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.

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 45 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Cyrano Inactive
    Cyrano
    @Cyrano

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

    This article helped give me a new perspective on “progressives”.  Aren’t you baffled by white “progressives” abasing themselves about “privilege”? And is this related to their apparent inability to take pride in their country? Section II asks:

    “[Why are they] boasting of being able to tolerate everyone from every outgroup they can imagine, loving the outgroup… staying up at night fretting that somebody else might not like the outgroup enough…. [while] absolutely ripping into their in-groups – straight, white, male, hetero, cis, American, whatever – talking… about how terrible their in-group is, how it is responsible for all evils… how they’re ashamed to be associated with it at all.”

    If you are wondering the same thing, I should think you aren’t, and couldn’t be, a “progressive”. Feminist glaciology, among other things, will never make sense. But the author is one, making his insights compelling.

    Section III defines what the “outgroup” really is. Section IV had me thinking about Trump supporters. He notes “46% of Americans are creationists”, and he doesn’t know a single one of these “dark matter conservatives”. Oh, he knows some Republicans (they’d be “GOPe”) but these people are completely outside his Kael-like bubble.

    By Section VIII, the author helps me realize why “progressives” loathe Walmart and NASCAR, and why his “dark matter conservatives” reciprocate those ill feelings.

    It’s long, but worth a close read.

    • #31
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: *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?

    Well, a gal taking a STEM degree has got to fill her liberal-arts credits somehow, and I did as much as possible with classes relating to linguistics. One of my favorite professors had been one of Chomsky’s students. More generally Chomsky is to linguistics undergrads as Feynmann is to physics undergrads – they admire (and emulate) not only his scholarly work, but his whole quirky persona.

    There was also an element of, “If it’s Claire, maybe it’s Chomsky.”

    • #32
  3. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher
    Dick from Brooklyn
    @DickfromBrooklyn

    Spectacular and intriguing post, Claire. Thanks. I knew it was going to be a Socialist. Unlike MFR, I had no clue which one. This was fun.

    • #33
  4. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: There was also an element of, “If it’s Claire, maybe it’s Chomsky.”

    I beg your pardon? You naturally associated the name Claire Berlinski with the name Noam Chomsky? Like, “Oh, if it’s Midge, it’s probably Comrade Enver Hoxha,” or something?

    • #34
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Cyrano: This article helped give me a new perspective on “progressives”. Aren’t you baffled by white “progressives” abasing themselves about “privilege”? And is this related to their apparent inability to take pride in their country? Section II asks

    That was worth the time. Thanks. I think he’s right. “Narcissism of small differences” is exactly the right phrase.

    • #35
  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: There was also an element of, “If it’s Claire, maybe it’s Chomsky.”

    I beg your pardon? You naturally associated the name Claire Berlinski with the name Noam Chomsky? Like, “Oh, if it’s Midge, it’s probably Comrade Enver Hoxha,” or something?

    C’mon, is Chomsky really that bad?

    • #36
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: There was also an element of, “If it’s Claire, maybe it’s Chomsky.”

    I beg your pardon? You naturally associated the name Claire Berlinski with the name Noam Chomsky? Like, “Oh, if it’s Midge, it’s probably Comrade Enver Hoxha,” or something?

    C’mon, is Chomsky really that bad?

    Well, it’s kind of like, “Oh, you know Comrade Berlinski — she’s just such a typical splitter left-deviationist. Wouldn’t it be just like her to suggest the peasantry is dialectically less capable of leadership than the Proletariat?” It’s just … well, I don’t think of myself in those terms, you know? That’s just a new self-image for me. But it’s cool.

    • #37
  8. Cyrano Inactive
    Cyrano
    @Cyrano

    The best part of that essay I cited may be his concept of “tribes” and their interaction.

    “The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

    “The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.”

    These are necessarily simplistic but I see both descriptions as reasonable. Later, the author realizes that he belongs to a libertarianish Grey Tribe, because he’s sure he’s not Red but mocking Blues is too much fun. He says, rightly, it’s not easy to mock one’s group.

    I live in a very deep blue area but feel outside of the Blue group, so I can sympathize with Reds. They are inherently less threatening to this Grey.  I might feel differently in a crimson Red area – the “narcissism of small differences”, and all that.

    • #38
  9. St. Salieri Member
    St. Salieri
    @

    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.)

    I would second this, please.

    • #39
  10. Tenacious D Inactive
    Tenacious D
    @TenaciousD

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Cyrano: This article helped give me a new perspective on “progressives”. Aren’t you baffled by white “progressives” abasing themselves about “privilege”? And is this related to their apparent inability to take pride in their country? Section II asks

    That was worth the time. Thanks. I think he’s right. “Narcissism of small differences” is exactly the right phrase.

    Claire, I think you’d also be very interested in this article by Scott Alexander as well. It considers why suicide rates differ widely between societies.

    Some other of his articles that are thought-provoking include “Radicalizing the Romanceless“, “Right is the New Left” and “Archipelago and Atomic Communitarianism“.

    • #40
  11. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    Sabrdance:And I say of Chomsky what I say of Marx: their diagnoses may well be correct. That does not make their cures correct.

    Agreed. But I definitely agree with Chomsky’s  diagnoses, especially:

    • Western elites, political and economic, understood the fall of the Berlin Wall as a vindication of free-market capitalism. The victory was so complete and so overwhelming that regardless of evidence, this elite has blindly assumed free trade to be always and everywhere benevolent and even democratic …
    • The steady encroachment of marketing and advertising into every aspect of our lives displaced both religion and the political public sphere, replacing it with a shallow consumer culture unsuited to thoughtful, democratic participation…
    • Non-stop entertainment (including sports) doesn’t just help to sell goods. It is, even if inadvertently, a vehicle for the transmission of the elite class’s political ideology…
    • The public has nonetheless been aware that it has been working harder with stagnant or declining incomes; it has inadequate medical care at high cost, and education is the pathway to the elite class — but education is increasingly unaffordable, and the culture of our educational institutions increasingly bizarre.
    • Since the 1970s, the income of the top 1 percent of households has grown by 85 percent and the top 10 percent by 45 percent, but the bottom 60 percent lost ground.

    Each of those points is worthy of discussion. I agree with all of them.

    • #41
  12. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    KC Mulville: Each of those points is worthy of discussion. I agree with all of them.

    Glad to see you here! We’ve missed you.

    • #42
  13. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Tenacious D:Claire, I think you’d also be very interested in this article by Scott Alexander as well. It considers why suicide rates differ widely between societies.

    Some other of his articles that are thought-provoking include “Radicalizing the Romanceless“, “Right is the New Left” and “Archipelago and Atomic Communitarianism“.

    Yes, that is a really interesting site, and those are thought-provoking articles. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • #43
  14. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Mike LaRoche:

    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.

    My post about Samuel Francis’ article is now up.

    • #44
  15. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Cyrano, that’s a fantastic article you linked to. I hope I didn’t enjoy it so much just because he was criticizing my outgroup, though. ;)

    As a physics professor from the Smoky Mountains (and living in West Virginia), married to a foreigner, I think I’ve managed to avoid isolating myself among members of either tribe exclusively. I’m definitely Red Tribe but work among lots of Blue Tribe people (though not exclusively), and I both live near and go to church with people of both sides. My friends are even of both tribes. I know young-earth creationists (including two of my colleagues in the Natural Sciences department, interestingly) and atheists. One of my friends is a self-described Marxist, although I avoid any political talk with him.

    My wife and I blend in well enough that we’re sometimes mistaken for being members of the other tribe. Maybe I should use this to do undercover reporting this election season.

    • #45
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.