Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Trump-Accelerationism and the American Body Politic

Why This Matters | Max Kramer | March 9, 2016

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If you haven’t noticed by now, American politics have tripped over their shoelaces and hit their head, triggering the release of all sorts of unconscious delusions into their mental life. Some people who you would definitely peg to be Bernie supporters are actually going out to support Trump. This is super weird, because Sanders and Trump have vastly different political ideologies. I would argue that this phenomenon is a sort of Trump-accelerationism. I’ll explain later, but first a quick run-down of the races, in case you’ve been trapped down a well.

On the Republican side: Jeb(!) Bush was supposed to take the throne and maintain the dynastic nature of successful Republican politics in the past 30 years. Instead, he wasted a ton of donor money, uncovered some profoundly Freudian impulses, and begged people to clap for him, before being blown over by Donald Trump like a house of straw. The G.O.P. establishment turned to another Floridian, only this time, he would be younger and more Hispanic than ever before. Marco Rubio has managed some “third-place wins” and a primary win thanks to Minnesota’s constituency of soggy corporate conservatives (because of the lakes, you guys). He still trails far behind the inimitable Mr. Trump, who a lot of people are very concerned about, and Ted Cruz, who everyone is creeped out by.

On the other side, a similar dynastic coronation has been interrupted by an old socialist Jew from Hippieville. As of a few weeks ago, Bernie and Hillary were polling within two percentage points of each other nationally. Bernie also had a net +15 favorability rating whereas Hillary was at -21, plus Bernie matched up better against Republican contenders than Hillary did. Despite this, Hillary is at least still rolling towards the nomination, which only Trump can have a claim for across the aisle.

Although Bernie and Trump are playing similarly disruptive roles in their respective primaries (that is, they are competing against the wishes of the DNC and RNC to varying degrees of success), their styles aren’t at all the same. Bernie likes to quote statistics about income disparity. Trump likes to quote his own polling statistics. Bernie allowed two #blacklivesmatter protesters interrupt one of his stump speeches and attempted to shake their hands and listen to them. Trump likes to throw protesters out of his rallies. Bernie likes to shout and gesticulate. Donald likes to shout and make weird faces. More than that, their politics are very different from each other. Aside from opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there is little in the way of overlap between Bernie’s social democracy and Trump’s amorphous-nexus-of-nativist-memes-as-ideology.

And yet, there is a small portion of people that may normally support Bernie and despise Trump that have decided to pull for Trump. I’ll let one of them give you an idea of the perspective:

“Early in 2014 I began concealing my political opinions from people, and it was shortly after this time that I began plotting to vote Republican in hopes that the party would send the country so far in the direction of complete unrestricted neoliberalism and libertarian free market superstition that Americans would come to recognize the dangers of these ideologies and eventually reject them…[Trump’s] candidacy is a happy accident that is currently ripping the soul of America apart, which is something that I think we desperately need (and deserve) at this time in our history, for better or for worse.” (The Guardian)

Two things immediately stand out: 1) He’s an asshole (I had to trim out another 5 philosophers from his onanistic list); and 2) He’s voting for Trump because he hates Trump’s policies. We’re dealing with a rare type of radical politics called accelerationism.

The idea is counterintuitive, but follow me: something is bad, so we invest so heavily in that bad thing that it folds under its own weight. It’s been popularized recently by Paul Mason, a Guardian journalist who thinks that automation of industry and further insecurity of labor will create a communist utopia. In this species, it manifests as a form in which voting for Trump will eventually show everyone how shitty his policies are, therefore tipping public opinion to the left.

What is left unsaid is that this person hopes that everything goes wrong—that the economy collapses, people lose jobs, wealth continues to condense in a smaller and smaller group of people, the environment continues to suffer, &c, &c. This person is actively trying to bring about the worst scenario.

I highly doubt that these Trump-accelerationists make up a large part of the body politic. Only 13% of self-identifying Democrats have a favorable opinion of Trump, so this is likely the upper limit for their representation. They certainly don’t make up a substantial part of Trump’s voting bloc, which is primarily characterized by preference for authoritarianism and feelings of fear, neither of which seem to be indicative of the Trump-accelerationist logic. But if you are one, I would urge you to reconsider. Voting right in the hopes that capitalist policies fail isn’t a legitimate praxis, and it certainly isn’t one that’s in line with left ideals of freedom, equality, and humanitarianism.