What’s the Deal? Trump, Fichte’s Closed Commercial State, and the Perverse Dialectic of Neoliberal Risk

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Abstract

The following paper seeks to understand Donald Trump as a “dialectical image” for the contradictions of neoliberal capitalism. Trump’s management style, as described in his Art of the Deal, combines a fetishizing of entrepreneurial risk as a “lifestyle” with the insistence that it is not the entrepreneur but his targets who are ultimately exposed to risk. This suggests that we might understand the elevation of “deal-making” to a lifestyle as a characteristic of modernity that, with neoliberalism, is increasingly coming to the fore. Such a critique of modernity, I further argue, is anticipated by Fichte’s Closed Commercial State with its intriguing dialectic of risk. I conclude by arguing that Trump’s politics marks the rise of a new, specifically American style of Fascism—one that demands identification not with the state as supra-individual collective, but with an impersonal system governing over individual lives and rendering them precarious.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-412
Number of pages18
JournalFudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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