the work of
transcendental empiricism

so far

           (and the question of "Trump") XXX
"Philosophy always arrives too late . . . .  The Owl
of Minerva takes flight only as the dusk begins to fall."

"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic
facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add:
the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

History without philosophy is only a screen
on which to project the shibboleths of our time
"The Origins of the Welfare State: The Keynesian Elite and the Second New Deal, 1910-1936" (manuscript, 1987)

            Figure 2.  U.S. Political Economy by Sector, 1910-1938

Figure 1.  Keynesian Elite in New Deal State, 1910-1939
Source: "Membership List, May 1927," in the Morris L. Cooke Papers, box 66,
FDR Library; and
United States Government Manual 1937
for more info on Fig.2 click on Keynesian Elite: Career Matrix
Figure 3 suggests that a catastrophic decline in cognitive performativity preceded and made possible the fascist-patrimonial victory of November 2016

Figure 3 is an effect of cultural-historical developmental processes, of which schooling itself is only one of several key inputs affecting the cognitive and cultural development of situated organisms (not Cartesian selves).

 The cultural-historical as well as political significance of Figure 1 should already be evident not only in the election of Donald Trump, but also in the subsequent developments of this American form of a patrimonial regime characterized by fascist performativities understood as material-discursive practices.  A form of barbarism emerges.  This barbarism can be conceptualized (at least provisionally) along three axes:

First, the disintegration of cognitive performativities (decognification, disinidividualizaton)

Second, the explosion of fascist performativities within the orbit of the GOP(Robert O. Paxton: "The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.").

Third, the assault on rational-bureaucratic institutions--i.e., an assault on the very idea of science-based professionalism and public service.

Figure 1 suggests that a catastrophic decline in cognitive performativity preceded and made possible the fascist victory of November 2018.

The election of Donald Trump reflects and also will accelerate this degradation of cognitive performativity in American society.

The brutishness in language and behavior that are the chief characteristics of Trump's mass-oriented performances must be understood as manifestations of something of great ontological significance.  To understand this, thinking must first emancipate itself from the Cartesian presuppositional generative matrix--the ontological presupposition of the Cartesian self and its associated rhetorical elements of consciousness, belief, motive, ideology and interest.  Failure to do so has the effect, a priori, of blocking conceptualization of questions of ontology, agency, intentionality, habitus, networks and contexts.  Thinking must approach the question of "ontology" as a question of genetic ontology (see below).

Figure 3.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 to 2015:
               21 Developed
Nations & East Asian Cities and City-States

Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense (Sadism) is the Genetic Ontology of Trump's Theatrics

Lee Atwater has shown how the discursive and symbolic elements of the Southern Strategy were generated through the construction of a theatrical arena in which hatred is expressed and sadism performed.  This sado-sexual performativity is the essence of the GOP's mass appeal.  Well before Trump the evocation of evil and the channelling of rage against a scapegoat was the stock-in-trade of Republican politicians, who tapped into and gave expression to " . . . a whole tremulous realm of subterranean revenge, inexhaustible and  insatiable . . . " (Nietzsche, Geneology of Morals, III. 14)

The rhetorical violence of Trump rallies, not ideology and policies, is what is fundamental. The Trump performances--the audience, the cultural-historical context, and Trump himself as a therapeutic object with which the audience member can identify--become intelligible when viewed through the prism of certain key concepts:

• Nietzsche's concept of ressentiment;
• psychoanalysis's concept of the mechanisms of defense;
• Wilbur Cash's concept of the proto-Dorian convention;
• the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain;
• and Robert Paxton's concept of  transcendental violence.

On the right there are not issues, but postures, gestures, various encodings of the same sado-sexual reflex (the inner logic of racism).  Rage enacted in a political-media theater of violence, sadism, and revenge.  The cruelty of it all is the most important thing.  The vicarious thrill, the “enthusiasm for inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation”(OED): this is what is seen at Trump rallies.  The GOP's performative cadre are specialists in herding hominids of a particular cultural-historical configuration (ressentiment).

Figure 2.  the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain
from Wikipedia: (Lee Atwater's Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy)

As a member of the Reagan administration in 1981, Atwater gave an anonymous interview to political scientist Alexander P. Lamis. Part of the interview was printed in Lamis's book The Two-Party South, then reprinted in Southern Politics in the 1990s with Atwater's name revealed. . . . Atwater talked about the Republican Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan's version of it:

Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now you don't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a by-product of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

Analyzing Power Relations: Five Frameworks
Deleuze & Guattari


Michael Mann

This site

Three regimes (primitive, despotic, capitalist)

Left vs. Right: (topologies of the two-party system)

Cognitive modalities (topologies of the two-party system)

Four networks of power

Five genetic ontologies (topologies of the two-party system)

Alain Ehrenberg, The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age ( (McGill-Queens University Press, 2010)

We are changing, of course, but that does not necessarily mean we are progressing.  Combined with all the forces that today exhort us to look into our own private lives, the “civilization of change” has stimulated a massive interest in psychic disorders.  It can be heard from all quarters, and it takes form in the many marketplaces that offer inner balance and tranquility.  Today, many of our socials tensions have been expressed in terms of implosion and depressive collapse or, in a similar way, its flip side: explosions of violence, rage, the search for new sensations.  pp. 185-6

As addictive explosion reflects depressive implosion, so the drug-taker’s search for sensation reflects the depressed person’s lack of feeling.  Depression, that crossroads of pathology, serves as a canvas upon which to sketch out the changes in modern subjectivity, the displacement of the hard task of being healthy.  In a context in which choice is the norm and inner insecurity the price, these pathologies make up the dark side of contemporary private life.  Such is the equation of the sovereign individual: psychic freedom and individual initiative = identity insecurities and the incapacity to act.  p. 232

                        the "Two-Party System:" Semiotic Regimes

Political style
Cognitive mode
     concrete & pre-op
    pre-op and gestural
Regime type
   (r-b and) patrimonial

Here are the sources for this conceptualization of the Two-Party System: Semiotic Regimes:

Simon Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism (Palgrave Macmillan; 2003)

Alain Ehrenberg, The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009)

Eli Zarestsky, Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis (Vintage, 2005)

Darrin M. McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightement: the French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2001)

*Note on use of the term "Left."

Progressivism and Liberalism are opposities, not twins.  The genetic ontology of Progressivism is Bildung and the Will to Power;
The genetic ontology
of Liberalism is Nihilism.  Today liberalism is referred as the left, covering over the genetic-ontological transformation of the post-war years (see Hall et. al.)  The New Deal is not represented in in the above figure and table, The Two-Party System: Semiotic Regimes.

QHD-5 is the antithesis of the Cartesian delusion so central to neo-liberal ideology.  The term Dasein is used to problematize homo sapiens as a species unlike any other, whose "nature" it is to be subject to cultural and historical development as a result of its own activity, to be subject to the psychological consequences of such processes (Nietzsche), and to be capable of embarking on projects whose objective is self- and societal-transformation.

Cognitive development is one of these fundamental transformations, but it is not the only one.  Nietzsche's last man is neo-liberalism's ideal and all too real human (nililism), and it is this brute fact of contemporary life that sets the limits for any praxis that could be called progressive in the twenty-first century. And ressentiment--another of Nietzsche's fundamental concepts that gets us to the heart of fascism/racism/white supremancy--also denotes a fundamental transformation of Dasein.

The Quantum Heterogeniety of Dasein: Five Genetic Ontologies (QHD-5)

Five "principles of production of practices" (Bourdieu, In Other Words, p. 108)



ressentiment & the mechanisms of defense

bildung & the will to power


genetic ontology
representative texts: short version
long version


•Richard Wrangham, The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution (Pantheon (January 29, 2019)
•Michael Tomasello, Becoming Human: a Theory of Ontogeny (Harvard, 2019)
•Allan Mazur, Biosociology of Dominance and Deference (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005)
•Christopher Boesch, Wild Cultures: A Comparison Between Chimpanzee and Human Cultures (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Juan Carlos Gomez, Apes, Monkees, Children and the Growth of Mind (Harvard, 2004)
John C. Mitani et. al., eds., The Evolution of Primate Societies, (University of Chicago Press, 2012);
William Calvin, A Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond (Oxford, 2004)
Franz de Waal, Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes (Harper & Row, 1982)

Julia Adams and Mounira M. Charrad, Patrimonial Power in the Modern World (Sage, 2011); Getty, Practicing Stalinism ()


John F. Hoffecker, Landscapes of the Mind: Human Evolution and the Archeology of Thought (Columbia, 2011)
Renfrew, Frith, and Malafouras, The Sapient Mind: Archeology meets Neuroscience (Oxford, 2009)
Timothy R. Pauketat, An Archaeology of the Cosmos: Rethinking Agency and Religion in Ancient America (Routledge, 2012)
Michael Tomasello, Natural History of Human Thinking (Harvard University Press, 2014)
Lambros Malafouris and Colin Renfrew, How Things Shape the Mind : A Theory of Material Engagement (MIT Press, 2013)
Robin Dunbar, Clive Gamble and John Gowlett, eds., Social Brain, Distributed Mind (Oxford, 2010)
Andrew Whiten and David Erdal, "The human socio-cognitive niche and its evolutionary origins," Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2012) 367, 2119–212
Philip G. Chase, The Emergence of Culture. The Evolution of a Uniquely Human Way of Life (Springer, 2006);

After the State
Ressentiment & the Mechanisms of Defense
(despotic regime, white supremacy)

Nietzsche,  Spinoza, Freud, Klein.

Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (2004);
Aristotle Kallis, Genocide and Fascism: the Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe (Routledge, 2009)

Simon Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: the Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 (2009);
Joseph E. Lowndes, From the New Deal to the New Right : race and the southern origins of modern conservatism (2008), Carter, 

Julia Adams and Mounira M. Charrad, Patrimonial Power in the Modern World (Sage, 2011)
Elmer Gantry;Heart of Darkness
FOX News
Progressive Narcissism; Bildung; the Will to Power
Nietzsche, Hegel, Vygotsky.
Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr., Narcissism and the Literary Libido: Rhetoric, Text, and Subjectivity (New York University Press, 1994);
Franco Moretti, The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture (Verso, 2000);
Stephen Rumph, Mozart and Enlightenment Semiotics (University of California Press, 2012);
Harold Mah, Enlightenment Phantasies: Cultural Identity in France and Germany, 1750-1914;
S.A. Smith, Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History (Cambridge Univesity Press, 2008);

Steve Fraser, Labor Will Rule;
Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings;
Regressive Narcissism and the culture of consumption;
repressive desublimation;
the last man
Nietzsche. Steve Hal, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum, Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture: crime, exclusion and the new culture of narcissism (Willan Publishing, 2008); Bülent Diken, Nihilism (Routledge, 2009);  Bernard Reginster, The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism (Harvard, 2006); Robin Usher, Ian Bryant and Rennie Johnston, Adult Education and the Postmodern Challenge (Routledge, 1997); Republic of Outsiders: the power of amateurs, dreamers, and rebels;  The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food NYT

Eli Zaretsky, Secrets of the Soul: a Social and cultural history of psychoanalysis (Vintage, 2004); Alain Ehrenberg, The Wariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010)

Novels.  Michel Houellebecq: The Map and the Territory (2010),  Richard Powers, Generosity: an Enhancement (2009);
Choire Sicha, Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City (2013); Vernon God Little

CNN & MSNBC; Facebook, Twitter  .  .  . 

For the way in which I arrived at Semiotic Regimes, see:

 Semiotic Regimes

the PISA Results: Evolutionary, Historical, Developmental, and Psychological Perspectives

The GOP as the Stupid Party?  An inadequate conceptualization

The Imus Brouhaha and that which is called "Racism"

this is what is not found among the hegemoinic actors on the CIOside

see Fascism:
***Watch Trump rallies closely.  The audience is usually unfocused, almost bored in  the haze of broken English spoken by Trump.  Bored, restless, talking among themselves, cognitively not there, but waiting for the punch line, the expletive, the primitive, hate-filled denunciation: license has been given (Kallis).  Then they wake up, some more slowly than others, as they catch on, and howl their delight, only to subside into a state of not being.  This the pundits refer to as "energy."  This is, ontologically speaking, some really primitive stuff.  This is why media discourse on the real-world economic grievances of white men simultaneously get it and miss it completely.  They are finally being forced to address what has been a trend obvious for decades, but not discussed in the media until the breakdown of elite control of public discourse in the primary campaigns of 2016.  What they miss is the deep structure of this rage; the cognitive primitiveness of its expression; the centuries long history of ressentiment as the inner logic of ultra-nationalism and fascism and racism


Beyond sadism (the beating heart of the GOP), and related to it, are the cognitive consequences of a politics of bestiality.  It is not merely that Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader  (Politico, August 13, 1915). 

Language on the threshold of gesture and reflex.  Regression to infantile narcissism (see Criminal Identities ) via processes of identification, to a politics of patrimonialism. 

But what is new with the Trump campaign--and decisively so--is that a charismatic demagogue has literally hijacked the base of the Republican Party.  The genetic ontology of ressentiment produces a subject.  But that subject--the Trump enthusiasts one sees at rallies and in interviews and focus groups--has been embedded in the cultural-historical field of white supremacy (see The Imus Brouhaha and that which is called "Racism").  The containment of white rage has depended on two things.  First, an economy of white affirmative action guaranteeing great masses of "white" folk sole access to those sectors of employment embedded in local government (police, fire, govt administration, utilities, transportation, building services, construction, and even manufacturing).  And second, a semioitic regime of ego-reinforcing symbols (positive and negative identifications).  When you add the election of Barak Obama to the economic consequences of the regime of neoliberal globalization (which includes declining wages as well as job losses) you add insult to injury, and one gets a psycho-cultural crackup of world-historic proportions.  This is what Trump exploits.
Detroit: Eastside Industrial Areas, 1941: Key Plants

1871  Charles Frances Adams Jr. Rept to the RR commission
1910  ERC; Taylor Society formed
1911 (July 29)  LDB to Robert LaFollette re. Alaska
McElwain to FF, 117
1918 War Industries Bd; War Labor Bd.; Shipping Bd.
NJ Chamber of Commerce 1-26-22
Cleveland Chamber of Commerce-Carmody; FF and Croly
Can Prosperity be Planned
Some Notes on Labor Organizations
TS Bull re NRA and fascism

Nov 1932 FDR elected