Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Can The Country Come Together After Today?

Image result for Trump as Hitler
With images like these don't look for the hard feelings to end anytime soon

"The first task of whoever is elected is to repair the damage that's been done by this campaign to the good name of our county" - CBS' Bob Schieffer

While Bob Schieffer's aspiration for post-election harmony may have much to commend it, the realist has to admit any peaceful cohesion will be about as likely as aliens landing on the White House lawn on Inauguration Day. There is simply too much political bad blood that has been spilled over the last 16-18 months, much of it in the form of memes or mind viruses. ("Mexicans are rapists", "Crooked Hillary" etc.)

The origin of mind viruses, memes can be traced specifically to the chapter, 'The Kingdom and the Darkness' in the book, Chance and Necessity' by Biochemist Jacques Monod (Collins Books, UK, 1970)

Monod portrayed the spread of inherently primitive, anti-human and perverse ideas, to a kind of mind-to -mind infection. Hence the later coined term, "mind virus". In terms of infection, discussing the analogy to viruses in his book, Monod listed three attributes:

1) Performance value (what change does the mind virus bring about in a person's behavior?)

2) Propagation value (How far and wide is the mind virus spread and what means are employed to achieve this? I.e. fear of the "other" - the Mexican or Syrian immigrant,  hatred of the other candidate "I  will lock her up!"), distrust of the system, i.e. "It's all rigged, rigged, rigged!" etc..)

3) Infectious value: (How easily are other brains infected with the mind virus? What specific attributes of the mind virus facilitate this infection?)

Of course, in examining the preceding, the question must be asked: How adverse is the infection to human welfare? If there is a significant component of adversity, or perversity such that human welfare is undermined then one must concur the mind virus is antithetical to humans, and hence a threat to our civilization. In that case, we owe it to ourselves to eradicate the virus as we would any adverse physical virus, such as smallpox, or Ebola.

It is a sad fact that the bulk of despicable memes in this election have been released on the Trump side. They have come not only in the guise of barbaric words, which the media has even failed to capture adequately  - as well as images, videos, including his bragging to Billy Bush how he "grabbed them by the pussy".  A NY Times piece from Sunday bemoaned the inability of the media to grapple with the situation:

"On a certain level, the media lacked the vocabulary to describe what was happening. Trump was denounced repeatedly for “lying” and at times the apparently more egregious “bald faced lying.” But that is not a sufficient description. Neither was the charge by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt that Trump was in fact a master of “bullshit,” which is distinct from lying in that the speaker is not just communicating information he knows to be false, but is unconstrained by any consideration of what may or may not be true. While this description is technically true, it is at best terribly misleading. This presidential campaign has revealed that our academic and media class has insufficiently grappled with the problem of mass communication."

I myself considered the use of the term "Hitler-esque rhetoric" to describe Trump's spiels, but then dismissed it because many more millions alive today may never have seen Hitler's many speeches in the 1930s, even in documentaries like 'The Nazis - A Warning From History'.

Incredibly, in the face of dozens of horrific examples, the  mass of people backing him have only been reinforced in their support by exposure of these memes. This indicates another attribute not even mentioned by Monod, i.e. intensity of the infection. Something verbally or mentally analogous to the effects of the Spanish Flu ca. 1918, often killing people where they stood.(See, e.g. the excellent PBS program 'The Killer Flu'.)

Interestingly, as a recent TIME article  (Nov. 14) observes, the actual outcome of today's election may not come down to Trump's memetic expulsions on race, ethnicity or religion but his actual behavior toward women (collected via numerous registered complaints, as well as his own admissions in that Billy Bush video). Of course, as TIME also noted (ibid.), Trumpies have merely dismissed all these as cynical efforts to distract attention from Hillary's "crimes".  Again, one beholds the sheer intensity of the memes that have captivated their gray matter, making them unable to see that Trump's behavior is despicable in its own right.

So either they are not convinced such behavior crosses any line, or that - hey  - they'd even do it themselves. In other words, we see exactly the premoral mind of their standard bearer, e.g.


As I wrote in that post:

"They identify with fellow Trumpies by their hatred of  political correctness (which is also the manifestation of a form of social moral capacity)  and the "establishment elites"  Their narcissistic hungers also compel them to identify with Trump and when he says "punch 'em out" they feel enabled to do it to the nearest anti-Trump protestor, as we've seen.  In a similar vein, Hitler's S.A. fanatics had no problem beating up socialists, Jews or labor leaders if they protested at Hitler's rallies.  Hitler had only to cast an eye in the direction of trouble makers for them to feel the blows from dozens of Nazi  (S.A.) clubs.

Trump's most vile recent transgression against the commonweal and polity is his repeated claim of a "rigged election". 

The last may well be the most malignant meme or mind virus of all, because it sets the stage for the Trump side refusing to accept any election result tonight, especially if close. Even if Hillary wins by a landslide (380 or more electoral votes) it is unlikely to be accepted. Thus, the stage is set for an ongoing "civil war" - albeit (hopefully!) bloodless- for god knows how many months. The Republican House is not helping matters either with Jacob Chaffetz' vow to keep his Hillary investigations going.

So it seems, whatever the outcome - but especially if Clinton wins - we are set for 4 years of political combat and possibly even the ultimate fracture: an attempt at impeachment.

Buckle your seats because the stomach churning and nastiness are just beginning.

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