JR'S Free Thought Pages
                                                                       No Gods  ~ No Masters    ~ No Bullshit





Donald Trump and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

By JR, November 15, 2016

It's not unusual for some of the most ignorant and stupid people to also be the most over-confident, egotistical, arrogant and who display not a morsel of intellectual humility. Many insensitive dimwitted bullies I've met throughout my life suffer from this psychological virus. They are the psychopathic social outcasts and moral degenerates who enjoy wielding power over others. Sadly you'll find these people everywhere: at school, the workplace, in business, religion and politics and especially in any social or political environment where hierarchy, bureaucracy and command style authority prevail

Donald Trump, I hesitate to say, is such a person. Trump's enormous ego seems to acknowledge no boundaries. Moreover, not unlike the Dragon's Den and BNN guru Kevin O'Leary in Canada, Trump is the quintessential ruthless predatory business tycoon and political pugilist, the sort of 21st century robber baron that disciples of neo-con disaster capitalism worship. Trump is also a self-styled raconteur and maverick, a far right wing political outsider, bordering on a Mussolini style fascist”. He's a privileged silver spoon pompous ass who has been given a 90 meter head start in the 100 meter dash for survival in the capitalist jungle. But Trump trots out the proverbial "self-made-man" myth, but it's not surprising from a man who has not progressed socially or intellectually beyond that of a 12 year old spoiled brat.

Not unlike the doltish George W Bush, if Trump had been born into a struggling dysfunctional working class family rather than in an indulgent profligate mollycoddled private school for dorks environment of a multi-millionaire tycoon, he'd be the piss tank jerk at the local bar who picks fights with strangers by shouting out racial and ethnic slurs and harassing vulnerable women. By the age of 16 or 17, given his unsavoury personality traits and third rate intellect, someone would have kicked his ass real good and literally beat the shit out of him. He'd be lucky to survive his teens, more than likely wasted in some dark back alley by some other thug of his ilk. If he managed to survive his teens, he'd be hard pressed to find a job as a very bad fork lift operator or hotel doorman.

Some would refer to a man who displays this sort of behaviour as an "asshole", we've all met them on more occasions than we care to recall. My father, in his wisdom, once pointed out this all-too-common mutant of the male species of homo-sapiens by telling me that in life I'd meet "far more horses asses than horses".

Perhaps I'm engaging in silly psycho babble, but my diagnosis of Trump is that he's a sociopathic mean spirited SOB. And he's now president of the most powerful terrorist rogue state on the planet. Duck and cover!

One of the greatest minds of the 20th century, mathematician and philosopher of logic, Bertrand Russell once stated:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.”

The psychological makeup and disposition of people such as Trump is a psychological analysis known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Put quite succinctly, it's a state of mind in which stupid people are not aware that they are stupid. The misguided and misconstrued self-esteem movement that began rewiring the brains of our kids in the public school system in the 1980s has, I submit, significantly contributed to this state of mind. Teachers were urged to never criticise or correct a kid because, after all, it might damage his fragile self-esteem. "2 + 2 = 5"; "great effort Ralph, you pass advanced algebra!" According to the bible, the universe was created by god 6000 years ago"; "not bad Gertrude, only off by about 14.5 billion years, that's a C+ grade in science for you, my dear".  

Some of the brilliant proponents of this self-esteem movement ought to pay attention to the word "self" in notions such as self-esteem and self-help. Learning and thinking are hard work and the intellectual life entails a great deal of frustration, intellectual toil, angst and agony. Deal with it. Ignorance is NOT bliss and faith is not an intellectual virtue.

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a meta-cognitive inability of those of low ability to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their abilities accurately. Their research also suggested corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

Dunning and Kruger have postulated that the effect is the result of internal illusion in those of low ability, and external misperception in those of high ability: “The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the mis-calibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”

Writing for Pacific Standard, psychologist David Dunning explained it as:

In many areas of life, incompetent people do not recognize - scratch that, cannot recognize - just how incompetent they are, a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for example, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules that are impossible among the intellectually incompetent. Poor performers  -  and we are all poor performers at some things fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack. What’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.

Sound familiar? Trump’s first presidential "debate" with Hillary Clinton was replete with examples of this phenomenon. Trump actually believes that Clinton, a former war mongering secretary of state and U.S. senator, lacks “basic ability” as compared to him, a man who has no experience in politics or public policy. This is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Wilhelm Reich, a former student of Sigmund Freud who became a practicing psychoanalyst in Austria, argued in his The Mass Psychology of Fascism that ethical repression of personal drives towards individual assertion and self-fulfillment, be they physical or existential, often diverted such energies instead into service of the totalitarian state. For the loyal subject of the Nazi Third Reich, Reich argued, the stereotype of the Jew provided a suitable scapegoat for its destruction of their individuality and war a suitable outlet for otherwise frustrated energies. This, I suggest, may explain much of Hitler's angst, anger and hate-filled vitriol in Mein Kampf.

With these aspects of Nazi social engineering and indoctrination taken care of and to keep the masses docile and complacent, Reich argued, Hitler was able to rally the vast majority of German citizens of the social democratic Weimar Republic behind a nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic deeply immoral political agenda that inevitably resulted in its annihilation. Most relevant for us today was Reich’s observation that the dynamics driving the Nazi war machine were anything but limited to Germany in the 1930s. They were, on the contrary, a dangerously acute example of psychological and emotional proclivities far more pervasive in the individual psyche of human subjectivity. There is, in other words, a little smattering of Hitler in all of us. Reich hypothesized that there was a sector of the human mind that was "wired for fascism" and it frequently occurs when fear of stark realties and the truth transforms a revolutionary attitude against injustice, coercion and oppression into illusions. Various attempts have been made to depict Adolph Hitler as something other than human, a depraved raving hyena rather than, to cite Nietzsche, as someone who was "human, all too human".

Another German social scientist, Erich Fromm, reached similar inferences and conclusions. Fromm however, who was a student of Jung, took a less mechanistic approach to authoritarian psychology. He argued in many excellent books such as The Fear of Freedom that the power of totalitarian regimes in particular derived at least as much from the inculcation and development of a relationship of emotional attachment to and dependence on hierarchical social and political organization as from the repression of personal physical drives. Many people, Fromm discovered, had essentially the same kind of relationship with the authoritarian state as they did with the undemocratic hierarchical churches they attended, not unlike the relationship they had with co-dependent romantic partners.

Not only were these kinds of co-dependent political relationships detrimental to happiness, wellbeing and the capacity of people to function effectively as autonomous free thinking individuals, Fromm argued, but they were also inimical to their ability to function outside of them; thus the longer and more attached people became to them, the harder it was for them to sever the attachment. Rather than being strong, healthy, vibrant and flourishing individuals capable of independence and self-reliance, they became acquiescent, docile, repressed, dogmatic, rigid, inflexible and fearful, often paralyzed by a bogus terror in the face of real freedom. For adherents of institutionalized monotheistic faiths that had reified their ideologically driven co-dependency into an imaginary alpha male metaphysical fiction, such freedom and autonomy became synonymous with abandonment or ostracism.

All of this supported Reich’s analysis insofar as the Nazi movement provided a safe haven for emergent victims of the Dunning-Kruger effect who could entertain their cognitive biases and delusions of grandeur about their illusory superiority on the basis of aspects of their lives over which they felt they had no control.

As Arthur Schopenhauer, who had been an important influence on Nietzsche, wrote:

"Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority."

Managing to manipulate the German populace with Nazi xenophobia, militarism and mind numbing patriotism did nothing to address the characteristic status anxiety and Dunning-Kruger ranting of Mein Kampf , much less to say resolve it. Even if he had won the war and wiped out every atheist, Jew, socialist, and communist in Europe, Hitler would have still needed deviant fictional objects of hate such as the Eternal Jew in order to avoid dealing with his own psychoses, neuroses, intellectual deficiencies and moral shortcomings.

If this confirms anything, it’s how complex are the tangled webs of belief that we hold that perhaps from which none of us can be immunized. If there’s a difference, it’s trying to do something constructive about these malfunctions of the mind instead of acting out our feelings in toxic ways that inflict damage on others. It seems to me a near impossible feat within the dominant global dystopia of neo-liberal corporate capitalism and the culture of selfishness and greed that permeates it. In the aftermath of the disgraceful and farcical US elections and the election of an authoritarian Übermensch such as Donald Trump, we need, as caretakers of the planet, to deeply reflect on a global moral and political transformation, before it's too late. The possibility of democracy and global justice is not viable under the dominance of a morally depraved anti-democratic socio-economic ideology.

We're beginning to see what sort of far right wing regime is ahead for Americans and the rest of the world in Trump's choice of his campaign manager, Steve Bannon, former Goldman Sachs investment bankster and head of the "alt-right" racist white supremacist anti-Semite Breitbart News, as chief advisor. The appointment of a full blown fascist who operates a xenophobic bigoted scandal sheet media outlet to serve as the president’s chief strategist epitomizes the gutter to West Wing pipeline that is funneling racist, far-right, and Christian fundamentalist ghouls into senior positions in the Trump administration. The groveling response to his election from leading Democrats, from Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the unsurprising carte blanche support of Wall Street, has led him to assume that he can regress even further in the construction of an ultra-reactionary corporatist state.

Welcome to the Fourth Reich fellow proles.

John Cleese on the Dunning-Kruger Effect



On Trump’s (& America’s) Problem


From the Horse’s Mouth: David Dunning



Donald Trump and the Spectre of Fascism

An Omnipresent Threat

By Johnny Reb, February 2017

“When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and wearing a cross” - Sinclair Lewis

Now that Donald Trump has selected an inner circle of wealthy elites, Christian fundamentalists, racists, anti-science bigots, xenophobes, financial parasites, vulture capitalists and corporatist multi-billionaires, the threat of fascism in America is emerging once again.

Trump’s pledge to “Make the country great again” is a distinctly fascist utterance, too disturbingly similar to the slogans of 1920s and 30s fascist movements. One might first ask: “When was America ever great?” Perhaps it was great before the self-righteous arrogant Christian Europeans arrived with their pious bigotry, racism and weapons of mass destruction and deception which they used effectively in persecuting, enslaving, subjugating and slaughtering the native indigenous populations. All this while they stole their land and threw those who survived into horrific concentration camps (referred to euphemistically as “reserves”). Otherwise, America’s greatness is pretty much restricted to being “great” at further enriching those who are already at the apex of the economic pyramid while bombing weaker counties into oblivion as it pillaged their natural resources. Appeals to silly mythologies and perceived glory days of racial purity and prosperity of the past have been typical ruses used by flag waving imperialist jack boot fascist demagogues during the past century.

Concern about national decline was one of the most prominent emotional appeals evoked in fascist discourse, and Trump, an obtuse philistine clearly ignorant of science, history and much else, is recklessly employing that worn out strategy despite the fact the country has been in a free fall moral decline for a very long time. For Trump, a bellicose foreign policy is needed to arrest his nebulous appeals to “decline” that he describes in vacuous rhetoric. Minus the silly toupee and big man physical stature, he even looks like the diminutive Mussolini in the manner in which he makes knee jerk statements (including his ludicrous tweets for twits), pompous manner in which he sticks out his lower jaw, the arrogance, narcissism, brashness, his ability to sense the mood of the crowd and the skilful manipulation of the fawning sock puppet corporate media. No one will ever mistake Trump for an intellectual. His lack of linguistic sophistication and ignorance of both basic science and its methodology- and even the history of his own country - are mind boggling. But then much of conservatism and its partner on the political right, fascism, are distinctly anti-intellectual world views and ideologies.

Extraordinary developments over the past several days have exposed the breakdown of democratic forms of rule that’s still left still standing in the United States.

On Monday, Trump delivered a political speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida in which he attacked the press and implied that it was aiding the enemy by not reporting terrorist attacks. “They have their reasons and you understand that,” Trump told the military, appealing for its support. Defending his anti-Muslim travel ban, he said, “We need strong programs” to keep out “people that want to destroy us and destroy our country.”

Two days later, on Wednesday, Trump gave a speech before a police organization, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, bitterly attacking the judiciary. The appearance came on the eve of a decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on his travel ban.

“We need security in our country,” Trump told the police. “And we have to give you the weapons that you need. And this [the order on immigration] is a weapon that you need. And they [the courts] are trying to take it away from you, maybe because of politics or maybe because of political views. We can’t let that happen.”

This was nothing less than a call from the US president for the police to oppose or defy an unfavourable court ruling. He underscored the point by adding, “One of the reasons I was elected was because of law and order and security… And they’re taking away our weapons one by one, that’s what they’re doing.”

While the immediate object of Trump’s vitriol is his critics within the establishment, the more fundamental target is the working class, and the methods being prepared against working-class opposition are far more violent. His speech on Wednesday was a pledge to eliminate all restraints on the use of force by the police. “My message today is that you have a true, true friend in the White House,” he proclaimed. “I support our police. I support our sheriffs. And we support the men and women of law enforcement.”

The Trump administration expresses the dictatorship of the American oligarchy in its most ruthless form. His administration, packed with billionaires and generals, is determined to massively expand the military in preparation for a major war while escalating the social counterrevolution within the United States. This includes the slashing of health care, the destruction of public education and the elimination of all restraints on corporate profits. To implement this policy, the most basic democratic forms must be cast aside. The Trump administration is not an aberration in an otherwise healthy society but rather the culmination of a longstanding crisis of American “democracy”. 

The outrageous statements by Trump in recent days are ominous signs of a full blown American fascist police state.

Perhaps it’s time to dust off and re-read a few classics such as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Jack London’s The Iron Heel, Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, William Faulkner’s The Mansion, Jerzy Kosinski’s  Being There, Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, Philip Dick’s  The Man In The High Castle, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road,  among others. Two recent dystopian novels worthy of note are The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter and Polly and the One and Only World by Don Bredes. The former describes a world to which we are rapidly heading, a corporatized hyper-capitalist global dictatorship in which nothing remains in the public domain and in which everything has become a commodity to be marketed and sold. This includes the clean water and air we need for basic survival. The latter novel by Don Bredes portrays a United States that has become a theocracy, an authoritarian nightmare ruled by Evangelical Christians in which everything we do is dictated by biblical scripture.

Notwithstanding the possibility mass civil disobedience and Trump impeachment, whether the current man in the high castle in Washington becomes the kind of peddle to the metal fascist described in Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here remains to be seen. 

On the political continuum, fascism is generally perceived as a conservative authoritarian political ideology of the far right. For those not willing to read a political philosopher’s analysis such as The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O Paxton, one can consult a concise summary of the characteristics of fascism provided online by political scientist Lawrence Britt called The 14 Characteristics of Fascism.

Below are a few random unedited personal observations on fascism:

1.      Fascism continues to be widespread throughout the world, but tends to be more widespread in Western capitalist and postcolonial countries that exhibit intense nationalism, patriotism, militarism, religious fundamentalism, media control, ideological hegemony and various forms of authoritarianism.  In many cases, the rank-and-file of fascist movements tend to be disgruntled elites or dispossessed members of a privileged group in society such as disenfranchised middle class whites. In pre-WWII Germany for example, most working-class Germans were impoverished by the punitive aftermath of World War I and the Great Depression, in contrast to their self-image as a wealthy, powerful nation. In modern Germany and Austria, neo-Nazi political parties regularly secure more than 10% of the total votes, especially in jurisdictions in which employment prospects are poor. In the US, working class whites who do not enjoy the wealth promised to them by the political elites of the richest nation on earth may join a Neo-Nazi group or the Ku Klux Klan.

2.    Fascism is also an elite phenomenon, a movement by privileged elites, both secular and religious. The German Nazi party included many of the richest industrialists and members of the Christian hierarchy. The Spanish fascists that backed Franco in the Spanish Civil War were an alliance of generals, landowning aristocrats and Catholic Church leaders. The Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini said that fascism should be called “corporatism” because it is the merger of state and corporate power. In the US, the KKK was originally a Christian gentleman’s club, and before WWII, the richest industrialists such as Hearst, Rockefeller, Ford, DuPont and Morgan supported the fascists in Europe and were behind a clandestine plot to assassinate FDR and replace him with a Mussolini style strong man. Currently in the US, many elite conservatives support the anti-immigrant group Minutemen and other crypto-fascist groups. Fascism is especially connected to conservative segments of the elite who are afraid the expansive strategies of the progressive elite will backfire and destabilize the whole system. In these manifestations, fascism is a way the elite preserve traditional conservative Christian divine command morality, strengthen social hierarchy and defend against revolutionary activity among the lower classes.

3.    A few of the primary ideas common to fascism are:  a) immigration phobia, b) racial purity and white supremacy, c) political egoism and arrogance through nationalistic fanaticism, d) social Darwinian notions of “survival of the fittest” and e) anti-Semitism, all of which have no rational foundation. Permit me to consider them in order.

(a) Anti-immigration is without foundation and deeply hypocritical. The anti-immigration political factions in the US and EU generally supported the same free trade deals and wars (examples abound, of which NAFTA and the civil war in El Salvador are two that are the root causes of much of the immigration “problem”). Moreover, their economies depend on immigrant labour (US agriculture and the construction industry would collapse overnight without immigrant wage slavery). European governments that are supposedly worried about protecting their so-called enlightened cultures from immigrants are often the same ones that plundered, colonized and murdered the indigenous populations in the countries from which the immigrants are coming. Yet they had no problem imposing their oppressive Christian culture to someone else’s country, nor are they doing anything to stop the cultural pollution of McDonalds, Walmart and Starbucks.( b) As for racial purity, the idea has no scientific basis, and in fact race is an arbitrary generalization. There is no danger in cross-racial breeding; in fact a diverse gene pool is much healthier than a homogenous one, and no ethnic group is actually “pure.” We all in fact stem from the same ancestors and have been mixing since the beginning. (c) White supremacy is also a myth with no evidential support other than the crude and fabricated pseudo-science of skull-measuring that took place in the 19th century. Nationalism is nothing but a childish indoctrinated lie: the political and economic elite are constantly making deals with other countries and enriching themselves while they teach their sheep-like citizens to hate people from other countries, thus dividing the lower classes. Waving the flag, singing national anthems while worshipping the military that “fight for our freedoms” is bullshit and subtle indoctrination that empowers the government while it anaesthetizes the people. Absurdly, nationalists believe they will be free if their jailers look the same and speak the same language as them. (d) Social Darwinism — the idea of “survival of the fittest” enshrined as a political system — has nothing to do with scientific Darwinism. In fact, Charles Darwin never used the phrase “survival of the fittest,” but rather discovered that species survive by adapting themselves to their natural environments, not waging a war against it. In fact, humans waste their greatest evolutionary advantages — the abilities to communicate and think rationally and creatively — by conforming to strict social hierarchies that have no actual natural basis.(e) As for anti-Semitism, in the Middle Ages, the same people who killed Jews also put them in the role of money lender and depended on them. In the 20th century, anti-Semitic capitalists claimed Jews were part of the “international Bolshevik conspiracy” while anti-capitalist anti-Semites said Jews were part of a conspiracy of bankers and capitalists. Clearly, fascists just use Jews to stand in wherever they need a scapegoat for the social ills and injustices of the country.

4.    Fascists and neo-Nazis surely could not continue to believe stupid, ignorant, credulous and groundless ideas unless their hatred served an important purpose. Clearly we cannot take fascist ideas of “might makes right” seriously. But we must take fascists themselves seriously because of the sordid history in the West of so many police state tyrannies (the Third Reich simply being one of the most extreme), pogroms, murders, wars, colonialism, imperialism, social violence and persecution for which they are primarily responsible. So if fascism is useful, we must ask: cui bono? The previous example of anti-Semitism offers a possible explanation; it provides a convenient scapegoat. Fascism encourages poor members of the dominant group - impoverished white Christian for example - to offload their frustration, anger and hatred onto other groups. This enables the real enemy of conservative dominated entrenched wealth and privilege, corporate oligarchs and the financial elite to be exempt from blame. Throughout a history of feudalism, monarchies, theocracies and other authoritarian regimes – and now corporate capitalism - poor people have sound reasons for despising the wealthy that live off the largesse of the enabling capitalist state. If Jews can stand in for plutocrats, standing in as the exclusive members of the conspiratorial banking cabal, then poor people will hate Jews, rather than the global corporate capitalist tyranny that controls and governs the planet and owns most of its wealth. The elite can then be comforted and feel safely smug regarding the anger and derision of those they have duped and exploited.

According to the mythology of white supremacy, all Christian Caucasians are considered superior in terms of intellect, wealth and power. Fascist doctrines instruct their powerless flocks of white sheep to blame blacks and immigrants for crime and stealing their jobs instead of the real criminals and job thieves, namely the pampered and privileged elite and financial plutocrats who orchestrate phony elections and write the laws to suit their own interests. This hatred also creates a psychic distance that makes it easier for them to oppress people of color, and more difficult to gain solidarity.  It is rich white people, the capitalists and government elite who become obscenely rich from wage slavery, immigrant labour, and other forms of exploitation, but it is generally working-class whites who are recruited to serve in the military and police forces which are nothing more than the hirelings of wealth and power that maintain the status quo of wealth and power. The rich whites can laugh all the way to the bank that they have indoctrinated so many working-class whites into their dupes and trained seals so easily and with so little cost to them. The latest Oxfam Report now informs us that the eight richest multi-billionaires now have more wealth than over half the population of the world. How is it we continue to tolerate such unjust obscenities of global theft?

5.     It’s an historical fact that conservative elites have supported and been the major beneficiaries of fascism; US Christian conservatism in particular is grounded in cultural authoritarianism and overt racism. And there’s a plethora of evidence from the horrors of the 20th century. And today many European Union governments sponsor the notions of cultural purity by protecting “superior” European culture from the pollution of immigration, by various mechanisms that include the requirement that immigrants pass cultural criteria and examinations. Too bad the indigenous peoples of the world were unable to find some way to sop the “immigrant” Christian European invasion and plunder of their homelands followed by centuries of racism, slavery and genocide.

Our corporate media owned by the wealthy conservative corporate elite classes in both North America and the EU cover the immigration issue in a manner that is guaranteed to encourage ignorance and fear. For example, they rarely provide the context and rationale of why people immigrate in the first place, whose corporations and wars have invaded and demolished their homelands while stealing their resources. They rarely mention the fact that European and US economies would collapse without immigrant labour; that white consumers depend on the cheap labour and imports (produce, clothing, computers, cell phones, and so on.) of the immigrants their countries of origin. And in the US, members of the elite provide lucrative financial support to the more compliant and “respectable” fascist puppet leaders in these countries exploited by imperialism. Christian fundamentalists are the preferred choice of sock puppet in these countries such as in Latin America. George W. Bush had been successful, and especially Ronald Reagan in getting government money and military equipment to such people. Not just in Latin America, but in countries like Italy, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia there’s plenty of evidence of government or churches providing ideological or financial support to fascists. During the regimes of the Third Reich, Mussolini’s fascist state and Franco’s fascist dictatorship in Spain, the churches, as they have historically done,  fell into lock step and supported these jack boot authoritarian tyrannies. In fact, since organized religion itself is intrinsically undemocratic and hierarchical, these sorts of anti-democratic top down regimes have been their preference.

6.    Aside from providing a constant service as an antidote to working class solidarity such as trade unions and to left wing liberalism and socialism, fascists are useful tools of the state because the corporate elite and business classes can count on fascist groups to save it from a genuine revolution from below.  Though fascism may topple a particular conservative or liberal government, government is just a tool of the elite so that poses no problem. In fact, capitalism never had it as good as they did under Hitler, Mussolini and Franco.  After the Second World War the allies (especially Britain and the United States) supported the defeated Nazi and fascist groups to undermine the communist and socialist groups who had formed the base of the partisans who fought the Nazi occupations of their countries. This was the case in France, Italy and Greece that had vibrant popular communist and socialist parties that likely would have formed the governments in any fair and legal election. In Italy and Greece especially the landowners, church leaders, and factory owners saw that they did so well under Mussolini, the bourgeoisie everywhere realized that fascism could save them from revolution. This realization led the elite in Spain to support Franco’s fascist coup, to save themselves from the growing anarchist movement. In post WW II Greece a civil war, instigated by Britain and the US, was fought for several years to crush the left wing groups. They had no qualms or moral issues about employing former Nazis and fascists to carry this off. The American also recruited many Nazi scientists and members of the Gestapo, allowing them to immigrate to the US to support their spy and surveillance institutions such as the FBI, CIA, military technology programs and the emerging space race. Anyone remember the Nazi scientist and Nazi party member Werner von Braun? A revealing and shocking book on this clandestine plot of recruiting former Nazis (referred to as Operation Paper Clip) is called The Nazis Next Door by Eric Lichtblau.

7.     Many neo-fascists and neo-Nazis base much of their criticism of society’s ills on race. But it’s important to remind oneself that in scientific terms, race simply does not exist. Some folks are lighter skinned than others, some darker, but there are no clear lines of demarcation and everyone has mixed heritage. In terms of genetics, there is far more diversity within a single “race” than there is a difference between the averages of the various races. For example, your genetic composition could conceivably be nearer to those of someone from another race than to someone who is the same race as you. Race is primarily a social construction and the concept of race did not exist until Europe began its colonial conquests. Once they began enslaving Africans, colonizing Asians and exterminating Native Americans as though they were vermin, the European elite began speaking in terms of race to isolate their victims. They did this primarily by duping lower-class Europeans into filling the role of military and police, thus cooperating with the exploitation of the most oppressed classes of society. In the early American colonies, the ruling class had to quickly impose laws against whites marrying with indigenous populations in their regions of conquest such as Africa, the Americas and Australia. They discouraged Europeans from cohabiting and living with Native Americans for example, because on many occasions the lower-class Europeans were joining with the colonized people in rebellion. Many ran off to live with them and were surprised to find their societies offered more tolerance and freedom, especially to women.

8.    Capitalism and its facilitator, the state, will invariably produce resentment and rebellion. After all, most people do not like to be exploited and controlled. The racism and authoritarianism of the state will cause some malcontents and dissenters to reject the state chosen scapegoat du jour, question their propaganda and turn to civil disobedience and rebellion. This revolt can manifest itself not only in left wing political movements, but within right wing populism, including fascism. As long as the capitalist state exists, fascism is likely inevitable. Those who oppose fascism must support bottom-up anti-authoritarian revolution. Authoritarian models of revolution (whether on the left or right) are no solution to anti-democratic statist regimes. The state is, after all, a mechanism of domination and coercion and even if it can be taken out of the hands of a particular capitalist class, it will turn on those who wish to transform or reform it simply into a new tyrannical organ of a new elite class. One only need study the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution that maintained the state apparatus and authoritarian model of party domination in the form of Lenin and Stalin.

9.    Those opposed to conservatism, fascism and other forms of right wing authoritarianism must dismantle the capitalism and corporatist state that enables its ongoing exploitation and theft. Anti-fascists and others who value freedom and genuine democracy, who refuse to challenge the tyranny of kamikaze casino capitalism or its nanny state and who continue to vote for the two capitalist parties are credulous and delusional if they think reforms are forthcoming. The end game for neo-liberal dogma is a debased immoral ignorant Christian clown multi-billionaire such as Donald Trump, a man who has never put in an honest day’s work in his life. Wake up lemmings. Fascism in Europe and the US - and its current incarnation in Trump - cannot be defeated by maintaining the status quo of farcical elections in which the winner is the corporatist party with the most money. In the US there exists a duopoly of Democrats/Republicans; in Canada it’s the Liberals/Conservatives and whichever is elected, nothing substantively changes for the vast majority of working poor and the disgraceful scenes of tens of thousands of citizens living like rats on the streets.

10.  In order to defeat reactionary forces on the right, including fascism, we need to create a grass roots anti-capitalist anti-state movement that is also anti-authoritarian. Free markets and free enterprise are acceptable, assuming we actually have or ever had them. Our imaginations need to be open to all possibilities that allow for horizontal forms of self governance and direct democracy. Such a movement needs to belong to people of all colors and nations, capable of international solidarity. Renouncing the bogus national/ethnic divisions of the fascists does not mean ignoring any such divisions that do exist in society such as massive economic inequities.


Donald Trump as the Unreal Commander in Chief

By JR, August 2017

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, won’t go away – Philip K Dick


                                                         Trumpenstein I

The election of Donald Trump represents, among other disturbing things, the triumph of the simulacrum over the real and fabrication over truth. This dismal state of affairs has been a long time coming in American politics, society and culture and should not surprise anyone. The inverse of the allegory of Plato’s cave has arrived, a state of affairs in which shadows and representation have become reality, a world of dystopian societies depicted in movies such as Fahrenheit 451, The Truman Show and The Matrix.

The deterioration of objective reality began in a seemingly innocuous manner during the televised Kennedy/Nixon debates of the 1960 US election campaign as their orchestrated TV appearances began to gnaw away at substance and serious rational discourse. And then the bizarre media glamour and myth-making pabulum of Camelot was unleashed on the credulous populace, demonstrably transforming forever the style of and expectations for the American presidency. On the face of it, it might be said that JFK was America’s first celebrity in chief and rock star in the White House. This surreal phenomenon is not, needless to say, unique to the United States.

Conditions became progressively worse with the emergence of anti-enlightenment anti-rationalist postmodernist thought throughout academia and the media that heralded, among other things, the notion of truth and reality as mere social constructions. It’s a short step from this to the notion that all opinions are of equal epistemological value, equally rational and valid whereas the harsh reality is that a life of the intellect is incredibly demanding, often requiring grinding toil, anguish and frustration. Anyone can offer an opinion without the arduous work of digging up the facts or offering evidence and cogent explanations. It’s called faith. But even the ability to conjure up convincing bullshit or some fantasy scenario requires substance, logic, creative thought and conceptual clarity. Just consider our world in which everything is for sale, including advice for people who need some validation for their consumer driven lives of quiet desperation? It’s a world contaminated by self-help gurus, financial snake oil advisors, astrologers, crystal ball gazers, prosperity gospel televangelists, psychics, quacks selling q-ray bracelets and - wait for it - life coaches.

Postmodernism accelerated during the 1980s with the election of union busting, deficit creator, compulsive liar and champion of the obscenely wealthy - Ronald Reagan. His neo-conservative handlers were master myth-makers able to manipulate his electoral audience like sheep herders, utilizing his life-long substandard acting skills in many forgettable third rate performances in B movies. At this point in history, power was beginning to align itself with ever more television style spectacles, celebrity worship, mindless entertainment and rock star style staged performances. Postmodernism and its partner relativism deny any universal principle of truth, value or ethical norms other than the current noxious ruling world order of global corporate capitalism. Mainstream science is relegated to a quasi-religious cult like scientology. Socio-economic policies and today’s indistinguishable mainstream political parties confine themselves to what serves the catechism of the “Market” which has become deified and thus supersedes everything, including the future life of the planet and its delicate ecosystems.

Even during the Bill Clinton presidency, his particular version of the simulacrum in chief had a disturbing tendency to associate and legitimize himself with the denizens, imagery and spectacle of Hollywood and pop star culture, complete with the indignities of scandal. And when the sordid sex scandal involving one of Clinton’s young female aides erupted - a moral ignominy matching that of the smarmiest soap operas - most Americans didn’t seem to give a shit.

In comparison, the tragic-comedy of the George W Bush presidency that followed was, in due course, completely convinced that truth and reality no longer mattered as they were ultimately relegated to a contrived construct based on raw power. The blatant lies trotted out to justify the immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 is instructive. In the case of the semi-literate George W. Bush’s version of simulacrum in chief, he became a full blown victim of boundless willed ignorance, duplicity and hubris peppered with the most obtuse Christian evangelical piety (“God told me to invade Iraq”).

Despite his apparent honourable intentions about “hope and change” during the 2008 election campaign, Obama, who was basically granted a blank cheque by the American electorate who had been conned, duped and lied to by the Republican Party under the bumbling Bush, he was no more than an articulate charming version of Baby Bush with a functioning brain. Moreover, Obama was very much invested in aspects of the celebrity culture as well as the postmodernist gibberish and simulacra in which he grew up as he cultivated an aura which was oftentimes synonymous with pop idol eminence. But as bull shitter extraordinaire, upon election he immediately began bailing out the financial mafia who created the 2008 financial meltdown and stuffing his administration with those same Wall Street crooks and parasites from dens of iniquity such as Goldman Sachs. Perversely, some features of his duplicitous hypocritical silver tongued presidency may well have been the inevitable prelude to what was to come.

Enter vulture capitalist, huckster and anti-science buffoon Donald Trump, a man with the personality of a viper and whose literacy is confined to twitter. We now are faced with the celebrity unreality show narcissist idol incarnate. The overweight overbearing Trump is the apotheosis of all that is depravity, debauchery, glitter and gauche.

As I’ve just briefly outlined, the historical trajectory that led to the triumph of regressive bellicosity and an infantile conservative authoritarianism and neoliberal economic theology has been a long one. It began in earnest with the concerted effort of power elites to roll back the socio-economic gains of the middle and working classes in the mid 1970s but which I believe can be traced to the post Russian Revolution which will be 100 years old in October this year. But that’s a topic for another essay I’m currently working on.

Much of America aspires to wealth and fame that has been a consistent thread throughout most of its history. This American longing for boatloads of money is called the “American Dream”. But as the late George Carlin described it, “it’s a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” The American dream has now been reduced to a nightmare of futile time and money wasting activities such as buying lottery tickets which have always been a pipe dream enticement for the poor and desperate. These lofty American delusional aspirations about becoming obscenely rich have only been exacerbated by a mind-numbing debilitating pop consumer culture which saturates their minds with trivia, sports and celebrity worship and useless information that consumes them daily.

 But in Donald Trump the contempt for the intellect, science, truth, history, literacy, decency, decorum and the real has reached its nadir. No longer are bullshit and outright prevarication important criteria for the maintenance of power because a hologram of symbolic substantiations of unfulfilled mythic yearnings have taken absolute precedence and fully replaced the necessity of traditional indoctrination and propaganda.

The love of power has always had an aspect of the psychotic reification of a deity. And if the truth be told, America’s real religion is the gospel of material success and the power of positive thinking; the endless pursuit of the almighty dollar and hysterical worship of winners and an almost sadistically cruel subjugation and contempt of losers. No one personifies this public persona and nauseating social Darwinian world view better than Donald Trump who separates the world into a Manichean dichotomy of “winners” and “losers” as he did in his obscene TV realty spectacles.

Imperial Grand Wizard Trump is an exemplar of a rare winner in the genetic lottery, a silver spoon spoiled brat born into a family whose racist father not only handed him a lucrative real estate empire but was also once arrested at a KKK riot. Donald Trump is the 21st century Caligula of the depraved American empire and of the people that elected him, who symbolizes the angry lives and desperate longings of millions for wealth, fame, beauty and power, in addition to retribution from the designated scapegoats of the day who they perceive have stifled and betrayed them.

People living in the West might try looking at the conservative systems of power that have always prevailed throughout history in various forms of oligarchy from theocracies, to monarchies to the current tyranny of corporate monopoly capitalism. According to the latest OXFAM report, we have now reached the point at which five multi-billionaires have more wealth than half the world’s population.


                                       The Grand Wizard of Id


Donald Trump as Far right wing Anti-intellectual Populist

By Johnny Reb, September 29, 2017

Reagan/ Thatcher Supply Side “Trickle Down” economics that has been proven to be an abysmal failure, is a cruel joke perpetrated on the 99%. During the past three or four decades this capitalist nightmare has resulted in a lottery-style socialism for the rich - a windfall for the multinational corporations and the super wealthy coupled with the decimation of the middle class and steady economic death spiral for the rest of us. The future for our kids and grandkids looks dismal at best.

The neoliberal, kamikaze casino capitalist era we inhabit is overflowing with statistics and personal accounts that ought to send shock shivers down the spines of any caring and ethically sensitive sentient being.  Nearly three out of four of the world’s population is poor, living on $10 a day or less, and 11 percent (767 million people, including 385 million children) live in what the World Bank calls “extreme poverty” (less than a $1.90 a day). Meanwhile, Oxfam, in their most recent report claims that the world’s richest half dozen people, including mythical “self-made men” such as Gates, Bezos and Buffett and three other gluttonous parasites, control more wealth than the most impoverished half of the entire human population.

As Bernie Sanders said repeatedly during the US election campaign in 2016, the top 10th of the upper 1 percent in the U.S. has nearly as much wealth as the nation’s bottom 90 percent. Seven heirs of the Walton family’s Walmart windfall have among them a net worth equal to that of the nation’s poorest 40 percent. Half the U.S. population is poor or near-poor, and half of them lack any savings. Yet millions of destitute Americans wallowing in systemic unemployment and impoverishment, voted for a psychopathic multi-billionaire real estate crypto-fascist swindler with the expectation of elevating them to prosperity. [1]

Trump has now unveiled his reactionary predictable tax hand outs to wealthy elites, referring to the Santa Claus reforms for the rich, a “revolutionary change”. The plan consists of a vast array of tax cuts and corporate welfare which would provide a historic windfall for mega- corporations and the rich. If passed by Congress it would represent the most expansive change to the tax code since FDR’s New Deal. Corporate tax rates will be reduced from 35% to 20% and estate taxes will be abolished. [2]

In recent books such as Idiot America and The Dumbest Generation compelling arguments were presented that support not only my intuitions that most humans don't know how to think effectively, but the situation is becoming increasingly worse. These books, along with Richard Hofstadter's classic Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, are vital contributions to the long history of intellectual bashing in the United States by both conservative elites and the inculcated masses. The author, Charlie Pierce, is not hesitant to a depict know-nothings like Fox News' Bible banging Sean Hannity a bona fide idiot. Pierce has propounded the three great axioms of Idiot America: (i) A theory is valid if it sells a product or commodity; (ii) A statement is true if someone says it loudly enough and often enough; (iii) Fact is that which a sufficient number of people believe. Truth is determined by how passionately people believe it. These three typify the epistemic ideology of postmodernism, the slowly fading notion that truth and fact are relative to context and that all opinions are equally rational, cogent or ethically valid.

This group includes the large percentage of docile obedient pledge of allegiance hyper-patriotic flag waving Americans [3] who would rather believe in horoscopes than the Theory of Evolution, the cornerstone of modern biology. They are the same Americans who visit the Creationist Museum, the ideas of which are lifted from the Flintstones, to the ludicrous  2005 Dover Intelligent Design Case, to the tragedy of Terri Schiavo to the belief in the efficacy of faith and prayer to the deification of the narcissistic, huckster and anti-science buffoon Donald Trump [4], who is the 21st century neo-fascist version of the disgusting populist demagogue  in the 1949 movie All the Kings Men based on the 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren.  


[1] The United States has recently brought to power the most right-wing government in American history. These developments raise a critical question: Why has the decade following the greatest crisis of world capitalism since the 1930s, which would have brought down the entire financial system but rather through insidious taxpayer bailouts and golden parachutes for criminal banks and financial institutions has ushered in policies of brutal austerity and militarism internationally and a steady consolidation of far-right wing parties? Why have the social democratic and labour parties and the traditional party of the working class, the capitalist Democratic Party of the US duopoly not only failed to win support as a result of the gutting of social programs and impoverishment of broad sections of the working class, but suffered defeat after defeat?

For the past decade and beyond, particularly the past three decades and since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there has been a complete dissociation of what is presented as left politics from any opposition to capitalism. The British Labour Party, the Australian Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, the German Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and the NDP in Canada have all abandoned any alignment with the working class or concern with the social issues workers and the growing poor face. Tens of thousands now live on the streets, many sufferers of psychological dysfunction. They have substituted an orientation to racial and gender identity, what we call “identity politics” for class questions, a fraudulent and reactionary approach to progressive politics.

The most reactionary political forces have exploited the vacuum created by the absence of any challenge to the depraved capitalist system to come forward as the representatives of the masses. They have worked to divert social discontent along right-wing and fascistic nationalist channels. Their populist posturing is utterly hypocritical and cynical. These same forces demand even more savage social cuts and bigger tax windfalls for the corporate elite and uber rich, traditional enemies of the masses.

But it is not that the masses of workers that support racist and fascistic policies. The votes for these parties have largely been protest votes against the established parties, which have provided no progressive outlet for social discontent. Moreover, the masses know full well that the “left” parties are directly implicated in imposing the austerity measures demanded by the banks and corporations.

In Britain, the Labour Party under Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown continued and expanded the policy of social cuts and anti-strike “reforms” launched by Margaret Thatcher and her Tory successor John Major. In France, the Socialist Party government of Francois Hollande imposed the first round of labour “reforms” attacking workers’ rights and protections, cut taxes for the wealthy and put in place a permanent state of emergency. His successor, Emmanuel Macron, who has imposed a more far-reaching labour law “reform” by decree and is demanding deeper social cuts, was a minister in Hollande’s government. In Germany, it was the Social Democratic-Green Party coalition government of 1998-2005 that began the destruction of the post-World War II welfare state with its Agenda 2010 and Hartz laws. In this election, the Social Democratic Party, far from offering an alternative to the AfD, sought to outdo the neo-fascists in calling for military rearmament, sharper attacks on immigrants and the militarization of the police who now operate with impunity. The SPD focused its attacks not on the far-right, but on what it called “left-wing extremism.” Is it any wonder why so many uninformed people, especially those ignorant of history, economics and political philosophy, are perplexed?

[2] An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates approximately half of the tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent of households, those making more than $700,000 per year, for an average cut of $150,000 per year. Within in this group, the richest of the rich, the top 0.1 percent, would receive 30 percent of the tax cuts, for an average cut of $800,000 per year. Meanwhile there would be “little discernable” benefit for working class families under Trump’s plan, according to the CBPP. A married couple with one child that earns less than $24,850 a year will receive no tax cut under the plan, while a similar family earning $48,700 will see a cut of just $180.

[3] The puerile Pledge of Allegiance is not an expression of patriotism. It is a loyalty oath that one normally associates with totalitarian regimes such as Hitler’s Third Reich or contemporary North Korea. People who value freedom, ought to be appalled by the idea of especially children being coerced to stand and declare their support for the state. Other than religion, this is arguably one of the worst forms of indoctrination and is completely anathema to democracy and the principals articulated in the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights. I cannot conceive of outspoken libertarians like Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine ever proclaiming their loyalty to the state when they correctly considered the state as the greatest threat to individual freedom. Real democracy and patriotism is questioning everything and anything enacted by any and all sources of power, most of which are invariably illegitimate

[4] Trump has taken advantage of the nation’s plutocratic political dysfunction to become a kind of one-man ecological apocalypse. The fossil-fuelled hurricanes, floods, drought and wildfires of 2017 have hit the U.S. at a time when the White House is occupied by an openly ecocide inducing billionaire whose election rang what Noam Chomsky called an environmental “death knell for the species.” Trump has pulled the United States out of the moderate Paris climate accord. He has removed all references to climate change from federal websites and has chosen a fellow petro-capitalist climate change denier dedicated to crippling the Environmental Protection Agency to lead that department. Trump’s secretary of state is the former long time CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., history’s most powerful fossil fuel corporation - a company that buried and then organized propaganda against its own scientists’ warnings on carbon’s impact on the climate. This is apocalyptic petro-capitalist madness on steroids. Extreme weather is just the tip of the melting iceberg. If not reversed, global warming which is destroying multiple plant and animal species on a daily basis will ultimately destroy the human species as well, through famine, lack of clean water and breathable air, dehydration, overheating, disease and resource wars. It has put us on a path to oblivion and ultimate extinction.



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