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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Arthur Schopenhauer's picture

People who weren't captured were probably people who purposely shit their pants and were declared a psycho etc., or got some kind of deferrment to avoid the draft. Since they avoided any harm whatsoever, they avoided ever being captured.

And that fits Donald Trump's reasoning to the tee.

Donald Trump avoids any obligations. He declares bankruptcy when he fails instead of owning up to his obligations.

He would make a great fucking president. He believes in avoiding everything, never paying his bills, firing everybody else so he can live like a king, and running out when the bills are due.

So you fuckers just go ahead vote for his honorable ass!

Boop's picture

By "right fascism", you mean "Fascism", right?  There is leftist totalitarianism, but Fascism is a creature of the right.


Lenin understood this:

‘The political structure... of monopoly capitalism’, Lenin wrote in 1916, ‘is the change from democracy to political reaction.’ [1] Corresponding, though not directly, immediately or mechanically, to the transition from free capitalist competition ('Manchester capitalism’) to monopoly capitalism dominated by the big trusts and banks, is the trend away from classical liberalism and parliamentary democracy towards authoritarian, extra-parliamentary, militarist, Bonapartist or even fascist forms of rule. Lenin, who made this observation six full years before Mussolini’s ‘March on Rome’, had grasped more clearly than any other contemporary workers’ leader the political implications for the international labour movement of the imperialist era ushered in by the war of 1914. And it is the only methodological approach which enables us to discover how and why certain ideological and philosophical trends which began to emerge in the middle and late nineteenth century subsequently crystallised and fused together in the formation of fascist movements in the three main nations of continental Europe – Italy, France and Germany.



JR's picture

The same collectivist formula fits both fascism and socialism. In his brilliant work, The Road Ahead, John T. Flynn states:

. . . the line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.

Zygmund Dobbs writes: "To the unsophisticated socialist follower the statement by a fascist that Keynesism 'is pure Fascist premises' must come as a shock. However, history proves this to be true. Keynes’ socialist ideas have been studied and adopted in turn by Soviet Russia, Fascist Italy, Peron’s Argentina, Nehru’s India, Tito’s Yugoslavia and the State of Israel… “

As to howthe Keynesian formula fits all totalitarianism

Kelley's picture

Exactly wrong. Fascism is a form of socialism. Everybody joins in for the greater good. That National SOCIALIST WORKERS Party was Fascist. Do you see the capitalized words? They called themselves socialists because that is what they were.

EddieLomax's picture

Fascism is socialism, the idea that "government knows best", if you were truly right wing then you would be like Ron Paul, who believes in person liberty before state compulsion.

The term far-right is used for groups that believe that a strong government that tells the people how to spend its money is best, whether they are nationalist or ideologues is irrelevant, they are socialists at heart and all socialists are totalitarians.

scatha's picture

I call it TRuuump phenomenon, an illusion, non-existing in real world, a MSM media construct as fake as his toupee and botoxed face and plastic former doll-wife. Something or nothing not to talk about and strain out jaw muscle since there is no meaning in it.

Only boycott has any political weight or visible expression in this corrupt system. Let them be elected by 10% of population then we could claim that their illegitimacy to rule and demand their departure from political realm. And neither Trump nor well-mannered Greens make any difference if they run or not.

As Stalin once said. It is not important who's being elected or
who votes for who.

What matters is who is counting the votes (Bush-Gore 2000,Bush-Kerry 2004). We should be counting votes if we want to win. We could have easily and cheaply electronic ALTERNATIVE election for alternative programs and ALTERNATIVE candidates (that never run for office and are unaffiliated with any political formation) who would commit to execute those political programs that can truly represent our political aspiration as a nation. Elections, followed all web practically no cost campaign on YouTube or elsewhere, protected via secure block chain technology guaranteeing accuracy since everyone would be able to check whether his/her vote was counted up. At minimum it could be media event where Americans can voice they vision of America instead of sheeple fest.

The only choice we have for today is absolute boycott of elections as 150 millions of true American patriots are already doing and election after election vastly outnumbering electoral zombies of the American Oligarch Party in their inhumane march into poling/feeding stations to get their rotten meat and in the process to validate murder and mayhem done in our names.

For those who still think they can organize and win "their" election. Here is a gem. The fallacy of this sort of democracy is nowhere better illustrated than in case of Italy where for over 30 years after WWII Italian communist party alone or communist/socialist coalition WON EVERY SINGLE NATIONAL ELECTION and was never asked by president to form government resulting in 39 minority governments all under watchful eye of American protectors of democracy and US navy.

What we’re dealing with here is an autocratic system disguised as democratic chaos, fake uncertainty or illusion of chance and propaganda of opportunity for all. As you see we might even win, one shot in a billion, in "their" elections but we would never get to rule without blood spilled in the streets.

space junk's picture

@Scatha - agreed, the 'elections' are fraud.  Just look at Odumbo suppossedly getting 100% of multiple precincts.  Like winning the fucking powerball 3 times in one day. 

I look at it like an appointment.  I am going to find ways to be more vocal in my boycotting of these fraudulent elections, as time goes on.  It's not worth it to get worked up about.  We have the people in charge, that the richest 20 people on earth, want to be in charge.  That's it.  Whatever the Saudis and Soroses tell us.  Plus or minus a few untraceable billion dollars that will, as before,  make all the problems go away, regardless of election laws, rules, etc. 

But, we can thank the public schools for concentrating the public on Islam, masturbation, and other wonderful topics instead of trivial topics like mathematical literacy.  The dumbmassess don't know the diff between 51%, 90%, 2/3, 99.%, or 99.999%.  Reap what ya sow, Amurikuh. 

Prober's picture
Prober (not verified) Jul 18, 2015 10:25 PM

Jeffrey Tucker


a liberal socialist collectivist propagandist.




Billy the Poet's picture

Yeah, as soon as I saw his articles defending private property rights, condemning socialism and promoting Bastiat I knew he was a commie. Those commies and their free markets will destroy us all unless The Donald can stop them. Thanks for the tip.


dexter_morgan's picture

He created the first commercial service of online book distribution that published entirely in the commons (The Laissez Faire Club) and he was an early innovator in online distribution of literature during his tenure as builder and editor of

But oddly, is also frequently on Huffpo live.

Bazza McKenzie's picture

This is the second time this dishonest hit piece has been run by ZH, the first time with some nodding intro by Kreiger.

Do the Tylers not know they are running the same thing twice or that it got comprehensively panned the first time.

If you are desperate to run hit pieces on Trump, at least give us some variety in them.

foodstampbarry's picture

Zerohedge prides itself on being anti establishment and Trump has the establishment bat shit crazy! It's fucking awesome, the media is in full panic mode.  The Donald is doing something right and I'm quite certain that something is what America desperately needs.

Billy the Poet's picture

If the media feared Trump they simply wouldn't mention him. You don't know how the game works, do you?

dexter_morgan's picture

Is that an NRA sticker for your logo? You are aware of Trump's generally pro-gun control stance, correct?

Bazza McKenzie's picture

Looking forward to Trump getting elected, then using the resources and authority of the US government to show that Obama's academic record was the pits, and his birth certificate was indeed a forgery so he was unable to hold the position of US president, so every piece of legislation he signed and every executive decision was in fact null.

Can you imagine the simultaneous explosion of leftist heads.

Of course the fear that Trump might indeed do this is part of what is propelling the leftist and RINO animosity towards him.

space junk's picture

@ Bazza -- ha ha, yeah that'd be something to behold. I like the fact that Trump has so damn much money, that the media and libtards MUST at least pretend to listen to him. As they and the Graham-type phony-cons squirm. 

Actually I would dearly LOVE to see Trump go at it with McShame, Grahmnasty, Bitch McConnell, or the Hildebeast especially. 

cheech_wizard's picture

Vote Trump, the lesser of three evils. Perhaps we can get him to shave his head. Didn't hurt Jesse Ventura.


williambanzai7's picture

Trump is the punishment to be inflicted on the pseudo libertarian and republibtard politicians who are bankster bitches and neocon whores.

Is Trump the panacea, hardly. But the Trump phenomena is their punishment for hypocrisy.

Otrader's picture

Yes, WB.  I remember when the Nov elections passed.  The replicans won, the first thing they did prior to christmas was hand over a blank check to Wall St. to cover their future deriv losses.  Hypocrisy, indeed.

Why.Not.'s picture

Trumpism? Portraying The Donald as representative of a large swath of the country who are therefore obviously right-wing totalitarian nut cases, also knuckle-draggin' bible-totin' gun-luvin' neanderthals? Where you from, boy? Yo mama know you be writin' this kind of shit?

Wannabe_Oracle's picture

Just an fyi - this ain't just your garden variety country bumpkins on board with this clown... It's in the big blue states too - I live here and I'm witnessing it daily!...

clickjaw's picture

Trump is the poison in the well. He'll speak every right wing extreme position to poison anyone further right than Jeb or whatever Neocon puppet that's ready to go for show time. I bet you there were quite a few late night phone calls from republican establishment types, a tap on the shoulder for help.

Qui bono? Both parties. Trump floats name recognition for at least a few more years for his little "projects" and establishment types can rest assured that no surprise candidate will captivate their base by offending the lauded future middle class voting block, Hispanics.

Chuck Knoblauch's picture

Trump is fighting collectivism.

We are not collectivists.

He's fighting a media monopoly too.

dexter_morgan's picture

The article is pure unadulterated horseshit. Blah blah blah

If Trump has a role, it's probably to get Hitlery elected. 5 million new Hispanic voters put off by his pointing out of immigration failure. Who's that 5 mill gonna vote for?

large_wooden_badger's picture

Trump is a stalkin horse for Hitlery. Oh look... a whole article dedicated to him!

quasi_verbatim's picture

Sir Trumpalot on his stalkin horse. You're gonna get shafted, either way.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

Jeff, glad you understand "free Trade"..tell me about it's benefits to us tax slaves in usa..millions not looking for work since nafta. standards of living falling across america, with all your free trade deals..too bad you are paid to not notice.

razorthin's picture

The Donald's got something for everybody.

DrData02's picture

He is an "aspiring despot who is manipulating bourgeois resentment, nativism, and ignorance to feed his power lust."

So, let me understand this.  You are saying that there is absolutely NO difference between him and either Clinton or Bush.  Is that correct?

Wannabe_Oracle's picture

Excellent accurate observations - very well written!

Bazza McKenzie's picture

Bush couldn't have done it better.

Aussiekiwi's picture

Excellent accurate observations - very well written..:).....concise too.

Wannabe_Oracle's picture

If you might be looking for my viewpoint... You ain

t gonna get it, too stupid.

dexter_morgan's picture

I guess my question about Trump is why he inspires this sort of horeshit hitpiece article?

What is there about Hitlery or Jebbie, likely winners/selectees, that is more to these peoples liking than Trump?

I guess we do love our status quo, despite denials to the contrary. We get bullshit about his bankruptcies, draft dodging, etc., but our most beloved first black president William Jefferson Clinton not only dodged the draft but said he LOATHED the militarty. W was in the TANG, supposedly, and Hitlery and Jebbie certainly never served. He's gone bankrupt, or his corporations have more accurately, so the fuck what? We are seeing NATIONS go bankrupt (or coming to realize they are at least) and they are all run by these fucking status quo candidates.

Just be a little fucking consistent in criticisms is all I ask.

large_wooden_badger's picture

Rule #1. Don't vote. It only encourages them.

Rule #2. Any questions, refer to Rule #1.

If you can't follow these simple rules, just man up and admit that you've joined "Vote Club".

Oh, and if you haven't figured it out by now, your vote means shit.

quasi_verbatim's picture

USSR had Stalin to count the votes, USA has Diebold.

dexter_morgan's picture

So, where does the Donald stand on some things, ZH'rs? Does he differ from TPTB choices we've been handed?

1st, 2nd, 4th, 10th, 13th, 16th amendments?




the FED?


I'm sure ya'll can add to the list.

quasi_verbatim's picture

It doesn't matter where a Presidential candidate stands, what matters is what he does, once elected.

Kelley's picture

Man! it drives some segments of the economy batshit crazy to have that cheap labor cut off from Mexico, the nation be damned!


quasi_verbatim's picture

I personally date the fall of the Roman Empire from Constantine and Justinian, not Commodus.

As for America...

Trumpward, look! The land is bright!

Seek_Truth's picture

That's odd, because the fall of the Roman Empire occurred, not under any of those Emperors, but clearly, it was under Theodosius I, also known as Theodosius the Great, who was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire.

Without question, that was the fall of the Roman Empire.

quasi_verbatim's picture

On the contrary, it was Justinian's ill-fated attempt to reconquer the Western part that fatally and forever weakened the Empire both financially and militarily.

Constantine of course was responsible for the Christian conversion, to which Gibbon ascribed the fall, together with 'immoderate greatness' -- Barbarians didn't really come into it, as they well assimilated themselves.

The establishment of Constantinople itself betrayed a deplorable lack of focus, imo. The Greeks still think of themselves as 'Romanoi' to this day, poor sods.

Seek_Truth's picture

"it was Justinian's ill-fated attempt to reconquer the Western part"

Did you read what you wrote before using that as a case for the Roman Empire NOT falling under Theodosius 1?

The shear fact that the Eastern and Western Empires were never succesfully rejoined after Theodosius speaks for itself!

Or are you making an attempt at redefining what the FALL of an Empire is?

And as for Constantine- it wasn't he that converted to Christianity- rather, he converted "christianity" to his own means.

Christianity vs "christianity"- note the difference.

Rastech's picture

@ quasi_verbatim

"I personally date the fall of the Roman Empire from Constantine and Justinian, not Commodus."

Rome was a lost cause after the end of the Republic. Its failure was a certainty, and the likes of Hadrian knew it, so he bought it as much time as possible by strengthening the borders, and settling retired Military in farms close to it (it wasn't just Hadrian's Wall). If Hadrian had been as smart as John Locke, humanity could have been on the Moon well before 1,000 AD, and that isn't to say Hadrian wasn't smart..

The events that resulted in "Et tu Brutus?" should have saved the Republic but didn't. Once power was thrown onto the table to be grabbed, it was grabbed, and couldn't be restored to the Republic, because all the factions wanted it at the expense of everybody else (Divide & Rule really is playing Russian Roulette with all chambers loaded). That power then usually ended up in the hands of the worst of the worst. The assumption of the despotic tyranny of Divine Right, the lawless State where "The Law is what 'we' say it is", with Emperors thinking they were living gods (to the extent it was the death penalty to take JC's name in vain - that was the god Julius Caesar by the way), just ended up being encapsulated in that abomination of a Code of Law, Justinian's Precepts, that every tyrant and despot has tried to reintroduce since, and which continues to plague Europe to this very day.

All lawless States inevitably fail (given the rarity of a benign Dictator, with one that failure can take a while, but fail it will, because even benign Dictators are at the mercy of the power grab and the assassination plot, which is why they tend to ultimately go mad with paranoia, and often get bumped off by their closest bodyguards for having completely lost the plot). That failure is usually catastrophic, and usually accompanied by great bloodshed, as the tyrants and all that assisted and supported them, get butchered. Such failures can, and frequently have, ended civilisations, as people turn their backs on the corruption and criminality, and just walk away from it. 

The Psychopaths always think THEY are going to be the ONE that becomes King of the Hill, but only one ever does, and the rest get bumped off, for the competition they are. When you look at this list of Roman Emperors, it should send the message that we must never allow ourselves to be trapped in this destructive cycle of lawless States, ever again:

"In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."  Thomas Jefferson

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Jul 19, 2015 2:43 AM

Anything Jeffrey Tucker says is horseshit.  Fake libertarian shill.

bozoklown's picture

I love the Donald as a fellow klown

apocalypticbrother's picture

Trump is just there to clown around and be a distraction. America is going to be in martial law before next election .You are stuck with Obama. Billary can be VICE pres....