Trumpocalypse Now


 [How the unthinkable happens. Image source.]

And so it has come to pass.

This year, the citizenry of the crumbling empire elected as their leader an agent of destruction — to speed up the crumbling process and bring it to its conclusion, the full shape of which remains to been seen.

There has been palpable, at least to some — and I don’t mean Trump’s fans — inevitability to Trump’s presidency. It was apparent that The Donald would be selected for this mission of destruction the moment one saw him on stage with the other GOP candidates. There was no doubt he would vanquish them — not because he was a better candidate, but because he is so pathological. His character defect assured that. There was a small chance that enough American voters would be repulsed by that defect, but it quickly became obvious that in the eyes of too many it was the most desirable asset in a presidential candidate.

I started writing on this blog somewhat against my better judgment, what with it taking so much time ‘n all, compelled by the need to communicate just how dangerous President Trump would be.

And I want it to be on record that I did what I could to prevent the Trumpocalypse, which I saw brewing the moment Agent Orange stepped out on the national stage as a serious, this time, candidate.

Dr. Burkle, whom I have been privileged to know and work with, and I sent articles and op-eds to American papers and media outlets describing Trump’s character defect, its predictable influences on our electorate, and its dangerous ramifications for our future. Our letters were not published, and most were unacknowledged, as the press continued to be baffled by the man’s popularity and touted, especially toward the end of the election, Hillary’s sure victory. (The way I see it, if you refuse to listen and learn from people with hard-earned expertise, which includes, in addition to professional credentials, a lifetime of tireless world-wide work to save and heal humanity wounded by mayhem caused by psychopaths and narcissists in positions of power, you forfeit the right to denigrate the “poorly educated” supporters of Trump. At least they have a legitimate excuse for their ignorance.)

Part of my sense of the inevitability of Trump’s Presidency stemmed from my interest in narcissistic psychopathy, an interest which was fully engaged several years ago when I came upon the so-called manosphere and discovered how that vast and growing area of cyberspace was inhabited by men (and some women) with this distinct but not well understood character defect.

That chilling discovery led to further explorations revealing the manosphere’s overlap with the alt-right and other hate movements, all of which are led and populated by individuals exhibiting unmistakable signs of this character pathology. It is a rarely stated fact that mentally healthy, or even normal, people do not join these groups. (This knowledge is also something that PC-minded liberals recoil from. It is not uncommon to hear a bleeding heart, ableism-inspired liberal exhort that psychopaths are people too, we should not pathologize them, etc.)  Contrary to the prevailing pundity / Democratic wisdom today, this defect has little to do with one’s education and socioeconomic standing; and even though it is most commonly associated with the right wing of the political spectrum, those affected by it can be found on the left as well, just not as frequently.

It was obvious that Trump was Da Man for this segment of our population, which is always larger than we want to know. He used their language and expressed their desires, especially the unspoken but palpable one: for revenge and destruction that would heal their narcissistic wounds.

There is no force in the human universe more powerful and deadly at the same time than that of narcissistic rage — and that rage is the fuel of Trumpism (and fascism, and Communism, and other similar destructive -isms). Democracy and civilization are more fragile than we’d like to believe, and are certainly no match for the lethal power of this rage, especially when it becomes normalized and weaponized through totalitarian movements and regimes.

This week, I attended a gathering of liberal-minded folk that took place in a genteel setting where people were reassuring each other about the strength of our Constitution and laws and other protections inherent in our imperfect but enlightened system of government. And my mind couldn’t help but wander to familiar scenes of primitive rage destroying just such people and settings, a deed that’s frighteningly easy, particularly when done under the cloak of political necessity. Evil is most effective and proficient when dressed up as such. As Teju Cole writes in his NYT essay, A Time for Refusal,

Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else.

When (not if) President Trump starts dismantling our democracy and threatening the precarious stability of the world, I will find no consolation in repeating “We/I told you so.” But I will take a moment here to briefly (though half-heartedly because I don’t really believe Trump could have been stopped) apportion some responsibility for this sordid state of affairs:

1.to the media — for normalizing this deeply pathological character and thus paving his way to power;

2.to mental health experts (not all) — for failing to see and/or adequately describe the dangers posed by the candidate’s character defect;

3. to various “normal” Trump’s associates — for knowing for decades just how disordered the man was, but pretending he was perfectly fine because their paychecks depended on it;

4. to Democrats – for nixing Bernie and for “taking Trump literally but not seriously;”

5. and last but not least — to those who voted for him, deceived by their misguided hopes, deluded thinking and/or deficient consciences. This includes “disenchanted” Democrats, like the woman who, when interviewed this week by NPR about her voting choice, explained that Hillary was not “charming enough.” Thankfully, narcissistic psychopaths have charm in spades, so she, like other charm-craving voters, should avail herself of it to her heart’s delight during the Trumpocalypse.

Predictably, further normalization of the profoundly abnormal continues and will progress until something dramatic brings to a stop. Now that this narcissistic psychopath has achieved his ultimate dream (so far) and the highest position of power achievable on Earth, we are being told to accept him and give him the chance to govern.

The offensive bizarreness of this call is breathtaking. We have handed a disordered toddler-man the world with its weaponry as toys to play with, and insist that he should have that chance because he is Really Important now.

Um, no.

Let’s be clear: #notmypresident is not just a movement of political activists disappointed that their candidate lost, but a swell of humanity concerned about its survival under the reign of a profoundly defective, conscience-free, and adulation- and power-driven character and his equally defective cabal.

Speaking of which: notice the forming of the narcissistic power circle around The Big Psychopath (TBP). His conscience-impaired sycophants are claiming their well-earned positions of influence, jockeying for power as they always do, while kowtowing to TBP’s huuge ego.

The disordered characters whose blatant lies and manipulations we were forced to endure during the election are here to stay and further shape the public discourse. This will take a form of a well-oiled propaganda machine supporting TBP’s agenda and covering its pathological aspects by more lies, deflections, denials, and obfuscations, of the kind we’ve seen a lot already; plus the predictable glamorization and glorification of his inhumane policies, soon to blitz us 24/7. The resulting schizoid split between reality and its propagandized version is familiar to every sensitive enough (i.e., conscience-equipped) citizen of a totalitarian regime.

My favorite economist with a heart, Yanis Varoufakis, wrote a piece on how Trump victory comes with a silver lining for the world’s progressives. In it, he outlines his vision of progress through trauma of Trumpism — and it is one to which I’m somewhat partial. I agree with much of what he says there, although I also believe that Varoufakis, overexcitable idealist as he is, may be overly optimistic about our future rescued from destruction by a Progressive International.

A more realistic, thus bleaker, vision was presented in the comments by the brilliant response from one Stephen Morris, which I’m reposting in its entirety. Even though Morris speaks of the EU, his observations are applicable to the US and the world at large, and, in general, to humanity as such:

So much for “self-determination”, one of the core vales of the Modern Era, the greatest battle of the 20th century, beginning in Sarajevo in July 1914 and ending there 80 years later.

All that is to be thrown away for a yet another neo-imperialist fantasy.

Only the truest True Believers, the most gullible “Useful Idiots” cling to the belief that the EU is there to promote the interests of the Subject peoples.

Witness the brutality inflicted on Greece. Witness the “Lost Generation” of youth sacrificed to the fantasy of the imperial Eurozone. Witness the enthusiastic embrace of “free-trade” agreements, signing away sovereign powers to opaque committees of Elite interests.

For all the pompous rhetoric, the EU is an unaccountable, undemocratic institution that exists to promote Elite interests.

Like any nascent empire, it attracts aggressively narcissistic, machiavellian political agents, drawn to the prospect of exercising dominion over hundreds of millions of Subjects.

Unlike the US it doesn’t even have the rudimentary constraints of “elective” government, let alone anything approximating genuine (direct) Democracy.

Its leaders are deaf to any calls for reform. Even in the face of the imminent departure of Britain, they refused to contemplate reform of the organisation. They – and their sycophant supporters – can think only in terms of how best to inflict punishment on those who dare to defy them.

What does THAT tell us about the psychology of these people???

Haven’t we seen THAT sort of behaviour before in Europe??

There is another – far bleaker – way of viewing all of this.

What we are witnessing – in Brexit, in Trumpism, in the embrace of populist demagogues – is the desperate last stand of ordinary people seeking any way out of the ruthless New Elite Agenda of “refeudalisation”: the winding back of Modern Era values to restore the Elite’s historic privileges.

But like Elites throughout history, the new Elite seek to weave a cloak of virtue to conceal the nakedness of their self-interest. Their spokesmen use honeyed words to conceal the brutality of their ambition.

It is easy to forget that, stripped of its ephemera, human history up until the time of the Modern Era era was a story of aggressively narcissistic, machiavellian psychopaths competing (sometimes collaborating) to attain positions of power, then using that power to dominate and brutalise their fellow human beings. We know from the historical record that such psychopaths feel no remorse in wasting the lives of thousands – even millions – of people they regard as “their” Subjects.

In this behaviour, psychopathic rulers were abetted by “sycophants” – typically timid, less dominant males – who sought to promote their own survival and reproductive prospects by allying themselves with the dominant males. Articulate sycophants provide the “theology” of elitism, constructing elaborate justifications for the privilege of their patrons.

Historically, the ability of such Elites to dominate and brutalise others was limited by the capacity of individual human beings to kill each other, and therefore by the need to recruit and reward a circle of allies (a “praetorian guard”) which could carry out such such enforcement.

If that long-standing behaviour seemed to change in the Modern Era it was not because the psychopaths woke up one morning and said, “Oh my God, is that the time!? Is it the Modern Era already? Quick. We’d better start enacting social reforms!”

Human psychology has not evolved. Evolution operates over a MUCH longer time frame. The psychopaths (and their sycophant supporters) haven’t gone away.

All that happened in the Modern Era was a temporary change in the environment: the demands of the industrial economy made it expedient – for a time – for the rulers to make limited concessions to their Subjects.

The industrial state required the training of large numbers of Subjects to operate the complex – but not fully automated – machinery of industrial production. Having had so much invested in them, Subjects had value and their bargaining power relative to their rulers improved. In the extreme, they could withdraw their labour and quickly impose greater costs on the owners of capital than they themselves suffered.

Under such conditions, the optimal strategy for rulers (only after they had tried violent suppression and found it ineffective!) was to make certain limited concession to their Subjects. Thus we had the quintessential ideals of the Modern Era, culminating in the 20th century:

a) egalitarianism, the ideal that all people are entitled to the same basic opportunities irrespective of their ancestry;

b) democratisation, the ideal that Subjects are entitled to have some say in how they are governed; and

c) self-determination, the ideal that self-identifying communities are allowed to choose for themselves how they will govern themselves.

But, again, these concessions didn’t mean that the psychopaths had gone away. And there was never anything to say that the conditions of industrial production would last forever.

What we are actually witnessing now is the Elite’s response to the post-industrial world of AI and robotics.

No longer are large numbers of Subjects required to run complex but not fully automated machinery. Now it is small numbers of very highly trained technicians required to manage the robotic workforce. Small in number, they can easily be bought off, or better still reduced to the status of indentured workers through the weapon of crippling student debt.

As for the rest of humanity, they are now redundant or soon will be. Their rulers no longer need them. The earlier concessions are – as the saying goes – “inoperative”.

To be sure, the masses may get employment of a kind, especially in providing personal services. But it will be employment in the “Uber Economy” of savage competition between workers with all economic rent flowing to the owners of the monopolistic market platforms.

And the Elite are responding precisely as one would expect an aggressively narcissistic, self-serving Elite to respond. They are relentlessly winding back any concessions hitherto made, while their sycophant economic theologians are busy trying to justify it as being for the “Greater Good”.

Inequality is quickly returning to its historical norm, as Piketty has documented. We are returning to a feudal state in which property is owned by the magnates and almost everyone else is reduced to the status of dependent serf.

Where conventional property is insufficient, they invent novel forms of “intellectual property” to expand the scope of private ownership.

As for democratisation, in most countries it never developed beyond “elective” government dominated by Elite parties. Moneyed interests and pressure groups found it a trivial exercise to subvert that.

To entrench their gains, they are taking ever more critical decisions out of the hands even of elective government: the privatisation of strategic monopolies, essential services and critical databases means that elected politicians are forced [to] negotiate with private magnates on terms dictated by the private magnates.

And finally, self-determination has been eroded by the growth of opaque and unaccountable neo-empires (like the EU) and so-called “trade” agreements (which actually have little to do with trade and everything to do with signing away sovereign powers to unaccountable opaque committees of the Elite interests).

Elite theologians might talk superciliously about the “end of borders” but do not be deceived. They do not intend to abolish ALL borders. They simply want to replace “national borders” (over which the mass of ordinary citizens might have had some control) with “private borders”: Elite private property.

The Elite do not intend to rub shoulders with the Stinking Masses, the Riff-Raff, the Plebs. Not one bit of it! THEY retreat to their private mansions, their private country estates, their private campuses, their private gated communities, all surrounded by private borders marked with “KEEP OUT. Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted!” signs.

From there they sermonise piously on the supposed intolerance of those outside!! Hypocrites blind to their own hypocrisy.

On all fronts the trend is the same: the alienation of public rights – over which the citizens used to have some say – to Elite private interests.

At some point, the Elite may even decide that the continued existence of masses of redundant human beings is a threat to their own security.

The recent development of lethal weaponised robots shows where this will all end. Not only do the Elite not need workers. They don’t even need many human members of the Praetorian Guard.

Remember that the individuals we are talking about here are not like the rest of us. They are aggressively narcissistic, machiavellian psychopaths with a strong appetite for attaining power and dominating others. Homo sapiens psychology has not evolved.

Had it been possible to establish genuine Democracy with the right of recall, veto, initiative and referendum there might have been some hope for the rest of the human race. THAT is why the theologians abhor Democracy in favour of the corrupt system of “elective” government.

Corrupt elective government provides no safeguards. It will prove no barrier to containing the psychopaths once the cost of pacification falls as a result of robotics.

You don’t need to be Einstein to see how this game will play out.

For most people it’s not going to be a happy ending.

 

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See also Masha Gessen’s piece on Autocracy: Rules for Survival.

The Absurdist (possibly) in Chief

TrumpTriumphant

“What a difference this is. Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election, and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for?”

Donald Trump at a rally in Toledo yesterday, to a raucous applause of his audience.

Meanwhile, here is Prof. Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted every presidential win in 30 years, explaining (also yesterday) why all indicators point to Trump’s victory.

Some of his thoughts:

“We have never seen someone who is broadly regarded as a history-shattering, precedent-making, dangerous candidate who could change the patterns of history that have prevailed since the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

 (…)

I do think this election has the potential to shatter the normal boundaries of American politics and reset everything, including, perhaps, reset the keys to the White House. Look, I’m not a psychic. I don’t look at a crystal ball. The keys are based on history. And they’re based on a lot of changes in history, they’re very robust. But there can come a time when change is so cataclysmic that it changes the fundamentals of how we do our politics, and this election has the  potential — we don’t know yet, but it has the potential.”

It ain’t over till it’s over, folks.

“Where the hell is he from?”

That’s what Joe Biden asks about Trump:

Joe’s impassioned speech was prompted by Trump’s answer to a question about mental health services for veterans suffering from PTSD at a rally in Virginia yesterday:

At a town hall style meeting hosted by the Retired American Warriors PAC, Marine Staff Sgt. Chad Robichaux, president and founder of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, asked Mr. Trump whether he would advocate for religious programs as an optional part of helping military members suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other health problems.

Trump’s response included the following astute assessment:

“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it.”

Now, Trump is not being sadistic here for a change — he’s playing a caring person by faking empathy and pretending to know what he’s talking about, which of course backfires. Psychopaths, primitively integrated and lacking conscience with its capacity for empathy and guilt, are usually the traumatizers, and not trauma sufferers, so it is no surprise that Trump believes PTSD, like neurosis and mental illness, is a sign of weakness.

It is painful to watch Sgt. Robichaux — a good man by all accounts — to put his misplaced hope and trust in a man who deserves neither, and then defend him from criticism. Too bad no one at that rally bothered to ask Trump some follow up questions to probe his understanding of mental health and the services he’s promising. They would expose his cluelessness in a jiff.

And today, NPR Morning Edition aired interviews with Clinton and Trump’s supporters, notable for the presence of genuinely caring and decent folks (Catholics, no less, for whom the matters of conscience should matter) among the latter.

There are still too many people out there who believe Trump is a normal individual, and what’s worse, one with any solutions for — of even basic understanding of — human problems. His psychological insight and spiritual life are like his business acumen: Nonexistent.  Unfortunately, he has been able to fool too many for too long.

This drives home the point on the urgency of educating people about conscience-impairing character defects like psychopathy and narcissism and their dangerous ramifications for the world.

But going back to Joe Biden’s opening question, about where the hell Trump is from: Some people are saying that he is not human. Really.

Hard to tell whether it is true or not, but if it weren’t, then people wouldn’t be saying it, right? Well, they are:

The question that has never been asked is this: Why has Trump never shown his belly-button? Does he have an umbilicus or not? Why the secrecy? Could it be that he was one of those early test-tube humanoid babies bred in a Monsanto laboratory in Las Cruces in 1946 under contract to the Pentagon, which hoped to create a cadre of bogeymen who would walk straight into heavy gunfire, grinning, thumbs-up, and thereby dishearten the enemy? They had realistic skin and hair but their eyes were small and piggish and their fingers short. Mr. Trump has taken heavy fire for the past year and there isn’t a scratch on him. Lift up your shirt, sir, and let us see it.