from the new deal to donald trump
We are now engulfed in is the implosion of neo-liberal "society."  The term "society" is bracketed because, in the conventional use of the term, an ontological stability is implied, whereas in reality this society is in the process of blowing its brains out, and that along four axes of ontological catastrophe:

•First, the disintegration of the cognitive performativities of modernity itself: the "human" side of "capital." (decognification, disindividuation; Trump's rhetorical performances seen from the standpoint of literacy and cognition as contingent not normative cultural-historical developments.

•Second, the explosion of fascist performativities within the orbit of the GOP (Robert O. Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism: "The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.").   Nietzsche's concept of ressentiment.  This is the inner logic of GOP rhetorical performativity--its sado-sexual performtivity.  The paranoid-schizoid position (Klein).

•Third, the assault on rational-bureaucratic institutions--i.e., an assault on the very idea of science-based professionalism and public service.  Max Weber's concept of patrimonialism

•Fourth, the triumph of nihilism (
Nietzsche).  Neoliberal subjectivity; the incredible shrinking self.  The depressive position (Klein).  Repressive desublimation (Marcuse).  The Democratic Party's transformation (DLC, Cliinton Foundation (Domhoff).

(see The New Deal and the Question of Capitalism)
Some Elementary Particles

"Thoughts without intuitions are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind."

"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.

Hitler is to Trump as tragedy is to farce.
Figure 1a. U.S. Political Economy by Sector, 1910 to 1939
input-output matrices: capital formations and the two-party system

"The Origins of the "Welfare State": The Keynesian Elite and the Second New Deal, 1910-1936" (manuscript, 1987)

Liberal Businessmen, 1936-1939 (Nat. Arch., Dept of Agriculture, RG 16, Ezekiel File)
(see The New Deal and the Question of Capitalism)

Figure 1b. The Keynesian Elite in the New Deal state
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
also: the Papers of John M. Carmody
Joanna Bockman. Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism (Stanford University Press, 2011): three reviews
Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy; and the Flynn effect
This first block of interviewees were all early leaders of the emergent forces that came to be known as the UAW.  Most of them were Midwestern "socialists." Others were "communists."   I refer to them as bildungs-proletarians, around whom formed the action networks of plebeian upstarts (the Unity Caucus) who created the modern UAW in March of 1939.   From the standpoint of praxis both the Unity Caucus and the Keynesian elite should be conceived of as vanguard formations within the field of Progressivism.  From the summer of 1936 to the spring of 1941 the "union" was ripped by a civil war between the forces of progressivism and the forces of reaction.  The latter (who called themselves the "Progressive" Caucus) were rooted in the craft- and status-oriented milieu of a largely Catholic (German, Irish, Fr. Canadian) skilled tradesmen, and were able to mobilize southern knansmen.

What made this whole site possible is the literary and cognitive capabilities of the bildungsproletarian whom I interviewed

Michael Tomasello, Becoming Human: a Theory of Ontogeny (Harvard, 2019): Shared, Collective intentionality; the cultural intelligence hypothesis

Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr., Narcissism and the Literary Libido: Rhetoric, Text, and Subjectivity (New York University Press, 1994)

Simon Jarvis, Wordsworth's Philosophical Song (Cambridge, 2007): Beyond the transcript

Jerrold Seigel, The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience since the Sesventeenth Century (Cambridge, 2005)

Schiller in Barnow

Figure 2. Bildungsproletarians and Plebeian Upstarts, 1933-1943
Detroit and the lower great lakes
A.  Donald Trump as Performative Complex
The election of 2016 occured in the context of the situation indexed by Figure 1, and is inconceivable outside this context.  Many have commented on the cognitive performativity of the candidate and then the President, but don't take seriously the historicity, fragility, and reversibility of cognitive development as a cultural-historical phenomenon; and thus, the significance of Donald Trump.  Figure 2 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).  Cognitive development is not a normative, inevitable process (Wolf).  It is an effect of history and politics, as well as evolution, and can suffer reversal or collapse.  This indeed is what is happening, and on a colossal scale.

Cognitive development is also not a solely ontogenetic process: the contextual and embedded character of mind; the social character of mind and agency; and the institutional and historical contexts of cognitive performativity must be borne in mind. (Jan Derry, Vygotsky, Philosophy, and Education, Wiley, 2013, pp. 17, 24)

Figure 1 suggests that a catastrophic decline in cognitive performativity preceded and made possible the fascist-patrimonial victory of November 2016. 

Focusing on the person of the Chief Executive and his various performative moments obliterates the cultural-historical dimensions of history.  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 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.  And thinking must approach the question of "ontology" as a question of genetic ontology (see below): the performative dimensions of ontology.

                    Figure 1.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 to 2015:
         21 Developed Nations & East Asian Cities and City-States

Donald Trump and the sliding scale

the Sapient Paradox
the Gutenberg Parenthesis
the Flynn effect
the Wolf premonitions

                   United States Population Density, 2000                        Midwest Auto Parts, 2006

      the Two-Party System: Semiotic Regimes           

Political style
Cognitive mode
     concrete & pre-op
    pre-op and gestural
Regime type

1.  pro- and anti-war demonstrators' signs

from CNN newscast, 4:00 to 6:00 PM, 9-15-07: pro- and anti-war demonstrators' signs (applying the concept of cognitive regime):
           pro-war demo signs:     "Traitors Go to Hell!"
"Deport Anti-war Protesters!"    
           anti-war demo signs:    "End the War Now!"
                                                 "U.S. Out of Iraq!"                                                     
                                                 "Support the Troops!  End the War!"
2.  rabids vs. thoughtfuls

Analysis of comments sent to Connecticut Post, August 31, 2006 re. Jonathon Edington murder case (article no longer accessible)


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 opposites, not twins.  The genetic ontology of Progressivism is Bildung and the Will to Power;
The genetic ontology
of Liberalism is Nihilism.  Today's 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 the above figure and table, The Two-Party System: Semiotic Regimes.  Donald Trump is a result of this genetic-ontological transformation.

the performative complex of the Southern strategy

Dan T. Carter, From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution, 1963-1994 (Louisiana State U. Press, 1996), pp. 8-9.

  The depth of Wallace’s racism—the degree to which it was part of his core beliefs—was always unclear.  He sometimes manifested an air of apologetic cynicism; when forced to break away from informal gatherings because of a speaking engagement, he would often turn to his friends and ask to be excused with a sheepish grin and a half-embarassed explanation: “I got to give ‘em a little nigger talk.”
   Seymour Wolfbein, a Labor Department expert in the Kennedy administration, was convinced it was all an act. . . .  Wolfbein found Wallace fascinating and amusing, but hardly sinister, a kind of roguish political con man eager to let him in on the joke.
   When confronted with the question of whether Wallace was “sincere” in his racial views, a Montgomery attorney who knew the governor well said it best.  “If George had parachuted into the Albanian countryside in the spring of 1962,” reflected John Kohn, one of Wallace’s advisers in the 1960s, “he would have been head of the collective farm by harvesttime, a member of the Communist Party by midwinter, on his way to the district party meeting as a delegate by the following year, and a member of the Comintern in two or three years.”  George, said Kohn, “could beieve whatever he needed to believe.”