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The Politics of Narcissism in the age of Trump: the End of History?

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Narcissus in the myth cannot abandon the image of himself that he loves so much that he died gazing at his image. Nemesis herself, the beautiful agent of divine retribution, has a streak which makes her condemn those who have too much, to punish those who have but do not deserve great blessings they have not earned. And we are reminded that Trump, who claims to be worth 9 billion, based mostly on his image or brand( and admittedly made with "other people's money" (often thru bankruptcy where they lost and he profited), was born rich and got large loans from his wealthy father. In 1999, in an interview with the Times, he remarked that those who cannot get rich in America are "morons."

And that is the origin of the term narcissism, which today means an obsession with one's self, one's appearance, and how others see one. Even "morons" will be courted if it means enhancing one's own sense of self-importance; and once they have been so used, they too are then discarded. "Supporters, we have won. You were nasty and vicious but you can be mellow. You can go home now. I no longer need you." For the narcissist, others are not loved but needed and then discarded.



The name Narcissus is based on the Greek word "narkau" meaning I grow numb. And thus the association with the other current term to describe arrogant leaders, psychopath: one who is numb to the feelings of others; one who lacks empathy.


The story of the impulse which led Nemesis to trick Narcissus into falling in love with his own image was in retribution for the way Narcissus( who disdained all who loved him except for the illusion of his own likeness) reacted when another beauty Echo tried to seduce him. Echo deeply infatuated with Narcissus followed him and when, annoyed, asked, "Who's there?" Echo just repeated, "Who's there?" When finally she revealed herself and tried to embrace him, he told her to get lost..... and heartbroken, she disappeared into the woods until nothing was left of her but an echo. These are the discarded wives of Donald Trump....and his shunned daughter Tiffany......for no one can love a man who is in love with only his own image. Even Melania can no longer bear the sight of him.


In Ivanka, Trump sees his own image, transformed into great beauty. In his abandoned and neglected wives, he relives the fate of Narcissus, who can love only himself.


Now why has the psychological description replaced what formerly was a kind of political cursing: a disliked leader was a tyrant, a despot, a fascist, and later even "liberal" became a curse word. To what can we assign the cause for transforming formerly political and ideological name-calling into psychological detraction? It most certainly started before Trump made the word the nemesis of his branding efforts to make the name Trump synonymous with class or elite.


I suggest that the late Christopher Lasch first understood the historical roots of this transformation of the political (ie that which concerns the common good) into the individual (ie that which concerns only the private person) in his 1979 book The Culture of narcissism, in which he discussed the erosion of traditional values of family and community. As a Harvard student, he roomed with John Updyke, the satirist of American narcissism, and tho he came from the left and was a neo-Marxist, he evolved into an iconoclast and critic of liberalism and was often celebrated by conservatives, who proclaim for family values but support causes which are destructive of the family.


His neo-Marxism evolved into a defense of traditional values and a criticism of capitalism (consumerism, individualism, greed) from the right. To facilitate this evolution, his source turned from Marxian historicism to Freud and the focus on the individual psyche.


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dale ruff Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

retired, working radical egalitarian/libertarian socialist old school independent, vegan, survivor

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