A Festival for Frustrated Egos: The Rise of Trump from an Early Frankfurt School Critical Theory Perspective
This chapter combines the insights of Sigmund Freud and Theodor W. Adorno to explain some of the psychoanalytic mechanisms that contributed to a scenario where people voted for a leader who undermines their very existence. Trump successfully exploited feelings of failure of the millions of Americans who have not been able to live up to the liberal capitalist ideology of success. By replacing their ego ideal with that of their leader, Trump voters could get rid of the frustration and discontent that are generated by such an ideology. The people “fell in love” with Trump, because he provided them with the illusion that they “can become great again”. Moreover, by lifting moral restrictions to being openly classist, racist and sexist, Trump generated a permanent festival where the American people can feel themselves as being better than classed, raced and gendered Others, and thus satisfied with themselves again.
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