I think the philosophy that drives Trump could be summarized (from one angle) as “might makes right.” And I’ll bet that a large segment of Trump supporters might be ashamed to admit that they share that philosophy. A smaller portion probably openly holds that view without shame. In fact, they might see it as a sign of treasonous weakness to think of the world in anything but “might makes right” terms. And a portion of these supporters would be violent racists. To them the “fact of life” is that it’s a battle from birth to grave. And a larger portion probably quietly support them, whisper to one another that they’re “our soldiers”, which isn’t hard to do when you’ve been raised in a culture that worships the warrior, the conqueror, the rugged individual ready to fight for an imaginary independence
We can’t really get mad at them for this, because they honestly don’t see the broader fact of our unified existence. Perhaps they’ve been brutalized into a very small and defensive identity, and can’t help acting on the assumption that the world is made of all these separate things colliding in competition. What else do they know? When they hear of the fundamental fact that Life is one interwoven whole it’s perceived as an airy fairy abstraction or ideal. The irony is missed that the tribe, race, nation and personal name – all these thoughts, stories and words (like “American”) — are only inventions of the human imagination, for better and worse. Ideals.
For “better” if we don’t take these identities too seriously or literally. If they are held lightly against the wider backdrop of our commonality, then they’re useful inventions, necessary. But I think we do take them too literally almost all the time. Essentially we mistake the ideas we defend for actualities, for the Damn Truth, Period, as the more righteously certain might say.
This is technically a form of schizophrenia. We mistakes our thoughts for what is actual. We are hallucinating a divided world and running amok in this imagination, when the simple fact of our unbreakable bond means that anything we do to one another, we do to ourselves. This is not visible to a great portion of our population.
I entertain the idea that all of us are mildly schizophrenic, and that the only difference between a “real” schizophrenic and us is that the real schizophrenic glimpses the fact that everything we know “for certain” is imaginary and this insight frightens them so that they often run amok in panic, lunging after increasingly nightmarish and delusional certainties, trying to quell the firestorm of imagination with more imagination. Fueling the fire without realizing what they’re doing. I did some of that as a teenager. But the more stable schizophrenics (which are the majority of us) have shown till relatively recently no clear signs of panic, only a stubborn certainty that our thoughts represent the world as it really is, Conclusion, End of Learning. So they don’t panic because they’re too certain of their illusions. They don’t have enough insight to see that even our mundane sense of everyday life is a mad fantasy.
However, I think a more classically panicked version of schizophrenia is beginning to show itself, as it did in various countries, most notably, Der Vaterland. The sheer terror of an empire in free fall is pushing this. And the loss of all the sad and brutal pleasures accrued by identifying with that empire, which are evaporating. It’s like a perceptual earthquake. And it’s easy to react like a drowning person — clinging to anyone who can do two things: 1) Be a blowhard of certainty, never admitting error (a confidence man and woman, in other words); and 2) act like a mean enough Daddy to protect them from the boogymen they’ve all talked themselves into seeing behind every dark tan.
Interestingly, these drowning people desperate for certainty almost seem to act as agents of necessary destruction, choosing saviors who can magnify their own fearful anger, multiplying the self-destructive violence that hastens the empire’s fall.
Meanwhile, another smaller segment of the population not only shares these various tendencies towards schizophrenia (because aren’t we all, after all, flailing in the same stream of images and thoughts), but some of us also exhibit now and then a newer capacity to see through our illusions without panic, and without getting fooled by names, identities, nations, isms or other stories of division. We can see the dishonest fictions of our “independence”, which implies by default (or negation) the fact of our dependence; and we’re beginning to look at things from a wildly diverse but harmonious perspective. Here the Self (whether personal or group) is less important or real than the unnamable, and infinitely learning or morphing whole of life. Not that we lose our identities, but a sense of humor keeps them from hardening into hallucinations that need to be defended.
And this isn’t about some people being smarter than others. It’s only the broader perspective that is more intelligent. This broader view is simply more honest or self-deprecating; the perspective that is more likely to admit its own errors and stupidities (and not be so confident in its answers); and not cling so stubbornly to its ignorant opinion, or its falsely narrow (and rather stupid) separate identity. But this isn’t an indication of the inherent stupidity of the person. We are only as intelligent as the broadness of our vantage point. And that broad vantage point is available to anyone who is honest enough to see through the divisive stories of our separateness.
One thought on “Might Makes Right”
Stupidity, like intelligence, is an attitude. We’re only locked into stupidity if we refuse to change.
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