Misunderstanding Trump's America
After any great victory, such as the one achieved by Donald Trump in November, it is natural and important to celebrate it. However, it is equally important to ensure that the euphoria of victory does not inhibit one's critical facilities. After all, viewing the world as one would like it to be, as opposed to how it actually is, is an ancient folly, a folly to which we will find ourselves all too susceptible to if we do not vigilantly guard against it.
It appears however that it is just this folly, the folly of wishful thinking, which Professor Alexander Dugin (among others) has fallen into in his recent post-election piece on Donald Trump’s victory that:
Trump’s victory shows that there are two Americas today, or rather, two versions of the United States: Clinton’s America and Trump’s America. Trump’s America is traditional and conservative, healthy, and worthy of respect. This America said a resounding “no” to globalism and the expansion of liberal ideology. This is the real America, the America of realism which has chosen its president and not succumbed to the false propaganda of the globalist liberal media.
Of course, in a sense, Dugin is right here, that, there are in fact “two versions of the United States” the U.S. of Clinton and the U.S. of Trump. Undoubtedly, these two versions are incompatible with one another, either one or the other must win the contest for power, and only one can claim to be the “real” America. Dugin asserts that it is Trump’s America that is the “real” America and it is here the that the problem with his analysis lies.
Of course believing Dugin’s assertion is profoundly tempting, as it allows us to circumvent the difficulties which would arise if it were not, in fact, the case that Trump’s America is the “real” America. However, when one looks at the American socio-political landscape, as well as its Ideological history, in depth one finds precious little support for this claim.
If we are to define the word true here as meaning: “consistent with the essence of the values produced by the historical dialectic of U.S. history” then the truth of the matter is the complete inverse of Dugin’s claim. As, in this case, it is actually Hillary Clinton’s America which is the “real” America, and it is Trump’s America which is the “false” America.
One can’t, of course, blame Dugin for erring in his assessment of what constitutes “true” and “false” American values as he, as a Russian, has relatively little direct experience of America herself. But even without direct experience America’s history itself sheds more than enough light for us to be able to separate the “True” America from the “False” one.
America was from its conception, a Liberal and revolutionary nation.
This can be observed in America’s very genesis, the example, par excellence, of this is The Declaration of Independence which claims that “all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” This Declaration was not merely a declaration of an American Revolution but of the beginning of a worldwide Revolt against the European Ancien Regime itself. One should remember that there were few more fanatical supporters of the French Revolution, even as it drifted more and more into bloody mayhem than Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, two of the most important Ideologues of the American Revolution.
The fact that America’s revolutionary character has been veiled by a temperament which has, at times, been quite conservative changes nothing about its basic essence. This is of course quite different than the Russian experience; and it is this stark difference in historical experience which clouds many Russian attempts at analysis of U.S. politics and culture.
The Russian historical experience is almost exclusively a conservative one, or perhaps even a reactionary one. Even the revolutionary movements which gripped Russia at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th were not actually Russian Movements (meaning that they did not originate in Russia) but rather were Ideological imports from “Enlightened” and “Modern” Europe.
The same, alas, cannot be said for the American experience. As the Liberal Ideas, which would later bloom fully into the Modern NeoLiberal Totalitarian paradigm we know so well were native Ideological species of Anglo-American culture, not imports from abroad.
All of the primary traits of the Ideology of “Progressive” Liberalism preached by Clinton and her Globalist sycophants can be observed, clearly, in their prior historical manifestations, whether in the form of the Puritan moralism, Jefferson and Paine’s universal revolution, Woodrow Wilson’s Liberal internationalism, or President Clinton’s brutal attack on the Serbian people in the 1990s as well as George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
The overarching pretension of this America (The “True” America) is that it believes itself to be the final telos of every human society. It believes, in the words of a U.S. military officer in Stanley Kubrick’s macabre masterpiece “Full Metal Jacket” that: “inside every gook is an American trying to get out.” Gook here, of course, being a placeholder for any non-American Identity.
This pretension to being the universal destiny of human society is not an accidental facet of American Identity; rather it is the basis of it. Without this prime symbol ( and is this universalism not the same as the Faustian prime symbol Spengler spoke of? Of Limitless space?) with which to frame the American symbolic order, American Identity itself disappears. This much has been admitted by many including the Neoliberal fanatic and advocate for Syrian Jihadis Roger Cohen, who writes regularly for the New York Times. Cohen recently made this acute observation: “America is an idea. Strip freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law from what the United States represents to the world and America itself is gutted.”
Here Cohen, without meaning to, unconsciously lets slip a profound truth about the American project. Namely, that it is forever wedded to the notion of its own universality. That it must keep expanding or else it will, in a particular sense, cease to exist. Like the character of the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s absurd children’s story “Through The Looking Glass” who must keep running just to stay in the same place.
The history of the U.S.’s geopolitical story illustrates this perfectly, from its early 19th-century acquisition of the Louisiana Territory to its modern attempt to enforce a Global, Neoliberal Imperium upon the world’s societies. However different the particular circumstances of each event, the pattern is always the same: one of constant outward motion and the rejection of any and all limits (Does not the Neoliberal fetish for constant economic growth not also fit neatly within this paradigm?).
It is for this reason that any kind of Neo-Isolationism (as is favored by Trump and the “Paleocons” such as Pat Buchanan) is doomed to failure over the long term. As this inward turn denies the telos of America’s founding mythology (which asserts the universality of American ”values”) and it is this shared mythos which gives Americans not only moral purpose but more importantly, a sense of shared Identity. Without the myth of American Universalism, American Identity itself becomes gutted, a mansion whose foundation has cracked and thus, must be abandoned.
In this sense then, again, it is the America of Trump and Buchanan that represents the “false” America. As their views of what the United States should or could be are heretical to America’s foundational Liberal mythos. Their focus on American Isolationism, traditional family values and small town communities are tendencies that predate the American project. This “false” America is an echo of an ancient European civilization which was rejected by the America’s founders. As time passes the echo gets weaker but it is nevertheless still recognizable, regardless of how much high fructose corn syrup it is soaked in or how many neon lights now obscure its radiance.
Thus, it is not surprising that Liberals have reacted so strongly to Trump’s ascension to the presidency, as they recognize, correctly, that he represents a profound danger to their own way of life, even if they frequently cannot articulate just why this is the case.
What Dugin calls Trump’s America (or “Red America”) is many things, but it is not the “real” America. It is instead a collection of misfits and heretics, those who are willing to blaspheme the American God of Progress and Universalism. It is comprised of those who have attempted to pursue lives of decency and virtue, but who have done so in spite of America, not because of it. Trump’s America is the “false” America, but it is only this “false” America which is worth saving.
For the “real” America, the America of Clinton, Soros, the America of Global plutocracy and evangelical Transgenderism, the America of drone strikes and regime change, the America which represents the last genuine totalitarian Ideology on earth, is a problem for which there is only one solution: Liquidation.