Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Trumpentum: The Unstoppable Power of a Leaderless Idea


This week's book review by co-blogger and retired USMC Intelligence Officer, Partyzantski, discusses the business pop culture book,

The Starfish and The Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations"

Certainly, the book made quite a splash when it was first published, and in the greatest irony of ironies, its authors were invited to speak at various US Department of Defense symposia and presentations.

So, how does the “unstoppable momentum” of the Trump phenomena (“Trumpentum”) fit into the “Starfish” paradigm?


I posit that this is grounded in several undeniable factors:

Movements achieve a critical mass of momentum grounded in anger. As outlined in Ten Rules for Liberty Guerillas 

#4: It is a principle of political science that it is easier to persuade people to vote against something or someone than to persuade them to vote in favor of something

it is easier to motivate someone against something than for it. It is one of the reasons that in spite of every politician's “promise” to stay “positive”, the moment they find themselves floundering, tactics are shifted to “going negative” against their opposition. Without the deep, abiding defiant anger of the grassroots – Democratic, Republican and Libertarian – Trumpentum wouldn't be happening.

Partyzantski's review directs Readers to read the works of Col Ulius Louis Amoss (USAF), an Intelligence officer whose area of expertise was tracking the Resistance movement behind the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War. He penned perhaps the first cogent essay on the concept of Leaderless organizations in 1953, and his work has been expropriated and co-opted by many others, not all of them Liberty-minded. Col Amoss is perhaps best known for his adage,

“we do not need leaders; we need leading ideas”.

Trump is not so much a “leader” to the masses who turn out to hear him speak; but a “leading idea”, more brand/concept/totem than Henry of Agincourt.


The idea is that the People have had enough, and fully understand that they have been severed from any meaningful influence not only of Congress, but academia and B2 (big business and big banking) and will take whatever steps necessary to make that understood.  In this aspect, the Trump Train has taken on the characteristics of a Starfish Leaderless Organization.



I first wrote about this phenomena when I penned my essay, “Rebuttal to a Progressive” and stated that there would be a time of reckoning and an accounting. Is that time now?

The anger that manifested itself on the lawn of the Capitol during the Tea Party protests didn't dissipate. It wasn't co-opted, in spite of the best efforts of the corporatocracy (Dick Armey, the Koch Brothers, et al) it merely festered, much like a subcutaneous infection festers and grows until it erupts and gallops away into a wide-ranging unstoppable life-threatening septicemia.


Thus is the state of the not-so-United States of America.

That is why any efforts to quarantine and contain the Trump Train fail. That is why personal attacks on his personality, his business record and his many failings do not take root. Instead, it serves to cause his support base to double down and heightens the anger and sense of injustice and desire for retribution.

Trump is not the "leader"; “Trump” is short hand for a leading idea.  Consider if you will that Trump is the projected, collective Freudian "Id". It is classic predator versus prey.  And the Quadrilogy is very much the prey this electoral cycle.

By demonizing Trump, the Quadrilogy of industry, government, academia and media are themselves doubling down on the dismissal of the anger of the grassroots that they deployed at the peak of the Tea Party movement.


Such a strategy is foolish.

When one realizes that Trump is not a leader, but a totem for a “leaderless idea”, then recognizing Trumpentum is facile. Any routs (“Trump University Depositions!” “Bring Out Your Tax Returns!”) are temporary; the great mass movement of the “idea” of righteous anger and retribution retrenches and grows, just as explained in Amoss' work and the illustrations in The Starfish and The Spider.

The real danger to the Quadrilogy is not that Trump prevails and secures the Republican nomination; the real danger to the Quad is that his Trumpentum is seen as so overpowering, so irrational and so fluid that it effectively suppresses voter turnout in November, as other uncommitted voters capitulate to what is perceived as the inevitable. This phenomena is known as a preference falsification, a topic first mentioned by Turkish-American economist Timur Kuran in his 1995 book "Private Truths, Public Lies", and expounded upon by GlennReynolds in his 2002 op-ed, “Patriotism and Preference”. This phenomena is well understood; it is why significant effort is spent to suppress voter turnout through psychological operations and demoralization of the opposition.



The Quadrilogy are not as foolish or disconnected from “flyover country” as they like to appear (it appeals to their vanities to be seen as apart from the unwashed), so it must beg the question: if it is apparent that personal attacks and demonization are not stalling Trumpentum, but instead are fueling it, then why are they continuing?

Trump supporters should set aside the addictive anger and ask themselves that very difficult question. It also needs to be understood that the righteous anger that has been suppressed for so long may not be containable. In such case, do you blame the inmate or the warden? 

It seems a foregone conclusion that Election Day 2016 will be the Rubicon, and if victorious,Trump will burn the bridge behind his people much as Cortez torched his fleet upon arrival in the new world.  We will be in uncharted territory and you'd better have a solid internal compass.

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3 comments:

FlyOverCountry said...

Very well written explanation. Trump as an "idea" rather than a "leader" explains the recent rash of high school rivalry tauntings of "Trump, Trump, Trump" against other schools with high minority populations (the idea being of mass deportations of "the other").

I wish more people could understand this concept, as well as the "addictive anger" as you put it, behind it all. Seeing the true nature of the phenomena would making developing a counter strategy easier.

Kelsonus said...

"It seems a foregone conclusion that Election Day 2016 will be the Rubicon, and if victorious,Trump will burn the bridge behind his people much as Cortez torched his fleet upon arrival in the new world. We will be in uncharted territory and you'd better have a solid internal compass."

It isn't my compass I'm concerned with, it's Trump's
When a compass looks like an unbalanced ceiling fan...
#NeverTrump

Anonymous said...

Trump is a guy running through Hell with an open can of gasoline.
The Dirt People are cheering him on.
And Hell is terrified.