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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cheech_wizard's picture

Let me know when you start shooting... and pick your targets wisely.

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

Exactly so, this article Imo WAS meant to stir comment and debate...which it did. The PTB will never allow him or a Ron aPul to 

o be president ...not even Rand is going to be allowed.. we will have Hitlery or Jeb of the fourth reich selected for


us..Diebold chooses, we do not.




hotrod's picture

Guess Jeffrey likes Bush.  At least Trump is Hopefully not connected to the status quo.  That is refreshing. 

Winston Churchill's picture

Trump is connected at the hip with the status quo.A crny capitalist almost as bad

as Uncle Warren. Don't delude yourself.Same shit ,different container.

garcam123's picture

You ARE right! I don't care. He's got the cahonees to stir the shit bucket.  I like that about him. 

He'll fully expose the kooks in the Clown Car. Sure you can't get Romney back in there?


hound dog vigilante's picture



Non-Left statist... sounds like GWBush.  Are Trump supporters different from GWBush supporters?  Not really.  Same demographics, I suspect.

So perhaps Trumpism is not as new as the author here believes.


I personally believe 90% of Trump's support is born of his strong anti-immigration rhetoric.  If a VIABLE conservative candidate voiced similar domestic security/secure border policy details, they would run away from the pack & win the R nomination... easily.

The US has BY FAR the most liberal immigration laws/system in the world.  Tightening domestic security and securing the borders is not Nativist - it's Common Sense.  Voters are absolutely CRAVING some common sense from candidates, but the establishment GOP won't give it to them... but Trump does (in his own way).


YHC-FTSE's picture

I was thinking of GW Bush too while I read this piece. Cut from a similar looking cloth, although Bush could never claim to be a successful businessman.

It's really not my concern, since I live across the pond, but the article is probably not an inaccurate assessment of Trump. If you're going to vote for him, it's best to vote with your eyes wide open. The fact that he is not a career politician is a bonus and he is by far the better choice considering it's another inevitable Bush or Clinton sine qua non. For sheer entertainment value alone, he ought to be elected president. After all, it'd make it easier for the world to rally round to defeat a batshit crazy fascist than a smooth talking warmonger with a Nobel peace prize under his belt. So go for it America! Vote Trump I implore you, close your borders permanently and don't let anyone in or out. Firewall the internet, keep the CIA, NSA, army, navy and airforce within your borders too. I'm pretty sure that would merit another peace prize delivery to the WH.

I can't wait until somebody tells him the CIA and Mossad are behind ISIS - he might nuke Langley and Tel Aviv and accidentally start a global era of world peace.

Trump for President! Because the others are worse. (Please feel free to use this tagline).

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

We zre not the only Western country being flooded  y refugees frkm third world ...Greece and Italy, both in dire economic straits, also being flooded with migrants from Libya and Nort Africa. They have moved into France, most trying to gst to UK where they get instant benefits. No more room in govt housing for native born  The cufrent influx into US fromcental america and  exico was done on furtyer destabilize the country  ot to mention bring the e tire system to its knees. They will get their new world ordef...because they are overwhelming tnose who could stop it with millions whose only concern is being taken care of by someone,k  in our case govt. The new feudalism in the West is only months away. It will be interesti g to see which chosen pfeselected candidate will be the midwife

The Duke of New York A No.1's picture

In order to understand Donald Trump ... you also need to be able to understand the business of commercial real estate .... Trumps commercial real estate holdings are so big he'll make another $10 billion on his commercial real estate holdings just by turning the US economy around .... plus deep down I think he really cares about brand USA.

joego1's picture

I can't wait to get brand USA on Hilary's ass. I can smell the smoke now.

MsCreant's picture

So you like the smell of burning shit? Odd fetish.

Otrader's picture

Thanks for the laugh, MsCreant.  +1

joego1's picture

Like you don't need an ego to be pres...

BeerMe's picture

Fuck you Jeff Tucker!

btdt's picture

Here's who the author is, for anyone who follows this stuff - I don't. He was if i remember the webmaster at and then Mises Institute and is now gone.


r00t61's picture

Tucker used to be a "thin" libertarian/an-capist in the vein of Lew Rockwell, Walter Block, Ron Paul and others.

Somewhere along the way he changed his mind and became a "thick" libertarian, i.e., a politically-correct libertarian in the mold of the Cato Institute.

Take that for what you will.

petroglyph's picture

Trump/Kardashian in '16

Fuck us all , it's my scorched earth policy before I head to the bunker with my tote of debloons

ThrowAwayYourTV's picture

All this crap about making fun of McCains service. TRUMP did speak the truth. He said, "John McCain is a war hero because he got caught."

That is a true statement! Had he not been caught he would have ended his military career like most of us. As a regular veteran.

What he did heroic besides survive as a POW I don't know.


nevertheless's picture

John McShame may have been a great man at one time, but that time has long since passed. McShame is a rock star in Israel, they just love him and his endless support, even when that support works against America's self interest.

If you are a moderate dem or republican, the media loves you, but if you are true to your principles, liberal or conservative, they will destroy you.

Tall Tom's picture

McShames claim to infamy began in the middle 1980s when he helped out Charles Keating out of Scottsdale, AZ swinle the state of Arizona Department of Transportation out of tens of millions of Dollars of Sales Tax revenue for the sale of some worthless land on the West Side of the White Tank Mountains as there was Loop 303 which was built. a massive NOWHERE.


Hell that Charlie keating was so into Fraud and corruption he was instrumental in bringing about the collapse of the Savings and Loans back then.


And McShame was on the take.


War Hero? Bullshit. The guy is absolute corrupted DOGSHIT.


And there was NO CHOICE during 2008. Because yu had that piece of shit running against anither piece of shit Marxist.


And there would have been no difference in the outcome no matter which one of those assholes had won in 2008.

shovelhead's picture

How many aircraft carriers have you blown up?

See? He is not like many other veterans.

(except for a few Japanese pilots in WWII)

Tall Tom's picture

McShame's father quashed the investigation of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.


They all work for the same boss.

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

Mccain crashed FIVE AIRCRAFT, twonwhile in flight training, if he had not been son of top admiral he would have been dropped from flight program after the second crash .. A board of inquiry could not find any reason why he ejected from his plane...anyone else would be GONE ,,,,he we t on to crash 3 mor...including the one he was shot down in. If the NAVY had dropped him while he was in flight training instead of giving him a pass that was undeserved,,,,,,he never would have been a POW. NEPOTISM gave Mccain his start, while better men than him ended up driving a ri er boat in the  Mekong delta. He was NO HERO....HE was a survivor, who stopped investigation into POW  atters when he got to congress.







baldski's picture

Any Navy flyboy who crashes two planes would be cashiered out long time ago. He crashed three, the last one put him in prison. The only thing that prevented this was the fact that his daddy was an Admiral and used his ringknocker influence!

Paveway IV's picture

And there were different classes of 'prisoners' in Hanoi. The ones there recall a much different set of arrangements for the admiral's 'heroic' son, while life fo the 'little people' prisoners sucked 24x7. Few of his fellow prisoners believe his stories about supposed torture and abuse at the hands of the prison guards.

He was a rock star prisoner and treated as such - valuble to the North Vietnamese as a bargaining chip. The little people POWs? Not so much.

jwoop66's picture

Benedict Arnold did more for this country than john mccain ever did, and how do we remember him?

Zero_Hope's picture

Sadly, he sounds a whole lot better than Jeb Bush and the Hildabeast.

nevertheless's picture

IN a nation where we are told "we are all immigrants", regardless of how many generations our families have lived here, a bit of "nativism" is sorely needed.


TRUMP is not the cause of the nation's ills, but a response.

gregga777's picture

I would be perfectly happy if all of the elites, including the clueless author, dropped dead.

Billy the Poet's picture

The author is a libertarian. In your opinion all self reliant individuals are elitists because they won't pay for your crap. That's why you support real elitists like Trump. Imagine the stupidity of those who think that The Donald is a man of the people! It makes for some fun times when Donald and Hillary get together to laugh at the little folks.

shovelhead's picture

Are you saying that you think people will confuse Trump with the shoeshine guy in his lobby?



JR's picture

The author is not a libertarian; he is an idiot. He gives libertarians a bad name. Mussolini? Come on.

Billy the Poet's picture

Because Trump in the White House could in no way be seen as a merger of state and corporate power.


hound dog vigilante's picture by your logic, there can never be a president who was first a businessman. 

But lawyers and assorted community organizers are perfectly qualified to be career politicians... pure of heart, the lot of them, I'm sure.


Billy the Poet's picture

Why do you believe that there are only two legitimate points of view, Obama's or Trumps? There are three hundred million individuals living in this country. Too bad you don't understand the concepts of self reliance and individual liberty. Then again, it would probably kill you so you should probably just keep demanding that the government take care of you.

And don't worry about the election outcome. Trump has donated more to Democrats than he ever has to Republicans so you're covered by your elitist masters either way. And they appreciate it.


Donald Trump Donated Heavily To Democrats, Especially During Election Which Put Reid And Pelosi In Power


Records show that in June 2006, Trump donated $20,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That was in addition to the $5,000 he sent in April 2005 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. At the same time, Trump Jr. gave the two Democratic committees a total of $22,500.

While the Trumps spent nearly $50,000 to elect congressional Democrats, they donated only $1,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRSC).

But perhaps the worst outcome that election for Republicans was that Pelosi and Reid became Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, respectively. The pair made a formidable team and did heavy lifting to ensure that Obama was elected in 2008 and that much of his agenda — including Obamacare — was put in place.

Read more:

Tall Tom's picture

The reason why I like threads like this is that it serves to separate the Stateists traitors who have been masquarading as supporters of Liberty and Freedom from those of us who actually celebrate Liberty and Freedom.


The pretenders are exposed for the snakes which they are.


Look at how they junk you for exposing the truth about Trump. And then when you defend your position with the factual information notice how they slither away.


The arrow counts are proving out informative that we have far too many pretenders here on the Comments Section on Zerohedge.


I will root you pretenders out...FUCKING SOCIALIST STATEISTS.

Billy the Poet's picture

It's interesting that the Trump supporters here do seem to be enthralled quite literally by Trump and his statist dictates thereby validating Jeff Tucker's analogy equating populist Trumpism with fascism. Recall that populism (more government control and less personal freedom) is the opposite of libertarianism (less government control and more personal freedom) as diagrammed on the Nolan Chart.

T.N. American Historian's picture

I cannot recall the last time I encountered this level of general and historical ignorance. The author is an ignoramous.

Trump addresses reality. Immigration needs to be stopped, illegals deported along with all holders of dual-nationality.


Billy the Poet's picture

"holders of dual-nationality"

“Israel is one of my favorite places in the world” -- Donald Trump

"Nobody but Donald Trump will save Israel" -- Donald Trump

monad's picture

Don't blame me. I voted for Donald Duck.


Mickey Mouse


Ross Perot


Pat Buchannon


John "Crash" McCain


John the Irish pretender 


even Bishop "burn it down" Mitt

Now you have to fuck the names on the TP. You cannot write in yourself as president. Only the lesser offices.

I'm rooting for Joaquin Guzman Loera. Nail 'em, Jo. Just knock off a supreme court justice or two, and I'm sure you'll get a full pardon and all the underage crackaz you want.


Burn it. To the ground.

gregga777's picture

Trump would win if the USA ever has FREE and OPEN and HONEST elections.

MATA HAIRY's picture

trump obviously has the corporate media and its corporate advertisers very worried.


That delights me.


Whoever the corporate media/BigBusiness hates, I love. Whoever they love, I hate.


The media obviously hates and fears Trump. Look at the glee which they displayed upon seeing Trump make this little slip of the tongue.


The corporate media represents their corporate advertisers.


Trump threatens them with the loss of their never-ending stream of cheap foreign labor.

MsCreant's picture

Corporate media loves him, are you kidding me? Trump is a story that keeps on giving. He is getting more attention than the other candidates. Spectacle. Sensation. 

Work it cover boy!

He is more of a "Queen" than Ru Paul.

I see an attention whore, trying to turn a buck. 

He wins if he wins, he wins if he loses. 

No reason not to do this. Nothing to lose. And what a hoot for him if it happens to happen. 

Billy the Poet's picture

Spot on. It amazes me that some folks think that a billionaire who's all over the TV is a man of the people feared by media. And you just can't convince them otherwise.

Otrader's picture

We are a celebrity loving nation!  The banking elites are playing the voting public like a fiddle right now. 

Billy the Poet's picture

If we have to have a reality president can't it be Gordon Ramsey? I can just see him cursing his way through each episode of White House Nightmares.

Clowns on Acid's picture

Fuck this author. he is a dishonest piece of shiite.  

Where was this shiitehead when Obama was running for Presdient?

razorthin's picture

Will write fuck, but not shit.  WTF?  Are you just being ironical?

Clowns on Acid's picture

Yo razor... one has to keep some standards here. I thought you might catch the misspelled dounle entendre rather than irony.  

But keep up that eye shade and good accounting pencil sharp.

Arthur Schopenhauer's picture

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?