Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The CIA Reads French Theory: On the Intellectual Labor of Dismantling the Cultural Left

It is often presumed that intellectuals have little or no political power. Perched in a privileged ivory tower, disconnected from the real world, embroiled in meaningless academic debates over specialized minutia, or floating in the abstruse clouds of high-minded theory, intellectuals are frequently portrayed as not only cut off from political reality but as incapable of having any meaningful impact on it. The Central Intelligence Agency thinks otherwise.

As a matter of fact, the agency responsible for coups d’état, targeted assassinations and the clandestine manipulation of foreign governments not only believes in the power of theory, but it dedicated significant resources to having a group of secret agents pore over what some consider to be the most recondite and intricate theory ever produced. For in an intriguing research paper written in 1985, and recently released with minor redactions through the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA reveals that its operatives have been studying the complex, international trend-setting French theory affiliated with the names of Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes.

The image of American spies gathering in Parisian cafés to assiduously study and compare notes on the high priests of the French intelligentsia might shock those who presume this group of intellectuals to be luminaries whose otherworldly sophistication could never be caught in such a vulgar dragnet, or who assume them to be, on the contrary, charlatan peddlers of incomprehensible rhetoric with little or no impact on the real world. However, it should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms, which has been well documented by researchers like Frances Stonor Saunders, Giles Scott-Smith, Hugh Wilford (and I have made my own contribution in Radical History & the Politics of Art).

Thomas W. Braden, the former supervisor of cultural activities at the CIA, explained the power of the Agency’s cultural assault in a frank insider’s account published in 1967: “I remember the enormous joy I got when the Boston Symphony Orchestra [which was supported by the CIA] won more acclaim for the U.S. in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have bought with a hundred speeches.” This was by no means a small or liminal operation. In fact, as Wilford has aptly argued, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities. It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.

The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world. The recently released research paper from 1985, entitled “France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals,” examines—undoubtedly in order to manipulate—the French intelligentsia and its fundamental role in shaping the trends that generate political policy. Suggesting that there has been a relative ideological balance between the left and the right in the history of the French intellectual world, the report highlights the monopoly of the left in the immediate postwar era—to which, we know, the Agency was rabidly opposed—due to the Communists’ key role in resisting fascism and ultimately winning the war against it. Although the right had been massively discredited because of its direct contribution to the Nazi death camps, as well as its overall xenophobic, anti-egalitarian and fascist agenda (according to the CIA’s own description), the unnamed secret agents who drafted the study outline with palpable delight the return of the right since approximately the early 1970s.

More specifically, the undercover cultural warriors applaud what they see as a double movement that has contributed to the intelligentsia shifting its critical focus away from the US and toward the USSR. On the left, there was a gradual intellectual disaffection with Stalinism and Marxism, a progressive withdrawal of radical intellectuals from public debate, and a theoretical move away from socialism and the socialist party. Further to the right, the ideological opportunists referred to as the New Philosophers and the New Right intellectuals launched a high-profile media smear campaign against Marxism.

While other tentacles of the worldwide spy organization were involved in overthrowing democratically elected leaders, providing intelligence and funding to fascist dictators, and supporting right-wing death squads, the Parisian central intelligentsia squadron was collecting data on how the theoretical world’s drift to the right directly benefitted US foreign policy. The left-leaning intellectuals of the immediate postwar era had been openly critical of US imperialism. Jean-Paul Sartre’s media clout as an outspoken Marxist critic, and his notable role—as the founder of Libération—in blowing the cover of the CIA station officer in Paris and dozens of undercover operatives, was closely monitored by the Agency and considered a very serious problem.

In contrast, the anti-Soviet and anti-Marxist atmosphere of the emerging neoliberal era diverted public scrutiny and provided excellent cover for the CIA’s dirty wars by making it “very difficult for anyone to mobilize significant opposition among intellectual elites to US policies in Central America, for example.” Greg Grandin, one of the leading historians of Latin America, perfectly summarized this situation in The Last Colonial Massacre: “Aside from making visibly disastrous and deadly interventions in Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973, and El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s, the United States has lent quiet and steady financial, material, and moral support for murderous counterinsurgent terror states. […] But the enormity of Stalin’s crimes ensures that such sordid histories, no matter how compelling, thorough, or damning, do not disturb the foundation of a worldview committed to the exemplary role of the United States in defending what we now know as democracy.”

It is in this context that the masked mandarins commend and support the relentless critique that a new generation of anti-Marxist thinkers like Bernard-Henri Levy, André Glucksmann and Jean-François Revel unleashed on “the last clique of Communist savants” (composed, according to the anonymous agents, of Sartre, Barthes, Lacan and Louis Althusser). Given the leftwing leanings of these anti-Marxists in their youth, they provide the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of “growing up” and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past. This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history.

Even theoreticians who were not as opposed to Marxism as these intellectual reactionaries have made a significant contribution to an environment of disillusionment with transformative egalitarianism, detachment from social mobilization and “critical inquiry” devoid of radical politics. This is extremely important for understanding the CIA’s overall strategy in its broad and profound attempts to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere. In recognizing it was unlikely that it could abolish it entirely, the world’s most powerful spy organization has sought to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies. In fact, as Saunders has demonstrated in detail, the Agency went behind the back of the McCarthy-driven Congress in the postwar era in order to directly support and promote leftist projects that steered cultural producers and consumers away from the resolutely egalitarian left. In severing and discrediting the latter, it also aspired to fragment the left in general, leaving what remained of the center left with only minimal power and public support (as well as being potentially discredited due to its complicity with right-wing power politics, an issue that continues to plague contemporary institutionalized parties on the left).

It is in this light that we must understand the intelligence agency’s fondness for conversion narratives and its deep appreciation for “reformed Marxists,” a leitmotif that traverses the research paper on French theory. “Even more effective in undermining Marxism,” the moles write, “were those intellectuals who set out as true believers to apply Marxist theory in the social sciences but ended by rethinking and rejecting the entire tradition.” They cite in particular the profound contribution made by the Annales School of historiography and structuralism—particularly Claude Lévi-Strauss and Foucault—to the “critical demolition of Marxist influence in the social sciences.” Foucault, who is referred to as “France’s most profound and influential thinker,” is specifically applauded for his praise of the New Right intellectuals for reminding philosophers that “‘bloody’ consequences” have “flowed from the rationalist social theory of the 18th-century Enlightenment and the Revolutionary era.” Although it would be a mistake to collapse anyone’s politics or political effect into a single position or result, Foucault’s anti-revolutionary leftism and his perpetuation of the blackmail of the Gulag—i.e. the claim that expansive radical movements aiming at profound social and cultural transformation only resuscitate the most dangerous of traditions—are perfectly in line with the espionage agency’s overall strategies of psychological warfare.

The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause, then, to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception. According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions. It is certainly true and merits emphasis that the Anglophone reception of French theory, as John McCumber has aptly pointed out, had important political implications as a pole of resistance to the false political neutrality, the safe technicalities of logic and language, or the direct ideological conformism operative in the McCarthy-supported traditions of Anglo-American philosophy. However, the theoretical practices of figures who turned their back on what Cornelius Castoriadis called the tradition of radical critique—meaning anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist resistance—surely contributed to the ideological drift away from transformative politics. According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.

As we know from the research on the CIA’s program of psychological warfare, the organization has not only tracked and sought to coerce individuals, but it has always been keen on understanding and transforming institutions of cultural production and distribution. Indeed, its study on French theory points to the structural role universities, publishing houses and the media play in the formation and consolidation of a collective political ethos. In descriptions that, like the rest of the document, should invite us to think critically about the current academic situation in the Anglophone world and beyond, the authors of the report foreground the ways in which the precarization of academic labor contributes to the demolition of radical leftism. If strong leftists cannot secure the material means necessary to carry out our work, or if we are more or less subtly forced to conform in order to find employment, publish our writings or have an audience, then the structural conditions for a resolute leftist community are weakened. The vocationalization of higher education is another tool used for this end since it aims at transforming people into techno-scientific cogs in the capitalist apparatus rather than autonomous citizens with reliable tools for social critique. The theory mandarins of the CIA therefore praise the efforts on the part of the French government to “push students into business and technical courses.” They also point to the contributions made by major publishing houses like Grasset, the mass media and the vogue of American culture in pushing forward their post-socialist and anti-egalitarian platform.

What lessons might we draw from this report, particularly in the current political environment with its ongoing assault on the critical intelligentsia? First of all, it should be a cogent reminder that if some presume that intellectuals are powerless, and that our political orientations do not matter, the organization that has been one of the most potent power brokers in contemporary world politics does not agree. The Central Intelligence Agency, as its name ironically suggests, believes in the power of intelligence and theory, and we should take this very seriously. In falsely presuming that intellectual work has little or no traction in the “real world,” we not only misrepresent the practical implications of theoretical labor, but we also run the risk of dangerously turning a blind eye to the political projects for which we can easily become the unwitting cultural ambassadors. Although it is certainly the case that the French nation-state and cultural apparatus provide a much more significant public platform for intellectuals than is to be found in many other countries, the CIA’s preoccupation with mapping and manipulating theoretical and cultural production elsewhere should serve as a wake-up call to us all.

Second, the power brokers of the present have a vested interest in cultivating an intelligentsia whose critical acumen has been dulled or destroyed by fostering institutions founded on business and techno-science interests, equating left-wing politics with anti-scientificity, correlating science with a purported—but false—political neutrality, promoting media that saturate the airwaves with conformist prattle, sequestering strong leftists outside of major academic institutions and the media spotlight, and discrediting any call for radical egalitarian and ecological transformation. Ideally, they seek to nurture an intellectual culture that, if on the left, is neutralized, immobilized, listless and content with defeatist hand wringing, or with the passive criticism of the radically mobilized left. This is one of the reasons why we might want to consider intellectual opposition to radical leftism, which preponderates in the U.S. academy, as a dangerous political position: isn’t it directly complicit with the CIA’s imperialist agenda around the world?

Third, to counter this institutional assault on a culture of resolute leftism, it is imperative to resist the precarization and vocationalization of education. It is equally important to create public spheres of truly critical debate, providing a broader platform for those who recognize that another world is not only possible, but is necessary. We also need to band together in order to contribute to or further develop alternative media, different models of education, counter-institutions and radical collectives. It is vital to foster precisely what the covert cultural combatants want to destroy: a culture of radical leftism with a broad institutional framework of support, extensive public backing, prevalent media clout and expansive power of mobilization.

Finally, intellectuals of the world should unite in recognizing our power and seizing upon it in order to do everything that we can to develop systemic and radical critique that is as egalitarian and ecological as it is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. The positions that one defends in the classroom or publicly are important for setting the terms of debate and charting the field of political possibility. In direct opposition to the spy agency’s cultural strategy of fragment and polarize, by which it has sought to sever and isolate the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist left, while opposing it to reformist positions, we should federate and mobilize by recognizing the importance of working together—across the entire left, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has recently reminded us—for the cultivation of a truly critical intelligentsia. Rather than proclaiming or bemoaning the powerlessness of intellectuals, we should harness the ability to speak truth to power by working together and mobilizing our capacity to collectively create the institutions necessary for a world of cultural leftism. For it is only in such a world, and in the echo chambers of critical intelligence that it produces, that the truths spoken might actually be heard, and thereby change the very structures of power.

Gabriel Rockhill is a philosopher, cultural critic and political theorist. He teaches at Villanova University and Graterford Prison, and he directs the Critical Theory Workshop at the Sorbonne. His recent books include Counter-History of the Present (2017), Interventions in Contemporary Thought (2016) and Radical History & the Politics of Art (2014). Follow on twitter: @GabrielRockhill. For more information: https://gabrielrockhill.com

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Samayan, Killing and Philosophy

According to Zizek, 'one always needs a poem to kill another man'. The poem gives you the courage to forget your in-humanness and to identify yourself with something horrible and forget about the horror of what you are doing. Facebook is a new entity for such poetry (philosophy) that helps someone to do horrible things. Killing is not possible without poetry because it eases you of your guilt.


Zizek Interview

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Is Palitha Thewarapperuma Crazy?

As we all know Parliamentarian Palitha Thewarapperuma is a hyper-active politician. Popular media used to report his 'activities' on weekly basis. That means every week he creates 'something' that catches media attention. I think many people believe that Mr. Thewarapperuma is a crazy politician or a pervert personality who provides 'enjoyment' for others (and some compare him with Mervin de Silva). It is true that from parliament to the village politics he did not distinguish any difference in what he did. He fully engaged his body in what he believed in (whereas others keep a 'sane distance' with what they believe in).  Finally, when he launched a fasting to death campaign on behalf of some school children who could not enter Meegahakiula Primary School, he became seriously ill. Now he is under treatment in the intensive care at Nawaloka. The extreme result of his 'body politics' went to the level of committing suicide (end of his body); an act of self-annihilation. It seems that your bodily existence becomes meaningless when the ideals you live for are gone. This will be most simplistic way to understand Palitha's intervention in proletariat politics in the guise of bourgeois outlook. For instance, he recently came to Sabaragamuwa University for an opening but the students did not allow him to enter. Amazingly, my friends in Sabaragamuwa University say that his did handle the student unrest (when he came for an opening few weeks back) very successfully and even the academics had lot to learn from this so called 'emotional' politician. They say many politicians don't have the skill to manage a situation like that. Though students did not allow him to inaugural open the Cultural Center, they did not negatively react to him as they did to SB or Basil during the Rajapaksa regime. He got that tensed political situation totally under control for nearly three hours. He did not run away from that situation nor asked for any assistance from police or other government agencies. He promised the students that he will help them to sort out their issues. 'He was a brave politician with good management skills', some senior academic said. The so called radical students didn't allow this beautiful man to enter the university even to drink a cup of tea. But he was successful where others totally failed. 

By looking at his 'surplus activism' it is easy to brand him as a pervert politician. So, Akila Viraaj can bravely say that Palith needs psychiatric treatment. But within his hyper-activity and tensed intervention to particulars, what bitter political lessons does he teach us? He is simply crazy or we have made such an inhuman 'system' that drives a sensitive man like Palitha crazy? When politicians like Ranil, Maithripala, Ravi or Akila don't go mad since they keep a cynical distance with the crazy system, Palith become over-close (too close) to the system that relentlessly drives such close observer crazy! Those who maintain that distance become sane people (Sane Society) and rule the country! Thewarapperuma was 'crazy enough' to look at the system that closely. Is he crazy or are we?

He intervened into some of most crucial areas of our daily life; school entrance, food quality in lower class hotels, sanitary issues, state bureaucracy, road constructions or bribery. These are the aspects that both the bourgeois politicians and so called Marxists simply ignore. By materially encountering those realities Mr. Thewarapperuma shows the enigmatic bourgeois politics that such issues are the most important elements that need immediate attention for the sake of poor people in the country. These people don't know much about the common slogans such as 'good-governance' or private universities and the like. Thewarapperuma's fatal efforts once more prove how difficult it can be to bring in real change to the frozen and corrupt Third World Reality.

For his enigmatic bodily representation in proletariat politics, I love this guy and wish him quick recovery...(This is a very subjective statement). 

Update: (2016. 05. 07.) Now Palitha Thewarapperuma is under police custody. When he moved from hospital and was trying to release those mothers who participated in the fasting to death campaign with him and are now under police custody, Palitha has also been arrested in accusation of illegal public gathering and threatening a government officer. Is this similar to what Mervin did to that government officer during Rajapasksa regime? Like Akila this guy can also enjoy the privileges he has without being 'crazily' worried about children and all.  It is also true that Sri Lankan education is going nowhere whether it is primary, secondary or tertiary. But we have to struggle to change that reality as well. Things cannot go on the same way as they are. Now from police he will be asked to go to an asylum where he will be treated for his 'sickness'! of being too close to the reality that we all live in. It is those 'failed students' (whom Palith represents) who need more attention than those who got through the exam and are in the safe side. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Will Kate and William enter the mysterious melancholia of the Asiatic soul?

The popular media in UK ask why Kate and William follow the footsteps of Diana in revoking or retracing the traumatic memories of her bitter marriage.  I think Kate and William do not follow Diana's footsteps but by sitting in the same Diana bench in the front of Taj Mahal, a universal symbol of love, but they 'decorate' or 'celebrate' over the bitter memories of the past to truly forget her. As Zizek quotes, 'if you want to kill a person bury him, and if you want to forget that grow flowers over the tomb'.

I think Taj Mahal also resembles some mysterious Oriental love of a Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan; a monument of celebration to get rid of past memories. What I fear is (against Jan Moir of Daily Mirror) whether they will fall prey to the melancholic mystery and abyss of the  depressing Asian soul....

Pre-philosophical Asian universe can generate-
a. a fantasy that creates the object of desire (mysterious unknown phantasmic kernel) for the Western soul.

b.  an 'economy of enjoyment' (that is why Yannis Varufakis says "others do not America but America needs others") that sustains the Western Enlightenment inheritance or the European Reality by excluding the mythical despotic content that can 'return' like a ghost to the Post-Enlightened world.

Click the hyperlink for the Daily Mail article

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Donald Trump: It's not how great America is but how small its soul has been!

Fake front page by The Boston Globe)
                             'Education is the art of making man ethical' (Hegel)
As expected, America’s obscene underside is finally about to tap the front door of the White House. Donald Trump’s ascend to American politics, whether or not he is elected to be the President of the United States, is by no means a strange political phenomenon. Those who now see the demonic danger in his approach to American politics seem to have forgotten who actually ‘made’ him during the last ten years or so for what he is now. The very entertainment economy and negligent media did a 'tremendous job' to ‘elevate’ Donald Trump from a business tycoon to a popular politician through a very generous image-building process for what he so audaciously appears today (Read the article 'Donald Trump is American Journalism's Great Failure'). Within the current postmodern economy, enormous profits of his entertainment businesses kept increasing and, understandably, the electronic media fell before his feet though some of the mainstream channels despised him. As recent Panama Papers exemplified, nothing depends on so called mainstream media today. They all are busy with their demand-supply curves and do not care for the 'truth' anymore until truth enters in from the back door like a ghost. The 'expert' critics could properly estimate the risk that Trump's ‘cheap popular image’ could finally have a devastating effect on America’s elitism and its fluent Lincolnian rhetoric. Now that they realized Trump effectively uses, in his public addresses, some kind of grammar 'typical of children aged 11 and under' (read The Independent for the full story), he has come to the very threshold of world’s most powerful position. Within the context of 'age 11 grammar', now he uses the dark ethno-political metalanguage strategies adapted by German nationalism in the mid twentieth century.  What Trump injects to the American soul is the 'guilt' of the surplus enjoyment of consumerism that makes its subjects forget the Discourse of Universality. Within the ease of consumerism, Trump replaces the paternal superego with 'maternal short-circuit to enjoy' by externalizing the depressive and anxious enemy to a far away Islamic-Asian-Chinese-Latin American land. It is also a sort of resuscitation of the Enlightenment myth of some Oriental fantasy that lives in a maximum of distance to the European reality, which can at the same time be close if no 'protective measures' are taken.

This means that Trump's arrival is made of a deep psychoanalytical structure that runs at the very heart of the American unconscious. He screens the background for their exotic fantasy that haunts as a phantasmic 'specter'. A specter, as you know, can very easily cross the inside/outside, alien/familiar or away/close boundaries. By provoking American nationalism Trump easily gains daily popularity and media attention, while making the affairs for the opposition political movement extremely difficult, 'unpredictable' and 'unforeseeable' (for example, Bernie Sander's universality rhetoric did not gain momentum until recently). Symptomatically, Trump displays the unpredictability of a hysteric who obstinately demands acceptance from the bourgeois hierarchy and his weapons are nationalism and exclusion. The pages of modern history prove that confronting nationalism is perhaps the hardest ideological battle that universalism ever comes across. It is through Trump's body that the battered American soul responds to the ever-rising fundamentalism as a political reaction. He has borrowed the language of nationalism to combat those who fight against the American empire from the periphery. As Zizek points out, ‘suicide bombs and terrorist attacks are ‘momentary tastes’ imported for the rich nations from the Third World which experiences such catastrophes every minute of their daily existence. It is true that such reactions can traumatize American existence and threaten their enjoyment but it also creates the play-ground for postmodern politicians  such as Donald Trump. It's no astonishment that Trump unconditionally represents that entertainment oriented obscene underside of American decadence which essentially demands an enemy. Not that Trump is simply politically ‘illiterate’ but 'over-literate' in successfully generating a discourse of fear (Sri Lankan example would be Wimal Weerawansa). Americans will take another thirty years or more to understand how politically ‘illiterate’ their society had been to give the rise to the 'return of the repressed' in the name of Donald Trump (as Obama claims many politicians now use the language of hatred and exclusion but only Trump gets highlighted. In that sense, this trend represents generalized perversion) . 

At least some ten years ago Jurgen Habermas saw that, from within the American society, fundamentalism radically surfaces as a self-defense against the uncertainty and cultural upheaval triggered by capitalist modernization. He says, ‘what is more surprising is the political revitalization of religion at the heart of the United States, where dynamism of modernization unfolds most successfully’.  Modern secular tendencies have finally erupted into its opposite, the radicalized postmodern religion at both ends of the world.  Subsequently, the rational inheritance of the modern European civilization is challenged by irrational violence and Mr. Trump cunningly represents the irrational totalitarian potential that emerges within the liberal framework of modern American society.  The real patriarchal question is whether the liberal democracy can prevent him becoming the President of United State of America?  To quote Habermas, ‘religious tradition appear to continue with undiminished strength, washing away or at least leveling the thresholds hitherto assumed to pertain between ‘tradition and ‘modern’ societies’. Within his modern secular outfit, Mr. Trump places himself between above division, seeking the shelter in pre-modern values such as ‘religion exclusion’ and ‘Wall Theory’ to protect the so called modern life-world spoiled by consumerist fetishism. What Trump displays through his image is the very fetishist commoditization that all the Americans dream of. Now they have an exemplary figure who succeeded in materializing the very American Dream! They should not worry about the fact that their billion-dollar baby model is  not only politically 'illiterate' (cunningly 'hyper-literate' as Baudrillard says) but a specter that emerged from within their unconscious underside.

Trump provides the ‘surplus-enjoyment’ that Americans unconsciously need at this postmodern hour. It is the 'illusion' of an enemy that is structurally necessary for the truth to arise (Gabriel and Zizek 2009); the truth is the failure of capitalism. For this illusion to be real, now Trump has found out just not one enemy but multiple of them such as Islamic fundamentalism, Mexican drug dealers, Middle Eastern migrants, Chinese entrepreneurs and Asian labor force etc. (those who are ‘not’ Americans).  The ideology of ‘externalization of enemy’ has qualified him to be the 'first totalitarian leader' in modern America.  His master discourse is successfully resuscitating a false enemy for the American to believe in and combining both the ‘exterior’ and ‘interior’ of the dialectic which can sustain its temporal harmony, for instance, to protect ‘us’ (our economy and society) from ‘them’ (Muslims, Chinese and Mexicans). Can Trump be intelligent enough to see that he has forgotten the borderline concept that creates the spatiality between the above two?  The world is divided into two stable oppositions (light and darkness) and the existential recognition of the enemy is defined against ourselves. The Hegelian dialectic of inter-subjectivity always claims that inner harmony is achieved through a paradoxical (re)position of both inside and outside within the same horizon. The moment that you lose the 'other' is the moment that you lose yourself. America has always been America because of its melting pot that welcomes the Other. Trump is truly against its authentic upbringing of melting down differences and sheltering everyone under the master signifier called American Dream or American Values or way-of-life. What Trump propagates is anti-Americanism at its very best. The true enemy of America has emerged not from China, Latin America or Middle East but from within its damaged liberal capitalist soul itself. When commodity fetishism becomes the material existence, nationalism becomes the spiritual aspect that gives life to capitalism.

There is always an ‘extimacy’ between two competing opposites, for examples, Chinese businessmen and American entrepreneurs. One end depends on the other and both opposites need the recognition of the other. According to Schmitt, ‘The political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly; he need not appear as an economic competitor, and it may even be advantageous to engage with him in business transactions. But he is, nevertheless, the other, the stranger; and it is sufficient for his nature that he is, in a specifically intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible. . . . Only the actual participants can correctly recognize, understand, and judge the concrete situation and settle the extreme case of conflict. Each participant is in a position to judge whether the adversary intends to negate his opponent’s way of life and therefore must be repulsed or foughtin order to preserve one’s own form of existence’ (Schmitt: 1996: The Concept of the Political).  We always maintain an externalized intimate-ness with what is excluded from our existence. At the same time, whatever is excluded (Jews, Tamils, Muslims or Chinese businessmen) from the present moment always 'returns' in a spectral presence in future.  Hence, the enemy is not always evil but an 'ex-timated' instrument that sustains a necessary form of dialectic existence (Jaws by Steven Spielberg). Though Trump may not hear anything rational during his race towards American neo-totalitarianism, let's hope he and the corrupted American souls that follow his command ('enjoyment of the Leader') may understand this basic Hegelian truth before his Presidency and before making America great again!  

Though The Boston Globe was radical enough to publish a mocking front page on the demonic rise of Donald Trump, it is really enough to stop him coming in and snatching the world's most powerful position? So far Donald Trump the tycoon have been able to be influential in almost all the media outlets in America and even those who still believe in universal values find it difficult to avoid him. His campaign mainly targets the anger, rage, racial politics and disappointment of working class people based on also how the system does not address the true needs of the public (read The Guardian report). Doesn't this 'Habermasian moment' represent the failure of the very bourgeois political project itself? Doesn't he paradoxically offer the very Zizekian 'enjoyment' that all the Americans were waiting for? In that context, this symptom surely evidences that his project (as his slogan claims) is not 'to make American great again' but to unearth how miniature its soul has been during these postmodern times...As far as the Americans are concerned that 'revelation' can also be 'a true political act' resulted from Donald Trump contingency.

Before concluding this essay, let's listen to what a Mexican-American 'enemy' had to say some 40 years ago.
                   'Let the children have their way
                    Let the children play...
                    Let the children play' (Carlos Santana)

                                                                                                                                                               Cartoon from New York Times                                                                                                                                                                  

Butler, R. (2005) Slavoj Zizek: Live Theory. London & New York. Continuum.

Gabriel, M., Zizek, S. (2009). Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subectivity in German Idealism. London & New York. Continuum.

Frank, T. (2016). Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump. Here's Why. in The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support.

Habermas, J. (2000). Religion in the Public Sphere. in European Journal of Philosophy. London. Polity.

Schmitt, C. (1996). The Concept of the Political. London. Routledge.



                                                                                                                                     Mahesh Hapugoda