FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

Weekend Edition
February 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Timothy M. Gill
Why is the Venezuelan Government Rejecting U.S. Food Supplies?
John Pilger
The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies
Andrew Levine
Ilhan Omar Owes No Apologies, Apologies Are Owed Her
Jeffrey St. Clair
That Magic Feeling: the Strange Mystique of Bernie Sanders
David Rosen
Will Venezuela Crisis Split Democrats?
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump’s National Emergency Is The Exact Same As Barack Obama’s National Emergency
Paul Street
Buried Alive: The Story of Chicago Police State Racism
Rob Seimetz
Imagined Communities and Omitting Carbon Emissions: Shifting the Discussion On Climate Change
Ramzy Baroud
Russian Mediation: The Critical Messages of the Hamas-Fatah Talks in Moscow
Michael Welton
Dreaming Their Sweet Dreams: a Peace to End Peace
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming’s Monster Awakens
Huma Yasin
Chris Christie Spins a Story, Once Again
Ron Jacobs
Twenty-First Century Indian Wars
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Venezuela: a Long History of Hostility
Lance Olsen
Climate and Money: a Tale of Two Accounts
Louis Proyect
El Chapo and the Path Taken
Fred Gardner
“She’s Willie Brown’s Protogé!” The Rise of Kamala Harris
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Biomass is Not “Green”: an Interview With Josh Schlossberg
John Feffer
Answering Attacks on the Green New Deal
W. T. Whitney
US Racism and Imperialism Fuel Turbulence in Haiti
Kim Ives
How Trump’s Attacks on Venezuela Sparked a Revolution in Haiti
Mike Ferner
What War Films Never Show You
Lawrence Wittner
Should the U.S. Government Abide by the International Law It Has Created and Claims to Uphold?
James Graham
A Slow Motion Striptease in France
Dave Lindorff
Could Sanders 2.0 Win It All, Getting the Democratic Nomination and Defeating Trump?
Jill Richardson
Take It From Me, Addiction Doesn’t Start at the Border
Yves Engler
Canada and the Venezuela Coup Attempt
Tracey L. Rogers
We Need a New Standard for When Politicians Should Step Down
Gary Leupp
The Sounds of Silence
Dan Bacher
Appeals Court Rejects Big Oil’s Lawsuit Against L.A. Youth Groups, City of Los Angeles
Robert Koehler
Are You White, Black or Human?
Ralph Nader
What are Torts? They’re Everywhere!
Cesar Chelala
The Blue Angel and JFK: One Night in Camelot
Sarah Schulz
Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency, Naked Capitalism Is
James Campbell
In the Arctic Refuge, a Life Force Hangs in the Balance
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Corregidor’s Iconography of Empire
Jonah Raskin
The Muckraking Novelist Dashiell Hammett: A Red Literary Harvest
Kim C. Domenico
Revolutionary Art and the Redemption of the Local
Paul Buhle
Life and Crime in Blue Collar Rhode Island
Eugene Schulman
J’Accuse!
Nicky Reid
Zionists are the Most Precious Snowflakes
Jim Goodman
The Green New Deal Outlines the Change Society Needs
Thomas Knapp
Judicial Secrecy: Where Justice Goes to Die
February 21, 2019
Nick Pemberton
Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era
Chris Orlet
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail