Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Death, Famine, War, and Conquest, an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
We have used the symbol of apocalypse at Hunt the Devil to frame the political ascendency of Donald Trump in mythic terms. It is a rich and resonant symbol, a metaphor with multiple entailments, both religious and secular, each entangled with the others. Its mythos is relevant to interpreting the crisis of US empire that is reflected in Trump’s rise to the presidency.
The imperial presidency itself is a metaphorical precursor of the Trump phenomenon, a term for excessive executive power, which gained popularity in the 1960s and found voice in Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s 1973 book by that title. The power of the presidency exceeded its constitutional limits consistent with the transformation of the republic into an empire. With empire came war culture and the normalization of continuous warfare. (more…)
Is the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency the sign of a failed empire?
“Make America Great Again” is a campaign slogan that seems to acknowledge the country’s fall from grace. Tom Engelhardt certainly thinks that’s the case, as we noted in a previous Hunt the Devil post. In Engelhardt’s words, Trump is “our first declinist candidate for president.”
Trump’s victory is a convoluted concession that world dominion has been a ruinous pursuit. Of course, he promises to recover the country’s greatness by reinvesting in its military might, as if the US military is not already rich and mighty. But, for now, the premise stands: The US is no longer great.
What happened to bring down the empire, or at least the country’s collective faith in it? (more…)
Fireworks over Copenhagen the night after New Year’s Eve (Credit: Stig Nygaard).
Hunt the Devil will take a holiday break to ring in the New Year. We will return with a new post on January 6, 2015.
Thank you for following our blog about the demonology of U.S. war culture. Blogging over the past ten months has been a rewarding journey. The outline of a planned sequel to Hunt the Devil (our forthcoming book with the University of Alabama Press) is already taking shape. The sequel, “After Empire,” as recent posts suggest, will explore the mythic image of an imperial landscape of dead metaphors across which a disruptive Coyote lopes to the sound of the veteran’s lament. Coyote is the forerunner of trickster angels and instigator of a new democratic alternative.
The pursuit of mythic images is how we collaborate—the dramatic poet from the Caribbean in cahoots with the rhetorical critic from the American west. We work in the in-between space of intellectual exchange where insights emerge through sustained conversation. The writing that ensues from these conversational origins leads to unexpected outcomes.