The Carnival King of Capital

  • Charles Thorpe University of California, San Diego
Keywords: Trump, Presidency


This paper argues that President Donald Trump may be understood as ruling through carnival. The theatrical reversal of conventional standards and rules, his carnivalesque incivility, is key to his political persona. It performs his claim to be an outsider, attacking and subverting the Washington DC establishment. But Trump's carnivalesque performance, far from undermining the dominant order, reflects it. What Trump represents is carnivalized capital, a financialized and globalized form of capital that has broken free of the social and legal restraints of the nation state. The carnivalesque chaos of Trump's presidency reflects the chaos of financialized capitalism.

Author Biography

Charles Thorpe, University of California, San Diego

Charles Thorpe is Professor of Sociology and a member of the Science Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Oppenheimer: The Tragic Intellect (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and Necroculture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). 


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