Bernard-Henri Lévy’s elegy for a world sans #DonaldTrump in the lead

donald and melania trump

Donald and Melania Trump: The first couple of vulgarity

Unsurprisingly, of course.

Bernard-Henri Levy is a very cerebral man, a man of discernment, refinement, perception, good taste and a horror of vulgarity and brash generalization. Mr Levy is one of the founders of the “Nouveaux Philosophes” or new philosophers movement. One of his books is titled Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism.
Donald Trump, whom Mr Levy describes as “this Las Vegas croupier, this kitschy carnival performer, coiffed and botoxed, drifting from one television camera to another with his fleshy mouth perpetually half-open”, is probably one of those barbarians.

Till recently, he was totally inconsequential to serious political thought, but now, as Mr Levy writes, he “appears likely to become the nominee of the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan (so) we owe it to ourselves to ask in what sense and for whom he represents a triumph.”

Mr Levy says he “easily gets the sense, when trying to take seriously what little is known about the Trump platform, of a country turning in on itself, walling itself off, and ultimately impoverishing itself by chasing away the Chinese, Muslims, Mexicans, and others who have contributed to the vast melting pot that the most globalized country on the planet has alchemized, in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, into prodigious wealth.”

Mr Levy describes listening “to his (Mr Trump’s) swearing, his vulgar rhetoric, his pathetic hatred of women, whom he describes, depending on his mood, as bitches, pigs, or disgusting animals.” He says he hears “his smutty jokes in which the careful language of politics has been pushed aside in favor of supposedly authentic popular speech at its most elemental – the language, apparently, of the genitals.”

He writes of the evolution of American political discourse. “ISIS? We’re not going to make war against it, we’re going to ‘kick its ass’.”

He likens America’s great “leap forward into coarseness and pettiness” to that caused by Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin… “the political landscape shrinks to the dimensions of a television stage. The art of debate collapses into catch phrases; people’s dreams become bombastic illusions; the economy takes the form of the grotesquely physical contortions of verbally deficient Scrooges who despise anyone who thinks; and striving for self-fulfillment deteriorates into the petty swindles taught in the now-defunct Trump University.”

He describes Putin, Berlusconi, and Trump as follows: “In them we see the face of a cartoon humanity, one that has chosen the low, the elemental, the pre-linguistic in order to ensure its triumph.”