The Vancouver Institute for Social Research (VISR) is delighted to announce a special lecture with Dr. Jerald Zaslove. The title of his lecture will be “Identification with the Adversary? Some Theses on Trump.” Here is Dr. Zaslove’s abstract:
IDENTIFICATION WITH THE ADVERSARY – SOME THESES ON TRUMP
“I must confess that I was obsessed by the idea that it could not really happen.” (Hans Keilson, Death of the Adversary).
“It is a very embarrassing kinship. I will not however close my eyes to it, for once more: better, more sincere, more productive than hate is the rerecognition . . . to make this connection . . . to the hysterical . . . proclamation of his offended greatness”. (Thomas Mann, “Hitler my Brother”).
“It could happen that, looking back upon one’s life, one might come to the realization that all the deeper relations one had undergone originated with the people about whose “destructive character everyone was unanimous” . . .The destructive character’s only watchword is: Make room; his only activity: clearing out . . . “ (Walter Benjamin “The Destructive Character”).
What can psychoanalysis teach us about populist Trumpism? What can our identification with the adversary teach us about ourselves? And about myself and my own experience with Fascism by referring to Thomas Mann’s 1938 essay “Hitler my Brother”. What can “Trumpism” and its “resistible rise” (Brecht’s play in 1938 “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”) teach us about historical judgement in regard to a system in which less than 50% actually voted for a leader? I will refer to Walter Benjamin’s and Brecht’s discussion about the rise of Hitler and the feeling that Fascism provoked in them about the fear of a coming of an endless destruction that “they have in mind”. I will refer to Benjamin’s “Destructive Character” as an outline of Trump’s destructive character and its effects on what it feels today to be alive facing fascism. We need anthropology of the present synchronicity of capital, state power, and the powerlessness of “the people” before the Thaumaturg, wizard, medicine man, faker and victimizer. The presentation discusses another kind of alienation one that is not within Marx’s “1844 Manuscripts”: the force feeding of an ideological realignment that denies how the tradition of the dead generations weighs on the head of living labour. This is death narcissism that psychoanalysis understands as the “foreclosure” of thinking that something is missing in our political life. It is beyond alienation because we don’t know the words for the destiny of work and labour where we feel that we are thrown into the world and that we are being played with. The dispossession (Enteignung) of our past and future leaves us with the monetized present without end. Trump “the thaumaturg” plays with us in his role as victim and scapegoat performing with his Fascistoid character type, which is a character disorder by any other name.
-Jerry Zaslove, July, 2017.
Dr. Jerald Zaslove holds the titles of Professor Emeritus, Humanities and English, and Director Emeritus, Institute for the Humanities, at Simon Fraser University, where he has mentored several generations of scholars.
The Vancouver Institute for Social Research (VISR) is a critical theory free school that has been run out of the Or Gallery (555 Hamilton Street) since 2013.
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