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Donald Trump still isn’t going away… is he… Racism and Kickdownism

December 30, 2015


I’ve become sympathetic to the view that Trump thrives on all forms of ridicule and all forms of publicity.  Unfortunately, whenever he’s out of the headlines for more than a few days, he has a habit of suddenly saying something fresh and unexpectedly stupid and disgusting which proves extraordinarily popular with that bizarre constituency of voters called “registered republicans”.

For a while I toyed with the idea that Trump’s popularity might be down to the fact that he’s pure landed aristocrat.  As the supreme exploiter of hereditary privilege he may have enabled a great many people who basically hate themselves to embrace their inner serf and realise their long standing fantasy of being beaten about the head and shoulders with a riding crop by an abusive cavalier.

Others have sort of cut through the Gordian Knot and just said “It’s Racism stupid!  Racism is very very popular right now – he’s just bolder about claiming the allegiance of all those people who love to hate people who look a bit different from them.”

Racism.  Yes.  And yes.  But racism + kickdownism.

Kickdownism is the dominant political ideology of our age.  And Trump is king of it.   Having never had to do a day’s work in his life (all his time in the office is ‘recreational’ – striding down corridors in a shiny suit shouting at people is more fun than staying in bed in day, apparently) Trump has kicked down all his life.  His sense of entitlement is absolute because it’s detached from any personal skill or qualification.  Trump despises everybody else not because of anything he’s done but because of what he is – because of what he’s always been.

Now if you’re part of the so-called “squeezed middle” – the kickdownism was designed especially for you.  Kickdownism is all about stamping on those hands that might think about clutching at your heels while ignoring the fact that people are already kicking you in the head.  When your own sense of entitlement feels threatened then you reach out to someone whose sense of entitlement seems absolutely secure – someone who can lose money over and over again like only those to the manor born can manage – and try to drink from what seems to be the fountainhead of kickdownism.

Now you don’t have to be a racist to be a kickdownist.

But it certainly helps.

Perhaps there are kickdownists who aren’t racists – people who despise all poor people equally, regardless of creed and colour – people for whom it doesn’t matter if children are black or white or Mexican or gay or straight or whatever… so long as they are poor – all are equally worthless in God’s sight.

Perhaps Trump himself is just such a Kickdownist.  He probably is.  But from the point of view of the Trump support base, it’s hard to imagine many people for whom kickdownism “unalloyed”.  Alloys exist for a reason.  They make for stronger and more practical metals.

Kickdownists around the world may disavow racism.  They may (who am I to judge?) sincerely believe in their hearts that they aren’t racist.  But they all of them have a vested interest in strengthening racism within their own societies.  Racism and kickdownism are so mutually beneficial, go together so well, are so symbiotically linked, that austeriarchs and kickdownists have everything to gain from the growth of race hatred.

In some ways Trump is a distraction.  There’s a danger of somehow imagining that he’s the lone nut who’s somehow pulling away from more credible candidates.  In fact – all the republican front runners are horrible and terrifying prospects.  Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio are ALL climate change deniers and will always put the short term convenience of billionaires ahead of the long term survival of humanities.  You have to get down to Jeb Bush (5.5% in the polls) before you get to a republican candidate who believes that the greatest threat to life on earth might actually be a thing.

Trump is not of course “anti-establishment” – he is the avant garde of the establishment.  These very dull and very right wing candidates who trail in his wake are listening to what he says and what he says today, they will say tomorrow.  He is testing the ice for what counts as the political mainstream.

There’s only one way in which a polity can devote itself exclusively to the short term convenience of billionaires.  And that involves building a more hateful and fearful political culture. And Trump demonstrates that a strange mixture of hate and fear can be dressed up as an effective travesty of patriotism.

Because apparently there are enough criminal lunatics out there who believe that you can love your country while despising most of the people in it.

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