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What’s The Deal? Trump, Fichte’s Closed Commercial State, And The Perverse Dialectic Of Neoliberal Risk

A. Adler
Published 2020 · Sociology

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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.
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