Some thoughts on the Gorilla Mindset

English: Thomas Hobbes Македонски: Томас Хобс

English: Thomas Hobbes Македонски: Томас Хобс (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the surface this is another self-help book. You can find a summary posted at this link.[1] It contains the standard advice such as “get more sleep”, “eat better”, “exercise” “practice mindfulness” “stay away from negative people and thoughts” “eat more meat”[2]. The book indicates that by following this advice the reader will unleash their inner animal spirit.

The book encourages human beings, the readers, to enter the mindset of a gorilla. As a modern approach, it inverts what was before the goal of political philosophy to encourage human beings to transcend their animal nature on the journey to become a Man or even a Citizen. An individual was not fully human unless they participated rationally in the public domain. When there is reference to man as a social animal or a political animal, it is understood that the animal nature was lower than the human nature. The community’s goal was to develop a man’s character by inculcating virtue for it was his character not his nature that defined him. In turn this man or citizen would contribute to the common good.

With the Enlightenment, we see a change as social contract theorists like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau suggest that the modern state or society emerges from a pre-political state, a state of nature, where man lives an incomplete life. Hobbes argued famously that life in the state of nature was “nasty, brutish, short, poor, and solitary.” To escape this man creates a commonwealth for a safe, prosperous, and social life. What matters less is character and what matters more is the institutions that contain or shape man. Institutions do not require virtuous member to thrive and the common good becomes an institutional good.

What does all of this have to do with a self-help book?

What we find with this book is that the focus is less on the reader as a citizen or even a man for the focus is on the animal nature of human beings. To improve our lives, the author suggests that we celebrate our instincts so there is little talk of virtue, reason, or the common good. Our minds or our soul become secondary to our instincts. We see no idea that our spiritual life is as important, if not more important, than our physical life. Yet, the gorilla can be appealing for it provides a rudimentary structure to think about life instinctually and not communally.

In gorilla troops, the strong rule the weak. Such a view is antithetical to cultured human society where the idea of justice, a form of political or legal equality, guides public life. Without political equality, or justice, human society starts to decay into brutality (Nazi society, Khmer Rouge society, Maoist society) where one group permanently rules all others. The American experiment was a way to avoid that fate by the focus on reason and what is highest in man. In an America that has lost faith in that experiment, where virtue and character matter less than instinct, the book appears to sell well.

 

 

[1] https://trello.com/b/0xuitV0C/gorilla-mindset-notes

[2] What is curious is that Gorillas are considered herbivorous not carnivores.

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What is treason of the deep state?

English: After Robert E. Lee surrendered his t...

English: After Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops in April 1865, he promoted reconciliation. This statement reaffirmed his loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bannon and indirectly Trump believe that they are being betrayed by the “deep state” which appears to be defined as the bureaucrats and the bureaucracy that they inherited. In particular, those individuals who served the Obama administration and appear loyal to him in their disclosure of information to journalists. They argue that these people are protecting the “establishment” which exists beyond what Trump and his aides can control.

The argument is that these holdovers are disloyal to Trump and by extension disloyal to the public and ultimately the country for what they do. In a more extreme view, they could be called traitors. But what is treason? Is it betrayal of the country? If so, what is the country, are they betraying the soil, or the people? If they are betraying the people who are they betraying them to? Another faction within the country or another state? As Leo Strauss suggested, treason is about selling out the established order because political crimes are committed against an order.[1] What represents the order within a country? It is the constitution. The loyalty demanded of all citizens and public servants is to the constitution which embodies the laws of the land.

At the heart of the claim against those who are the “deep state” is an argument over the constitution and loyalty to the constitution. Must bureaucrats demonstrate loyalty to the president as a defender of the constitution and the constitutional order above their loyalty to the constitution? In all of this, we must remember that the president is not the constitution. He only exists by virtue of the constitution. He is a creature of the constitution as is any other bureaucrat or public official. None of whom would exist without the constitution.

When Trump and Bannon question the loyalty of bureaucrats or the “deep state”, they are implicitly, or in some cases explicitly, arguing that they have been disloyal to the president and they owe their loyalty first to the president and then secondly, if at all, to the constitution. While such an approach may have worked at the Trump Organisation, where employees were expected to serve Trump first and the law second, the approach does not work within the government. In the government, all bureaucrats have a higher loyalty to the constitution. To be sure, they are not necessarily constitutional scholars or constitutional lawyers, however, as any citizen can be, they can understand the law. The loyalty to the law and more broadly to the constitution comes before loyalty to the president.

When you heard commentators and politicians, especially within the Trump administration, claim that the deep state is trying to destabilize Trump, consider that they may be trying to defend the constitution. What we are seeing with the leaks is the constitutional system working, to some extent, so long as the goal is to defend the constitution. If that isn’t the goal, then we have to ask what Trump and the leakers think they are doing.

 

 

 

[1] Leo Strauss On Plato’s Symposium ed. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press, 2001) p. 59

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If Trump is a media whore, is Rupert Murdoch his media pimp?

English: Donald Trump at a press conference an...

English: Donald Trump at a press conference announcing David Blaine’s latest feat in New York City at the Trump Tower. The photographer dedicates this portrait of Donald Trump to Tony Santiago, Wikipedia editor Marine 69-71, perhaps the most officially recognized and accomplished content contributor to Wikipedia, for his outstanding contributions to improving articles related to his Puerto Rican heritage. He is also a close friend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trump has been described as a “media whore”.[1] He seeks publicity, good or bad, to retain his status as a public celebrity. He wants publicity to be a celebrity. He knows the public defer to celebrity status more than moral gravitas. He knows the public want to be celebrities more than they want to have moral gravitas. In this, Trump’s insatiable hunger for publicity makes him the perfect match for Rupert Murdoch. Like Ahab after Moby Dick, Murdoch finally has a celebrity to match his ambitions. No matter how many tricks he turns, Trump’s audience wants more. No matter how many times he is slapped by his media pimps, Trump wants more.

Rupert Murdoch harvests people who want publicity. What they all lacked was Trump’s stamina and his ability to retain the public’s attention. Invariably, Murdoch’s other media whores would falter. Either the public grew bored with them or the slaps no longer created enough publicity. In time, the media whore was discarded. Occasionally, one would be rehabilitated to harvest their publicity, but none has thrived like Trump.

Invariably when Murdoch, his editor or his journalist media pimped someone they lacked Trump’s nihilistic joy of publicity. Paul McMullan, perhaps the only honest man to work for News of the World, exemplifies this ethos. He media pimped Jennifer Elliott who needed help with her addiction. He befriended her to gain her trust. With her trust, he sold more stories and photos of her. When no longer of use, he left her and sold that story. He explained this process at the Leveson Inquiry. He was honest about what he had done and why he had done it.[2] In that moment, he ceased to be an effective media pimp.

By contrast, Andy Coulson almost succeeded in emulating Rupert Murdoch. His attempt to pimp a story failed spectacularly and he was forced to resign. Despite that failure, he was rehabilitated as David Cameron’s Director of Communications. When Cameron became Prime Minister, Coulson was with him as a media pimp. On the brink of success, he was undone by the phone hacking that had made him a powerful media pimp. Coulson’s demise destroyed Murdoch’s influences from within the government.

Rupert Murdoch, though, knows how to be a media pimp to Trump’s media whore. He knows that the path between too much support and too much criticism. He has to slap Trump around occasionally to keep him in line even as he touts Trump’s charms. On Fox News, we see opinion pieces that fluff Trump’s ego. The rare critical statement emerges to give the appearance of balance. When Shephard Smith criticized Trump’s surveillance claims, he was only walking back a story that another Fox commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, had created. The incident shows how Murdoch slaps Trump to please his audience even after he promoted Trump’s views to please him. The media pimp is fair and balanced to his media whore and his clients. We end up with a president who wants the authority that comes with his celebrity but not the responsibility. 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/donald-trump-fooled-media

“Donald Trump was, in a time of some of the greatest competition for this title, the world’s ultimate media whore. Hands down. Indeed, on many occasions the media wrote him off as being too much of a media whore (when I worked for New York magazine in the late Nineties, Trump stories were invariably rejected as too lamely obvious and self-promoting). But he was so much of a media whore that he supplicated himself to such a further extent that he triumphed over his own triteness and obviousness.”

[2] http://leveson.sayit.mysociety.org/speech/8974 The story shows perhaps most clearly the tabloid ethos of News of the World from McMullan to Coulson and Brooks to Murdoch. There is no human misery so deep or so devastating that they refrained from profiting from it. They harvested human misery for profit and justified it as being in the public interest.

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Trump as the WWE president. It is all a show.

WWE ring

WWE ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trump is the “WWE president”. Like a character in a wrestling drama, he trashes CNN to the public and talks privately to its CEO. The spats and tantrums attract attention and distract from other issues. With these events, he manages the public domain on his terms. He has turned the presidency into a wrestling show, a political spectacle.

Are you an in on it or are you the mark?

As a spectacle, it has its initiates, those who are on the inside and know that it is a show, and it has the audience, those who believe it to be true. The spectacle is for their benefit so that they can feel good about Trump “sticking it to the media” even as they sell more papers and gain a greater audience. Both profit as Trump stays in the limelight and the media get their profits. What else does either need? The public, the audience, are the ones who live with the consequences. The mark is either the audience or the actor never the director.

Someone suffers either the actors  or the audience, never the President.

To be sure, like the WWE, this is not simply staged or faked. They are real actors who do land blows on each other just as the wrestlers do slam, gouge, and punch each other. The physical acts are real. What is faked is the script. We are to believe that the outrage is real. We are to believe that the establishment is under threat and that the battle is so close that if the public just sacrifice a little more Trump could finally win. Instead, the public are being brought into the con for they truly believe what they are told and see. Trump is trying to fight a losing battle and only they, the paying audience, can ensure that he will overcome the odds.

The President basks in limelight as Congress get clobbered by the audience

What is not on the script are the public consequences. The reality is that repealing ACA (Obamacare) has a deep, lasting, and deadly consequence. Most importantly, Trump is not the one who has to reap this whirlwind. As the WWE president, it is for his wrestlers, Republicans and Democrats, to reap the consequences. Congress, not Trump, has to explain to the audience that yes, you will lose your health coverage and you will suffer. What we said during the campaign about being able to save you from “socialism” was really just to be elected. We can neither replace it nor can we repeal it, but “Hey, we are “punching back” and winning the “culture war””.

Trump is the hero against the entrenched interest, the real villain.

Trump, through all of this, benefits. The lower his approval ratings the less his concern because it validates his status as an outsider. For his supporters, they can see how hard he tried to fight the “establishment”, but he was sabotaged. The script works for him, which was the intent, not for the audience or the actors.

Tune in for the next opponent that Trump needs your help to fight

Tune in next week when Trump fights the Courts to keep you safe against the dreaded “Radical Islamic Terrorism”. Pay per view only so be sure to tune into “fake news” CNN for the best coverage.

 

 

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The day Teflon Don emerged

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, Trump had a disastrous press conference. By all accounts it appeared Trump bombed. Some comments compare him to Nixon as he crumbled under Watergate. For others, he sounded confused, discombobulated, and incoherent. All of this is true and it is wrong.

Trump has measured the media and found them wanting.

Trump won this press conference. He came into his own. You could see him enjoying himself as he played with reporters, humiliated them, and dismissed them. Throughout the questions, he was in control. Not a single question rattled him or even caused him discomfort. He made the point that the leaked telephone calls were like a test. Will future highly sensitive calls be leaked? He could plant the view that it was test that showed how far the press and those who are not loyal to him would go.

If the press do not report what Trump wants, they are dishonest.

For his base, his behaviour was what they wanted. Even if the press try to report or explain why Trump is wrong or had a poor performance, they can point to his opening remarks “The press are dishonest”. By doing this, he appeals to what his supporters want to believe and most importantly, he creates the belief that what is said is what is.

Trump isolates the media from America just as he isolated CNN from the media.

For his audience, his supporters, he has hit a theme that resonates. Just as he isolated CNN within the media, he has begun to isolate the media within America. Most importantly, he was able to insult the media, “take it to them” in a way that his supporters wanted. Note how he says “The failing New York Times”, yet complains about the “hateful tone” in his coverage. His refrain that the press will report him as “ranting and raving”, shows how he shapes the narrative. When the press respond, and explain; calmly, clearly, cogently what Trump did, the public have the narrative to explain the headlines and stories—the press are lying. It is fake news.

If you question him, you disagree with him. If you disagree with him, you will lie about him.

Even when he was confronted about the electoral college win, he could dismiss that by “someone told me”. The response is just as his supporters would expect. Trump was given duff information. What matters is Trump won. For Trump, even a single electoral vote is a large margin. To argue that point shows you are a sore loser. You argue about an irrelevant detail because you disagree with the outcome and don’t like Trump. Why else would you question it?

The Sophist’s revenge on those who believe in the Philosopher’s truth.

Is any of this true? No. Does it matter? No. Trump does not have to tell the truth as fact checked by the media, he only has to manage the appearance of truth for the public. He shapes a truth, a narrative, that is created by the appearance of what he says. For Trump, what is said *becomes* what is.[1] Anyone who questions him already starts at a disadvantage because to question him is a sure sign you disagree with him. If you disagree with him, you will lie about him. In this scenario, only Trump, and those who Trump verifies, tell the truth. Everything else is fake news.

 

[1] “What permits the sophist to accomplish this feat of forgery is the assumption that what is said is actually is. In other words, sayings are equal to that which is (to on). Hence, words once coupled with deductive reasoning provide a true account of the generic being (i.e. what is).”

http://balticplus.uk/the-children-of-eleatic-hydra-by-reza-negarestani-c28560/

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Is Donald Trump the American Kurtz?

English: Joseph Conrad

English: Joseph Conrad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the classic book, Heart of Darkness, which inspired the film Apocalypse Now[1], Joseph Conrad tells the story of Charles Marlowe who has been sent to Africa by an unnamed company to find one of its agents—Kurtz. Kurtz went deep into Africa to find ivory for the company. He had been very successful with large shipments, but the company had lost touch with him.

When Marlow tracks down Kurtz at the trading station, he finds that he has become like a demigod among the natives. On the trip back with Kurtz, Marlow reads his report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs. The report, despite its cogency, lacks a practical solution. What Marlow finds instead is a disturbing hand written postscript. His eloquent report on civilization to suppress savage customs ends with: “Exterminate all the brutes!”

Trump like Kurtz has been absorbed into the life of the natives.[2] With his wealth, wide array of sexual partners, and now political power, he has become a demigod to the white nationalists. To reward their loyalty and support, he celebrates the “unspeakable rites” done in his name.

When Trump humiliates the CIA by using the Wall of Stars as a political backdrop, he attacks the “establishment”. He is in charge. When Trump makes Supreme Court nominees take part in a dog and pony show, reduces the law’s guardians to game show participants. He tells the natives the law serves him. When he berates leaders from Australia and Mexico, he appears to be the tough negotiator. He lets foreigners know he is wise to their tricks. Yet, for the natives these rituals are esoteric minutia to his greatest display of power, his greatest success, and his most important spectacle.

Trump has rewarded his followers immediately and publicly. He has given them a public spectacle that humiliates Muslims. Tired of the liberal tolerance that defines America, the natives hungered to inflict intolerance on a hated minority. When the Border Patrol stops, questions, and sends back Muslims, his followers roar their approval. What is especially pleasing is that the hated federal government and the law, both of which kept them in check, are seen to do their bidding. Trump, though, knows his powers are limited so he must hide his true nature with the veneer of national security. After eight years of apologies, American natives will show the world that the strong do what they want and the weak suffer what they must.

The more Trump believes in his power, the faster he, and America, race to the heart of darkness. On this journey, all that matters is the force of his personality. With each success, with each ritual, with each spectacle, Trump’s mask slips a bit more to reveal what he has always been. At the heart of darkness is nihilism where all that matters is his will. To reach that point, Trump will reward his followers with their greatest wish and what will be his greatest success–He will kill America.

 

[1] The film was based on this book with the story shifted to Vietnam and set during the Vietnam War. For more information on the film see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078788/

[2] Other people have compared Trump to Kurtz although with much less detail. https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/pj-gladnick/2016/10/11/wadr-john-heilemann-compares-trump-colonel-kurtz

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Trump threatens US reporters to make them obedient

English: Donald Trump at a press conference an...

English: Donald Trump at a press conference announcing David Blaine’s latest feat in New York City at the Trump Tower. The photographer dedicates this portrait of Donald Trump to Tony Santiago, Wikipedia editor Marine 69-71, perhaps the most officially recognized and accomplished content contributor to Wikipedia, for his outstanding contributions to improving articles related to his Puerto Rican heritage. He is also a close friend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For I know that some human beings are like horses—the more they get what they want, the more unruly they are apt to become. The way to manage men like that is to put the fear of the bodyguard into them. Xenophon Hiero 10, 1-3

Donald Trump’s team want to eject journalists from press conferences.[1] At the last press conference, Trump attacked CNN as “fake news.”. In response, Jim Acosta from CNN tried repeatedly to ask a question. Trump refused. After the incident, Sean Spicer[2] is reported to have threatened to eject Mr Acosta.[3] A few days later, Reince Priebus[4] said that press access to the White House was in doubt.[5] Their threats serve a purpose.

If you don’t support the Trump administration, you cannot do your job.

It would appear that Trump wants the press to behave in a way that suits his political interests. He appears to want to change the press by threatening to move them from the White House or by ejecting any reporters he, or his staff, believe are less than helpful to the administration. If we look at the UK, experience, it would appear that US journalists and their companies will need to answer the same question. Will they hold the government to account or will they work for the government?[6]

A free press is one that is not beholden to the government

Throughout its history, the idea of a free press has been central to a healthy democracy.[7] In the United States, the 1st Amendment, which enshrines the right of free speech and a free press, is the basis by which the press help democracy. The press informs the public about the government’s business. The public need the press to be informed about what is happening on their behalf. They need someone to ask the questions they want answered as well as to ask the questions the government might not want to answer. Both are needed to keep the public informed. If the public are not informed public, then democracy cannot work effectively.[8]

The press works to ensure the government serves the public not the party interest

When journalists and their companies work properly they help the public by holding the government to account. They deflate a government’s utopian ambitions. They encourage the government to be better when they are in doubt. Journalists and their companies are expected to be independent from the governments they cover. Even though they may develop a closeness necessary for access, they are independent.

In the UK, that independence died when Margaret Thatcher’s made Rupert Murdoch her media bodyguard.[9] Murdoch reporters are docile, deferential, and demure, when they question, if they question, a figure that Murdoch supports. For Trump, who is supported by Murdoch, reporters need to be as craven as the Murdoch reporters. They do as they are told. They obey.

Stroke the leader’s will or you will be ejected: long live democracy

To eject reporters (or any protestors), Trump has private security.[10] As we know from history, when a leader seeks a bodyguard, they seek to be a tyrant.

All these examples are contained under the same universal proposition, that one who is aiming at a tyranny asks for a bodyguard.[11] (Aristotle, Rhetoric 1357b 19)

Without the bodyguard, the threats would be idle. Instead, the two work together. They habituate the press to be deferential.

Journalists force power to speak the truth

When the press is deferential, they no longer speak truth to power. More to the point, they no longer force power to speak the truth. Instead, they fluff the government to speak as it wants to speak.

 

[1] See http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a52301/trump-evict-press-white-house/ See also https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/report-trump-administration-white-house-press-corps Despite these reports, one has to note with caution anything from the Trump transition since they have displayed a pattern of “picking fights” to avoid scrutiny, deflect attention, and manage the news cycle. However, given past behaviour, notably the Acosta incident, the plan appears to have credibility and would reflect Trump’s temperament.

[2] Incoming Trump White House Press Secretary

[3] http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/01/11/report-trump-spox-sean-spicer-threatened-to-eject-cnns-jim-acosta-for-attempting-to-question-trump/

[4] Incoming White House Chief of Staff

[5] http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/reince-priebus-press-access-white-house-hasn-t-been-determined-n707071

[6] In more direct language, they have to ask if they will be journalists or fluffers.

In the pornography industry, there is a specific role called a “fluffer”. https://www.reference.com/business-finance/become-fluffer-d027889a8302f91b The fluffer’s job is to keep the male performer tumescent while the scene is set or changed. A fluffer does this through a variety of methods.

[7] http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/speak-up/article1955056.html

[8] In the UK, the recent Leveson Inquiry explore the relationship between the press and politicians.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/leveson-inquiry/9613965/All-governments-need-their-feet-held-to-the-fire.html  and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21841715

[9] https://mediameditations.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/murdoch-as-the-prime-ministers-media-bodyguard/

[10] http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/donald-trump-security-force-232797

[11]http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0060%3Abekker+page%3D1357b

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Who won Trump’s press conference? Rupert Murdoch

English: Rupert Murdoch at the Vanity Fair par...

English: Rupert Murdoch at the Vanity Fair party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the public recover from their first experience with a Trump presidential press conference, we can take stock of what has happened. For Trump supporters, this was a masterpiece. This is what they wanted. This is what they want. They want someone to insult the press. They want someone to tell the media to “shut up”. They have elected someone who will tell the press to “go fuck themselves” and they love it.

The powerful tell the weak what to do.

The public who voted for Trump have waited a long time for a man like Trump to stick up for them. That Mr Acosta is a Cuban-American is close enough to being a Mexican-American for the Trump supporters to walk a bit taller when Trump told him and CNN he was fake news. For once, Trump supporters can feel that they can do what they want they do not have to be told to behave. They can insult people and treat them like inferiors because no one is going to tell them that they are not superior. Their leader, the man who will make the world right, is now the President. He will tell the media to shut up and they will take it because that is how the world is supposed to work. The powerful tell the weak what to do.

Equality is what makes America weak.

What is clear is that equality is for wimps and losers. It was something that the weak and whiners used against strong Americans. Trump supporters are the strong Americans tired of being told they need to treat others as equals. They’re tired of being told that common decency means they can’t insult minorities, women, or the disabled. When they tell a minority, a woman, or a person with a disability to shut up and get out of their way, they will do it. They are now the powerful and no one will ever tell them again that they aren’t. There will be no apology tour.

When Trump speaks; you shut up or we will shut you up!

For Trump supporters, they have a President who will punch back. Who will not accept being called a racist by the press. Who will not accept being called a bully. He will punch back. They will punch back. He will tell the press to shut up. He will tell his critics to “Get out”. If you don’t like it get out of the way because the Trump Train will run you over. If you speak up, then his private security will eject you. If you are lucky, you will escape without a beating. Shut up when Trump is speaking or someone will shut you up.

Rupert Murdoch has a president.

Who benefits the most? Rupert Murdoch. Trump is the politician that Murdoch always wanted to be but couldn’t. Here is a man who embodies the resentment, the cynicism, mercenary’s callousness, and uncouthness that Murdoch has always promoted and enjoyed. With Trump telling CNN it is fake news, he has begun to repay Murdoch’s support. Murdoch has a President. Trump’s vision is his vision. Trump has a media bodyguard and the pact is sealed.

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Will the next “Trump” unite all the dispossessed?

Trump has succeeded to a large extent because he appears to speak for those who feel dispossessed by the American political and economic systems. For the most part, though, that appeal has been limited to the White middle class. However, the American dispossessed are more than these voters who have reaped globalisation’s material benefits even as it takes away their jobs and prosperity. For these voters, they feel dispossessed for they have been convinced in large part that other groups have gained from the government at their expense. In this resentment Trump also appeals to the extreme groups such as white supremacists. However, the dispossessed are not only white Republicans, or white supremacists. Bernie Sanders has shown that there are dispossessed within the Democratic party who feel they too have been abandoned. These are voters who feel that the Democratic party has failed to protect them or promote their interests. To these voters, Trump to his credit has tried to reach out to these voters but his pitch was so tone deaf that it became counter-productive. The pitch, though, shows us a deeper problem for American politics that Trump reveals.

A crude appeal that shows the potential for the future.

When Trump tried to court the African American vote, especially within Democratic strongholds, it appeared as a crude, obvious tactic. For the residents of the Chicago’s West Side who face a bleak future such a candidate could have had an appeal. They live within a city renowned for decades of police and institutional brutality that segregates black crime areas from the white Gold Coast plutocratic wealth.[1] They are taken for granted by the Democrats.

Who will speak for the dispossessed?

The Chicago communities, and others in Democratic strongholds, are ignored by the Republicans. [2] In Chicago, the fate of the black population is bleak with no end in sight.[3] What young black men in Chicago have experienced for the past 60 years reflects what fuels America’s political discontent. What has changed though is that their fate is now shared by white Republicans. These Republicans now find themselves dependent upon the government when their party used to be one of self-government.

Trump though is a symptom of a deeper problem: an unending war

Without the open-ended war that started in 2001, it is unlikely Trump could have emerged let alone succeeded. The war has pulled America between its domestic commitment to equality and a foreign policy of freedom. In the shadow of this war America has become polarized and Trump has exploited the gaps between the two cities that are emerging. One is assured of wealth, privilege, and security, while the other lives with poverty, disadvantage, and fear. Trump has failed to harness this divide. The next Trump, though, will learn from his failures and his success. To prevent this America must heal its divisions and ends its war otherwise it may die from suicide.

 

 

[1] For a city like Chicago with several of the wealthiest families  in the America (if not the world) to have this degree of segregation, poverty, brutality is like something out of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Dickens Tale of Two Cities, or Hobbes Leviathan. Chicago is a city ruled by a tyrant in the guise of a mayor. It is literally a tale of two cities one rich, the other poor; one white, the other black.

On Chicago’s wealth consider: http://www.forbes.com/families/list/#tab:overall #7 Pritzker family 13 Billion #27 Crown family 8.8 Billion and #28 Reyes family 8.6 Billion and #46 Smith Family 6.3 Billion.

See also http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150929/BLOGS03/150929825/14-of-the-400-wealthiest-americans-are-illinoisans-ken-griffin-leads

[2] See for example http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417599/lefts-burning-cities-david-french  and http://www.nationalreview.com/article/385518/who-lost-cities-kevin-d-williamson Yet, even the call to save the cities is faint in comparison to the thunder aimed at Trump. If the conservatives were fighting for the cities, would Trump have even emerged? http://www.nationalreview.com/republicans-must-save-cities

[3] http://www.issuelab.org/resource/lost_the_crisis_of_jobless_and_out_of_school_teens_and_young_adults_in_chicago_illinois_and_the_us

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Trump and the crisis of journalism.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Donald Trump lies and we know this because journalists tell us. If a journalist is not willing to call Trump a liar, they are no doing their job. The journalist’s job is now to confirm the popular or desired prejudice. Trump has brought journalism’s hidden crisis to the  surface. Social media had forced journalism to reassess itself, its purpose, and its audience, but it took the Trump crisis to challenge its existence. Is journalism a truth teller, a source of opinion, or does it gather the facts to report? These different roles were bound up with and hidden by the idea of objectivity and implicit impartiality. Journalism might not have the Truth, but it would help the public to discover political truths needed for citizens to act in the public domain. Armed with the facts, a citizen could take part in the public domain. News organisations could appear objective and impartial because the only facts or opinions in the public domain were mediated by them. With social media changed journalism no longer mediates the public domain.

Social media allows you to tell your own story and create your own facts.

Social media has shattered journalism’s political consensus. Instead of citizens and politicians who rely on journalists to give the facts to develop and define political truths, the public domain has been transformed by social media. The public domain is beset by opinions, often extreme opinions that masquerade as facts and truths. If you can get enough followers, you can promote whatever truth you want regardless of the facts. With a seductive “truth” they want to hear, you can shape the public opinion so your opinions are accepted as the truth. The audience believes that what it disagrees with must be a lie so that what they agree with must be the truth. Opinion, not a lie, is the opposite of the truth, which requires us to discern and develop the truth when opinions conflict. The hard work to develop a political truth is no longer trusted to journalists. No one has emerged to who can discern or develop a truth from conflicting opinions. Instead, the public avoid the hard work needed to judge whether one opinion corresponds more or less closely to the facts from which reasoned judgement can develop a political truth.

Easier to call someone a liar than to discern the truth between opinions

With this changed audience, journalism attempt to be a truth teller or to mediate the public domain has collapsed. A truth teller is not a journalist who writes a headline to say that Trump lied. Journalism requires is faithful adherence to facts, the hard work to uncover and fit them within a reasonable narrative. From this work, we create a political truth. As opinions easily parade as fact if not as truth, it is easier to indulge opinions paraded as facts than to counter opinions unmoored from facts.

Journalism must recover the fading art of truth telling.

If journalism cannot develop truth teller, it will succumb to the easy allure of politics. In time, it will contribute to society’s attempt to tyrannize thought. When it calls someone a liar, *as if* they possess the Truth, they act politically, not objectively.

Posted in bias, demagogic, journalism, new media model, public opinion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment