Have you ever been to a quack doctor who sells you a snake oil with the disclaimer that your symptoms will actually become worse before they get better, and then looks you in the eye and insists that this is a good sign? And if that’s not enough, he advises you to apply more balm or to consume more poison until it either kills you or you wake up and realize that this doctor is merely trying to profit at your expense.
The sicker you get, the more of his “magic potion” you will require. He will advise you to “hang in there” because your body is detoxifying itself from this mysterious problem. Yet he proceeds to treat the problem he cannot name because the name of the problem is him.
This “doctor” like every cult leader and populist will make claims and allegations that are so false and so ridiculous that you cannot help but wonder if there might not be some truth to them. Sometimes the absurdity of a falsehood acts as its own protection. It’s a technique designed to make you question your capacity to question. And the more time, energy and conviction you invest into his absurd scheme the greater the urgency to bestow more power upon him, with the rationale that you might be one dollar away from winning the jackpot, or one pill or potion away from a cure, or one bomb or bullet away from achieving that great society. To lose faith in him would be to admit that you lost all your money in vain, or that you are dying of a disease now aggravated by false treatment, or that you have killed a man or ten men, or ten thousand men in total futility.
Donald Trump, like every aspiring demagogue, understands this psychological phenomenon. America is sick he claims, it’s been infected by a virus called “the other.” And he’s the only witch-doctor with a cure. Anyone who questions him is clearly on a witch-hunt.
When Trump tweeted the above words on October 11th of 2016 he was not making a veiled threat. He was sending a very clear signal to his anti-government constituency that interprets all of his pronouncements as private confessions that he is merely playing the system until he gains the necessary power to overthrow it.
He was appealing himself to minds that crave the rhetoric of a crude autocrat to restore their sense of balance; Minds that find refreshment in the thought of a “benevolent dictator” who promises to restore the pride of a nation on the brink of an identity crisis; Minds driven by a primitive need to ascribe moral and political significance to their tribal identity. And he has conditioned those minds to expect chaos and pain as a precondition to national healing. It’s all part of the detoxification process or “draining the swamp” as he likes to put it.
The rise of Trump is not some inexplicable social aberration. One cannot magically overtake a civilized nation by emotionalizing the political process and overriding its protocols and procedures. It was Post-modernist and post-truth politics, not Trump, that first made it acceptable to be cynical and suspicious of truth and facts.
Post-truth is a philosophical and political concept that refers to the “disappearance of shared objective standards of truth.”Serbian American Writer Steve Tesich was the first to coin the term post-truth in his 1992 article in The Nation titled, “Government of Lies,” Where he used the term to describe how America had become a society where truth is politically unimportant.
When objectivity is replaced by collective subjectivity as a standard of truth- you get the trump phenomenon. This along with the spiritual trend touting that perception precedes reality and that our thoughts have enough power to override objective truth is, I believe, the root cause of the problems we are now facing.
Are the Terrorists Winning?
The rise of Trump and hate crime in the United States was precisely what the foreign enemies of America were determined to inspire. It has always been the intellectual strategy of foreign engineers to reinforce their malevolent view of humanity by proving that people (even free people) when properly threatened will rush toward the safety of totalitarianism and collective ego identification.
Terrorists understand that the only way to destroy a nation that is militarily more powerful than you are is to encourage it to commit suicide through the slow incremental erosion of its sacred principles. The definition of truth based on an objective reality governed by the laws of nature was one such sacred American principle.
There are no quick fixes to our philosophical quandaries. But luckily, at this moment in history, it does not need to be that deep. At this moment, we have to be clear that even a return to a corrupt status quo is preferable to a descent into total dictatorship.
The upcoming presidential election is critical, not only for the United States but for the entire world. It’s the election that will set the trajectory for how free societies will deal with the upheaval that results when a record number of states fail, creating the highest number of refugees in our history.
The dilemma before us today is simple; Will we preserve our ideological principles by allowing for our global demographics to shift in favor of greater diversity and pluralism? Or will we gravitate towards becoming a closed society, which is nothing more than a euphemism for dictatorship?