FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Denier-in-Chief: Trump and the Legitimation of False Consciousness

“I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall.  This was in no way a concession,” Pres. Trump Tweeted on January 25th following his signing a bill ending the 35-day U.S. government shut-down. “It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!”

Trump then went on, warning the nation like a little kid stamping his feet: “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.” As if waking from a trance, he exclaimed, “We will have great security.”

Freud understood denial as a psychological process of rejection, a defense mechanism.  Denial is one of a number of defenses the “ego” uses against internal feelings perceived as unacceptable.  The primary unacceptable feelings involve sexual or aggressive desires, especially desires directed by a child toward its parents.  Self-consciousness employs denial to avoid recognizing its own truth and can function throughout a person’s entire life.

When a person is presented with an unacceptable fact, s/he will insist that it is not true despite the evidence.  Such a belief is as – in the postmodern world – a person still believing the world is flat. Or, as the popular expression goes, “Da-Nile is not only a river in Egypt.”

Everyone has their own Da-Nile. Trump is president and denier-in-chief.  He probably looks in a mirror and sees not an overweight, out-of-shape aging hustler but a fit, sexy, macho man embodying his full masculine potency.

More troubling, he likely refuses to accept the fact that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the House Democrats defeated his principle campaign promise, “The Wall.” Worse still, Pelosi not only stood-up to Mr. Macho, but – politically speaking – emasculated him.  The false bluster, false machismo, that characterized his career as a real-estate con man and host of a popular, if pathetic TV show,The Apprentice, was finally exposed for what it always was, a hollow posture.

PolitiFact awarded Trump the “Lie of the Year” trophy for 2015 and 2017.  Assessing 644 statements or assertions that he made, it found that 15 percent were true/mostly true, 35 percent were half true/mostly false and 49 percent were false or “pants on fire”.

The Washington Post reported that, based on data from The Fact Checker, Trump made 8,158 false or misleading claims in his first two years in office.  And the Canadian paper, The Star, reports that he made 78 false claims in the first week of 2019.

Among the innumerable denials that define Trump’s first two years in office, a few suggest just how deceitful he can be.  These denials range from the comical (e.g., denied paying Stormy Daniels $130,000), to the malevolent (e.g., denied Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi) and to the possibly criminal (e.g., denied of 3,000 people who died in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria).

Trump has raised denial to an historical new level. It functions both as a psychopathological symptom of a serious troubled man (i.e., abusive stud) and an ideological means to deny reality (i.e., false news).  Combined, these two dimensions of denial foster arrogance and bluster.  With Trump, denial as a been raised from a psychological condition to a social category, false consciousness.

The concept of “false consciousness” was initially conceived by Marx but named by Engels.  It is central to Marxist and critical-theory thought that postulates its purpose is to obscure — and justify! — capitalist social relations of dominance and oppression. False consciousness is inculcated by religion, education, culture, the media, and political and economic institutions.   It falsely conflates the ruler’s interests as the self-interests of the ruled. For Marx, revolutionary social crisis can expose the tyranny of false consciousness.

Trump’s false statements are but one expression of good-old American Da-Nile.  Much of the popular media presents denial like a game of pick-your-poison; then drink the Cool-Aid.  More troubling, denial bespeaks the ongoing battle over popular consciousness.  It is a critical aspect of the struggle for political power, of who rules and who is ruled.

Denial defines much of American consciousness whether considering issues of racism or inequality, climate change, evolution or vaccines.  Last year Time magazine reported that 42 percent of Americans believed in ghosts, 41 percent in extrasensory perception, the moon landings were faked and 20 percent that there’s a link between vaccines and autism.

Gallup reports that in the three decades between 1982 and 2014, four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago and, scarier still, half of Americans believe humans evolved but that God guided the evolutionary process.

Trump’s denials reflect his pathetic sense of self-hood and his shallow political understanding.  Sadly, they embody the false consciousness shared by too many Americans.

More articles by:

David Rosen is the author of Sex, Sin & Subversion:  The Transformation of 1950s New York’s Forbidden into America’s New Normal (Skyhorse, 2015).  He can be reached at drosennyc@verizon.net; check out www.DavidRosenWrites.com.

March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
Eric Draitser
On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”
Elizabeth Keyes
Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness
David Underhill
Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Bailouts, Bernie and the Washington Post
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Blackout
William Astore
America’s Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War
Jeff Hauser – Eleanor Eagan
Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption
Ramzy Baroud
Uniting Fatah, Not Palestinians: The Dubious Role of Mohammed Shtayyeh
Nick Pemberton
Is Kamala Harris The Centrist We Need?
Nick Licata
All Southern States are Not the Same: Mississippi’s Challenge
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence
Cesar Chelala
Public Health Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean
March 20, 2019
T.J. Coles
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”
W. T. Whitney
Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show
Kenneth Surin
Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist
Howard Lisnoff
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party
Walter Clemens
Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together
George Ochenski
Failing Students on Climate Change
Cesar Chelala
The Sweet Smell of Madeleine
Binoy Kampmark
Global Kids Strike
Nicky Reid
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party
Elliot Sperber
Empedocles and You and Me 
March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail