Bodacious Trump: A Germanic Perspective

Many thanks to JLH for translating this op-ed from the influential Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

Bodacious Trump

by Konrad Paul Liessmann
January 23, 2018

The outstanding benefits of Trump doubtless include a new unity in the world. He has become a medium of perception.

A year after Donald Trump became president of the USA, it is time to summarize — not just about his political successes and failures, but also about what Trump, often unintentionally, has contributed to the emotional conditions and intellectual discourse of our time. The outstanding benefits of Trump include a new unity in the world. It is really all against one. Commentary on him has been unanimously negative. The arc of negative reaction to him stretches from Right to Left. Differentiated reports or judgments are scarce. It is the common understanding that he is a catastrophe for the USA and the world, cognitively and morally insufficient. An intellectually limited racist and sexist is the most powerful man in the world.

This knowledge shared by almost everyone not only fosters a strong “we” feeling, but also a profoundly satisfying feeling of superiority. With the picture of Trump the media paints and the revelations from the inner life of the white House we encounter daily, anyone can feel infinitely superior to the American president — more sensitive, more educated, more intelligent, more respectable, more competent and more moral. And not to be forgotten — in dealing with Trump, we become excellent psychologists, who are capable of remotely diagnosing personality disorders, narcissism, infantilism and megalomania.

This feeling of superiority, however, prevents us from recognizing that Trump is equipped to give us a critical view of our revered modern world. Even people who have considered truth to be relative, reality to be a construction and science to be a phallogocentric[1] maneuver by white men, are discovering — thanks to Trump — their love of objective facts. Even people for whom directness and authenticity have been sacred are recognizing, thanks to Trump, what these ideals actually mean, and — after a little self control — begin to yearn for simulated empathy and diplomatic pretense. Even people who saw in the new media the epitome of progress, must admit that the world can be neither understood nor governed by means of Twitter or television. After years of internet euphoria, thanks to Trump, determining that someone does not read books has again become a reproach.

Conversely, Trump makes it possible for many assumptions and convictions lurking in our unconscious, courtesy of prevailing moral and political standards, to be brought into the light of day. The mistrust intellectuals have for the people and for democracy can now be openly articulated. After Trump’s election victory, some are wondering whether the leftist focus on the needs of capricious minorities was not overdone, and are turning back to the needs of the working class.

Donald Trump acts as a cynic who shakes our presumed truths and moral certainties, not through contemplation, but through action. He has become a medium of recognition. Whether such a stunning fellow ought to be thanked for that is an open question. But thinking about that, instead of reflexively joining the chorus of the outraged, could be rewarding.

Konrad Paul Liessmann, of the University of Vienna, is professor for methods of communicating philosophy and ethics. There is no question that is alien to his columns.


1.   The privileging of masculinity in the use of speech, writing or modes of thought; phallocentrism expressed through language.

13 thoughts on “Bodacious Trump: A Germanic Perspective

  1. Yes, Trump continues to behave as he did soon after the Electoral College announced its decision that awarded him the electoral victory, “Joyful and I, Trump-fant”

    • In many card games a ‘Trump’ is a playing card of the suit chosen to rank above the others, which can win a trick where a card of a different suit has been led.

      Likewise, the definition applicable in other circumstances is ‘A valuable resource that may be used, especially as a surprise, in order to gain an advantage’ 😉

      • Like the Independent faction of the Republican Party playing its “Trump” card much to the consternation of the Establishment Republicans.

        Actually, back in the day of Trump’s “Apprentice” show, I had the idea of a banking syndicate that would provide consolidation of credit card services for the upscale classes. American Express (spades), MasterCard (diamonds), Visa (clubs), and Discover (hearts) would be rolled into one account under the Trump Card. I will leave you to guess at the tag lines and billboard slogan ( e.g. play your Trump card)

    • the whole stanza goes, “Come howl all ye prateful at us joyful and I, Trump-fant, Come ye Oh come ye to Washington D.C. Come and deplore him, all ye borne of liberals, come here and deplore him…..

      I know. and I wish the Christmas carol was sung more often as the worship song it is.

  2. Trump’s popularity and subsequent election was the result of his outlining the pathologies of the current political and social structures existent in Western countries. His pre election promises resonated with a great many people who are disgusted with ” fake money “,,,, senseless wars…unrestricted immigration of primitive people…as well as the” force fed” cultural changes which serve to destroy traditional family values. Unfortunately ; Trump’s subsequent actions belie his promises. The Elites simply bought a bit more time { with a fake prophet } ; which will enable them to further reduce the ability of people to actually be in charge of their own destiny. Not bad for a TV actor and real estate developer.

    • I agree that Trump has been a disappointment, but not a disaster.

      His enforcement of existing immigration laws has gone about as well as it can, given the kritarch judges who legislate from the bench. The only other thing Trump could have done is announce his administration will ignore court rulings below the Supreme Court level that obviously contradict the clear intent of the law. This would be a logical step, but would likely tie up the Trump administration for the rest of his term.

      Trump in his legislative proposal essentially caved on chain migration, allowing the amnestied intruders full “family” access for years to come. He did propose ending the “lottery” system. Birth citizenship is not even discussed.

      Sessions has been a total disaster as attorney general. Trump recognizes that. The problem with replacing Sessions is that those next in line are completely corrupt and would have to be fired as well. Trump would never get a replacement attorney general through Congress. The Democrats would filibuster and the neocon-type Republicans would support them.

      Trump now seems completely on board with our expensive, wasteful, dangerous interventionist foreign policy, putting US soldiers in 100 countries Americans couldn’t find on a globe and could care less about. What seems to happen is the US backs a disastrous war in some remote, low-level country, causing tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties. The survivors on both sides then claim immigration rights on the grounds that they helped the US. And the neocons, of course, fall for every such claim.

      • Yep, instead of draining the swamp he is drowning in it. At the risk of having every weapon in the blog pointed at me, Trump appears to be the obverse side of the Obama coin, simply a sock puppet that is good for a temporary distraction while the nefarious deeds of the government continue apace. I am rather concerned for the Christians who support him as they are likely to be as roundly hated as Trump is and prove out to be a more convenient target. I, for one, will not be herded off of the cliff with the rest of the buffalo.

  3. Frankly I haven’t understood a word from this article.

    However, the topic of Trump is quite clear.

    [redacted: sweeping and unsourced assertions].

  4. Yes, there is a lot of yelping and whining about President Trump. Mostly by leftists, Islamic terrorists and their supporters, the corrupt mainstream media, and the unsuccessful Democrat politicians.

    Perhaps they could take an objective look at him once in a while.

    Consider: Tax relief, significant increases in employment and significant decreases in unemployment, an unapologetic patriot, and one who is trying to save the Republic of the USA.

    Pres. Trump is cleaning up the corrupt national leadership by making excellent judicial appointments, high-quality cabinet appointments, a reasonable and workable solution to illegal immigration, rebuilding our military after its decrease and replacing its incompetent leadership, etc..

    The USA is in a far better position now and its domestic and foreign policies are more consistent and reasonable.

    • oh dear.
      problems of West and America, are not only Islam and incompatible migration.
      [Redacted: sweeping, generalized, and unsourced allegations re American government]

  5. Trump is an unabashed populist. He is a phenomenon and as such, his victory in the U.S. is being repeated elsewhere, e.g., Austria and Hungary.

    It is high time for the return of populism, though elites have always hated it. The managerial class particularly dislikes it because it is indicative of movement from below them. How dare the “ignorant/unwashed” raise their voices, register their votes??

    It remains to be seen if Obama’s depredations – he was the exemplar of the Managerials, calm, condescending and empty – can be turned back. It’s been estimated that 66,000 permanent civil employees voted him in twice.

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