture

What you see on TV debates is immaterial.

The only thing that matters is .... who is counting the votes.

Takeaction2's picture
Takeaction2 (not verified) Teamtc321 Jul 19, 2015 12:22 AM that you?

Billy the Poet's picture

He would gut her like a brown bear chewing on a freshly caught salmon. And you know it.......Billy.


Yeah, looks like quite a brawl:

Teamtc321's picture

The Art Of The Deal.......don't ya know. He probably just convinced Billy to let him take the brunette for a ride? .....Switch, lol.

If you hear him speak, he gracefully covers donating to HRC and many other politicians, as he puts it. It won't stick IMHO Billy. Even today, he openly said he invited Bill and HRC to his wedding, told them to come. Claimed he invited many politicians and has donated to many as well. In the same sitting, claimed he raised over a million for McCain, supported him also. He is washing it perfectly IMO Billy. Maybe not.....but he is two steps ahead daily at this point IMO.

If...we do see a economic shock prior to the primaries, Trump will gain even more ground would be my guess. Question is IMO, what will transpire between now and the primaries and then the general election? The board is full and in his favor.

It also appears HRC has her claws full with the Bern. I don't even think carvill could vomit his way out of this trap. Only time will tell, as they say.

I just hope he keeps pounding and exposing the crew and their nicely weaved deeds. I'd say he has a few back room conversations in play.

He has balls, got to give him that......

Paveway IV's picture

"If...we do see a economic shock prior to the primaries,.."

Economic shock?? That's just crazy talk, Teamtc321.

You're spot on with the rest, though.

Billy the Poet's picture

"If you hear him speak, he gracefully covers donating to HRC and many other politicians, as he puts it. It won't stick IMHO Billy. Even today, he openly said he invited Bill and HRC to his wedding, told them to come. Claimed he invited many politicians and has donated to many as well."


What does stick very well is the impression that Trump is a member of the elite class at the highest level and that he doesn't support candidates based on principle but rather on what he thinks they can do for him in office. You may think that because he brags about his high level connections with anyone and everyone in power regardless of their affiliations or stated principles he's a man of the people but it just sounds smarmy to me.

Trump associates with all the worst people in Washington and gives them money while condemning them publicly. He's a bad tree that can only bear bad fruit.

WhyWait's picture

You and many others seem to assume President Trump won't be corrupt.  How can you assume that?  What moral foundation, what value system does he stand on that will keep him honest?

For the plebs, there is the idea that since he's already a billionaire he doesn't need to cheat, lie and steal and so he won't.  ZH readers know better.

Troy Ounce's picture

Triumphism you mean?

palmereldritch's picture

 Triumph of the Shill

once a salesman, always a salesman

q99x2's picture

On Q99X2 we measure an individuals worth at exactly the moment when a value exceeds 10,000,000. After that point it is no longer necessary. There are no moral considerations to the question. It is fact.

Dead Canary's picture

He's not an empty suit. I am so tired of marketable faces spewing focus group approved garbage,  Trump looks pretty good right about now.

llessur_one's picture

That's all I see when the eunuch Jen Bush is on the news, a focus group puppet, if you look closely you can see the strings.

Takeaction2's picture
Takeaction2 (not verified) WTFRLY Jul 18, 2015 6:56 PM

You don't see this on the Chicken Noodle News (CNN).  Thanks

joego1's picture

I didn't know ISIS ordered more Humvees.

lordbyroniv's picture

ANY force that opposes Political Correctness I support.

Billy the Poet's picture

The Iranian mullahs appreciate your support!

Bazza McKenzie's picture

They seem to have their own version of PC in Iran and they are even more severe in enforcing it than the Democrats and MSM.

Billy the Poet's picture

And that's why we have Caitlyn and they don't.

NihilistZero's picture

So because he laments the gutting of our manufacturing base and the destruction of wages through so called free trade, Trump = Hitler???

Please... We all know he's not gonna be president and more over may be playing spoiler for other interests. But his take-down of 2 of the pillars of Libertarian (Capital L) philosophy in open borders for product and people is no less correct. The elites love to use populist as a pejorative, and sometimes it is a justifiable slur. But Trump's populist positions of protecting American sovereignty, even if insincere are justified.

shovelhead's picture

Exactly so.

This is where this small l libertarian parts company with the Cap L crowd.

Free transfer may be a tenet in the high horse riding set but a pragmatic view sees no "rights" inherent to illegal aliens using taxpayer funds to finance their economic tourism or "rights" for US corporations outsourcing jobs to third world hellholes filled with slave labor so they can reap outsized profits by selling those goods back to Americans and avoid paying taxes claiming foreign domicile.

Jeff is so worried about a right wing 'populist' turning fascist but he made no mention of the current left left wing fascist or the next one in line.

Better the fascists you know than the one that could materialize?

sesme's picture

If somebody in another country can do your job better than you for less money, then that's your problem and you need to address it.

Skill-up or shut-up.

Icelandicsaga...............................................'s picture

Well said   ..guys like Tucker are as doctrinaire as Lenin...their purist type of lbertarian is on the same plain as a purist leftist or devotee of some economic or politcal or historical school of thought... never mind common sense or survival. If it goes agaist theory theybwould not give a damn if we are all destroyed in the process... as longbas their theory is followed to the letter. If I could make him a US CITIZEN I would vote for Farage...who has more sense and insight than any politician in the West.



objectivist's picture

Reductio ad Hitlerum?  Really??  I'm no fan of Trump, but saying he's like HItler is laughably childish. 

Really, there are better ways to criticize him. 

buyingsterling's picture

I would trust Trump to change things for the better before I would trust the GOP establishment to do so.

Billy the Poet's picture

I would drink urine before I drank battery acid. Go urine, 2016!

shovelhead's picture

It's got electrolytes...


garcam123's picture

I would advise Trump to avoid elevators, stair wells, parking structures, hire a hot 45 yr old food taster. Nail get the picture. I wouldn't put it past the political establishment to kill those who can beat them.  Bernie included.  There ain't another term for the Corporate Bitch to win, it'll be over if it's not this time.

I'd be gettin some GOOD security, maybe mercs, they honor contracts and money. Espri de corps and all.

Further, Mr. Trump, do the right thing here for your country, cover Bernie Sander's security expenses 110% of your own effort.  I think deep down that you know he is the answer for this time in our country's history.  You have the juice.  He, America, you family and friends need for you to do this on the quietatious.  You only live once, can't take it with you....I won't boor you....just do what you know is right....cover Bernie Sanders please.

with real RESPECT, it's how that money gives ya balls, I like that.


objectivist's picture

Reductio ad Hitlerum?  Really??  I'm no fan of Trump, but saying he's like HItler is laughably childish. 

Really, there are better ways to criticize him. 

shovelhead's picture

Is goofy hair acceptable to you?


PS: Work on your reading comprehension. It won't be time wasted.

greenskeeper carl's picture

I feel like its not really fair to bring the wombat that lives on his head into all this. it doesn't have any say on the matter...

shovelhead's picture

I apologise for my rash comment.

Perhaps we can get it a subsidy for disadvantaged wildlife. It won't make up for living on Donald's head but it might make us feel better about it.

Billy the Poet's picture

The wombat doesn't like sitting on The Donald's scalp but Trump insists that he identifies as a steaming pile of rodent dung. He's a trans-shithead and you've got to respect that, the Supreme Court said so.

cheech_wizard's picture

Are cankles acceptable to you?

Standard Disclaimer: If I decide to vote, it will be for the person that secures the borders and tosses the illegals out.

CheapBastard's picture

The Merikan people have been Gruberized, Obamasized and Bankerized so hard the past deacde, it's a wonder any of them can think straight.

robobbob's picture

i'm not sure what the point of this article is. the people of not only amerika, but the world are being herded into an abyss of central planned neo serfdom. the banners being used are alternately socialism, fascism, and crony captialism, used to keep the masses in a constant state of chaos and division along racial, cultural, and economic lines.

in all cases the puppets are being controlled by elitist oligarchs hovering far above the board.

Trump merely represents a least bad choice from a field of even worse satraps and whores. Trump at least has the means to buy a seat at the table without having to directly sell his honesty like everyone else in the game.

Loucleve's picture

thank you very much.  you just destroyed this fools arguments.

Billy the Poet's picture

If you don't realizing that voting for any of these clowns, especially Trump is foolish, then please feel free to enjoy your pointy hat and big rubber nose. They look great on you!

shovelhead's picture

I think the author might be on to something.

We need 4 more years of Obama.

Tall Tom's picture

Yeah..FOUR MOAR YEARS...He deserves a third term. Who cares about the Constitution?? George W Bush said it was just a God damned piece of paper.


Suspend the selections anyway. They make absolutely no difference at all.


Obama...Dictator for life...FOUR MOAR YEARS...fuck that..FORTY MOAR YEARS.

CHC's picture
CHC (not verified) Jul 18, 2015 7:07 PM

Hey Tyler - how about acknowledging when you're accepting political attack ads - how much you're being paid and by whom.  That's a simple enough service you can provide your faithful readers.  Thanks!

MsCreant's picture

Tyler is posting an opinion. Notice not everything posted here agrees with one another? That is because they try to give us a spectrum of takes on things that you will not necessarily find in the MSM.

Does not mean they agree or disagree.

You have clearly missed them posting stuff dissing many candidates.

monad's picture

When I was a shit out of luck nobody starving kid on the street, Colonel Sabow was kind to me.

I'll never vote for people I don't first look in the eye.

Colonel Sabow was cool. Measured. Disciplined. Thoughtful. As much as he said to me, a civ, he was honest. He never said anything I didn't need to know. He was the perfect Marine. He loved America.

He told me he was an old pilot, so he was looking at the block. Despite his combat experience he was scheduled for retirement. Pentagon desk work. He was a flier. He hated the idea.

I was the boy next door. Whatever reason, he started trying to get me square. Besides the "old guy no fly" mandate he told me he had bank retirement. He puzzled how he would be an old guy with no wings.

He had everything shipshape and he knew it.

It was not in him to suicide.

The next day, he just wasn't there. Thats how it is, kids.

Tall Tom's picture



At this point far too many are so indictrinated through the Main Stream Media propaganda methods that they have never read or have seen true journalism.


Even far too many of my generation have forgotten what true journalism is.




Do you remember when Ron Paul was running and Fox News did their best to NOT EVEN MENTION HIS NAME? It was not just Fox News to be fair. All MSM participated in that.


Even Jon Stewart thought that this was so outrageous that he did an entire humor filled rant about it on his The Daily Show Comedy Central program.


If you do not report it then it does not exist or it is irrelevant. We can paint people as irrelevant.


And the current Generation X'ers and Millenials believe that this is not only normal but moral and ethical as they know nothing different.


Because I brought up Ron Paul's name I will, of course, receive a bunch of troll downarrows and deragatory comments.




The 2012 SELECTION totally convinced me that it was indeed a SELECTION and that your vote does not count.


It is not "just me" with this attitude. Many Ron Paul supporters backed out and did not vote in the 2012 SELECTION.


Mitt Romney's people told us outright to "STAY HOME" and that Romney did not need our MILLIONS OF VOTES.


I guess that he wanted to lose. He spent $500 MIllion TO LOSE.


Well many MILLIONS of us are STAYING HOME AGAIN and when Hitllery wins we will be delighted that it will be that CUNT who will be at the helm when the whle God Damned Nation falls into a total collapse.


Every single Republican in here, believing that their Red Team will somehow make a difference will NOT get any chance.






But I just will enjoy their shock, disgust and dismay when Hitlery slithers in as HISSES the Oath of Office.


These "conservatives" who are nothing more than SOCIALISTS masquarading as conservatives DESERVE THEIR DESTRUCTION.




Fuck the NSA.


So assholes...Respond if you can and tell me how your Party REJECTS Obamacare. Bring it on. Respond if you can and tell me how your Party did NOT SELL US DOWN THE RIVER with fast tracking the TPP.


But you can't. So you won't. And so you will junk.


And you are just a bunch of TRAITORS, wrapping yourself up in the Flag, and embracing your shackles of enslavement.