(Boy with Machine, by Richard Lindner, 1954)
What does it mean that Donald Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize?
He is after all, for the moment at least, hoisted alongside the unshaking sentry of greats who were also nominated. The Afghan women’s cycling team. Nadia Murad, the Yazidi woman who escaped ISIS and now champions the rights of its rape victims. The Greek islanders who were on the frontlines of the refugee crisis. There is, of course, the climate-conscious sympathizer of Kim Davis, the man who makes Catholicism cool again, Pope Saint Francis. But the Donald’s impulsive pirouettes of new-age provincialism, his queer Falstaffian populism, was expectedly more controversial than the other candidates. Twitter erupted into its ordinary stammering frenzy, like a single organism, everyone tweeting their miniaturized bursts of rage, everyone threatening the peace. They threatened to trash their iPhones, to leave the country, to leave the planet entirely.
But the outrage that is associated with Trump’s nomination is a superficial outrage, a bit of theater that is meant solely for its social brownie points. It’s something akin to publicly and loudly hating Walter Palmer for killing Cecil, the lion. It’s mostly spectacle, cherry-picking the trendiest things to scorn. When 5,000 children die everyday because of contaminated water, despising a white man for killing a lion is selective self-important rage. Trump is easy to mock; it’s the machine that is left unchallenged.
Trump was nominated for “his vigorous peace through strength ideology, used as a threat weapon of deterrence against radical Islam, ISIS, nuclear Iran and Communist China.” In other words, Trump’s threats have begun to dissipate the storm. He is the dove in the nuclear winter, flying weightlessly above the deserted fields. This is the age when it’s the threat of violence that brings world peace—the same logic that is applied to Russia and the United States pointing nuclear missiles at each other, resulting in drunkenness and laughter.
The Swedish armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel created the Peace Prize specifically for those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Trump may seem like an unusual nomination, but the history of Nobel Peace Prize winners is riddled with scandal.
Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under President Franklin Roosevelt, won in 1945 as one of the founders of the United Nations. But he also pressured Roosevelt to turn around a ship of 950 Jewish refugees that was meant to land on U.S. soil. Roosevelt did so, and many of the Jews consequently died in the Holocaust. There was of course Henry Kissinger who won in 1973 alongside Lê Đức Thọ, then leader of North Vietnam, for the Paris Peace Accords. Lê Đức Thọ declined the prize, admitting there was no peace, but Kissinger had the gall to accept it, arguably as the most nefarious war criminal in U.S. history. Mother Teresa won in 1979, but she famously relished in people’s suffering, and severely opposed the empowerment of women, calling all abortion “the greatest destroyer of peace.” Yassar Arafat was one of three recipients in 1994, but was intimately involved in three decades of terrorism with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. And, of course, President Obama won in 2009. That is, before he bombed at least seven predominately Muslim countries, and attacking more whistleblowers than every other U.S. president combined. And while Obama has been criticized by many for being much more hawkish than the antiwar platform he supposedly ran on, he was very clear from the beginning that if elected President he would expand the military. In his April 2007 speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, he vowed to build a military that would launch us into the future, expanding American ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines. Yes, he voted against the Iraq war, but he called it a “strategic blunder,” a mere mistake within the whole of unquestioned autocratic ideology.
A headline that reads “Donald Trump is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize” may at first cause you to think it’s from The Onion, or some obvious piece of satire; but the Orwellian reality of our day-to-day has become so redundant, so trivial in its perverse ubiquity, that it’s barely even news. It’s a shrug of the mundane. A fart in the smoggy storm. An April 2014 study by Princeton and Northwestern universities found that the United States is not a democracy, but an oligarchy, controlled almost entirely by the economic elite. But the striking part to this is found on the comments section on The Telegraph website, where the article is published. The majority of the comments are a mere shrug of the shoulders, people responding with, “This is not news,” or “Related news: the sky is blue.” When the United States bombs a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, it’s merely collateral damage. When the NSA spies on Americans, it’s been obvious all along. Trump is more popular to mock because he has all the right qualities of entertainment.
He has revolutionized the machine of peace and desire. His nomination as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate is an evolutionary notch in the standard of modernity, a kind of sexual triumph in itself. Trump himself has made this possible. But how? Is it from the blanched hollow circles around his eyes, caused by the space glasses he wears in his gilded tanning booth? Is it because he uses undocumented workers to construct the various golden phalluses in major cities in the U.S.? Is it because he admitted he’d fuck his daughter if he was allowed? Are we reading Freud? The Oedipal Complex says that all children desire their parent of the opposite sex during the phallic stage (the third of five stages, occurring between the ages of three and six) of their psychosexual development. But Trump has reversed the roles of desire: he wants to fuck his daughter. And he admitted it on The View. But Trump isn’t satisfied with a shallow reversal of the Oedipus contract. He’s sent a hellfire missile of sensualizing doves into the future of “fraternity and peace congresses.” His idea of role play has completely overturned what was initially expected.
So what exactly is Donald Trump? He might just be a caricature of great psychoanalytical importance. The Nobel Peace Prize is the phallus of the absurd, the modern prize for war criminals and aspiring fascists.
In Anti-Oedipus, published in 1972, French authors Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari analyze the relationship between desire and capitalist society. The libidinal investments of desire, they conclude, are redirected from the family to the social machine. Donald Trump may as well be the boy in Richard Lindner’s painting “Boy with Machine” (1954). In the painting, a pink porcine child with bulging hips and cankles stands self-importantly in front of a machine. He has completely surpassed the Oedipal Complex. He no longer desires to overcome his father, no longer wants to fuck his mother. According to Deleuze and Guttari, “the turgid little boy has already plugged a desiring-machine into a social machine, short-circuiting the parents.”
Perhaps as a little boy, Donald Trump wanted to be more successful than his father; but he has since evolved from that simple primordial instinct. His perverse metamorphosis out of the Oedipal Complex is akin to giving the Nobel Peace Prize to war criminals—it’s gross, but totally avant-garde.
Donald Trump should absolutely win the Nobel Peace Prize. He, more than any other, personifies the phallus of the absurd.