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Fixing the Rejection of Hope

by on November 2, 2020

This article about how to overcome Trumpism is inspired by today’s day trip to Seattle. During that trip, two days before the election, there was the spread out – but obvious – caravan of Trump supporters, with huge flags on their car, driving the other way. The caravan prompted the jeering comment of “what are you going to do about it [the caravan being there],” and the retort of “well, what is there to do about it?”

Trumpism is driven by fear, nihilism, and to some extent, fatalism. While there is some case that Trumpism is based on the rejection of fact, the rejection of fact stems from fear, nihilism, and fatalism.

I think that the fear Trump supporters and conservative republicans have is a result of a drastic fear of change, like I summarized in an article about Oakeshott recently. I showed that we’re all more comfortable with a lack of change, but moderate, “slow rather than rapid pace,” of change is tolerable to most of us.

More than one definition applies to what appears to be nihilism in the ultra-conservative Trumpites. It appears that both “extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence,” and the rejection of all moral – but not religious! – principles on the grounds that life is meaningless.

This leads to an attitude of fatalism; at the same time the attitude of fatalism lead to the circular outlook of the attitude of the rejection of moral principles. Fatalism itself, as Hannah Arendt brilliantly summarized and demonstrated, arises from a loss, or fear of loss, of social norms. With the loss, of potential loss of everything familiar in the world, such as a job or a community, people conclude that they have nothing to live for, but will not die until they inflict their rejection of morals upon everything around them. In this way fear, nihilism, and fatalism are connected.

What can we do about the caravans? What do we do about a rather large swath of society that is propelled by fear and looks to push its nihilism on the rest of us, while acting with a fatalistic attitude?

The answer is that we need to address the social, or socio-economic, and political issues that impels people to feel hopeless. My response, to the utterances of “well, what can you do about the caravan” is that we need “systemic change”. I don’t remember my other exact words, but we need to address what people are fearful of, and fix why people feel like hope and reality should be rejected.

When I say system change I mean exactly the opposite of what the Trump administration dreams of where the wealthy get wealthy and the poor get poorer. Systemic change means a system where everyone is able to reach their full potential; a system where people don’t fear the loss of income or community.

From → Campaign 2020

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