AMERICASElection 2020In WashingtonOPINIONPOLITICS

Donald Trump, the deplorables, and psycho-history

The election of Donald Trump was seen to be a major disruption in American politics, but its result may be a rapid conclusion to earlier trends.

By H. T. Scott Gibbons

In 2017 I wrote that I found Donald Trump to be very serious about breaking down the walls that had been built to isolate the techno-managerial elite from accountability to the great American middle class. The great majority of mainstream media, corporate management, academics, think tanks, and the entertainment industry are part of that elite. Those anti-Trump elites have entrenched themselves as the new ruling class in America since long, and are now transferring their privilege to their 2nd and 3rd generations.

The key element in that entrenchment is the tight occupational, educational, and geographical linkage among its members. Despite the continuing and expanding socio-economic crises in America, the techno-managerial-elite has inexorably expanded, prospered, and advanced. Sometimes the definition of the techno-managerial elite merges with that of the deep state, but both nevertheless are slightly ambiguous. Although these two concepts have been more commonly used by conservative populists to brand progressives and statists, they can equally be used by leftist populists to describe those they see as having special privilege, although they traditionally referred to them as members of the old boys network.

Both perspectives have some validity indicating that the techno-managerial elite represents power more than anything else, and uses it for its own class or individual interests against anyone out of power. For years they had opponents on both the right and left, waxing and waning as American power bases evolved, yet the techno-managerial elite structure remained the same. The nature of this structure was well recognized by Daniel Bell in his insightful writing. For me, one of the most interesting periods of public discourse was 2008-2010 when a great outpouring of outrage and curiosity about the United States political economy coincided with the newly available Internet communication platforms. This created an opening for both left- and right-wing populist movements, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, to reform and correct the United States political economy. Some established political leaders, such as Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, were moved to voice some solidarity with them. Yet, the mainstream platforms quickly returned to business as usual, with both incumbent and opposition returning to their comfortable roles accepting the status quo. Or so it seemed.

Although no truly mainstream politician or influencer stepped up to meet, let alone lead, the groundswell of social dissatisfaction, there was a growth of alternative expression outlets with their associated personalities such as Herman Cain and Tucker Carlson. The Fox Network and a number of conservative as well as leftist publications also made some effort to organize the thoughts of the masses. Still, it was business as usual in the halls of power, although with increased expression of a new range of opinions outside the gates. As I have described in my book, Trapped by History: The Remaking of American and Death of the Middle Class, the great American middle class had been nearly completely subjugated by the techno-managerial elite and perhaps sensed that their final days were soon to come with the expected election of the consummate techno-managerial collaborator, Hillary Clinton. With no leaders, and still limited and moderate expression, that middle class had prepared for decades to live privately and even in a self-preserving underground social world.

As I wrote in my book, Trumped by History: The Resurrection of the Great American Middle Class, then suddenly, out of left field came the perennial celebrity Donald Trump. He did not come from within any institution or discipline, and his ideas and platform coalesced rapidly through interaction with various populist personalities, frustration and thought waves. Trump most famously recognized and sanctioned the downtrodden great American middle class and drew those people out of long-term seclusion into increased and open expression of opinion. He resuscitated them and suddenly, by just wearing MAGA caps, their long suppressed opinions were clear to everyone.

As I wrote in Trumped by History, in bypassing the mainstream institutions and processes, Donald Trump starkly defined the conflict between the middle class and the techno-managerial elite, drawing his supporters fully into the open for the first time since they had lost their social dominance in the 1960s. At the same time, he elicited a virulent opposition to himself personally from establishment conservatives whose ideology was thought in principle to be nearly the same as that of his supporters – revealing both left and right to be the true techno-managerial elite enemy of the great American middle class.

Donald Trump promised to make America great again (MAGA) and to show respect to ‘the deplorables’ – and to do that he would have to dethrone the techno-managerial elite and remove the walls they had built around themselves. Unfortunately, he could not do this because he did not control a street force or institutions. He could only rely on himself, his most immediate minions, and a mixed bag of independent staff, which could only be sufficient to wage battle at the individual power level, and not at the structural level. So, whether he is re-elected or not, the techno-managerial elite remain in the driver’s seat, continue their routine consolidation and enjoyment of power, and face only minor turbulence in their lives. Ultimately, the current presidency has only been about Trump and his inner circle. Trump was not the historical leader that his supporters wanted and needed.

Ironically, support for the President and his ostensible policies even during his tenure has not been a productive or even safe position for the deplorables. After a brief period of disorientation among the techno-managerial elite and an unsuccessful effort to dethrone Trump, it is now clear that the interest of the administration lay not in replacing the enemy techno-managerial elite with deplorables, or even providing full political mobilization protection for the deplorables, but merely in furthering the objectives of the Trump inner circle. Shockingly, this has left the deplorables even more vulnerable than before the election of Trump since they have no protection from the street or from institutions.

What can we make of this situation? Peter Turchin has developed the concept of cliodynamics similar to the psychohistory of Isaac Asimov, in order to bring some coherence to broad historical trends. Turchin has identified 2020 as a critical year for United States society and presents two interesting propositions. The first is that there is an oversupply of elites, or persons with some ability and aspiration, who cannot be satisfactorily accommodated in the society, and the second is that this results in a type of civil war among the elites. The first proposition would require a much longer explanation elsewhere. The second is that globalists and their institutional insider co-conspirators are elites of various levels, whose interests conflict with those of the national-focused business elites as represented by Trump. Seen in that light, the structural parallel with the American Civil War is unsettling.

For fans of Asimov, we can move to a more theoretical plane in this analysis. If indeed, Trump is like the great disrupter, rather than the great corrector, then with the return of the techno-managerial elite to the White House – or even before then – his supporters can expect to be sacrificed more than would have been required through peaceful submission in 2016. Would this suggest that his psycho-historical role has been to more effectively and completely remove the deplorables than even their most ardent opponents could have done?

H. T. Scott Gibbons is the author of Trapped by History: The Remaking of America and Death of the Middle Class, and The Millennial Metropolis: Power Cities in the Age of Trump, Trumped by History: The Resurrection of the Great American Middle Class, professional articles; and maintains a blog at https://thegreathoax.wordpress.com

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