An Antenarrative Analysis of Donald Trump’s Dialectical Leadership in Society

An Antenarrative Analysis of Donald Trump’s Dialectical Leadership in Society

David M. Boje, Ph.D.

December 11, 2016; Revised December 21 2016, New Mexico State University

Presented at the 6th annual Quantum Storytelling Conference, December 15 and 16, 2016, Las Cruces, New Mexico


What kind of leader is President-elect Donald Trump? My purpose is to argue that ‘antenarrative generative mechanisms’ (AGMs) are in the ontological domain of the ‘real’, which is antecedent to the domains of actual and empirical. My contribution is to leadership science. I work out AGMs as processes which in the open systems of leadership in society may or may not manifest as cause and consequent relationships in the actual events the emerge, or in the empirical experiences known as sensemaking experiments. I work this out in the recent events and experiences of the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America. In this quantum storytelling conference presentation, there are quantum entanglements, as waves of possible AGMs are collapsed into the events and experience narratives and counternarratives, which play out in the media, and in what Heidegger calls idle talk. In its thrownness in open systems, leadership in society is so many possible causal connections that may or may not connect, a leadership science must specify the antecedent ‘transcendental real’ as distinct from the sequences of evens which narratives and counternarratives inscribe with heroic or villain characters, and ‘empirical real’ of the experiment’s closed system controls.

Key words: Antenarrative Generative Mechanism, Quantum Storytelling, Open Systems, Counternarrative


With the election of Donald Trump, what has the history of leadership in society to say? We would first have to agree on what is the history and when it cohered. We could date leadership in society, as science, to the Handbook of Leadership by Stogdill (1974), subsequently appropriated by Bass (1982 & 1990). Our answer would then be forty-two years, through their three editions. We could embellish and say the Handbook of Leadership has been the indispensable ‘bible’ for every serious student and scientist of leadership (Stogdill, 1974; Bass, 1982; Bass, 1990). Or we could be bolder still, and say, what is often said, that each edition reflects the growth and changes in the study of leadership science. However, you would immediately challenge, is there not an earlier history? After all, Ralph Melvin Stogdill (1904-1978) published his 1948 own first study of leadership (Stogdill, 1948) long before the 1974 handbook first edition. This way of dating would make leadership science a mere 68 years old. A moment’s reflection reveals the inadequacy of the answer. It would be more accurate to say leadership in society is at least 500 years old if we go further back and date leadership to Machiavelli’ The Prince (1513/2010). Or, we could go back two thousand years to Genesis, for great men, storytelling accounts of leadership in society. But are these part of leadership science, or merely stories of events?

Leadership science reminds me of what my leadership Professor Greg Oldham told us forty years ago: “leadership is dead, and has been dead for 50 years!” That would make it dead a total of 90 years, and dead before Stogdill, and then Bass, wrote handbooks of leadership. It is only recently that I understand, while countless theories of leadership abound, and hang on past their shelf life, it is leadership science that is long dead. The criterion of the falsification of these leadership theories must be based on scientific empirical testing of a law against rival auxiliary laws, rather than the transfactuality of active events and experience-narratives (or counternarratives), even of a Trump presidency. The transcendental realism is in opposition to the empirical realism comment to the leadership academy. From a storytelling perspective, it is AGMs that produce the leadership phenomena in question. The AGMs are not imaginary, but rather known as ‘real’ and what Bhaskar (1975: 16) calls a dialectical “process-in-motion”. I propose to test Trump ‘leadership; at that level.


What we need?  —Antenarrative waves freewheeling Carnivalesque Theater for Social Change in spacetimemattering

Is Donald Trump a ‘great man’ leader with seven habits, a ‘strong man’ leader, a ‘billionaire’ leader advancing late-modern capitalism, ‘authoritarian’ leader, a ‘republican’ leader, a ‘theatrical’ leader of spectacle, a ‘transactional’ leader, or a ‘transformational’ leader? I submit that the question cannot be answered because these are not scientific laws of a leadership science and are not worked out in open systems. A leadership science ‘law’ may or may not actualize in the domain of actual events, or in the domain of empirical experiences of retrospective sensemaking. In the press, president-elect Trump is characterized as leader types depicted in Figure 1. They form contradictory Alterities.

I believe leadership in society to be part of such quantum antenarrative processes of fore-caring, in advance. Fore-caring for an ethics of answerability, and an ethics of care for the society is fundamental to societal leadership.

“Beyond a certain median per capita [QUANTA] energy level, the political system and cultural context of any society must decay” – (Ivan Illich, Energy & Equity essay, bracket addition mine). We have to ask what Trump Leadership Alterities mean for the future of U.S. Society and the Planet.

What follows are the leadership notions being associated with president-elect Donald Trump.


Figure 1: President-Elect Trump Alterities of Leadership (Drawing by D. Boje December 13, 2016, used by permission)

See for example:

Trump is strongman leader: Trump, Putin, Xi and the cult of the strongman leader: The rise of such personalized autocracy will lead to international instability by Gideon Rachman Oct 31 2016

Trump is authoritrian leader: Donald Trump Is Already Acting Like an Authoritarian Just days since the election, the worst fears about him are coming true. BY BRIAN BEUTLER  November 14, 2016

Trump is autocratic leader: Autocratic for the people: As Donald Trump’s populist wave recedes, an authoritarian regime in the making is revealed You can say this for Trump: He’s been unapologetically clear about his anti-democratic aims from the get-go by Bob Cesca

Trump is a billionaire leader: See his facebook page audience comments.

Trump is a Bully Boss: Trump is famous for his “You’re fired” Washington Post 2005; In a Land of Bullies, Trump Looks Familiar Hillary’s portraying Trump as a fictional Hollywood bully. But he’s more like the real ones we’ve been living with in the former Soviet Union for the last 20 years. By ANNA NEMTSOVA October 18, 2016

 Trump is a Twitter Tweeter:  Donald Trump, the Tweeter in Chief From the December 5, 2016, issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD. 10:00 AM, NOV 25, 2016 | By FRED BARNES

Trump is a populist leader: How can a plutocrat like Trump be a populist leader? He’s a product of the right’s reaction to neoliberalism Donald Trump is the last person who should be expected to lead a working class movement by 
 Trump is a Fascist leader: Donald Trump’s political persona aligns with that of a fascist leader, according to 14 key signs One historian lamented that Trump’s win would “hearten fascists all over the world.” by

Art credit: Thomas Fluharty source

10 Ways to Tell if your Leader is a Fascist?

Summary of this source: Donald Trump’s political persona aligns with that of a fascist leader, according to 14 key signs

1. The cult of tradition. “Make America Great Again”

2. Rejection of modernism. Trump denies scientific truth of climate change

3. The cult of action for action’s sake. Trump waives daily intelligence briefings

4. Opposition to analytical criticism; disagreement is treason. Trump sadi he would pay legal fees for those who knock the crap out of protesters.

5. Exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. “… more than 900 hate crimes documented since the election suggest some correlation. So does the frequency with which Trump’s name appears in racist graffiti and is shouted by perpetrators of hate crimes.”

6. Appeal to a frustrated middle class. “Trump made overt appeals to whites who believe the American Dream is not so much slipping from their grasp as being snatched away by undeserving immigrants and other perceived outsiders”

7. Obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. “Trump obviously appealed to racial and religious nationalist sentiments among a majority of white Americans by scapegoating Mexican and Muslim immigrants on issues of crime, job losses and terrorism.”… Trump also propagated conspiracies by right-wing figures such as Alex Jones and Michael Savage which hold that globalism, aka the New World Order, threatens American interests.

8. Followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies. “Trump conjured up a vision of America in a downward spiral, a nation fallen from its lofty position in the world to one deserving of shame and ridicule. He spent much of the campaign telling Americans they weren’t just losing, but had become the butt of an embarrassing worldwide joke.”

9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare.

“Trump has made expansion of the U.S military a primary aim, putting the country in a perpetually defensive stance. In the past, he has reportedly demanded to know why the U.S. shouldn’t use its nuclear weapons. In the weeks since the election, he has filled his cabinet with war hawks.”

10. Popular elitism.“Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio has written that Trump’s father instilled in his son that “most people are weaklings,” and thus don’t deserve respect. Trump, who has earned a reputation as a lifelong bully in both his public and private lives, has consistently bemoaned America’s weakness, resulting from the reign of weak cultural elites.”


What is alterity? Alterity is part of the human condition of leadership in capitalist society. Alterity (or 1M in Bhaskar’s (1993/2008: 42) dialectics is non-identity. Trump leadership 1M Alterities are in contradiction to one another, in dialectical opposition, where no synthesis is possible. How can Trump be populace-leader draining the swamp and autocratic-leader not listening to wants and needs of working class? In a December 8, 2016 study by the PEW Research Center, “About half (52%) call Trump a strong leader, but the public is less likely to assign other positive characteristics to him. Fewer than half describe Trump as honest (41%), inspiring (41%) or well-qualified (37%). Only about three-in-ten call him moral (31%) and just 26% say that he is a good role model.”[1] ABC asks “Is he the gracious winner of election night who called on the country to unite? Or is he the spiteful, often unhinged bully who wants to jail his opponent, apply a religion test to immigrants and build physical and tariff walls?”[2]

Quantum Storytelling is a fore-caring, preparing in advance to collapse waves of potential good into good events

Some Definitions

1.Quantum – (noun) Smallest quantity of radiant energy that any system possesses to exist

2.Quanta – Plural of quantum; quanta are waves & particles; matter & non-matter; mass & non-mass; here & there at same time; measurable & non-measurable

3.Quantus – Latin for ‘how much?’

4.Quantum Storytelling – Things tell stories because Every Thing is QUANTA & alive, entangled energy waves

There are four levels in Bhaskar’s dialectical critical realism (DCR), which we can apply to Trump leadership in society:

1M = Alterity non-identity generates destratification as the diversity of leader identities mix of dialectically-opposed leader-identities Trump has at least 10 identities and non-identities.

2E = Absence absenting leadership repairs by transformative negation against wants, needs, and well-being of society contrary to expectations of dialectics of freedom in theory/practice contradiction. Trump leaders by negation after negation.

3L = Alienation detotalization and retotalization dialectic, fragmented split-off impotent selves of Trump

4D = Agency of Trump to bring about future state of affairs and deagentification dialectic of decay, demise, and destruction that pose a performative contradiction

Bhaskar (1993/2008” 44) asserts that “change, is transformative negation or absenting” and change “causes are in space-time and effects are negations.” Trump in the material world, in spacetimemattering (as Bard 2007 terms it), is dealing with open-systemic society with its changes that is absolutely not a monovalent ontology, and not the canonical atomistic form of Cartesian-Newtonian billiard ball materialisms of action by contact. Rather, in our quantum storytelling sense, action-at-a-distance of a Tweeting Leader, Authoritarian Leader, Bully Boss, and so on (Figure 1) makes for a “radical autogenesis” in a complex society, Trump’s development of organic living-system out of non-living matter can spell the collapse and demise of democratic society (p. 46).

President-elect Trump has declared the (2E) absence of living wage in selecting Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary, the end of Scott Pruitt as Attorney General bodes the end alternative energy development, Trump’s picks for Secretary of State is ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson, and the selection of Myron Ebell, a global warming skeptic and director of a Washington think tank funded by coal and oil interests to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is very telling about the future of climate action being drowned in climate denial. We will get to the other picks in the body of the paper. Democracy is caught in the grip of a strongman leader, truncated dialectic, where absenting the U.S. from Paris accord, NAFTA, minimum wage is spreading outwards spatially and stretching forward and backward temporally. The tangled loops of Trump leadership dialectics are virtual and hyperreality spectacle of making holes and voices in U.S. society.

The purpose of this article is the development of a dialectical realist ‘storytelling’ account of leadership science, to apply to leadership in society. Only then can we answer the question: what kind of leader in society, is Trump? The aim of this ‘storytelling account’ of Trump leadership must provided a comprehensive alternative to the leadership positivism which since the time of Stogdill and then Bass has fashioned the organizational behaviorist image of leadership science. The theory of societal (& organizational) leadership, the causal leadership-laws, is the main concern of this study. I will pose new arguments critical of the familiar leadership science theories (transactional, transformational, trait, power, substitutes) as well as against the popular and widely accepted theories (great man, X, Y, task, or relationship, and 7 habits).

I will argue that the constant conjunction of ‘leadership’ events, such as a presidential election of a billionaire business tycoon, is not a sufficient and necessary condition for a scientific law of leadership. Further following Roy Bhaskar (1975; 1993/2008; 2010), I will assert that it is only if leadership science can establish its scientific law that there is an adequate rationale for leadership theory of events. Further, the narrative or counternarrative sensemaking of events is not an adequate rationale for leadership theory of events, and much less for scientific law of leadership. There must be something antecedent to both narrative and counternarrative of a Trump leadership, else we just argue one extreme political view against another, the right versus the left, conservative versus progressive, and so on, in an endless regress.

The contribution to leadership science is to specify the ‘real’ ontological independence, a quantum entanglement of AGMs apart from the actual events (or sequences of events) they may or may not generate in open systems, or the closed systems of leadership experimentally designed control conditions. In this way, leadership science can aspire to some idea of universality of a known law that may be sustain in experimental activity and can be intelligible in some political or socioeconomic societal event called leadership in society. In leadership in society there are such open systems, in a constant entanglement and conjunction of events we cannot assume the efficacy of a leadership law.

I will make a ‘transcendental real’ contribution to leadership science, to make leadership experimenter’s positivist empirical activity more intelligible, as they study the causal agent of a societal sequence of events, by here identifying the antecedent causal law which enables the experimenter to identify the generative mechanism itself and the popular author to do sensemaking of actual experiences of Trump leadership. Specifically, my contribution is to posit that there is an ontological distinction between transcendental ‘real’ leadership science laws and those ‘patterns of events’ the experiment as cause agent does manipulate, then measure, and populace sensemaking of domain of empirical ‘experiences.’ Ontologically, the transcendental real is distinct from what happens in an open system of an organization, and both are ontologically distinct from the empirical real of an experimental manipulation and control in a closed system.

There is finally a contribution to quantum storytelling. The words ‘quantum storytelling’ produce an image of antenarrative waves freewheeling in spacetimemattering, before they collapse into some particle of living story or a dominant narrative or counternarrative.  This image is very congruent with my sense of the existence of AGMs as being antecedent, in advance of spacetimemattering of leadership events and experiences.  Whole societies, with many cultures can be carried during AGM processes. I believe leadership in society to be part of such processes.[3]

The structure of the presentation is as follows. In part one, I will review the efficacy of laws of leadership science in a ‘dialectical critical realist’ account as distinct from patterns of actual events, and form positivistic narratives or counternarratives of experience. Then, in part two, I analyze the Trump ‘leadership’ from a proposed critical leadership science. In part three, I assess the possible AGMs in Trump ‘leadership. This is followed by discussion of implications for a leadership science. We begin with critical realist theory of leadership science.


PART ONE: What is Leadership Science, Ontologically? Dialectical critical realism (DCR) argues that it would be an anthropomorphic mistake for science to neglect the antecedent generative mechanisms or structures. The implication for leadership science is that antecedent processes are generative, rather than humans (hero or villain) being solo causal agents. Therefore an adequate account of leadership science must study the means of leaderly production, and the capacity to sustain independent or distinct existence of generative processes of ongoing leadership in society, which is under continuing process of transformation and flux of phenomena, as an open system. What Bhaskar terms ‘laws’ are not narratives or statements about ‘actual’ past events or ‘experiences’ (retrospective sensemaking narratives or counternarratives, backward looking at selective events), rather ‘laws’ are about ways of activity, thing Being-in-the-world (Bhaskar, 1975; Heidegger, 1962).

DCR is a non-Humean ontology that allows for generative mechanisms and structures that Humean atomistic event cause and effect assumptions ignore. Hume’s causation ontology occurs in the context of thinking about what and how we can know about ‘matters of fact’. Humean ontology rests on the ideas of a relation between two events (or object) in direct contact. As such, Humean cause and effect commits what Bhaskar (1975, 1991, 2010) calls the epistemic fallacy, reducing ontological processes to epistemic (ways of knowing), and to reductionistic empirical linear regularities that cannot account for action-at-a-distance or nonlinear patterns outside closed [system] conditions.

Antenarrative Generative Mechanisms (AGMs) In storytelling, the ‘real’ basis of causal laws is constituted by AGM’s distinct from events of actual, and empirical sensemaking experiences (see Figure 1). AGMs exist in the real processes-in-action, and can, but may not manifest in events and experiences. The empirical domain of actual and experience cannot attain to the real where AGMs exist antecedent and in advance of narrative and counternarrative.[4] Attempts limiting leadership science to sensemaking experience as the natural ground results in reducing ontology to epistemology (aka epistemic fallacy). AGMs are concerned with tendencies, how causal laws may manifest some pattern of events in open systems.

To describe a science law, one needs a theory (Bhaskar, 1975: 12), but not a reductionistic theory that collapses different ontologies into a monist account. For example, every classic leadership theory makes the author’s reductionist ascription of leaderly agency belonging to some character-hero or -villain, is an integral part of every narrative of leadership. I dispute this reductionist narrative, not with a counternarrative, but with antenarrative generative processes (or mechanisms) that are antecedent. At the core of my leadership theory is an antenarrative picture of a natural process, the ‘antenarrative generative mechanism’ (hereafter, AGM) at work in the leadership in society. Leadership in society is not a closed system, but rather is indeed an open system of a multiplicity of interdependent ‘storytelling’ organizations (government, business, school, university, non-profit, voluntary, and so on). And it is the working of AGMs that the ‘transcendental real’ antecedent bases of attribution of something to effect cause, in the ‘empirical real’ of closed system experiment that must be the focus of leadership science. Rather than the human hero or villain, I proposed it is process not person that constitutes leadership in society. The basic model is presented in Table one.

Table 1: Domains of Real, Actual, and Empirical are distinct – Adapted version of Roy Bhaskar (1975: 13) by Boje

Domain of Real Domain of Actual Domain of Empirical
Antenarrative Generative Mechanisms (AGMs)
Events in Living Story Webs of relation
Experiences of Retrospective Sensemaking Narrative or Counternarrative


AGMs are antecedent to patterns of living story events (without beginning or ending) that are rendered into retrospective sensemaking experiences with a beginning, middle, and end (or BME narrative linearity) (Weick, 1995). AGMs are necessary but do not always result in a consequent story event-ness or narrative sensemaking experience. The ‘real’, the ‘actual’, and positivistic empirical overlap, and are distinct from one another.

The weakness of leadership science is that it tries to found its laws on closed systems of leadership, viz. systems where a constant conjunction of events, or classical empiricism occurs in conformity to ideal models or theories imagined. Bhaskar’s dialectical critical realism has a higher standard, where laws that are generative of leadership phenomena are universal of the ‘real’ antecedent to their practical application in open systems or regularity in closed system experimental conditions. The dialectic of a leadership science goes beyond the step of classical empiricism model-building tradition, or the idealist tradition of leadership theorizing.

Bhaskar (2010) proposes two analytic tools to use. The tools are not independent. Rather, the second tool is a deeper elaboration of the first. I will apply the tool s to the problematic of Antarctic research teams attempting to achieve transdisciplinary outcomes.

DREIC Analytic Tool DREIC is a set of analytic method steps:

D – Description: Description of some pattern of events occurring between leaders and identifiable complex open systemic phenomena of a society.

R – Retroduction: Retroduction means tracing the possible antecedent AGMs that may or may not be manifesting by the leaders in society practices (communications or behaviors).

E – Elimination: Elimination of auxiliary hypotheses, competing alternative AGMs.

I – Identification: Identification of AGM that is most likely the deep structural antecedent, constituted in quantum field in space, in time, in mattering (or what Barad, 2007, calls the inseparability of spacetimemattering).

C – Correction: Correction by iteration of earlier closed systemic research findings that were not attentive to AGMs.


The second analytic tool is RRREIC.

RRREIC Analytic Tool RRREIC is used to analyze open systemic phenomena of extreme geographic conditions in its quantum field context.

R1 – Resolution: Resolution of example event into particular components

R2 – Redescription: Redescription of each component in contrast to its ideal way of acting

R3 – Retroduction: Tracing possible component antecedent in AGMs manifesting events

E – Examination: Examination and elimination of competing AGMs that could bring event about

I – Identification: Identification any transdisciplinary outcomes of AGM (efficacy & creative deviance)

C – Correcting: Correction earlier findings of closed systemic research paradigms

The next section develops the RRREIC analytic tool in more detail, and develops additional implications for leadership science.

R1 – Resolution Analysis

Given the complexity of open systemic societal contexts, there are multiple systems of interacting organizations that produce socioeconomic, sociomaterial, sociocultural, and sociopolitical outcomes. However ‘dead’ leadership theory can be faulted for not hypothesizing effects at the interorganizational and inter-nation levels of analysis that are operative in U.S. society and a multi-nation network of government agencies, transnational corporations, mass media, and so on.

R2 – Redescription Analysis

To establish the explanation in terms of Bhaskar’s ‘laminated systems’ means seeking resolution between psychological systems and Natural systems, between socioeconomic and human agency, between cosmological meaning and universal law, between reason and cause, between fact and value, and between theory and practice.

R3 – Retroduction Analysis

  1. S. Peirce used retroduction and abduction interchangeably. Retroductive logic (as opposed to indicative or deductive logic) postulates and explains generative mechanisms producing events and experiences. The question becomes what AGMs could explain this situation? Adductive analysis, by contrast is more of an intuitive guess, a surprising insight, that can become something retroductive (Boje, 2014, see story of Peirce abduction story of identifying the watch theif). What is the law-like operation of AGMs in the open-systemic of society? Retroduction unpacks the array of AGMs at work in a complex open system of hundreds of institutions. It deconstructs their component AGMS, operative potentially in the component parts of complex societal systems replete with multiplicities bound together. These AGM’s must also be analyzed holistically, in co-constituting events as nexus of AGMs in laminated open-systems. Bhaskar (2010: 7) stresses the important concept of intra-action, that like Barad (2007), he differentiates from “normal external-relational connotations of ‘interaction’.”[5] Each AGM can contain complexes of component parts that may in term in holistic intra-action involve a coalescing of forces of many AGM determinations.

Next we apply these analysis tools to the Trump leadership actions.


PART TWO: Critical Realism Account of Trump Leadership in Society


The efficacy of a law of leadership science must exist independent of the actual patterns of events of Trump election. Trump’s election could be the result of an accidental sequence Ea à Eb, is necessary if an only if there is an AGM process which stimulated the event described by a narrative or counternarrative of ‘Ea’ producing ‘Eb’ (Bhaskar, 1975” 19). Indeed it is because of Trump’s election we need to performer additional analysis, and only with laws of science that go beyond the sensemaking of the domain of the positivist empirical experiences.

R1 – Resolution Analysis of Trump Leaderhship We can begin with a resolution analysis of the intelligibility of sensemaking narratives of recent events, such as Trumps tweets about Boeing, must rely on leadership science so as not to misidentify as Tweet as leadership: “Boeing is building a brad new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but cost are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” (8:52 AM Dec 6 2016, [6]


Figure 2: MarketWatch Analysis of effects of Trump’s Tweet about Boeing

The Tweet affected stock prices, in a conflict of theory and practice. “Trump’s tweet cost Boeing shareholders more than $550 million” (Market Watch, Dec. 6, Or, “Boeing Gives Trump Phone Call Within Hours of Trump’s Tweet Vowing To Work With Him To Reduce Costs on Air Force One” (Dec. 7, IBID.). We need leadership science to make sense of the domain of actual Trump events and experiences. “An experiences are often (epistemically speaking) ‘out of phase’ with events — e.g. when they are misidentified” (Bhaskar, 1975: 13). Leadership science needs some ontological training or education because the domains of the real, actual, and empirical are distinct.

R2 – Redescription Analysis of Trump Leadership

The antinomy of Trump leaderly socioeconomic changes to society and his own human agency is one of dialectical ongoing development of evermore contradictions. For example, the U.S. government is spending millions of dollars leasing two floors of Trump Towers to accommodate the Secret Service security of a president elect.[7] Trump says he cannot have a conflict of interest as President, with his billionaire global business interest.[8]

R3 – Retroduction Analysis of Trump Leadership

What Trumpian leadership has to reconcile is most telling in climate change. Climate change denial, by most every Trump appointee, has to negotiate its situatedness in four planes, across seven scales, and interactions of ten system entities (Bhaskar, 2010: 9-10).

Climate science studies of trends and facts are not convincing to science denier political and corporate Trump leadership. We must therefore call into question the way in which climate denial leader’s rhetoric is substituted for coherent integration of scientific findings.

The counternarrative impulse of climate science denial by political leadership has stalled the development of interdisciplinary climate science. Interdisciplinary science tools are required to meet complex challenges of climate science denial of the Trump leadership picks for cabinet posts and heads of government institutions.

We must begin to integrate across relatively adjacent climate science disciplines, such as between sciences of soil, water, air, and climate. The more difficult challenge is to integrate across more diverse disciplines such as economics, population, energy technology, biology, physics and chemistry of pollution, environmental literacy, linguistics, rhetoric, history, philosophy, ethics, and politics.

Here I am proposing that dialectical critical realism philosophy has contributions to make to interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and cross-disciplinarity that goes beyond the monoist singular focus of climate denial.

We can effect change in interdisciplinary climate science by engaging in in critical thinking about the real empiric outcomes, the real risks of continued climate denial. We can form ‘climate council’s that are interdisciplinary, hold conferences, teach-ins, symposia, and field courses in interdisciplinary science. Critical thinking about the junk science the gas, oil, and coal funding of climate denial is necessary not just as counternarrative to climate denial, but to develop antenarratives (new bets on possible futures) alternative futures that can by fore-caring in advance of both narrative and counternarratives about climate, be brought into being. Its not about polemic discourse, developing more counternarratives to counternarratives. Rather, the antenarrative standpoint nurtures fore-having, fore-structuring, fore-conceptions, fore-telling that is all part of fore-caring for sustainable relationships between the Natural world and human societies. Doing the opposite of Trump leadership appointees is not enough. Rather antenarrative standpoint is about creating alternative future possibilities, and collapsing those waves into this spacetime.

Trump leadership of climate denial is an irrealism, a politics of greed, in the light of contemporary global ecological conditions of global warming and climate change.

Hoyes (2010) has seven theses to get away from the mono-single-cause narrative of CO2.

  1. Reuniting CO2 with greenhouse gases: CO2 is one of many greenhouse gases
  2. Reuniting CO2 with fossil energy
  3. Reuniting CO2 with energy
  4. Reuniting CO2 with consumption
  5. Reuniting CO2 with economic growth
  6. Reuniting CO2 with sustainable development
  7. Reuniting CO2 withpost-carbon society

Four Planes of Leadership:

  1. Material transactions of humans and their capitalism with Nature.
  2. Socioeconomic interactions between humans
  3. Social structures and social class
  4. Stratification and de-stratification of the embodied personalities of Trums

Seven Scales of Leadership

  1. Psychology sub-individual scale of leadership
  2. Biology scale of embodied leadership
  3. Micro level scale (as studied by Ethnomethodology )of leadership
  4. Meso scale contrast of factual role and prescribed functional roles of leadership
  5. Macro scale formation of regional economies and functioning of whole societies in global context of leadership
  6. Mega scale of whole (democratic) traditions and (commodity) civilization
  7. Planetary scale of cosmological whole and leadership

Ten System Entities of Leadership:

  1. Normative systems
  2. Psychological systems
  3. Social systems
  4. Living Organism in their environmental systems
  5. Ecological systems
  6. Biological systems
  7. Geological systems
  8. Chemical systems
  9. Physical systems
  10. Cosmological systems

This is the context of co-complexity, the fortiori reason why Trump leadership practices are meeting opposition.


PART THREE: Researching AGMs in Trump’s ‘Leadership’


One AGM to explore in Trump’s leadership is theatrical. As Michael Brenner (in press, p. 4), puts it:

“What is theater in all its various manifestation but an inverted mirror of its society, and what does it reflect? What does it mean to experience a distance between one’s role in daily life and “who one really is” in private? In what ways is a union or a corporation an artificial person, and what are the unconscious dimensions of that? And what, if anything, is a political state if not an artificial person, as Thomas Hobbes claimed 1651, or an ever-changing constellation of structurally situated individuals in positions to make decisions about economic policy, public morality and the use of force?”


“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get.” à from Arthur Wayne Jones, as cited in David P. Hanna (1988: 38; 2001: 19)

In Trump-Land Theater, are we as audience witness to the staging of an inverted mirror of U.S. society? If so, what it reflects a mask of democracy morality in reverse, its unconscious Social Darwinism. Trump the artificial person-become-president, sees no conflict of interest in being CEO of the artificial individual called ‘Trump Corporation,” just part of Hobbesian ever-changing schizophrenia, a constellation of artificial persons. Who is in Trump’s cast of characters?


Figure 3 – The Trump Theater Cast of Characters [9]

What are the implications for Climate Action?  These are the facts:

—Average USA person’s carbon footprint

—20 tons carbon dioxide per year compared

—1.1 tons for average person in India

—5% of world’s population in the USA create

—20% of carbon dioxide emissions &

—30% of the world’s resources consumed.

—Carl’s Jr. Andy Puzder, the fast-food CEO chosen for Labor secretary, raised campaign cash for Trump and personally contributed $388,000 to the RNC and $150,000 to Trump’s joint fundraiser. He also gave $10,000 to Rebuilding America Now.

—ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson chosen for Secretary of State.

—Myron Ebell picked to lead his EPA transition team. Ebell is Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

—Scott Pruitt to head up EPA, Oklahoma attorney general, who is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry.

Several billionaires who gave money to his campaign, others are generals supporting Trump:[10]

“Former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin, the president-elect’s choice for Treasury secretary, served as Trump’s top fundraiser and personally contributed $430,000 to Trump and to the Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising account.

President-elect Donald Trump on Monday said he would appoint Gary Cohn, a longtime Goldman Sachs executive, to lead the powerful National Economic Council, giving the Wall Street insider a key job in developing the new administration’s economic policy. “The 26-year Goldman Sachs veteran brings with him the investment bank’s longstanding acknowledgement of climate change, which Trump has referred to as a Chinese hoax, and support for the international agreement to address it, which Trump has said he’ll abandon.”  Donald Trump’s Adviser From Goldman May Be His Most Environmentally Friendly Pick Yet Dec 21- 2016.

The bank accepts climate science and called for a “strong” climate treaty.

12/21/2016 02:31 pm

Pro wrestling magnate Linda McMahon, Trump’s pick to head the Small Business Administration, gave $6 million to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that backed Trump. She also gave $153,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising account and more than $400,000 to the RNC.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, Trump’s choice for Commerce secretary, had a senior role on Trump’s fundraising team. He gave $200,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising account and $117,000 to the RNC.

Andy Puzder, the fast-food CEO chosen for Labor secretary, raised campaign cash for Trump and personally contributed $388,000 to the RNC and $150,000 to Trump’s joint fundraiser. He also gave $10,000 to Rebuilding America Now.

“If you are wondering how Trump will dismantle EPA regulations and staff, meet Myron Ebell, the man Trump has picked to lead his EPA transition team. Ebell is Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Ebell’s official bio is here. DeSmogBlog, which tracks PR experts who are funded by polluters, has an alternative rundown here.”[11].And Scott Pruitt Mr. Trump has selected the Oklahoma attorney general, who is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry. Then add Trump’s pick for Secretary of State is ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson. The climate deniers are in control of the key cabinet positions, and institutions of government.

Another Trump Cabinet selection, Betsy DeVos, belongs to one of the top Republican donor families in the country. The Education secretary pick, however, was no booster of Trump’s. She gave $50,000 to a super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Trump’s rival in the GOP primaries. She also wired the maximum amount to another of Trump’s primary rivals, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

And Todd Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, who has been picked to be deputy commerce secretary.[12]

And John F. Kelly Mr. Trump is expected to name the retired four-star Marine general, whose son was killed in combat in Afghanistan, for Homeland Security Secretary.

And for Defense Secretary, James N. Mattis Mr. Trump announced at a rally that he had selected General Mattis, who led a Marine division to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and led the United States Central Command from 2010-13. General Mattis, now retired, has been a critic of the Obama administration. He would need a waiver from Congress to lead the Pentagon because he has been out of uniform for less than seven years.

And for Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao Mr. Trump has selected Ms. Chao, the labor secretary under President George W. Bush. Ms. Chao, who is married to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has been a fixture of the Republican establishment in Washington.

And for Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price Mr. Trump has selected Mr. Price, a six-term Republican congressman from Georgia and orthopedic surgeon who has led opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Price has said the law interferes with the ability of patients and doctors to make medical decision.

And for Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Ben Carson Mr. Trump has selected the former neurosurgeon and presidential candidate to be his nominee to lead HUD. Mr. Carson had previously said he did not want to work in government.

Jeff Sessions Mr. Trump has selected Senator Sessions, of Alabama, as his nominee. Mr. Sessions is a strong proponent of strict immigration enforcement, reduced spending and tough-on-crime measures. His nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986 was rejected because of racially charged comments and actions, which are very likely to become an issue as he faces another set of Senate confirmation hearings.

This particular election storytelling is still in a state of antenarrative ‘potentia’ fragments. Putting the wealthy billionaires on the Trump Theater stage is inverse-mirror image to the populist campaign that Mr. Trump ran courting support from working-class voters across the U.S.. “Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund executive and member of the Trump transition team, insisted on Wednesday that appointing wealthy investors did not contradict the campaign’s populist message” (WSJ, ). Mnuchin and Ross, are experienced at buying distressed properties, foreclosing on struggling homeowners, then quickly selling for a profit.

This is all good fodder for counternarrative, such as Saturday Night Live: “n a sketch focusing on Trump’s controversial Cabinet picks, Bryan Cranston reprised his “Breaking Bad” character Walter White to play the incoming president’s nominee to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration.”[13]

President-elect Trump’s choice of Andrew Puzder to run the Department of Labor raises questions and concerns about whether he will vigorously defend the interests of American workers,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said in a statement.

“The wealthy donors and others he appoints to office should be presumed incompetent and riddled with interest conflicts until proven otherwise. His emphasis on a cult of personal loyalty, insensitivity to conflicts of interest, alliances with bigots, and willingness to appoint people wholly ignorant of, and indeed hostile to, the tasks associated with a particular office, mean that the burden of proof should always be on Trump to demonstrate the competence and honesty of his appointees.” –Nancy Altman Founding Co-Director, Social Security Works and Ira Lupu F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professor of Law Emeritus, George Washington University Law School Never Normalize: Why Trump’s Presidency Is Illegitimate And How To Respond 12/20/2016 09:36 am



An antenarrative for a positive future:

  1. 1. Walk and Bike more
  2. Change your Diet a little
  3. Scale down Energy Use
  4. Less Golf, More Water

We are trying to adjust to the prospective sensemaking of Trump leadership. Dialectical contradictions constitute and propel the Trump leadership in society. Could they become any more antagonistic? The many non-identities (Alterities) are so diverse and contrary they become their own self-organizing emergence and rhythmic of spatialized futures in the “context of global capitalist commodity, both figuratively and literally” (Bhaskar, 1993/2008: 53). The potentia of Trumpian leadership dialectic contradictions driving more reactions of societal proportion seem likely.

Is the absenting of climate action, dismantling the EPA, minimum wage, the privatizing of social security, Medicare, school vouchers, and so on, a good thing? It’s definitely the “politics of the new world disorder”, a billionaire politics on steroids (Bhaskar, 1993/2008: 53).

Dialectical critical realism (DCR) situates some interesting possibilities for leadership in society. The entanglement of autocratic, authoritarian, bully boss, strongman, and fascist leader traits with Twitter and populace leader qualities makes a mockery of the typical transactional-transformational approaches to leadership. Trump is both transactional (ask Boeing and Carrier) and transformational (as the Republican Party), and yet neither of these captures his dialectical performative contradictions and inconsistencies so askew from democratic freedom. In a process of absenting of everything from EPA to public education, minimum wage, to immigration, there is negation after negation, as human agent Trump strives to bring about a radically different state of societal affairs. It is a dialectical process.



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Bhaskar, R. (1975). 1978. A Realist Theory of Science. London/NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Bhaskar, R. (1993/2008). Dialectic: The pulse of freedom. London/NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

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Bhaskar, R.; Frank, Cheryl; Hoyer, Karl Georg; Naess, Petter’ Parker, Jenneth. (Eds.). (2010). Interdisciplinarity and climate change: Transforming knowledge and practice for our global future. London/NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

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Boje, M., & Svane, M., Gergerich, E. (in press). Counternarrative and Antenarrative Inquiry in Two Cross-Cultural Contexts. Cross Cultural Management.


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Rosile, Grace Ann; Boje, David M.; Nez, Carma Claw. (2016). “Ensemble Leadership Theory: Collectivist, Relational, and Heterarchical Roots from Indigenous Contexts.” Leadership journal.CLICK HERE for online prepublication draft


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[1] PEW Research Center,

[2] ABC Donald Trump: What kind of leader will the president-elect be?  Chris Uhlmann Updated 9 Nov 2016, 4:22pm

[3] My thanks to an exchange with Bonnie Oak Boesky in email Dec 11 2016, that prompted this insight.


[4] Boje blog posts on AGMs at

[5] Note: Barad and Bhaskar develop intra-activity separately and their notions are quite different. For Barad (2007) intra-activity is materiality with discourse, and the basis of this is the double-slit quantum physics experiment. For Bhaskar (2010: 9-10) the intra-activity is a dialectic process in a stratified ontology, of four planes, seven scales, and some ten system entities, which comprise laminated systems of complexity and fractality.

[6] Dec 6 & Dec 7 2016

[7] Trump Tower security may take over 2 floors — and cost millions

By Julia Marsh November 24, 2016 | 7:04pm | Updated

[8] Trump Says ‘Can’t Have a Conflict of Interest’ as President

by John Voskuhl and Caleb Melby November 22, 2016, 12:04 PM MST November 22, 2016, 3:06 PM MST

[9] NY Times

[10] What Trump’s Cabinet picks reveal



[11] Huffington Post Meet Trump’s Pick To Dismantle EPA

11/06/2016 04:17 pm ET | Updated Nov 13, 2016

[12] Trump’s Economic Cabinet Picks Signal Embrace of Wall St. Elite



[13] Watch SNL go after Trump’s Cabinet picks — by introducing Walter White as the head of DEA, Elahe Izadi December 11 at 10:24 AM


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