No one got what they wanted out of the Trump Syria strike. The American public is leery of any explanation that begins “we are fighting in the middle east because $latest_muslim_hitler has WMDs,” the Alt Right wants European-descended people to get OK with letting the rest of the world suffer and die, neocons wanted a real war, and Leftists wanted a commitment to democracy and human rights.
Trump stumped them all. Instead of acting ideologically, he acted pragmatically, or balancing the needs of the system in which he now works, the people involved, and many varied and incoherent policy needs. Was it good or right? If you are asking these questions, you are already lost in the 21st century; now, self-interest rules the day, and it was that.
The grim truth is that we are dealing with the oldest American issue here. America was started as a colony, which meant that people could go there and set up a homestead and do well for themselves. The only problem is that over time, it started acting more like a country, including when it revolted against the British and gave itself independence. Oops.
At heart, America is the first libertarian nation. People assume that civilization will always be there for them, and that other people can be controlled by financial self-interest — libertarianism is as controlling as Communism or Nazism, but prefers indirect and therefore less visible methods, kind of like the modern state does — so they might as well follow the bourgeois imperative to live well and ignore any issue that extends past the boundaries of their subdivision. Left and Right agree on this, because as constituted in the post-WWII era, the Right is more Left than Right, and the Left loves granularity so that it can impose its power structure through chaos.
That libertarianism reflects its colonial status. American political theory could begin with the idea of “if life were as it is now as a British colony, but with a few things removed” and so it has, like Leftism, always been based on negative ideas or removing bad things to leave only good things. This is the nature of ideology. It can only exist in an already-working civilization, and works by supposing that the design of that civilization can be changed without modifying its output or strength, which is a complete denial of reality.
America still is not sure if it is a nation. Most people want it to be a giant suburb or city apartment block, where we each have our own little worlds and we all do whatever we want; this combines the rugged individualism of the right with the actual meaning of individualism, which is placing self before principle and civilization and therefore externalizing costs to society instead of taking on the burden as individuals. Any time you find the cart return area at a supermarket in total disarray, you are looking at individualistic externalization of socialized costs!
As the upset over the Trump strike of Syria and against Russia shows, Americans want an isolationist foreign policy. This is the primal libertarian instinct, which is that we like to assume that if we individually take care of our homes and work hard at our meaningless jobs, then everything will turn out alright. This misses the fact that most of our species is crazy and incompetent, and unless repelled, will take over everything good and destroy it, because this is what pathological people cannot stop themselves from doing. Isolationism does not work because problems that begin far away then arrive on our doorstep.
For this reason, Trump has to act against North Korea, Russia, Iran and possibly Syria. If bad guys get power, and come into possession of nuclear missiles, we will have quite a to-do on our hands, to put it mildly. No matter how isolationist we are, we have to deal with these problems when they are small and distant, or when they are huge and in our homelands.
The problem of democracy complicates this situation. Trump cannot admit a Machiavellian worldwide; all the single mom Sallies and pajama boy students of the world will cry out together at once, and weepy maudlin Europe will join in, and then Trump will find himself shuttled out of office. These people are opposed to realism because it offends them. So he must work around those on one hand.
On the other hand, he must also find a way to appease those who understand nothing but strong force. They want America’s army (usually with someone else’s kids in it) to rise up, surge forth and smite all evil in the world. For them, reality is a finger-puppet epic drama in which good and evil are acted out so that we all go to heaven. Trump has to manage these, too.
Most importantly, he has to assault a sacred myth, which is that humanity has unity. Most people think in absolute terms about simple categories; some things are good, some are bad, if everyone agrees on something it is good, and if someone steps outside of this framework they are bad and must be smote. This is how democracy makes people think, and if Trump deviates from it, he loses.
And so, democracy demands that everything told to the voters is a lie. The voters will bum rush and guillotine anyone who reveals that the lie is in fact, a lie. This means that Trump must hold up pictures of dead children from a dubious aid group, claim an emotional and moral high ground, and retaliate against a specific airfield, even though his actual goal is thousands of miles away in Moscow.
It is immensely unpopular to say this, but the problem is the voters. They hold the power, after all, and yet in every election, seem to vote in an idiot. Why are there only idiots running? The audience selects the message: to succeed in democracy, people need to dumb down a message, make it emotional and create a scapegoat to symbolize its opposition, and then turn it into entertainment.
That condition applies to a real issue. Most of the time, voters are not interested in real issues. They are interested in voting for free stuff for themselves, which is an extension of individualistic externalization of socialized costs. They are interested in revenge against other groups in their society. They want something exciting that makes them thing they are “making history.”
After a couple centuries, the voters have approved enough dumb stuff that one election cannot change much. Sure, Trump wants to dial back American foreign policy. But how does he deal with the mess Obama has created? Does he just wait for Russia and China to take over the world and then tell the voters, “See, I told you so”?
Nah. Instead he does what any sane leader would do: he attempts to staunch the bleeding, stitch up the wounds, and then begins to work on physical therapy to make the whole body stronger. He knows that the same morons who voted for the Civil Rights act, the Great Society, the New Deal and Obamacare will not let him fix anything.
And even more, he knows that if he is going to do anything on the international stage, he has to turn it into a cartoon. Big cheesy evil Hitler-like villains versus innocent children gasping for breath in the rubble. That way, the voters will be afraid to oppose him because he has taken the “moral high ground.” Democracy means manipulation all the time.
The question of democracy cuts to the same question that afflicts America: are we cooperative or individualistic? If we are the former, we will need a culture in common and to commit ourselves to activity in the scary world beyond our subdivisions, jobs, churches, favorite bars and television programs. If we are individualists, we should not have a foreign policy at all, because if an enemy wants to invade he will be unopposed.
Democracy allows voters to think that they will forever be in their little suburb and nothing will affect them, so they should weigh in on symbolic issues and use those as a means to virtue signal, or show off how enlightened they are to their friends in the suburbs. Those friends then do the same, “keeping up with the Joneses,” and soon a crazy echo chamber of a hive mind is created.
We live in a literally insane time. There are so many humans that we all know this cannot end well. Our governments are all bankrupt and deep in debt, so we know default and collapse is in the future. We have polluted and overused earth to the point where a crash there is imminent. Our economies are Ponzi schemes, and across the globe, insanity reigns and corrupt leaders triumph.
The cause of all of this is democracy.
If we were in a monarchy, as the West generally was during the era of colonialism, there would be no doubt about what was going on in Syria. One of the European nations would have it as a colony and would dispel marauding Russians and aimless sadistic terrorists as efficiently at is repelled invaders and domestic criminals.
In a monarchy, Trump would not have to point to pictures of twitching babies dying of nerve gas to justify a strike. He would simply do it and then explain the actual reason why: “the Russians were encroaching on our territory” or “the rebels got a bit too close for comfort.” The bodies would be stowed — a daily middle eastern event — and the world would move on.
Instead, because the voters demand that everything be a lie in order to satisfy their personal pretense, Trump comes to us with what are essentially marketing terms. The dead Syrian babies foaming at the mouth are the political version of a beer that claims to help you lose weight, or a car that will help you get laid, or some new gadget for your phone saying it will revolutionize your life.
We The People are chumps. We are deceived every time and now we have ruined our governments as well as most likely doomed our own species. We know we are incompetent but like a sick tyrant, we refuse to leave the throne. And so we will never get what we actually want, which is sanity, something that only begins with realism.
The Alt Right benefits from this Trump kerfuffle by getting a chance to differentiate its own brand, and thus to put more pressure on Trump so that he can be spurred toward what we need him to do. We should not, however, become useful idiots for the opposition like the Left did in America during the Cold War, specifically 1930-1980s.
TASS, the Soviet propaganda arm, put out newspapers designed for American liberals. These told obvious untruths that appealed to the personality defects of these people, and were immensely popular. Anti-war protests essentially destroyed American policy and prevented a win, which the Left then used as a weapon to argue against participation in the Cold War itself. It was unpopular.
And yet, it was necessary. Like Trump, Reagan and Thatcher sold the Cold War through emotional symbols and pictures of dead babies. They were then able to beat back the menace and we are all fortunate that they did, although maybe one in ten people knows what they did and why it was good.
During the time that the West was fighting for its life in the Cold War, it was considered de rigeur in hip cosmopolitan social circles to insist that Reagan was bad, the Soviets were peace-loving equals to us, and that all we needed was a world campfire song of “Kumbaya” and all would be good. The voters were self-deluding then and were useful idiots to the Communists.
As it turned out, the Communist propaganda was lies and the Soviet Union fell exactly as Revolutionary France did, which was through the unrealistic nature of Leftism. The Crowd was wrong, as usual. (Power user tip: if “everyone agrees” and the Crowd asserts that something is universally true, be assured that it is a lie.)
The Alt Right has to avoid falling into the Useful Idiot trap as American Leftists have. We need to get back to our root idea, which is realism. Trump is a pragmatist, or someone who makes deals and compromises with the power structure; Leftists are ideologues who believe in a fantasy. We need to assert reality, and get us out of the dishonesty trap that democracy has created for us.