As was previously stated in my last article, the main consistent themes in Trump’s policies revolve around nationalism and racism. In other words, around prejudice. Now prejudice has been around since different human groups began to form. But before modern technology began to transform the fields of experience in which people lived, it had a somewhat different flavor from what it has today.
In the pre-industrial days, when people were living in more traditional living environments close to nature, prejudice stemmed from buildups within people of passionate emotion. In such environments, where strong emotions and feelings were constantly being activated by all the flowing blendable continual organic stimuli that surrounded them, people needed to have outlets to, as it were, let off steam. Without such outlets, people’s strong emotions would have turned inward and generated self-destructive actions. It was either take action against targets of prejudice in the external world, or a person would have exploded apart with rage. So the targets of prejudice had to constantly be on guard. Prejudiced people had no way of knowing when the buildup of emotions would be so great that they would have to find a target to relieve themselves.
By contrast, people living today in modern technological societies have a different origin regarding their prejudice. For these people, prejudice is a vehicle that helps pull them out of the constant state of numbness they experience as a result of the experiential vacuum in which they live. Many of these people are so numb that they are incapable of even feeling prejudice against the targets they choose. Instead, they just feel indifference. However, when the intensity of their feelings does rise to the level of prejudice, it manifests itself differently from the way prejudice is manifested in pre-industrial societies. It does not seem to be built so much on simply a passionate gut hatred of those who are different. Modern prejudiced people are numb. For them to pull out of their numbness through prejudice, they really need to be riled up. So targets are used not so much to discharge built-up emotion as to stimulate it into existence. And when you’re numb, you’re just trying to create some emotion to feel alive. Numb people lack the capacity to focus emotion well, so the targets tend to be vague and diffuse. For white nationalists, the African Americans, the Jews, the Muslims, the Hispanics and the Asian Americans are all threatening in some indeterminate way to undermine the purity of white society. What these groups are doing against white society is not always clear.
Now, since he was running for president, Trump has used the notion of threats from the other as a vehicle for getting people to sign on to his program: in truth, to his very essence. He gets the vast majority of his supporters, who happen to be white, to feel very special precisely because they are white. Many of these people are working class people who, in an economy of growing income inequality, have been struggling to make ends meet. These people are made to feel special by Trump. They may not be rich financially, but they are made to feel rich racially. They are confirmed by Trump to be members of the “superior race” and made to feel proud of it. Now white nationalism has been around for a long time, but under Trump, so many more people have actively embraced it. And by psychologically merging their identities with that of Trump, these newly activated white nationalists can participate in preserving a collective organic imprint of the “superior white race” and thus feel comfortable knowing that they have helped to create a meaningful collective surrogate immortality in preparation for death.
These white nationalists can go to his rallies and to his insurrections and pull themselves out of their numbness in a way that is provided by few other life situations. They use social media to make their connections with one another, to plan their strategies for becoming a dominant force in society, and very simply to bond with one another. How ironic that the very medium that is contributing so strongly to their numbness, to their loss of agency, to their feelings of being psychologically castrated is the medium that becomes the central focus of their lives in so many different ways. The Internet, social media and consumer technology in general all contribute to the pathological psychological states that push many people to look for a social disrupter like Trump in the first place. So in the process of planning and connecting with other insurrectionists on social media, they are aggravating the very problem that causes them to look for Trump and his nationalist racist policies as a solution.
The main question is now that Trump and his enablers have guided his followers to one insurrection, are others going to follow? There is certainly a lot of chatter on the Internet about disturbances happening in Washington and the 50 state capitals around Inauguration Day for President-elect Joe Biden. To be continued.
Correction. In my last article I stated that Trump got 71,000,000 votes in the 2020 presidential election. At one point in the counting that’s what it was. Trump actually finished with over 74,000,000 votes.