invisible university               xxxxx

transcendental empiricism in action

From the New Deal to Donald Trump

History without philosophy is only a screen
on which to project the shibboleths of our time

The site as a whole recognizes that the Internet is the techno-cognitive axis
of a praxiological revolution in thought, where the extended mind is fused with
hilosophy as the critical accompaniment to empirical practice

" . . . the primary ontological units are not 'things' but phenomena--dynamic topological / reconfigurings / entanglements  / relationalities / (re)articulations of the world.  And the primary semantic units are not 'words' but material-discursive practices through which (ontic and semantic) boundaries are constituted.  This dynamic is agency."*

* Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007)
Philosophy always arrives too late . . . .  The Owl
of Minerva takes flight only as the dusk begins to fall.

"The Origins of the Welfare State: the Keynesian Elite in the Second New Deal, 1910-1936" (unpublished ms., 1987) ----------------------------------------->

"The Newspaper in Public Affairs," Address at ninth annual Newspaper Week, University of Colorado College of Journalism, May 8 [1937], by Irving Brant, editor of the editorial page, St. Louis Star-Times: Frankfurter, box 30, FDR Libary
KE pp. 1-8            KE pp. 9-18            KE pp. 19-29            KE pp. 30-37 

         KE Notes          KE figs and apps     Taylor Society1927           TSN=89

                The Newspaper in Public Affairs    
The Second New Deal: Inner Workings

Morris Cooke, David Lilienthal, Felix Frankfurter  Feb 1931

Wetmore Hodges, Marriner Eccles, Marvin MCIntyre, FDR, Perkins.  May-June 1935

FF to FDR, May 22, 1935:  FF, FDR, Henry Kendall, Sprague (GM), Joseph Eastman, Morris Cooke

FF to FDR, May 20, 1935 (4 pp.):  “This is intended as a brief outline of a program for immediate action in dealing with the consequences of the Schechter decision.”
FF letters 1  
a kind of history:

1.  establish frameworks (SE Michigan, KE)
2.  establish timelines
3.  electoral coalitions FDR-JFK [Robert Dallek]

enter through a document group.  Thus, "The Newspaper in Public Affairs" is a presentation of self by a liberal editor iin St. Louis.  Through this address we get an incisive view of the scene of combat wherein the newspapers, big business, and varieties of lesser folk engage.  The address occured after FDR's stunning electoral victory the past november.

rather than use this source to sustain a narrative or other kind of non-immanent proceedure, it becomes, immediately, and even more so upon further reflection and study, a part of bildung of the Keynesians.  What you see in this address on May 8, 1937 is what you see in the field of immanence of the bildungssproltarians of SE Michigan.  It is what you see in the correspondence of the NLRB and other labor-related agencies; in the report of John Carmody on his intervention into the late 1933 Tool and Die strike in Detroit and SE Mich.

Trump and Fascism

from Robert O. Paxton's The Anatomy of Fascism (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004):

1.  Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by 1) obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and 2) by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which 3) a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, 4) working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, 5) abandons democratic liberties and 6) pursues with redemptive violence and 7) without ethical or legal restraints 8) goals of internal cleansing and 9) external expansion.  p. 218

2.   The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.  p. 84

3.   Today [2004] a "politics of ressentment" rooted in authentic American piety and nativism sometimes leads to violence against some of the very same "internal enemies" once targeted by the Nazis, such as homosexuals and defenders of abortion rights. . . .  The languge and symbols of an authentic American fascism would, of course, have little to do with the original European models.  They would have to be as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascisms were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans, as Orwell suggested. . . . No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses.  No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance [one minute and 45 seconds into this video].  These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.  p.  202

2, "The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy" perfectly encapsulates the the "populist" performativity of Trump's  rallies. 

1 can be broken down into nine elements, six of which (1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) characterize the Trump phenomenon.  More interesting is to look at the three elements of Paxton's definition of fascism that seem least applicable: 2, 3 and 9.

  3 was written before the rise of the Tea Party following the election of  Barak Obama.  That the Tea Party as a cultural-historical phenomenon is best understood through a familiarity with the literature on fascism obvious.  From the standpoint of transcendental empiricism, however, the concept of fascism is a heuristic device.  What this means is what this whole site is about.
What about Figure 1?
      Figure 1.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 to 2015: 20 Developed Nations
GOP as Party of Sado-Sexual Obsession: the "Stupid Party"

Compare Paxton's 3 with the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain.  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 organized into a sado-sexual performativity that is the essence of the GOP's mass appeal.  But there is a cognitive performativity as ontology.  The observed modes of expression and discourse in the mass political arena give rise to the concept of semiotic regime

What about Figure 1?
The Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain: the genetic ontology of the GOP
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."

The evocation of evil and the channelling of rage against a scapegoat (various forms of the other) is the stock-in-trade of Republican politiciams.  In this respect Trump is no different (see GOP as the Stupid Party)

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.

The sado-sexual fixations that are the essense of right-wing signifying chains may dress themselves up as issues (such as abortion or Obamacare), as if they were subject to rational debate and beholden to empirical checks.  But they are clearly not, and one of the indications of the intellectual bankruptcy of liberal and progressive discourse is that it is fundamentally incapable of grasping this elemental fact.

There is a simple brutishness to the rhetorical performances of the right, an inexhaustible reservoir of rage, cognitively primitive, sadistic in impulse and sexual in symbolic content (although this is often implicit--see Lacan: signifying chain). Several pages on this site contain images, videos, newspaper reports, and political ads that span the years 2009 to 2013.  Two of the videos (Father of Gun Victim and Kelly Ayotte Criticized), from June 20, 2013. are presented here.  They are concrete moments in the unfolding of QHD-3, ressentiment and the mechanisms of defense.
sources and notes

NCES, Highlights PISA 2003,  p. 14       NCES, Highlights PISA 2009,  p. 18
NCES, Highlights PISA 2006,  p. 12       NCES, PISA 2012, Math        v
NCES, PISA 2015, Math

Korea and Japan are in light blue; Asia: Asian cities and city-states (C & C-S) are in light orange (see below for a breakout of the components of this category); Scandinavian nations + Switzerland are in dark blue; Anglo-Saxon nations in orange; France, Germany, Belgium and Poland in green; Italy, Portugal and Spain in red; the United States in yellow.

Of the European nations omitted from this graph, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus scored below the United States in math.  Ahead of the United States but not shown are Estonia, Slovenia, Ireland, Austria, Russian Federation, Czech Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Lithuania, Hungary, and the Slovak Republic.

The United States does better on reading and science, but math it taken by many as the more important indicator.

Semiotic Regimes 

This pages presents two sets of left-right rhetorical positioning.

The pro- and anti-war demonstrators' signs and the table rabids vs. thoughtfuls are moments in the unfolding the two-party discursive field.  In the competing demonstrations the pro-war signs involved demonization, rage, and expulsion/purification; the anti-war signs involved issue statements.. The rage directed against the other is a principle axis--an eigenvector--of the right.  A large percentage of right-wing expressions are of this character.

The Stupid Party

It is obvious, therefore, that we have to function within two analytical domains: developmental psychology and psychoanalysis.  This page deal with the psychological dimension of the rhetorical peformances of the right: its sado-sexual obsessiveness.