Several different metaphors have been used to describe Trump in this column. Here is another one. There is something about the way that he plows into issues and comes up with incredibly impulsive defined discrete destructive policies that reminds me a little of the kind of rampaging cyborg played by Arnold Schwartzenegger in The Terminator. And, of course, one of the traits manifested by the terminator was that he was practically indestructible. Almost nothing really seemed to be able to stop him.
Trump, on a certain level, also appears to be practically indestructible, certainly quite impervious to criticism. He answers all policy criticisms and personal attacks with pugnacious tweets. Almost nothing seems to slow him down.
Trump is manifesting mental cyborg traits that should have great appeal to transhumanists – those people today who believe in maintaining a material technological life after their organic death. Strong human consciousness, a sense of self in a machine that can conceivably go on living forever. To the transhumanist, the organic body is a limiting factor for humans, because it is so very vulnerable to material organic perishability and because it interferes with the creation of a superior state of mind and a superior state of being.
Some people want to merge with machines in some way and become cyborgs. Trump supporters want to psychologically merge with Trump and become Trumporgs. In this way, a new form of transhumanism is being created. Instead of mechanical implants to make one more machine-like, true believers are opening themselves up to the implants of Trump’s absolutistic authoritarian policies and to his tweets that give the impression that he and his followers will somehow leave permanent absolutistic authoritarian imprints on the field of experience of the external world, permanent imprints that can never be undone and will never be removed. Trump means to change things in a lasting way, and so do the Trumporgs.
And there are a lot of robotic qualities about these Trumporgs. A robot operates in a world where there are defined discrete categories of things that have to be fabricated and manipulated and defined discrete categories of things that have to be discarded and eliminated. Trumporgs want to fabricate a “pure” American United States, free from the supposedly dangerous influences of all kinds of foreigners and other minorities. If the foreigners and other minorities can’t be totally expelled, at least some can, and the rest can be contained and isolated by filling them with fear and making them afraid to assert themselves. Sometimes, the fear is created through the company that Trump keeps. Having people like Steve Bannon, the alt-right executive chairman of Breitbart News, on his team is in and of itself a kind of coded language that indirectly invites hostile actions like the phone threats to J.C.C.’s and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Don’t modern machines respond to the stimuli of coded signals? On the other hand, very often hatred has been fanned directly in Trump’s speeches. His exhortations with regard to Mexico and Muslims. The Trumporgs are given targets of people that have to be discarded in order to cleanse the U.S. and make it “pure” again. Make America “pure”, and America and Americans can go on forever. The phenomena that these Trumporgs have to manipulate are pure defined discrete minority figures, figures that have to go into the bin of the rejects. No room for ambiguity. No patience for separating out the minority of minorities in the U.S. who may be terrorists, drug dealers, and other kinds of criminals and dealing with it through traditional legal means. It’s so much easier, so much simpler to just lump all people in a minority category together. The enemies have to be discarded, expelled or at least definitively contained with fear. Officially, of course, it is just the lawbreakers who are targeted. But there is this atmosphere created by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric of targeted defined discrete prejudice and hate against all members of certain minorities. It is defined discrete emotion and it ultimately leads to defined discrete simplistic focused solutions.
Machines are built to complete linear focused defined discrete tasks that are based on defined discrete purposes. Increasingly, the Trumporgs are reconfiguring themselves to act and think like machines. As, of course, is Trump. It is not that this is consciously or purposely happening, but it is happening nevertheless. It is ironic that Trump was replaced on his show The Apprentice by Arnold Schwartzenegger, who, as was previously pointed out, played the ultimate destructive cyborg in The Terminator. Machine men are what are needed to bolster and maintain fascist societies. Trump and the Trumporgs are a natural result of the gradual transformation of human beings stemming from the sensory distortion in modern technological societies. We thought that the totalitarian traditions manifested by fascist and communist societies in the twentieth century had been laid to rest at least in Western societies. But now we see that isn’t the case. Totalitarian societies help to reconfigure people as machines, and this allows many people to function more effectively in modern technological society.
And yet the cost of becoming a Trumporg or any kind of a dehumanized mechanical org is enormous. If a person has become numb from living in modern technological society, a healthy response would be to try to find ways of living a more organic natural life with more positive flowing blendable continual stimuli. An unhealthy response would be to deal with one’s numbness by focusing on coming to life through defined discrete anger and finding a way to deal with that anger by psychologically merging with a leader like Trump and then venting that anger against minorities who can be turned into victims. Not only different ethnic and religious groups but also LGBTQ groups and women. And also the press and different politically liberal groups. And the judiciary. And President Obama. There are a lot of different potential targets today for the defined discrete anger of Trump and the Trumporgs. Targets that act as sources of abrasive static stimuli to Trump and the Trumporgs. These stimuli are jarring to people, overstimulating to people, and ultimately make them more numb than before they were stimulated to vent anger on these targets. Nevertheless, minorities and other groups and individuals are targets that are good for temporarily pulling the Trumporgs out of the numbness they feel in the experiential void of modern technological society. Targets that when the Trumporgs blur their individual identities with those of Trump can act as a means of giving them a meaningful life narrative. What a sad commentary on these people’s lives that they can only come to life through focused hatred.
(c) 2017 Laurence Mesirow