Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Article

Saboteur in Chief …

Satire: Joanna Neborsky

Writing about her friend the famously unpleasant Evelyn Waugh, Frances Donaldson reflected that …

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Russell

    November 23, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Yes, but as you preach in most of your other articles, that’s inevitable progress .. isn’t it Christopher?

  2. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    November 22, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    This is a painfully sober description of what has happened to American political governance under Trump. What it is not is an analysis of the phenomenon and why it is now so intractable.

    It is not just that recovering from damage is ten times more difficult than avoiding it in the first place. It is that the society itself has long been in decay and is already profoundly damaged. This is not something that just suddenly perversely assembled itself when Trump ‘arrived’ in 2016. His metaphorical ‘march on Rome’ has long been in the making.

    If one wants to understand how that has happened, one has to go back to the basics of what has been constructing events over the last 50-70 years as Indulgence Capitalism rolled itself out, bringing with it a deregulatory agenda in favour of private commercial and individual social interests at the expense of the common weal, whether we are talking environmental, economic, social or existential (spiritual if you must) infrastructure and governance; or should I say misgovernance.

    One of the most interesting characters that I encountered in my history studies at school and university was Martin Luther. His objections to Indulgences are as salient today as they were in 1517. Systematically excusing and forgiving excesses and poor behaviour, whether it is trying to buy off God to avoid the consequences of our sins in the afterlife, or stripping away the adverse consequences of ‘anything goes’ disinhibition and lack of accountability for it in the here and now, is equally damaging, particularly in the longer term. The poor and the rich (and everyone in between) have increasingly made the same kinds of excuses for themselves as people started to delude themselves that theirs was ‘a new paradigm’ of amoral exceptionalism that justified junk behaviour. And for a while it did .. sort of …

    Indulgence seems initially benign, relaxed and ‘liberating’. Escaping the ‘repressive’ and ‘authoritarian’ ‘bondages’ and ‘limitations’ of the past was ‘cool’. Only ‘old fashioned’ and ‘out of touch’ ‘fuddy duddies’ got in the way of the biggest and longest economic party boom in history. And it delivered the economic growth that mere wants and needs couldn’t. Only indulgent fantasy and delimited adolescent narcissistic egoism with all the internal rules-based behaviours and disciplines removed could deliver unlimited consumer ‘growth’.

    It takes time to wash out the old disciplines. But while that was happening, there were still enough of them around, albeit attenuating, to give the temporary impression of benign ‘normality’…as the social infrastructure gradually disintegrated in favour of market forces.

    And the same things happened in the corporate economic realm. We got the growth, but what we also got emerging was the same kind of (mis) governance as was coming out of the social sector as the notion of responsible stewardship of the commons disappeared, whether it be using up and marginalising the nation state or globally playing off once powerful national economic interests and parties in the way nineteenth century capitalism did with the working class.

    Corporate free market apparatchiks started to screw everything outside their narrow sense of self-interest and self-absorbed egoism; sometimes so overwhelmed by greed and acquisitiveness that they blindly cannibalised their own industries. The financial services industries are exemplars of the genre.

    And as social infrastructure disintegrated and became less stable, the social libertarian degovernancing free-for-all meant that basic social potty training ceased. Disinhibited men started to sexually interfere with their children in ways that had once mainly occurred right out at the social underbelly margins, in the criminal and unregulated spaces that Charles Dickens so pointedly only ever referenced with non sexual physical and moral abuse.

    The one lot of people who did have a reregulatory social agenda that would have concretely improved things for women and children, altered the sexual-political roadmap and introduced a disciplined regime to make sure that everyone, particularly men, delivered on the bottom lines, were the feminists. But they just got marginalised into the academic and petty bourgeois intellectual talk shop margins. Indulgence capitalism doesn’t support regulation of any sort that it can possibly avoid. Feminism disappeared into the sexual commodification of women and their sexuality, turning them into sexual servants and leaving all the de facto practices of the old patriarchy completely intact.

    Trump is the ‘new paradigm’. Trump is exactly the sort of dominant character you would expect after 70 years of social and economic deregulation. As an entrepreneur, his investment portfolio of real estate speculation and gambling is exactly the decadence you would expect. His complete shamelessness reflects the absence of values that might give rise to shame. What he can get away with is all that matters to him, just like the rest of the corporatocracy. And he is working the social and economic mess left by manufacturing disinvestment amongst particularly working class America as American manufacturing capital deserted them in favour of tax holidays, offshore bank accounts and ultra cheap Asian labour. Middle class guys like Trump tertiary education skipped into the booming high tech/low labour sales and marketing ‘indulgence’ industries, just like a whole generation of his contemporaries.

    But above all, and this is the kicker, Trump is a past master at working the ‘rust belt’ resentment, anger and hatred that has been building against the privileged middle class graduate culture in New York and Los Angeles. The word ‘liberal’ has become a term of abuse outside those areas. The people in the rust belts may not be able to afford much education to articulate this, but they are not idiots. They can see as plain as day what deregulation and privatisation of the social system means, which is why old time fundamentalist religion has so miraculously re-appeared out of the garbage heap of history. They can see what the deregulatory corporate deserters have done to continental America and its crumbling infrastructure.

    They want some boundaries. They want some respect for social rules that get enforced, and no excuses. They are not prepared to tolerate the chaos of laissez faire non governance. They do not want the welfarism that has so egregiously replaced productive work and values. They hate seeing the old inner cities become black gang, drug choked, free fire zones that have become too dangerous to police .. and they particularly resent the morally unctuous race values of ideological aristocrats whose ‘nice’ safe multicultural suburbs and well paid employment insulate them from the miserable realities beyond. They want the America they and their forefathers helped build and defended against all comers, and while Trump will not give them that, like all populists, he knows which buttons to press to make the poor slobs feel that he is on their side.

    He doesn’t have to be ‘reasonable’ and neither do they, because ‘reasonable’ is the plaything of the economic, social and educational dominants with the big fat Ivy league degrees in the big fat cities.

    He speaks the language of the downtrodden losers, which is the same crude language as that of the poor, illiterate and desperate peasant ‘Jacques’ who briefly rebelled and railed against their arrogantly contemptuous feudal masters in France in the fourteenth century. The east and west coast tertiary educated urban elites are exactly the same sort of self-absorbed, cushioned and socially conceited pricks.

    Trump doesn’t need an elaborate analysis to move his pawns. All he has to do is follow his vulture sense of smell to find extractable necrotic tissue to sustain himself, his empire and his constituencies.

    He wouldn’t be there if the place weren’t dying.

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