Trump supporters as a Trump’s bizarre behavior.
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It is just extraordinary that Donald Trump still has cache in the Republican Party, remains the frontrunner for 2024, and has a legitimate chance to win the election. According to the new indictment, Trump removed many of the most top secret documents possessed by the US government and left them, willy nilly, around his Mar-a-Lago club. Stacks of them floated around the bathroom and in other public areas, where anybody could read about US nuclear secrets, espionage operations, and so on. In fact, we may find that the blown cover of a number of undercover intelligence operatives over the last few years — in some cases leading to the agent’s death — were the direct result of Trump’s actions.
It is difficult to find a word or phrase that manages to capture Trump’s bizarre behavior. “Insane?” “Boorish?” “Completely without care or regard for anything?” “Unconscious?” “Moronic?” “Suicidal?” Nothing quite fits. There somehow isn’t a word or phrase capacious, blousy, enough for this.
I find Trump is more like a “media fungus” than a virus. He is an expression of the rot that festers on the decay of an overripe civilization, filling up all the available space as it continues to mindlessly colonize our attention.
Maybe the closest is something like “utter abandonment”: He seems driven by a nihilistic sense that nothing matters. Therefore he pushes the envelope however far he wants in any direction — just to see what happens. Perhaps he has an underlying religious motivation, in a strange sense: Perhaps Trump, himself, is curious to see if “God” or “justice” exists in some form in the world, if there is any law to which he is subject, anyway he can actually be punished or restrained.
One friend of mine told me that she saw Trump as a performance artist. I find that idea compelling. Is he acting out some role he finds himself forced into, under invisible compulsion (wetiko spirit possession?), to perform?
Doug Rushkoff coined the term “media virus” for memes that self-replicate and propagate through the media. I find Trump is more like a “media fungus” than a virus. He is an expression of the rot that festers on the decay of an overripe civilization, filling up all the available space as it continues to mindlessly colonize our attention.
Robert Reich just wrote a compelling essay arguing that, if Trump wins again, America will have become a fascist country:
Rejection of democracy in favor of a strongman depends on galvanizing popular rage.
Popular rage draws on a nationalism based on a supposed superior race or ethnicity.
That superior race or ethnicity is justified by a social Darwinist idea of strength and violence, as exemplified by heroic warriors.
Strength, violence, and the heroic warrior are centered on male power.
These elements also find exact expression in Donald Trump and the White Christian National movement he is encouraging. It is also the direction most of the Republican Party is now heading.
These are not the elements of authoritarianism. They are the essential elements of fascism.
Trump is now running as a fascist. He has convinced millions of Americans to join him in this sad devolution.
Why has America reached this level of degeneration? Diet is probably one of the main reasons. The average American diet of processed, genetically modified, pesticide-soaked food provides the perfect breeding ground for candida and a host of fungi and parasites who probably exert subliminal control on the central nervous system and the brain (like those ants whose nervous systems are hijacked by the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus, which infests them with spores).
Combine this with antidepressants and hypnotic video games and social media, and you end up with a large population — a mindless mewling herd — that has lost the capacity to use reason.
Another factor is the increasingly difficult to deny and slowly dawning awareness that we are all trapped in a collapsing society together. This creates an immediate psychological need to find some group (Democrats, Communists, mutants, transgendered people) to demonize and blame.
I have been looking at Jem Bendell’s recent work. His essay “Deep Adaptation” remains a classic, although he now realizes he was mistaken to see collapse as something coming in the future rather than something already under way.
Bendell went to speak at COP27 in November 2022, but quickly confirmed his perception that the event was a pathetic charade. He offered these closing remarks at an under-attended panel on women activists from the Global South. Adding on layers of ironies, the panel took place in what was originally the Lamborghini conference center:
Climate chaos is a disaster that global capitalism accelerated, distracted us from and then limited our response for life-critical decades. Today global capitalists are coaxing the experts and politicians to spend our public funds on yet further distractions. They pretend that technology and enterprise will fix the collapse of our biosphere, so they can keep their income and prestige. That is why this UN conference has turned into a career fest and trade fair at the end of the world. We see that these halls are full of people busily demonstrating their concern and capability to each other, to create a shared delusion that infinite green growth is both true and moral.
Is it any surprise that this charade has its latest act in a venue that, before we showed up, was branded as the Lamborghini conference center? The desire for ostentatious consumption is a global one and is a sign of sickness in modern culture. It is that culture that helps destroy both people and planet. These conferences perpetuate it under the guise of caring about the carnage. Yes, the 30 years of COPs have been a great success in helping the elites pretend something is being done while not addressing the root causes of the problem. Leaders here have less of a credibility problem than a capitalism problem, and a consumer culture problem.
Instead, a serious response to climate and justice would redesign our economic and banking systems for a post-growth era.
This is quite obvious to me — probably to you, too. I have no new point to make in posting it. I am just venting.
A version of this piece was originally published in “Daniel Pinchbeck’s Newsletter.”