New Chapter on Trumpism and Anxiety Coming Out in 2024

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

I’m happy to announce that my co-authored chapter (with Dirk Nabers) on “Discourse, Fantasy and Anxiety in Trump’s America” has been accepted to be published as part of the volume Anxiety Culture: The New Global State of Human Affairs, edited by John P. Allegrante, Ulrich Hoinkes, Michael Schapira, and Karen Struve. The book will be available in early 2024, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

In the chapter we examine the role of anxiety and fantasy in Trumpism. We draw on Lacanian psychonalaysis to make sense of Trumpism’s continued appeal in spite of a years-long series of scandals as well as norm- and very likely law-breaking behavior by the twice-impeached, criminally indicted former president. Lacanian psychoanalysis, and in particular the concept of fantasy, provides a potential explanation for the puzzle of continued support by conservatives in spite of Trump’s continued attack on norms. We argue that Make America Great Again (MAGA) is an ideal-typical example for a fantasmatic discourse that claims that “our” identity is under threat (the radical left seeking to destroy America) and outlines a simple way out (put Trump back in power and make America great again). This way, fantasy gives shape to the subject’s anxiety and channels its desire for a full identity (ontological security, if you will). Because the attachment Trump supporters have to MAGA is primarily affective, not “rational,” it is largely resitant to conflicting evidence. Seen from this perspective, MAGA’s hold on Trump supporters is at least in part due to their affective investment.

A pre-print is available here.