In the long term, Donald Trump is going to win what he wants, even if (as one might suspect) they are going to jail him before these mid-term elections. The arc of history it turns out is Hegelian because of the runaway ideological freight train brought on by egalitarianism, but this ceases when reality intervenes.
Reality has intervened. Hegel, as it turns out, describes what happens when humans take an action and then react to it as one might expect in a precedent cascade from generalized, abstract, and universal principles. Declare equality, and then you will spent the rest of your days implementing more forms of equality until you go insane.
The human world is not the world. Therefore, while Hegel rules human interactions, reality keeps on doing what it does best, which is being consistent, even as humans go further into denial of it. Humans make a bad choice, then react to that, then form a compromise, and Hegel calls it a “synthesis” when really it is a variation of the first.
Consider democracy. Once you assume equality, you then must logically deduce from that — even though your deduction is based on human thoughts and not reality — that people should have equal representation. Then, civil rights. Then, redistributed wealth. Finally, enforced tolerance of all things the majority hates.
This is why democracy seems to have turned on you. That runaway ideological freight train left the station and now is far away from anything resembling reality, but to stop it, people have to reject the idea of starting it in the first place. That means rejecting equality and Enlightenment™-style individualism.
Doing that would be unpopular. Politicians make money from votes, companies make it by selling illusions, and individuals gain status by repeating popular trends. No one is going to stand up to that tidal wave and tell it “stop!” because they risk to their own power, wealth, and status is too great.
The professionals will never do that. In fact, anyone who would do that has been selected out by the elections, press gauntlet, and an audience of voter-consumers who prefer the people who offer trends that make the latest new thing seem like an answer to all of our problems. People like illusions.
If we plotted history on paper, it would show a Hegelian arc that has tended toward equality for a long time. This is the initial precedent expanding, and attempts to counteract it in fact promote it by driving the process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis further. Groups react to the antithesis and double down on the thesis.
With populism, a certain segment of the population has reached the realization that government is a self-interested business that will hoodwink the apathetic, uninformed, and distracted voters every time. Government is an industry, and each person in it wants to advance a career, which is done with more fake crises and spending borrowed money.
The last time America had a populist movement, groups like the Know-Nothings opposed the new government ruling on the back of the Irish vote. They saw that government became tyrannical, or acting in its own interests, the instant diversity touched down.
Many of us in the past have distrusted modern populism because it tends to mean favoring illusions over historical patterns. For example, to a degree the 1960s were a counter-culture populist movement that saw the Establishment as favoring Anglo-Saxon Western Civilization over the new, diverse post-WW2 population.
Trump brought back the original variety of populism with his support for ethno-nationalism and rejection of globalism and diversity:
The free world must embrace its national foundations. It must not attempt to erase them, or replace them. Looking around at all of this large magnificent planet, the truth is plain to see: if you want freedom, take pride in your country; if you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty; and if you want peace, love your nation. Wise leaders always put the good of their own people, and their own country, first. The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots, the future belongs to sovereign and independent nations, who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors, and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.
“Sovereign and independent nations” who “honor the differences that make each country special and unique” are the ones who drop out of a global order, stop trying for a universal moral code and economy, and focus on making their people good instead of redistributing wealth to the rest of the world.
These populations will cut back on the government scam, which is to invent reasons why money should be given away and wars should be fought for moralistic civil rights reasons. Since the Civil War, but especially after WW2, the American reason to go to war was against “fascists” and “racists,” and government likes this blank cheque.
In the same way, our domestic wars like the war on poverty and civil rights struggle have provided nearly endless excuses for government to borrow. If they can find one poor minority out there who is not “equal,” then they can start a new agency, create new programs, and funnel money through them.
This has been the way democracies have fallen apart for centuries if not longer. Once government realizes that it can invent non-crisis crises and distract everyone with those while stealing all the money, it becomes an industry. It is like hunting whales: you find the big pots of money, kill them, and bring them home.
Our current political split goes back to this takeover which happened during the Civil War, when government changed its mission from protecting our natural rights — which would make diversity impossible — to civil rights, or enforced equality. Thus began the era of big government that the populists had warned about:
Eric Rauchway (opens in new tab), professor of American history at the University of California (opens in new tab), Davis, pins the transition to the turn of the 20th century, when a highly influential Democrat named William Jennings Bryan (best known for negotiating a number of peace treaties at the end of the First World War, according to the Office of the Historian) blurred party lines by emphasizing the government’s role in ensuring social justice through expansions of federal power — traditionally, a Republican stance.
But Republicans didn’t immediately adopt the opposite position of favoring limited government.
“Instead, for a couple of decades, both parties are promising an augmented federal government devoted in various ways to the cause of social justice,” Rauchway wrote in an archived 2010 blog post for the Chronicles of Higher Education (opens in new tab). Only gradually did Republican rhetoric drift toward the counterarguments. The party’s small-government platform cemented in the 1930s with its heated opposition to Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Ironically, this led to a false kind of socialist populism where the voters wanted free stuff taken from the rich:
Democrats seized upon a way of ingratiating themselves to western voters: Republican federal expansions in the 1860s and 1870s had turned out favorable to big businesses based in the northeast, such as banks, railroads and manufacturers, while small-time farmers like those who had gone west received very little.
Both parties tried to exploit the discontent this generated, by promising the general public some of the federal help that had previously gone to the business sector. From this point on, Democrats stuck with this stance — favoring federally funded social programs and benefits — while Republicans were gradually driven to the counterposition of hands-off government.
Over time, the Republican position became compromised by its allegiance to making the system work, both in terms of the large government entity and its benefits, and the big business required to fund this apparatus through taxes. The populous cities continued their dominance of the rest of the nation.
At this point, the populists in America and Europe keep making the point that rent-seeking has taken over the West because government controls our economies through high taxes and regulations, and that the only way out of predatory business is to cut the taxes and roll back the blank cheque of civil rights.
In the long run, this will succeed simply because democracy has run out of money and all of its policies are failing. The voters were fooled for three or four generations, but now they are upset at how their futures have been evaporated by these psychotic redistribution programs.
Trump is going to get what he wants for business reasons: big government has strangled prosperity. Civil rights has crushed culture. Regulations, unions, taxes, and affirmative action have destroyed normal and healthy life. The arc of history bent toward equality, but now it is bending toward reality instead.