Ernst Bloch On The Appeal Of Donald Trump

Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. What is it with mid-century German philosophers and theologians and their pipes?

Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. What is it with mid-century German philosophers and theologians and their pipes?

So I’ve decided to try once again wading through Ernst Bloch’s massive, 3-volume The Principle of Hope. It’s been a couple decades since I read it all the way through, contenting myself with re-reading a chapter here, a section there. It was gratifying to find, very early on, a marvelous description of how it is possible someone like Donald Trump seems to appeal to so many. At least, appeal to many who are vocal in their appreciation of his atavistic call to be “great again”. The following is from pages 30 and 31, a single section/paragraph entitled “Night of the Long Knives”:

Not so far from here are the various dreams that are fond of getting their own back. They are particularly delicious, revenge is sweet when merely imagined, but also shabby. Most men are too cowardly to do evil, too weak to do good; the evil that they cannot, or cannot yet do, they enjoy in advance in the dream of revenge. The petit bourgeoisie in particular has traditionally been fond of the fist clenched in the pocket; this fist characteristically thumps the wrong man, since it prefers to lash out in the direction of least resistance. Hitler rose out of the Night of the Long Knives, he was called by the masters out of the dream of this night when he became useful to them. The Nazi dream of revenge is also subjectively bottled up, not rebellious; it is blind, not revolutionary rage. As for the so-called iron broom, the hatred of the immoral life of the hooknoses and those at the top, middle-class virtue, as always in such cases was here merely betraying its dearest dream. Just as, with its revenge, it does not hate exploitation but only the fact that it is not itself an exploiter, so virtue does not hate the slothful bed of the rich, but only the act that it has not become its own and its alone. This is what the headlines have always aimed at in those papers which to love to see red, the gutter-press. ‘The truth, latest news: Broiler at Wertheim’s store – The harem in the Tiergarten villa, sensational revelation.’ But they are only revelations concerning the outrage of the bourgeois conformist himself, both regarding Wertheim raking in the shekels and regarding Jewish lechery. Hence the immediate impulse to set oneself up in place of the eliminated Wertheim, after an act of retribution which, in the supposedly detested fraud, merely replaces the subject which is practising it. The malicious and brutal aspect of this, the repulsiveness of this kind of wish, as pervasive as the smell of urine, has always characterized the mo. This mob can be bought, is absurdly dangerous, and consequently it can be blinded and used by those who have the means and who have a real vested interest in the fascist pogroms. The instigator, the essence of the Nights of the Knives was, of course, big business, but the raving petit bourgeois was the astonishing, the horribly seducible manifestation of this essence. From it emerged the terror, which is the poison in the ‘average man on the street’, as the petit bourgeois is now called in American, a poison which has nowhere near been fully excreted. His wishes for revenge are rotten and blind; God help us, when they are stirred up. Fortunately though, the mob is equally faithless; it is also quite happy to put its clenched fist back into its pocket when crime is no longer allowed a free night on the town by those at the top.

For clarity’s sake, the seemingly anti-Semitic references are meant as parodies against the slanders of the fascists who used the alleged vileness of the Jews as a pretext for unleashing the violence of the mob. Indeed, change the ethnic character of the one slandered by fascists from the Jewish people to Muslims and it’s almost uncanny.

Which only proves the explanatory power of Marxism . . .

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