About Yesterday’s Theory of Trump

 

confessionOkay, please don’t be mad at me, but I have to confess something. Remember yesterday’s Yet Another Theory of Trump post? Those weren’t my ideas. I changed the language a bit and adapted it to current events, but basically, I plagiarized it.

Why would you do such a dastardly thing, Claire?

Because I figured if I told you where they came from, eyeballs would roll, and you probably wouldn’t give the writer a fair hearing. I found the ideas surprisingly interesting and wondered if maybe there was more to them than I realized the first time I read the book. But I wanted to know how you’d judge the ideas strictly on their own merits, so I figured as long as I told you the truth today, it wouldn’t be so dastardly — it might be kind of fun.

We’re not sure how we feel about that, Claire.

Believe me, I wasn’t either, especially when I realized what I was reading made sense. Very weird for me to discover that.

And what did you conclude from your little experiment, Claire?

Well, I think most of you agreed. Some of those observations, although not necessarily all of them, were well worth thinking about and quite intuitively plausible. That said, some of your criticisms  — especially those of you who found it a simplistic or incorrect view of what’s happened economically since the 1970s, those of you who felt it an inaccurate account of the history of the media in the US, and those who felt the story was incomplete, or not necessarily a story of failure — were, I think, correct.

Still, basically, many of you found that at least a few of those points rang true, or were demonstrably true, or were at least worth a few minutes’ thought, didn’t you? (Genferei excepted.) I was pretty surprised when I re-read the book I pinched them from.

But things are getting so strange, politically. My models about how the world works seem to have failed me, in so far as they’ve not led me to make good political predictions about fundamental trends in my own country. So maybe it’s time to dust off theories to which I’ve paid little attention for many years. Perhaps they account for what’s going on now better than I’d expect, or have more predictive power. (You know the story about Keynes, right? When a high-profile critic accused him of being inconsistent, he reportedly replied, “When events change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”)

Anyway, strictly speaking, the term for what I did yesterday is plagiarism — although I did lightly disguise the ideas and update them to reflect contemporary events, to the point, I think, that searching for phrases from the post on Google won’t help.

Any guesses about whose thoughts they were?

I’ll tell you at the end of the day.

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  1. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Noam Chomsky’s?

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Donald Trump’s?

    • #2
  3. TempTime Member
    TempTime
    @TempTime

    Claire, I wanted to comment because I disagreed with most of the ideas put forth but was too busy at work yesterday to have the opportunity for a longish thoughtful conversation.

    But if I had, the summary of my response would have been something similar to “Reading the ideas made me feel as if somehow Ricochet had been transformed into a community for liberal talking points.”  I don’t think knowing who wrote them will change my opinion.

    • #3
  4. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Reading Ricochet has been a downright surreal experience these past few weeks.

    • #4
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I knew something was off too. I only skimmed it. It was weird. It wasn’t your voice. I wondered if Trump had finally gotten to you.

    Hah.

    • #5
  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Mike LaRoche:Reading Ricochet has been a downright surreal experience these past few weeks.

    The surreal stretch has seemed longer than a few weeks, but I thought maybe it was just me :-)

    • #6
  7. MerryKate Inactive
    MerryKate
    @MerryKate

    Ron Paul? He’s got a lot of nutty ideas – and those economic ideas are strongly reminiscent of leftist economic theory.

    • #7
  8. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    This clickbaiting of the Ricochet main page has officially gotten old.  It was cute the first time.  Stupid the second time.  And now actively convincing me to stop reading.

    Cease with being coy and make the point you wish to make.

    • #8
  9. Herbert Inactive
    Herbert
    @Herbert

    Chomsky is my guess as well.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Sabrdance:This clickbaiting of the Ricochet main page has officially gotten old. It was cute the first time. Stupid the second time. And now actively convincing me to stop reading.

    Cease with being coy and make the point you wish to make.

    I’m sure your feedback is valued and noted, but you’re not the only one paying money here.

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I read the beginning, concluded it was not worth reading deeply, and very lightly skimmed to the end.

    I jumped to a conclusion while jumping to the conclusion.

    • #11
  12. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    MarciN:I knew something was off too. I only skimmed it. It was weird. It wasn’t your voice. I wondered if Trump had finally gotten to you.

    Hah.

    I did the same and did’t bother commenting.

    • #12
  13. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Machiavelli? Marx? Mona Charen?

    Rupert Murdoch? Rupert the Bear? Bear Grylls? Gil Scott-Heron? Helen Thomas? Thomas Sowell? Saul Landau? Lando Calrissian?

    Derrida? Lyotard? Montagnard?

    Aristotle? Augustine? Aquinas? Bacon? Bentham? Barthes? Confucius? Calvin? Comte? Deleuze? De Beauvoir? De Morgan? Epicurus? Erasmus? Engels? Feuerbach? Freud? Fanon? Gadamer? Gandhi? Gautama? Hobbes? Hume? Huxley? Isocrates? Iamblichus? Ibn Khaldun? John of Damascus? John of Paris? John of the Cross?

    I’m trying to have fun with this, but I incline to the Sabrdance position.

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    genferei:Machiavelli? Marx? Mona Charen?

    Rupert Murdoch? Rupert the Bear? Bear Grylls? Gil Scott-Heron? Helen Thomas? Thomas Sowell? Saul Landau? Lando Calrissian?

    Derrida? Lyotard? Montagnard?

    Aristotle? Augustine? Aquinas? Bacon? Bentham? Barthes? Confucius? Calvin? Comte? Deleuze? De Beauvoir? De Morgan? Epicurus? Erasmus? Engels? Feuerbach? Freud? Fanon? Gadamer? Gandhi? Gautama? Hobbes? Hume? Huxley? Isocrates? Iamblichus? Ibn Khaldun? John of Damascus? John of Paris? John of the Cross?

    I’m trying to have fun with this, but I incline to the Sabrdance position.

    Lyndon LaRouche. Except I can’t figure out how the Queen of England fits into all of this.

    She’s behind it, though.

    • #14
  15. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    genferei:Machiavelli? Marx? Mona Charen?

    Rupert Murdoch? Rupert the Bear? Bear Grylls? Gil Scott-Heron? Helen Thomas? Thomas Sowell? Saul Landau? Lando Calrissian?

    Derrida? Lyotard? Montagnard?

    Aristotle? Augustine? Aquinas? Bacon? Bentham? Barthes? Confucius? Calvin? Comte? Deleuze? De Beauvoir? De Morgan? Epicurus? Erasmus? Engels? Feuerbach? Freud? Fanon? Gadamer? Gandhi? Gautama? Hobbes? Hume? Huxley? Isocrates? Iamblichus? Ibn Khaldun? John of Damascus? John of Paris? John of the Cross?

    I’m trying to have fun with this, but I incline to the Sabrdance position.

    marxbrothers

    Ditto for me. Ms. B has now entered the land of Charen. Unreadable.

    • #15
  16. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Bit of a hoot.  No need to get huffy.

    • #16
  17. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Probably written about someone like Hitler, Lenin, Caligula.

    Lots of commentators have completely incinerated their credibility railing against Trump. Take care you do not do likewise.

    • #17
  18. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Derangement syndromes are usually a hallmark of the left, but not so much now.  Ricochet, NR, and many “conservative” pundits are screeching about Trump, nearly nonstop.  Some, like friend Mona, are winning trifectas.

    “Surreal” wins today’s award for most apt modifier.  Congratulations, Mike L.

    Is there a cure for the lingering discomfort caused by excessive eye rolling, similar to that caused by uncontrolled hiccuping?

    • #18
  19. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    This is ridiculous Claire. I am with Sabrdance.

    • #19
  20. Tenacious D Inactive
    Tenacious D
    @TenaciousD

    Naomi Klein?

    • #20
  21. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    I don’t have a guess as to whose ideas these originally were, but I appreciate the approach you were taking here. We were able to debate the ideas themselves, without getting caught up by our biases against the original author. I, too, was surprised to find Claire saying things like this, but then, I did suggest that these were meant as points for debate. this is one of the good features of ricochet after all.

    (Forgive my typos; I’m on my iPad and can’t get the editing to work.)

    • #21
  22. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    MerryKate:Ron Paul? He’s got a lot of nutty ideas – and those economic ideas are strongly reminiscent of leftist economic theory.

    Huh?  Such as?

    • #22
  23. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Charles Murray or David Brooks?

    • #23
  24. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I find the entire Trump candidacy to be surreal.

    Maybe he’ll get the nomination, which seems likely to me at the moment.

    Maybe he’ll win the general election, which seems very, very unlikely to me, but I’ve been wrong before.

    Maybe he’ll be a good President, if elected, but at the moment, I’m quite skeptical.

    Maybe my pro-Trump friends on the conservative side will realize that the extraordinary opposition to Trump, among so many conservative voters, leaders, and pundits that they have respected until now, should give them pause.  This, too, seems very, very unlikely to me.

    • #24
  25. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    If I had to guess I would say Noam Chomsky is the author. There are many echoes of “Manufacturing Consent” in the observations concerning the media.

    • #25
  26. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:Noam Chomsky’s?

    Okay, Midge got it right on the first try. Congratulations, Midge!*

    You can read the whole thing online here, that link takes you to the updated 2002 version with the introduction I lightly adapted to make it fit current events. Chomsky, obviously, didn’t have Donald Trump in mind, but he certainly does have a theory that might account for the disjunct between what he calls “neoliberal” ideology (what we might call GOPe views on globalization and trade) and the real economic interests of the working classes. And I think it’s a useful theory. Not a complete theory, but part of the story. As I survey the election landscape, I’m realizing that the assumptions I’ve been holding about economics and trade are simply not shared anymore by the majority of Americans. I’m not willing to say, “The majority of Americans are therefore fools.” I’m trying to understand how I came to misjudge the electorate as badly as I did, and which one of my assumptions was wrong.

    Anyone else reading anything not-usually-that-popular-on-Ricochet these days? Finding anything worthwhile in it?

    *Now, Midge, may I ask you why you were so familiar with Chomsky’s oeuvre that you’d recognize this right out of the box? Between a clandestine Chomsky-reciting editor and a Chomsky-fluent moderator, the good people of Ricochet would have every reason to suspect Ricochet’s been penetrated by pinkoes and anarchists, don’t you think?

    • #26
  27. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Anyone else reading anything not-usually-that-popular-on-Ricochet these days? Finding anything worthwhile in it?

    From Household to Nation” by Samuel Francis, who saw the current populist political trend coming two decades ago.

    • #27
  28. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Mike LaRoche:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Anyone else reading anything not-usually-that-popular-on-Ricochet these days? Finding anything worthwhile in it?

    From Household to Nation” by Samuel Francis, who saw the current populist political trend coming two decades ago.

    Yes! I read that a little while ago and have been recommending it to all my friends. Highly recommended. (Mike, if you feel like writing a post about that article on the Member Feed, I think it’s worth a good discussion.)

    • #28
  29. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Mike LaRoche:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Anyone else reading anything not-usually-that-popular-on-Ricochet these days? Finding anything worthwhile in it?

    From Household to Nation” by Samuel Francis, who saw the current populist political trend coming two decades ago.

    Yes! I read that a little while ago and have been recommending it to all my friends. Highly recommended. (Mike, if you feel like writing a post about that article on the Member Feed, I think it’s worth a good discussion.)

    Perhaps I’ll do so on Saturday evening. It’s almost 1:00am here in Spokane, Washington and I’m pretty exhausted after a full day of traveling.

    • #29
  30. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    It’s not recent, but I retain my belief that Marx explains the ennui of the modern world fairly well in Alienation of Labor.

    And I say of Chomsky what I say of Marx: their diagnoses may well be correct.  That does not make their cures correct.  If life is miserable because you define your self-worth by your productivity and your productivity is ultimately lost in the mix with all the other producers, the lesson here is not to destroy the markets that allow for productivity, but to define your self-worth in a different way.  Similarly, if the rampant growth of the free market has destroyed civic culture and the marketplace of ideas, the solution is not to replace the market with a Leviathan State that further destroyed civic culture, eradicates the marketplace of ideas, and also enslaves the people now in the market.  It is to stop using the market to do things it isn’t any good at doing, such as the regulation of virtue, and likewise stop treating the alternative to the market as always and everywhere government.

    • #30
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