“Civilization is repression.” Repression means suppressing wishes that if acted on would enrage others, destroy communities and even be suicidal. We need to understand that “civilization is repression” because dangerous, combative urges that have been repressed are reemerging and driving what is happening in our beloved country and in the World.
Donald Trump is all about permitting repressed urges to reemerge. It is his brand and his appeal. He permits himself and others to say and do things that aren’t acceptable in peaceful societies. He allows himself to deride heroes like John McCain and Khizr and Ghazala Khan whose son, Captain Humayun Khan, died protecting his American platoon in Iraq. These brave men are rivals for admiration and attention, so he tells his followers that they are not as good as he is --- how many hooker notches and sharp deals did they have in their belts --- and some of them believe him.
Trump permits himself to viciously attack an endless list of opponents, critics, enemies and even friends. He permits himself to call down violence on those who fail to grovel when he demands it. He feels no need to disguise his bullying, and some of his followers feel that they no longer need to repress their own instincts in this direction.
He permits himself to discuss his lusty ogling of his own daughter. He permits himself to grope and demean women who he believes should yield to his “manliness.” Others recognize these feelings in themselves and feel less need to hide them. He lies and dares people to punish him for it. This “permits” and encourages others to lie rather than force themselves to face damning truths.
Most important, Trump believes and is trying to convince others that civilization/repression is not necessary and that we, the U.S., can win in an uncivilized World without rules, one that is governed instead by fear “where the life of man (is) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”All of us understand Trump. He is no mystery. We all have wanted to unleash angry attacks on rivals and understand lust, but we repress these urges to safeguard our longer term and more limited goals. We usually are willing to repress our unlimited desires even though we would prefer not to. Not President Trump. Viciousness is his appeal. Many find him refreshing because he is saying what they would like to believe --- that repression of primitive urges is not necessary and that failing to cultivate friends and allies will not be suicidal in the longer run. We will see.