There is a discourse in the post-Trump era revolving around Trumpism that I find substantially lacking in explanatory power. Assertions that it is a kind of “right-wing populism”, “populist Caesarism”, that it is a “cult of strength”, Trump having been supported by people hoping to gain enjoyment by proxy, via the enjoyment of another, or variations of the above. And while there might be some truth to all these, I think they, as Trumpism, are signs of an underlying social issue that affects America most directly, and us in the rest of the world by proxy: our lack of historical sense.

Trump is the boss-man who says, grinningly – it’s okay to indulge. I cheat, I lie, and yet I win. It’s perfectly okay to play with loaded dice. Winning is the only argument there is or can ever be. Might makes right and history is written by the victors, to be changed on the spot as they see fit. He is the end result of the Republican party’s long, 60-year decline from a principled conservative institution into a death cult dedicated to the worship of power. But this decline cannot be observed from where his followers stand.

Reality melts before him because there is no historical sense in what he says and does, there is no context, no concrete “when” referenced by his slogan “Make America Great Again”. His followers' act of sedition on January 6th, which he in part instigated, then watched with glee, becomes in his new mythology a sacred crusade to save America from its very own fundamental democratic institutions. The people who brutally beat police officers at the Capitol with fire extinguishers now sell “Back the Blue” t-shirts to pay their lawyers [1]. The fight for “liberty” becomes a nihilistic lunge to abolish it. But all this matters but little – all that is important is ingroup cohesion and shared rituals of tribal identification. Facts are optional.

That is why the narrative of Trump as the victor has to be maintained even after losing – and losing to a profoundly conventional and boring pre-Trump-era establishment figure at that. It is impossible to admit that the worshipped figure is weak and thus he must have been wronged (let us not forget – by the system he had made a spectacle of having gamed so effortlessly before). It makes no sense, but it doesn’t have to. Remember – there is no history. Only us, and them – and power to be grabbed.

Trump is a manifestation of our own lack of historic sense. The same is the case with Trumpist movements copycatting him across the world. It is an exploitation of our own misunderstanding of our own historical position, and of our relationship to our past. Nowhere is this more true than in Eastern Europe, where the Communist past is viewed manicheically as both a lost “Golden Age”, and a period of unspeakable evil. Without material analysis of the facts, by relying only on nostalgic images, artifacts, and ahistorical rhetoric of “the good old days”, we lose not only our past, but also our present – and, if we don’t snap out of it, our future.


  1. Kunzelman, Michael (2022) Some Capitol rioters try to profit from their Jan. 6 crimes, ABC News,