Trump presidency, alt-right influence could send US into fascism if a “singularlity” happens (hint: DPRK)

Sean Illing has an interview on Vox, with Christopher Browning, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (“UNC”), author of the Holocaust study “Nazi Policy, Jewish Policy, German Killers”. The title of his article is itself eye-catching: “Comparing the alt-right to Nazism may be hyperbolic, but it’s not ridiculous”.

The interview does maintain that any comparison of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler is misleading, because Trump does not have a well thought out ideology at all.  He sells what will attract a base, like a true huckster out of the movie “100 Mile Rule” (that is, “Always Be Closing”). Judging from the Billy Bush Access Hollywood tape in 2016, Trump may indeed follow that “rule”.

The other big comparison is that the civilian population in Germany had gone through multiple catastrophes in Germany with the loss of World War I, the reparations, and the hyperinflation. (Think Venezuela today.) No such widespread hardship exists yet for American civilians.  Indeed, there is gross inequality, of wealth as well as income, and I would say of cognitive fit into society. To do well today, you have to learn abstract thinking (like in Object Oriented software).  A lot of people don’t learn how to do that.

The one factor that could throw us over the waterfall is a singularity: a sudden unprecedented disaster, dwarfing 9/11.  North Korea right now is the most likely to cause that risk. It could occur as a nuclear blast (or more than one) from a DPRK missile getting through defense to reach an American city, or from an EMP attack (especially E1). That could leave Trump in a position to act as a true dictator, even with martial law.  That’s the main reason this article is important now.

I’ll add that I had a meeting this morning in which a salesperson for a media company told me he has a Faraday shield in his home.  The word is getting around.  There continues to be a big crack in the media coverage of this issue.

That brings up another topic, “decoupling”, which Vox recently covered in another article by Yochi Dreazan.  Because I had mentioned this concept (without name) in connection with my own military service during the Vietnam era, I have covered it on my book-related DADTNotes blog here.

Yet, there are encouraging signs, at least from Mike Pence, that the US might be able to start talks with North Korea, with fewer preconditions about nukes (Post article).  But Will Ripley reports on even new objections to the sanctions.

Getting back to Trump, I’ll share another article, from TruthOut, where Mark Karlin interview Mark Bray about Antifa, “At It’s Core, Anti-Fascism is Self-Defense”.  Look at also this article, “The Ghost of Fascism“,  by Henry Giroux on benign complicity.

This morning, CNN aired the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings (while I was in the meeting mentioned above).  Diane Feinstein got Pompeo to say that the US is uncertain as to whether Kim Jong In gets reliable information from his own fearful military about US intentions; but most of the sensitive discussions were going to be held in classified settings this afternoon, where it sounded like they would talk about decoupling.  There was also a lot of discussion of the continued expectation of Russian meddling and use of social media as a propaganda tool (as if citizens can’t be more responsible for interpreting what the see).

In closing, this video is especially important, right around 4:50.  Note the emphasis on the manifest destiny of the group as opposed to the individual, but this can lead to both fascism and communism.

Note how she pitches VirtualShield and VPN.

(Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 2 PM EST)

Are libertarians less social (or sociable) and less empathetic than others?

Recently there has been some research on the psychological aspects of people who believe in libertarian political values, compared to those who follow either conservative or liberal values.

The findings are discussed in a 2012 paper by Ravi Iyer, Spassena Koleva, Jesse Graham, Peter Ditto, and Jonathan Haidt, “Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians”,  Plus One link.  The paper was more recently summarized on a site called Righteous Mind.

Libertarian morality is based on the idea of personal harmlessness, and that government should not interfere with people’s use of what they already have as long as it was acquired lawfully.  Libertarians tend to be individualists who value setting and achieving their own goals, rather than joining efforts already set up by others and requiring competing inside a “power structure”.

But both conservatives, in the traditional sense, and liberals believe that people are morally obliged to function socially within groups to meet common goods and serve some needs to support others even if these obligations are not personally chosen. But conservatives tend to see the groups as vertical – extended family, often enveloped by church or some community of faith, and often country (indeed “MAGA”),  Liberals believe the groups need to extend horizontally, to reach out to people in groups very different than one’s own, and liberals are often very concerned about inequality and hidden interdependence and exploitation.  Liberals may sometimes believe that people should get reparative attention based on past group oppression, which can not only lead to “expropriation” but limitations on individual “gratuitous” speech (as with “social media tribalism”, which resist revisiting troubling facts from history out of a fear that bringing things up suggests things are unsettled and justifies resuming group oppression).  Some social problems (like sex trafficking recently) can attract demands for solidarity from both liberals and conservatives, whereas libertarians want to focus only on the direct offenders.  There is a useful term for this kind of socialization, which Charles Murray has used (“Coming Apart”), mainly, eusociality.

In the polarity system of Paul Rosenfels (with the Ninth Street Center in New York from the 1970s to 1990s and later the Paul Rosenfels community) libertarians tend to be the unbalanced personalities (masculine objective or feminine subjective), and traditional religious conservatives or activist liberals tend to be balanced.

Libertarians place more emphasis on logical reasoning and consistency of principles or rules with which difficult controversies are managed.  On the other hand, activists on both the right and left tend to place a lot of emphasis on group identity and solidarity and may become combative to protect their own “tribes”.  Libertarians may not feel as much personal empathy for others with serious adaptive problems unless they have the direct skills or interest to intervene productively on their own terms; they will resist pressure to “join in” or enlist.  I resist “joining a resistance” just because a politician (Trump) is perceived by many as an enemy of the people (as others had said about Obama and Clinton).

Libertarians and individualists are often seen as not caring about real people, or feeling tainted if expected to sacrifice their own sanctity for the good of the team.  Sometimes this tendency spurs combativeness in others, who believe that society is protected (or their groups are saved) only by “rightsizing” individuals and getting individuals to heed established authority (whether or the right or left).   This observation helps explains the intolerance of free speech in many societies like Russia, China and Singapore (as well as, obviously, many Muslim countries). China has attracted attention for planning to rate all individuals for “social engagement” by 2020.

Libertarians would say that they care but only when they can do something about a problem in a way they can chose.  This observation tends to go along with mild autism or asperger’s.  In ABC’s “The Good Doctor”, Shaun Murphy seems distant but obviously still cares about his patients because he really can do the right things for them.  But more often hyper-individualists don’t have the skills to really help people with everyday needs or make a real commitment to it.

James Damore actually tweeted the Righteous Mind story above, and says “my mind works differently”. He saw no reason to question corporate comfort with political correctness with the underlying science, which need not interfere with treating individuals according to their potential in the workplace.

(Posted: Monday, December 25, 2017, at 10:30 PM EST)

Activism, watcherism, and subtle vigilantism: those just outside the “systematic oppression” zones

CNN has run an op-ed by John Blake, “White Supremacists by Default: How ordinary people made Charlottesville possible.”

Yes, to some extent, this piece is an “I am my brother’s keeper” viewpoint familiar from Sunday School. But at another level the piece has major moral implications regarding the everyday personal choices we make, and particularly the way we speak out or remain silent.

I grew up in a way in which I did not become conscious of class or race or belonging to a tribe, or people. I was not exposed to the idea of “systematic oppression” against people who belong to some recognizable group. My self-concept was pretty separated from group identity.

I gradually became aware that I would grow up “different” especially with respect to sexuality. But I believed it was incumbent on me to learn to perform in a manner commensurate with my gender, because the welfare of others in the family or community or country could depend on that capacity. My sense of inferiority was driven first by lack of that performance, which then morphed into other ideas about appearance and what makes a male (or then female) look desirable.

I remember, back in the mid 1990s, about the time I was starting to work on my first DADT book, an African-American co-worker (another mainframe computer programmer) where I worked in northern Virginia said that he was teaching his young son to grow up to deal with discrimination. Another African-American coworker who had attended West Point said I had no idea what real discrimination was like, because I could just pass. (That person thought I lived “at home” with my Mother since I was never married.)  I would subsequently be a witness in litigation by a former black employee whom I replaced with an internal transfer, and the “libertarianism” in my own deposition seemed to be noticed by the judge dismissing the case.

Indeed, the activism in the gay community always had to deal with the “conduct” vs. “group identity” problem, particularly during the AIDS crisis of the 1990s. Libertarians and moderate conservatives like me (I didn’t formally belong to Log Cabin Republicans but tended to like a lot of things about Reagan and personally fared well when he was in office) were focused on privacy (in the day when double lives were common) and personal responsibility, whereas more radical activists saw systematic oppression as related to definable gender-related class. Since I was well within the upper middle class and earned a good income with few debts and could pay my bills, both conservatives with large families and radical activists born out of disadvantage saw me as a problem.

The more radical commentators today are insisting that White Nationalists have an agenda of re-imposing or augmenting systematic oppression by race, even to be ultimate end of overthrowing normal civil liberties, reintroducing racial subjugation and other forms of authoritarian order. The groups on the extreme right are enemies (of people of color) as much as radical Islam has made itself an enemy of all civilization. Radicals insist that those who normally want to maintain some objectivity and personal distance must be recruited to actively fighting with them to eliminate this one specific enemy.  This could lead to vigilantism (especially online) to those who speak out on their own but who will not join in with them. Ii do get the idea of systemic oppression, but I think that meeting has a lot more to do with the integrity of individual conduct. But this goes quite deep. Refusing to date a member of a different race could be viewed as active racism (June 26).

The possibility of including ordinary independent speakers or observers (or videographers) among the complicit indirect systematic “oppressors” should not be overlooked. Look at the comments and self-criticism of Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince, about the dangers of new forms of pro-active censorship by Internet companies. This does bear on the Backpge-Section 230 problem, and we’ll come back to this again. In a world with so many bizarre asymmetric threats, I can imagine that Internet companies could expand the list of certain speech content that they believe they cannot risk allowing to stay up (hint: Sony).

I want to add, I do get the idea that many left-wing activists (not just limited to Antifa) believe that Trump was elected in large part by white supremacists and that there is a more specific danger to everyone else in what he owes this part of his base. I have not taken this idea very seriously before, but now I am starting to wonder.

(Posted: Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT)

Glenn Beck connects Bannon, Trump to Putin through Leninist ideas of Dugin

Glenn Beck took apart Steve Bannon’s remarks at CPAC (at National Harbor, MD) tonight on CNN.

Bannon talked about America as a nation and culture with borders and an identity, about economic nationalism (which could border on autarky) and “deconstructing the administrative state”.

Beck claimed that Bannon is inspired by Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, whom Beck described as Leninist (perhaps post-Stalinist) without Marxism.

There are a number of far-out essays you can find quickly on Dugin’s ideas.  It’s a little hard to unscramble them into a logical system.  But it sounds to me like a fetish (even constructing sexuality and marriage) for order and tradition for its own sake.  It is traditionalism that maintains everyone has his “right-sized” place, and enforcing that idea gives life its meaning (whether mapped onto religion or not).  It is anti-modernist, anti-creative.  It’s rationalizations resemble those of “National Socialism”, to my eyes, at least.

Is this the “cult” that has taken over the administration?  Was there some alt-right plot to use Trump to manipulate a gullible, relatively uneducated “white” labor voter base, to turn on (and silence) sophistry and elitism?  Is Trump himself a pawn in some unusual chess opening gambit?  At least Peter Thiel always opens “1 e4”.

In the meantime, both Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer have taken their falls already, but separately.  Maybe Kelly Anne will too.

Newsmax reference on Beck.

Buchanan reference.

New European Conservative reference.

Radix Journal reference.

All of this is a bit scary. It sounds like crackpotism.

(Posted: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 at 9:45 PM EST)