Tyrants, Incest and the Trumps (revised)

English: Donald Trump at a press conference an...

English: Donald Trump at a press conference announcing David Blaine’s latest feat in New York City at the Trump Tower. The photographer dedicates this portrait of Donald Trump to Tony Santiago, Wikipedia editor Marine 69-71, perhaps the most officially recognized and accomplished content contributor to Wikipedia, for his outstanding contributions to improving articles related to his Puerto Rican heritage. He is also a close friend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We know from history, that tyrants display a disordered eros, an erotic longing, to rule others. The tyrant’s desire to rule others is often accompanied by other appetites for food, drink, drugs, and sex. In particular, their sexuality and its perversions define them.

“[I]t is impossible to segregate the tyrant’s sexuality from his political power: each symbolizes the other. His notorious perversions (adultery, bigamy, rape, incest, sadism, necrophilia…) are the sexual manifestation of his extraordinary relation to the laws and norms of the polis.”[1]

The tyrant wants more; their disordered desire means they are seen as eros incarnate[2]. No matter how much a tyrant has, he wants more. As a result, they are usually undone by their desires when they start to threaten the community’s unwritten norms. As they are not satisfied with what they have, they begin to push against any constraints. They see constraints as a threat to their rule, or as a personal affront. “Who are you to say no to me?”. Their initial success emboldens them. They see their rule as a basis to demand and receive more. In time, their success emboldens them so that their desires transcend legal and moral boundaries. Their “translegal desires”, that violate the community’s norms either formal or informal.[3] One such trans-legal desire was incest.

Is it healthy for a father to talk of having sex with his daughter?

In ancient Athens, the tyrant’s life was condemned in the play, Oedipus Rex, where a son unknowingly killed his father to become king. Oedipus had been abandoned as a child for fear of a prophecy that the son would kill the father. The prophecy came true. As a consequence, Oedipus became king and he slept with the Queen who happened to be, unknowingly, his mother. The story of incest and tyranny scandalized the audience. The play explored the deepest taboo within a family for incest destroyed a family’s integrity, which would unravel the community’s fabric. Tyranny was a threat to the political community in the same way that incest was a threat to the family.

Incest destroys a family, tyranny destroys a community

Tyranny is like incest for it destroys what allows the community to survive, the fellow feeling of citizens that sustains decent political life. In practical terms, incest destroys the family and what it produces, children, which are necessary for the community’s survival.[4] In political terms the tyrant’s immoderate thought and behaviour undermined the community.[5] Incest is a deviant sexual excess and the tyrant was identified by sexual excess and extreme sexual appetites both of which the people feared would be used to obtain any sexual partner such as their wives, brothers sisters, daughters or sons.[6] The same holds true today.

Trump embodies the tyrant’s life; he only lacks political power.

Trump’s approach, revealed by his comment about his daughter, brings the tyrant’s life to the American voters and his supporters love him for it. Trump appeals because he offers the hottest girls[7], the fastest cars, the biggest deals, the best of everything. His current wife is a MILF embodied. He lives the dream of his followers. For them, Trump embodies everything they cannot have and they blame those who tell them they can’t indulge their desires. Be it a big house, a fast car, a hot wife, the availability of a wide pool of sexual partners, vast wealth, or the ability to speak his mind without fear or favor, all of these are available for the taking. Trump succeeds to the extent he makes his followers believe he can deliver these outcomes. His followers want what he offers because they have been habituated to believe what he offers defines a complete life. He appeals to the average person’s desire to live the tyrant’s life—except for the incest.

Donald Trump’s disordered eros.

Donald Trump is a man who has everything and now wants to be president. To be president requires someone who believes that they can win and deserves to win. In this, Trump meets both criteria. A successful candidate has to have a message. What is Trump’s message and is it democratic or tyrannical? Trump’s message appears on the surface to be democratic since he boasts of his personal success and how he achieved success by his own hard work. He likes to claim he embodies the American dream. At the same time, he entices his followers with boasts of his appetites for his brand is one of luxury and indulgence. His brand also includes his children. In particular, he promoted Ivanka’s career and she introduced him at the Republican National Convention. Over the years, he has talked openly of her body that would make her a lot of money.[8] [insert reference] On other occasions he has spoken of how she was the type of woman he would date.[9] At other times he has made comments about having sex with her. His behavior does not appear normal or healthy father-daughter relationship. Does it appear politically healthy?

Trump’s political behaviour is it tyrannical?

Trump’s behaviour towards his daughter suggests his political behaviour might be no different. For Trump, like a tyrant, it is acceptable to comment publicly on her desirability as a sexual partner.[10] He often comments on people’s partners telling them that they are not good looking and that they could do better.[11]

Trump has been accused of sexual harassment.[12] Trump’s excesses suggest how might rule. How he behaves privately with power reveals his public persona. He squeezes the little guy and drives a hard bargain with the weak and is deferential to the powerful. He seeks adulation without intimacy. He harasses women. All of this suggests his personal life he is more a tyrant than a democrat. Do we want to give him the chance to prove himself a political tyrant when his disordered relationship with his daughter suggests how he will act to the community? As Andrew Sullivan warned, Trump appears a tyrant. If his behavior with his family is any guide, then we could find Oedipus in the White House, which would suggest that America is as polluted as Thebes.

(This is a revised post as the previous one was based on an earlier draft.)

[1] Wohl, V. 2002. Love Among the Ruins: The Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens, Princeton

and London: Princeton University Press. Love Among the ruins Wohl (2002), 221. quoted in Annie Larivee the International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 6 (2012) 1-26

The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition brill.nl/jpt

Eros Tyrannos: Alcibiades as the Model of the Tyrant in Book IX of the Republic

Annie Larivée p.9

[2] See Republic 573b-579d

[3] Seth Bernadete Plato’s Second Sailing 1989 p. 205

[4] In the Symposium, the discussion about eros shows the threat to the family and the need to dismantle the family since it acts as a constraint. The family is supported by the law to sustain the political stability and the community’s continued prospects for survival. When Steven Berg describes Pausanias’ proposal in the Symposium, we can see the issue for America.

“Pausanias’ proposal, then, to replace the distinction between the just and the unjust with that between the beautiful and the ugly as the primary distinction of the law, is a proposal to turn the city on its head in regard to erotic maters: heterosexual conjugal union will no longer receive the law’s stamp of approval, but will be rendered “unlawful” in the weak sense—that is, shameful (181b)—and pederasty, which, in Athens, currently exists in a legal no-man’s-land somewhere between outright prohibition and grudging acceptance (182d-183d), will be held up as the model of lawful conduct (184d-e).” p.29

[5]  “We learn from Herodotus that the tyrant is the one who “moves ancestral laws [patria nomia] and forces himself on women and kills men who have not been tried” (3.80.5 [1927]). From Thucydides we learn that Alcibiades was considered the potential tyrant: “Most men, fearing the greatness of his lawless-ness paranoiai] with regard to his body, his daily habits, and the intelligence he showed in whatever he did, set him down as desiring a tyranny” (6.15 [1900]) The Tyranny of Reason in the World of the Polis Arlene W. Saxonhouse The American Political Science Review, Vol. 82, No. 4 (Dec., 1988), pp. 1261-1275 (p.1263)

[7] Robert Crumb’s cartoon captures Trump’s behaviour. http://i.imgur.com/7J9u2Rt.jpg

[8] “In 2003, he told Howard Stern, “You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody? And I helped create her? Ivanka. My daughter, Ivanka. She’s six feet tall, she’s got the best body. She made a lot of money as a model—a tremendous amount.”” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/ivanka-trump-and-jared-kushners-power-play

[9] http://fusion.net/story/176716/heres-the-creepy-video-of-donald-trump-saying-hed-date-his-own-daughter/ What is curious is why people assume he is joking. Even if it was a “joke” it demonstrates the thought necessary to draw attention to his desires. What parent jokes about “dating” their children? In this case if we follow Freud, the “joke” appears to be an unconscious desire.

The term “date” in Trump’s world is best understood as “fxxx” since he has not displayed anything resembling chaste behaviour.

[10] Or fondle her if you are a celebrity or politically powerful. Consider the case of Vice President Joe Biden who enjoys fondling women while their husbands or parents are nearby. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2958620/Not-Mr-Vice-President-Joe-Biden-loves-nuzzle-ladies-cameras-conservative-commentators-slamming-space-invading.html

[11] http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/550112/donald-trump-quotes.html

[12]  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/20/donald-trump-sexual-assault-allegations-jill-harth-interview


About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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