Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Edge Of The Abyss

From the chair he occupies at McMaster University, Henry Giroux comments on what is happening in the United States. As Donald Trump edges closer to a confrontation with North Korea, Giroux's take on Trump rings truer than ever:

Ignorance is a terrible wound when it is self-inflicted, but it becomes a dangerous plague when the active refusal to know combines with power. President Trump’s lies, lack of credibility, woefully deficient knowledge of the world, and unbridled narcissism have suggested for some time that he lacks the intelligence, judgment and capacity for critical thought necessary to occupy the presidency of the United States. But when coupled with his childish temperament, his volatile impetuousness and his Manichaean conception of a world—a reductionist binary that only views the world in term of friends and enemies, loyalists and traitors—his ignorance translates into a confrontational style that puts lives, if not the entire planet, at risk.

Trump’s seemingly frozen and dangerous fundamentalism, paired with his damaged ethical sensibility, suggests that we are dealing with a form of nihilistic politics in which the relationship between the search for truth and justice on the one hand and moral responsibility and civic courage on the other has disappeared. For the past few decades, as historian Richard Hofstadter and others have reminded us, politics has been disconnected not only from reason but also from any viable notion of meaning and civic literacy. Government now runs on willful ignorance as the planet heats up, pollution increases and people die. Evidence is detached from argument. Science is a subspecies of “fake news,” and alternative facts are as important as the truth. Violence becomes both the catalyst and the result of the purposeful effort to empty language of any meaning. 

Words -- and truth -- mean nothing to Trump:

Anyone who communicates intelligently is now part of the “fake news” world that Trump has invented. Language is now forced into the service of violence. Impetuousness and erratic judgment have become central to Trump’s leadership, one that is as ill-informed as it is unstable. Trump has ushered in a kind of anti-politics and mode of governance in which any vestige of informed judgment and thought is banished as soon as it appears. His rigid, warlike mentality has created an atmosphere in the United States in which dialogue is viewed as a weakness and compromise understood as personal failing.

The United States is in deep trouble. But now -- thanks to Trump --  we all are in deep trouble.

Image: The Telegraph


Lorne said...

Can't disagree with anything Giroux says here, Owen, although I still find myself frequently wondering how we stumbled so quickly into such a dystopian world. Or maybe that dystopia has existed for a long time, but the egregiousness of Trump's words only now forces us to recognize the sad truth of our situation.

Owen Gray said...

There have always been those who live in an alternate universe, Lorne. But this is the first time, to my knowledge, there has been a president who lives in an alternate universe.

The Mound of Sound said...

How many of us argue that Trump is a harmless blowhard, his threats to be dismissed? I've heard that a lot. It is his rank ignorance that is the real danger. He makes veiled threats of nuclear attack but has not the slightest grasp of even basic nuclear posturing much less the sound theories of nuclear escalation. Were he a corporal being screened for a job sweeping the floors of the bunkers where the B-61 gravity bombs are stored, he'd be rejected. He would never pass the psychological testing requirements. And yet here we are and he has the nuclear launch codes.

Perhaps years from now we'll learn that America's intelligence/security/military establishment rewired the "football," the briefcase that contains the apparatus to activate the nuclear launch codes, to prevent Trump from ever pushing the button. Kissinger saw to that when Nixon got wobbly in the days leading up to his impeachment/resignation. Or perhaps Trump will be struck with some malady or misadventure. We can only live in hope.

Owen Gray said...

They have the 25th Amendment down there, Mound. But using it would take courage -- which seems to be in short supply.

Toby said...

Dystopia is always a problem as is tyranny of majority. This was well known back when the American experiment was started which is why the originators built in checks and balances which were meant to control morons with screwball agenda. What was not foreseen was corporate lobbying and control of the various processes. Corporate money bought this mess. Corporate money thought it could control Trump. It can't.

Owen Gray said...

I don't know, Toby. Corporate money would appear to be well represented in his cabinet.

Toby said...

Owen, corporate money would appear to be well represented in Trump's cabinet. It's just that corporate money can't control him. He's too tied up with the Russian mob and he suffers from all the limitations you write about. If Trump gets us into a war with lots of Americans getting killed corporate money will be go into full denial mode and distance as far as possible from the Trumpster.

Owen Gray said...

That we can agree upon, Toby. The big money will eventually abandon him. In fact, the Koch Brothers were betting on other candidates during the last election.