In Conatus News, Terri Murray on Tokenism, Taboo, and Trump
Thinking is what allows one to inhabit an alienated space apart from the norm. The thinker is distinguished by her ability to experience dissonance amid the ‘common sense’ of the collective. Arendt had perceived something like this thought-suspending banality of evil in Martin Heidegger’s famous 1933 speech when he became rector of Freiburg University. His rhetoric of ‘German reality’ united individuals into one common ideal, thus abolishing the individual. In those grand ideas about Hitler, Arendt perceived something grotesque, and at the same time she felt a vacuum of critical dissent forming around her.
Today we do not have a Führer uniting us into one grand ideal. Now, our ideology does not require that we worship a demi-God, but only that we unanimously oppose the Evil One. But the effect is the same. The individual is abolished, and so too is critical reflection. This is not to say Trump himself is good or evil, but that his notoriety, once it was constructed, became extremely politically useful. The idea of ‘Trump’ has become the ever-recurring instrument through which liberal energies are mobilised. ‘Trumpism’ is the political strategist’s dream brand because of the completely predictable and consistently strong negative emotions it arouses.