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The Trump election: it's the reality, stupid

As the election night in the US unfolded the climate changed by the minute. Like a weather front that some expect, others fear, the incoming results changed the mood by degree after degree, moment by moment.

shock image 1 ABC News     shock image 2 ABC News
The face of reality unbidden: examples of shock and disbelief. From: ABC News, 9 November 2016, "Hillary Clinton supporters in tears as Donald Trump wins US election".

Similar to the volumes that were dispensed before that night, commentators virtually stumbled over each other as soon as the outcome became clear. Is there anything else that can be added, aside from the politically comfortable territory of job losses, redundancies and lack of education? Yes, there is.

Regardless of any ideological reinterpretation, as far as human beings are concerned the world is finite. Resources can be spent, but they have to be recouped at some time. Extravagance is possible, but if it compromises something more essential the result is a negative. If something needs to be learned, there is only so much time to accomplish it; wilful extensions lead to shortcomings overall. Phantasies can be gratifying, but if they are indulged at the expense of the real, disaster follows.

Furthermore there exist essential manifestations of behaviour that can be observed in any group of humans around the world, regardless of age and background, provided such a group is not artificially interfered with by some other. They are rules, and there is no faster way to undermine the cohesion and effectiveness of a group than disobeying them. Such as:

•  Treat everyone equally, no preferences based on personal whims. Exceptions are special skills someone might have as long as the preferences are limited to those skills. Another might be an exemplary act, but even that needs to be treated with a certain amount of caution. This goes for the leaders who confer them as well as for those who claim them.

• Never denounce a behaviour as bad towards some while at the same time condone, even support the same - or worse - in others just because you don't like them.

•  Leaders can demand just about anything, as long as they are willing to bear the cost like everyone else (and are seen to be willing). Again, there can be exceptions, see above.

•  Misbehaviour needs to be addressed there and then, without favours. Punishment (and punishment of some sort is expected) needs to be fair, but, once administered, it now has been paid and everyone moves on. Thus redemption is part of punishment and vice versa; one entails the other.

•  A shortcoming by a member needs to be acknowledged without sugar-coating the fact. If that's what it is, then that's what it is. Such dysfunction is neither a source of guilt, nor does it constitute an honour.

•  Shortcomings are not to be used as a privilege to act as if the former did not exist. If you are smaller than some other, you don't provoke that other on the premise he or she is not allowed to respond because of your size. The obverse is also true: don't kick the person when they are down. In other words, you brought that person down, you had your victory, now leave them alone.

•  Newcomers to a group will be tolerated if they prove no hindrance to the others, they will be welcomed if they assimilated enough to contribute. If their presence is only temporary they will be afforded the kind of hospitality the group can muster; this means accepting what is offered, observing how things are done and not striking out on your own, and not overstaying the welcome (which is definitely finite). Newcomers intending to stay will be tested as to their personality and/or nature because the group needs to know whom they are dealing with. They cannot make demands, either regarding special treatment or some change in the group's behaviour unless they have fully understood its framework, and even then they need to appreciate the identity of their new host.

•  There is a cardinal rule when it comes to emergencies: whatever you do, don't compromise the safety of yourself and your colleagues. For example, if there is a house fire don't rush in to save someone if this means you need to be rescued yourself, because the (now diminished) rest not only have to deal with those inside but with you as well. It applies on a larger scale when it comes to foreign aid, to refugees, to intervention in another country. And above all, resources are always finite in any case.

Those who grew up in a socially interactive environment with its challenges (and without too much supervision) will have learned these rules, but they seem to be alien ground for others who had been brought up in a bubble. Yet they exist, and bubbles are no real protection against reality waiting outside. It can break through the film at any moment.

Over the past few decades the West has experienced two significant movements, each in its own way undermining the age-old principles mentioned above. One is post-modernism with its disdain for the ascertainable and the reliable; the other is the ideological side of feminism with its obsessive reformulation of female-male relationships, the preferential treatment of its own perspectives while vilifying any other, and its celebration of the self.

What follows are generally expressed manifestations of those trends. Whether they formed part of any American's mindset at the time they cast their vote cannot be ascertained without the appropriate analysis. What can be said however is that any incongruence between what is claimed by some cohort and what is personally experienced and witnessed on one occasion after another creates a discord that sooner or later finds its expression. Expressions can be suppressed, they can be prohibited outright, but that does not remove the underlying sentiments. Revolutions are an example of oppression having continued for too long. What does break through eventually is formulated according to the circumstances and the situatedness of the individual behind the voice.

•  Society (ie, meaning mainly Western society in this context) has been told that everybody is the same. Clearly this is not so. Even within a culture, a demographic even, there are differences in terms of character, capability, emotionalism, and all the markers which identify an individual. It becomes especially apparent when observing the various cultures on this planet. The aggregate of any such sets forms the society with its particular standards, values, priorities and levels of accomplishment. Hence there is a difference between Somali society and its Swiss counterpart; or between Australia and Brazil. Equally there are differences between the demographics within a nation, and they too form aggregates which translate into their respective overall character. There can be overlaps, but they are the exception to the rule.

•  Such presumed sameness is thrown out the window as soon as it comes to some description done by Westerners (that is, the European contingent in Western society) of what has suddenly become 'the other'. Hence writing about African-Americans for example is attacked, or any treatment of certain demographics can only proceed with the "culturally appropriate" interlocutors in place.

•  Any shortcomings, from antisocial behaviour to educational outcomes to state of health, is sheeted home to Western institutions and individuals, without any regard as to the actual cause-and-effect relationship on display (in other words, who is responsible for what).

•  Those shortcomings are expected to be remedied by the Westerner, and the greater the difference the more responsibility the latter is supposed to bear; never mind all the other demographics who do not and mostly never have needed such ongoing assistance.

•  On a similar note, while the on-off presumption of sameness is suitably modified for the situation at hand, the recipients amplify their demands on the very system they otherwise disparage. Their own culture must be celebrated and revered, yet the system behind the target of their criticism is nevertheless good enough to provide for them.

•  Adaptation, remaining competitive, being at the forefront of science, have become the catch phrases of today; not understanding this is a form of dysfunction. Yet demographics that do not feature such characteristics, some not for tens of thousands of years, are put on a pedestal.

•  Declared characteristics in opponents are roundly denounced, while the very same in one's own camp are blithely overlooked. Left-leaning politicians and their commentators made much of the 'uneducated' (and white) class of Trump supporters, here in Australia as well as in the US (although their simplemindedness was not an issue when they delivered the wealth on which the critics' status was built). Yet their far less educated followers from the ranks of indigenous people here and African-Americans there did not matter. If Trump is distasteful because people without university degrees listen to him, what does that say about the other side, supported as it is by a majority of those who often did not even pass secondary school? Or perhaps having someone wind their behind while belting out a song at your side delivers the sophisticated political message it takes a university degree to understand.

•  Or perhaps it is the sheer subtlety of it all. A suggested rapprochement with Russia raised the hysteria to new levels, but a US ally like Saudi Arabia, a medieval dictatorship beset with murderous mysticism, is par for the course.

•  Words have their meaning, and to tamper with them invites disengagement with the reality that has forged them in the first place. Two prominent examples are 'racism' and 'misogyny'. Both are a form of presumption. To say someone is of race x and therefore is y is presumptuous. To say someone is y and happens to be of race x is not; it is a statement after the fact. The same goes for misogyny. It is not misogynist to identify a female characteristic when such a trait is openly on display and may have been so for centuries. Yet these words are used with abandon in order to smear anyone who disagrees with the currently sanctioned view; this in itself is presumptuous, but suddenly presents no problem. The words are used as a weapon, and nothing else. Furthermore, such transmutations have side effects. Consider the concept of slavery. Although not desirable by any means, having too much of an odium can prevent a word's appearance altogether. As a result its general concept within the context of job losses due to technology and robots replacing humans would certainly point to options otherwise not entertained.

•  Feminism has constantly espoused the view that society is better off if run by women. The traditional 'patriarchy' (a generalising notion but when limited to certain characteristics a justifiable one) is deemed counterproductive and needs to be replaced. Yet when considering the evolutionary dynamics of any species, including homo sapiens, it becomes clear that in general the more suitable manifestation wins the day, the less suitable one falls by the wayside. Why then have women not achieved prominence in any culture over the millennia when it concerns the interaction with the outside, at any scale or scope?

•  An observation of societies around the world also reveals that the more precarious a society's existence (ie, exposed to the vagaries of nature) the more stringent the segregation of the sexes. This form of evolved apartheid ranges from domestic to external duties, to professional activities, to not having any contact at all except for the purpose of procreation. These are the societies that can be observed, in other words that have survived to the present day.

•  Connected to the irrational idea that we are all the same, on one hand the differences between males and females are scorned in the service of social engineering, yet those self-same differences are very much insisted upon when it comes to purposefully constructed segregation for such things as clubs, safe spaces, or education.

•  Equality for men and women is demanded, but in order to achieve it introducing a quota system presents no difficulty. Quotas used to discriminate in favour of a characteristic which has nothing to do with any particular relevant skills is a recipe for failure, so much so that its use in management, handling people and life in general is a symptom of ignorance and corruption, the hallmark of demagogues. The effects can be readily witnessed around the world and to go there will provide the experience of what it means to live under such conditions.

•  Immigration is proclaimed as a positive per se, with the same all-encompassing verbiage reserved for the idea that 'everybody is the same'. While there are societies that have proven to be successful (the rise of Asia and so many nations there are a recent example) there are others who struggle. Hence immigrants from, say, China, do not play the same role in a country like Australia or the US as those from Sudan. Just observe the skyline of Shanghai and compare it with that of Khartoum. Note that both are the result of a people who have acted through their own devices, not those fabricated by others. National Geographic title page

When identity can no longer be ignored: National Geographic, October 2016, "The New Europeans - Voices from a changing continent".

•  In a similar vein the concept of 'multiculturalism' has been moulded into something which it does not represent. A culture is the confluence of a people's traditions, values, priorities, standards, and general way of life which is expressed in a myriad of forms. It is not reducible to one's hair, or dress, or this or that food alone. If Australia, being one society that is being heralded as 'multicultural', really were of that type, there would be virtually no official rules regarding civil law, welfare, marriage, or age of consent for that matter; there would be however specific sets including all of those in use side by side. How useful such an arrangement would be in the end is an argument beyond the current scope, but reality shows that firstly, any of those variances have been in place for centuries and their practitioners survived, and secondly, there are broad bands which coincide with the overall living standards or lack of them.

All of the above represent actual occurrences accompanied by notions that have been introduced into the West's ambience and which clash with one another. However well informed the recipients may have been at any time, their ongoing reiteration together with personal experiences saying otherwise is bound to create at first doubt, then resentment, followed by anger. Should one's own knowledge be vilified to boot, the resentment builds until there is an opportunity for an outlet. The anti-establishment parties in the US, in Australia and Europe are proof of just that.

If and when someone like Donald Trump emerges the main message is not what he says. Rather, it is the emotion already in place. Like background noise it adds to whatever he announces. And, like background noise, it is amplified if the two waves are in sync, but if not the wave does not disappear, its peak is merely lower.

What happens next in the US is as much a function of the aroused expectations as it is a matter of the pre-existing frameworks of governmental systems and infrastructure. Yet the factors responsible for the current situation won't go away, whatever the short-term outcome.

The United States are not united. They are held together by convention, by convenience, but mostly by just con. The reasons are found in cognitive dynamics.


Note:
Further analyses on the theme can be found on this site, compiled well before this election and including the respective references. In order of appearance they are:

Aiding the catastrophe: Africa (2008)
Demographic orientations (2007/2016)
Circus Copenhagen (2009)
Education or Indoctrination - an analysis (2010)
Education or Indoctrination - an analysis of a review (2010)
What kills a culture (2010)
Disparate systems and political extremism (2012)
The not so hidden costs of feminism (2012)
Report: Inquiry into Multiculturalism in Australia - the cognitive view (2013)
The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 (2013)
Something to learn about Education: its situatedness within complex dynamic systems (2015)
Rich vs poor = weak vs strong - The refugee crisis in Europe (2015)
Australia's Comparative Advantage report - an analysis (2016)
The Report of the Iraq Inquiry (2016)

 

14 November 2016


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