It would be overstated to declare Donald Trump as the antichrist. However, many would agree that he is a malevolent trickster–a dark clown.
Primitive societies, it is said, had a tribal unity, with a systemic fusion of religion, government, economy, law, art, and entertainment. Modern societies, on the other hand, supposedly have differentiated subsystems of media, government, economy, etc. Each subsystem has its own role, rules, resources, and integrity. Social scientists have typically considered systemic differentiation as the hallmark of increasing rationalization. Donald Trump–as businessman, entertainer, media figure, and politician–is the cumulative result of a return to systemic fusion alongside a perverse form of neo-tribalism, and the scariest thing about it is that it coincides with increasing globalization. Everyone is watching Donald Trump.
Over the past few decades, we’ve witnessed a serious challenge to America’s modernistic system, as first journalism became entertainment, then education became careerism, and now politics has become entertaining opportunism. It has all culminated in the candidacy of Donald Trump. Trump represents the collective shadow of the social system people confront every day and his existence has threatened its collective persona–its figurehead–the presidency.
The recent clown craze is therefore too appropriate for the times to be taken merely at face value. It is, on many levels, a confession of fear. It calls for myth and poetry. When the collective shadow overtakes the collective persona, the collective psyche either breaks down or reasserts itself. When everything is a matter of opportunism and strategic action people become anxious about what is sustaining the current system. When everything is a lie, paranoia ensues. In Donald Trump, this typically manifests in the form of incoherence and braggadocio. He lashes out with crude accusations. He becomes a killer clown.
However, the real question and challenge is whether and how the various subsystems will reassert themselves–and along with them the entire system. Politics, business, media, and entertainment may never be the same after the attack of the killer clown.