[KB] Burkean identification and Trump + Burke on narcissism

wessr at oregonstate.edu wessr at oregonstate.edu
Mon Oct 24 21:21:04 EDT 2016


Hi David,

In response, I would say "anger, bigotry, fear" are among the motives  
that motivate Trump supporters to identify with Trump and with one  
another.

Ironically, with the possible exception of bigotry, I doubt that they  
are Trump's main motives, which appear to come from a "narcissistic  
personality disorder," with its three prongs: (1) narcissism, which  
compensates for (2) deep insecurity, fostering extraordinary  
defensiveness (Trump can't let any slight go no matter how slight),  
and (3) absence of empathy--(1) and (2) don't leave room for anyone  
else.

My guess is that (1) is why he ran and that (2) is why, now that he is  
behind, everything in the world is rigged against him. (2) is also why  
he would be especially scary in the White House.

It might be interesting to track down everything Burke says about  
narcissism to see how much of it applies to Trump.

Bob

Quoting "Tietge, David" <dtietge at monmouth.edu>:

> "Identification" on the Trumpian level is base.  Anger, bigotry,  
> fear.  Are you suggesting that these are good needs to be surrogated  
> by some more productive expression of identification, or bad needs  
> that require deflection to a good need?  I've always found KB's  
> notion of identification one of his more nebulous terms, and for  
> that reason morally limited.
>
>
> David
>
>
>
>
> ***************************
>
> David J. Tietge, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor of English
> Director of First-Year Composition
> Monmouth University
> (732) 571-3603
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: KB <kb-bounces at kbjournal.org> on behalf of  
> wessr at oregonstate.edu <wessr at oregonstate.edu>
> Sent: Friday, October 21, 2016 6:01 PM
> To: Edward C Appel
> Cc: kb at kbjournal.org
> Subject: [KB] Burkean identification and Trump
>
> Burkeans,
>
> Burke's concept of identification may illuminate and be illuminated by
> the Trump campaign. A few observations (no doubt there are others):
>
> It may be far easier to prevent identification from solidifying than
> to break it once it occurs. Trump's core supporters now appear to
> believe anything he says, no matter how outlandish.
>
> Late in the primaries, I saw a TV report of Cruz walking into a small
> crowd of Trump supporters to try to change their minds. A few of them
> starting chanting "lyin Ted," mimicking Trump. Such mimicking says
> something about how identification could lead to groups of
> "trump-shirts" roaming the streets to enforce Trump's will.
>
> Identification could be viewed as a good thing that can go bad, as in
> Burke's recounting of a "bad filling of a good need" (PLF 218). But
> maybe it would be better to view identification as an analytic rather
> than an honorific concept to require always taking the extra step to
> explain what makes an identification good or bad.
>
> Bob
>
> Quoting Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>:
>
>> All,
>>
>>        One of Burke’s examples of the “unifying term” as deflector from
>> gross inequality of sacrifice, privilege, rewards, and motivations
>> was the WWII profiteer who would speak of how “we’re all in this
>> conflict together.” The implicitly unifying identifier “we” in that
>> context so strikingly illustrates the use of “ambiguity” in
>> rhetorical appeal. It put executives at Ford and GM, and GIs being
>> blown apart in Europe and the Pacific, on the same footing.. Up to a
>> point, necessarily vague abstractions of a public-spirited cast
>> legitimately serve to keep societies and polities from coming apart
>> at the seams. Up to a point.
>>
>>        What’s happened this political season is the result of a sharp
>> fraying or tarring of that social fabric.  The success of both
>> Sanders and Trump vouchsafes that disintegration. Forty years of
>> globalization of USAmerican jobs and once-middle-class incomes, to
>> the conspicuous advantage of wealthy owners and executives, who now
>> manufacture more cheaply and sell world-wide, and obvious
>> disadvantage to working class citizens, high school level or lower,
>> has come home to roost. Trump has become the mouthpiece for these
>> ignored and neglected Americans, their plight studiously finessed
>> with the rhetoric of “re-education” for the new technologies, or
>> assurances that “Americans can compete with anybody.” (True, of
>> course, at one dollar an hour.) A wild man like Donald Trump could
>> not likely survive in a less volatile economic situation. He is so
>> cleverly exploiting this one: “I will be your voice!”
>>
>>        On our private Burkean discussion list, I said long ago that Trump
>> is functioning like a Rorschach Test. He’s the indistinct picture of
>> rage onto which people can project a multitude of grievances. He’s a
>> walking negative: Whatever it is we are doing now that’s taken away
>> our American Dream, “Trump, thank heaven, isn’t that!” All those
>> Clinton adds with Trump spouting invectives?---who are they really
>> helping?
>>
>>
>>        Ed
>>
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