Abstract

abstract:

This article frames Trump's politics through a genealogy of propaganda, going back to P. T. Barnum and crowd psychologist Gustave Le Bon in the nineteenth century and the public relations counsel Edward Bernays in the twentieth. This genealogy shows how propaganda was developed by eager professionals as a tool to govern the unruly lower classes. Trump's propaganda presents a break, in that he has not only removed professionals from their role mediating the conduct of the lower classes for elites, but he has mobilized it as a force against them. His lower- and middle-class supporters may not materially benefit from Trump's form of propaganda, but they get psychological benefits, in that they get to vent their ressentiment on the professional class and see them too become the targets of propagandistic control. Ultimately, the conflict between working-class whites, those without college degrees, and professionals earns little for its participants and occludes the role that elites play in class dynamics in the United States. This article adds substance and context to the claims that Trump's appeal is antiprofessional while showing that the claims that his supporters are "voting against their interests" does not reflect the real psychological benefits many Trumpists get from supporting him.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9383
Print ISSN
0891-625X
Pages
pp. 179-199
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-13
Open Access
No
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