The ‘Trump app’ will be the insurgency on steroids


It seems fitting that former President Donald Trump is launching a new social media company with a name that equates to a troll of his political opponents.

“Social TRUTH” – understood? The man who emits more lies per minute than anyone in American public life chose “truth” for the name of his alternative to Twitter and Facebook, and he capitalized the word (at least in his Press release announcing the company) for a little more zing.

If this platform really does materialize – a big ‘if’, given Trump’s history as a swaggering swindler over business proposals that ultimately come to naught – that will be a very big deal. First, because it would give Trump a way to bypass the cordon sanitaire that Twitter and Facebook have erected around him since the January 6 insurgency. Once again, the former president would have a very effective way of communicating directly with his supporters and receiving obsessive coverage from the mainstream media on a daily or hourly basis.

But more importantly, the Trump app would bring us one step closer to the scariest 2024 scenario anyone has come up with. It is a series of events in which a weak Trump defeat that year is followed not only by a re-enactment of the Capitol Riot, but also by counterfeit protests around Washington, DC and in the state capitals of the country as the votes are counted and the results certified, with Trump himself (or trusted and more trusted members of his entourage) directing the movements of these protesters in real time through the app that all those involved will have it on their smart phones.

This would represent another big step in the direction of a real political disaster.

The media business itself appears to be real, backed by investments that will allow Trump to form a company called Trump Media and Technology Group, with the social media platform (modeled on Twitter) one of its arm. The money to found the business would come from a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) called Digital World Acquisitions.

As The New York Times Note, SPACs “are an increasingly popular type of investment vehicle that sells shares to the public with the intention of using the proceeds to buy private companies.” Digital World was incorporated shortly after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. Its chief executive, Patrick Orlando, is a former derivatives trader at Deutsche Bank, the only mainstream financial institution willing to do business with Trump in recent years. years. Digital World made an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in September, raising around $ 283 million, with several large hedge funds buying shares. This is where the money comes from to launch Trump’s business.

The plan, for now, begins with a pre-sale of the app through the Apple App Store. (It’s already available there.) The app will open to guests in November, with the social media platform fully launching and opening to the public next year. All of this could easily come to naught, or just spit and fail, as so many Trump companies have done over the decades. The man has proven he has precisely mastered one aspect of business, which is branding, often with little substance behind the hype. This could certainly turn out to be the case here.

We better hope so – because an app that Trump can use to communicate directly with his most passionate supporters via their smartphones is a crucial part of the nightmarish vision Curtis Yarvin sketched out in his two-hour podcast conversation with him. former Trump National Security. Council official Michael Anton last May. I wrote a column on this conversation in July, and it’s worth reminding us of precisely what software developer and former right-wing blogger Yarvin is advocating.

Yarvin calls himself a monarchist, but it is more accurate to say that he is in favor of dictatorship – the seizure of emergency powers by a strongman who, backed by populist (but perhaps not majority or pluralist) support , uses these powers to break resistance from the bureaucracy – the administrative state and its apparent allies in civil society, including the mainstream media, universities and “awakened capital.”

It is a fantasy of Caesarism, in which the right wins a total victory over its opponents. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fantasy completely out of touch with reality. Yarvin – who has since appeared as a guest for over an hour on Tucker Carlson Today, the daytime online interview program run by Fox News’ prime-time host – has plenty of concrete suggestions for how its future Caesar should turn into a tyrant. One of them involves the use of social media to mobilize supporters across the country.

Although in the podcast Yarvin begins by talking about an unnamed Caesar, he quickly dwells on describing this social media interface as a “Trump app.” As I said in July, citing Yarvin’s words on the podcast, Trump allegedly used this app

to communicate directly with its 80 million supporters on their smartphones, using notifications to tell them that “this agency is not following my instructions”, which will inspire them to rally to the right building, with the crowd “led by a joystick by Trump himself, “forming a” human barricade around every federal building, supporting Trump’s legal authority. ” Where perhaps 20,000 people stormed the Capitol on January 6, millions of people responding to the Trump app would be much more effective – a modern version of the paramilitary groups who kept Lincoln safe during the bitter and dangerous presidential campaign of 1860 leading up to the Civil War (and the subsequent suspension of habeas corpus and the President’s closure of hundreds of newspapers). [The Week]

This scenario seems to presume that Trump is already seated in the Oval Office and trying to maintain control after a loss, as he was last January. But of course, if he does show up in 2024, he’ll be on the outside, with Joe Biden or Kamala Harris looking to defend a White House victory. In this scenario, a Trump app would be particularly useful, as secretaries of state and legislatures in Republican-controlled states prepare to decide whether to certify vote totals or allow recounts, what rules will govern those recounts. , and if and how to distribute voters. Protests erupted spontaneously in many places during the post-election period last time around. A Trump-controlled social media app, with no private or public external restrictions or oversight, could help the losing candidate instigate and lead such protests three years from now, with the aim of encouraging more extreme acts in defiance of democratic norms long established laws and laws.

This does not mean that these efforts would succeed in making Trump the winner after a loss. What they would have is to help it sow electoral chaos. In this regard, it is particularly relevant that Yarvin is referring to the paramilitary units that played a role in the elections of 1860, as they predicted not the advent of tyranny in America, but the outbreak of civil war. Something similar – a postmodern, high-tech mix of unrest in Northern Ireland with elements of the 17th century English Civil War and the 1930s Spanish Civil War – is the real thing. tail risk facing the United States today.

A successful launch of Trump’s TRUTH Social app could bring us one step closer to realization.


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