by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For some time, I have been trying to articulate a specific idea about how various elites and institutions cover for the political class and how the Trump-era “resistence” was the antithesis of this. Then a very smart friend of mine, thinking along nearly identical lines, blurted this out over email:
“I think the world generally, and the world of the powerful in particular, is far less lucid and more incoherent than most assume. The main difference between Trump and his predecessors is that the professional class / deep state / neoliberal order / whatever-you-want-to-call-it is fluent in a language that imposes a kind of regulative fiction on that chaos. Their fluency gives them gives them a patina of legitimacy and not a little power over the less fluent, which comforts some normies but also drives conspiratorial thinking. Trump and a lot of the people around him lack this fluency and have no interest in cultivating it.”
For what it’s worth, the phrase “regulative fiction” is borrowed from Nietzsche, or at least his translator.
I think this desperate need to maintain the regulative fiction in Washington is the whole ballgame for understanding what is going on with the Trump administration. For a very long time before Trump, the “regulative fiction” was getting very, very discordant with reality. Certainly, the WMD issue and poorly planned wars in the Bush administration soured even conservative voters. And then the Obama administration happened and things got a million times worse, because while the media are as invested in maintaining the regulative fiction generally, they are very interested in it as a partisan and specifically ideological matter.