The Call to War

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blindboy started the topic in Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 9:50am


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blindboy Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 9:53am

The Call to War
The moral of the Trump Presidency so far is that, while it may not be possible to fool all the people all the time, it is easy to fool enough of them long enough to seize political power. This is an old lesson which, in our complacency, we believed did not apply to the developed world. The basic script, which Trump followed, is to appeal directly to the people and leave the politicians to argue amongst themselves.

The nature of the appeal never varies much. It is a call to self-interest; a call to put aside our better natures and put our own interests ahead of all others. Deutschland, Deutscheland uber alles. America First. One Nation. They all come from the same play book. Yet that is never quite enough, you need a group to demonise. Jews, Muslims, Asians, it really doesn't matter. All that is necessary is that they be culturally and, if possible, visibly distinct.

These strategies harness two fundamental drivers of human behaviour, greed and fear of the out group. These are base and unreliable motives that easily degenerate into inter-group violence and rapacious exploitation of the weak. The despicable must be driven out or destroyed, those who cannot look after their own interests are disposable.

In a prosperous society, people have too much to lose to take a chance on radical change. The modern post world war 2, liberal world has been built on that prosperity. The collective wealth of the western nations has allowed for the development of tolerance and generosity. When people feel wealthy, they will sacrifice a small amount of that wealth if they see that it can produce great benefit elsewhere. This allows governments to introduce, not only overseas aid, but programs which help the disadvantaged at home.

One of the tricks of the demagogue is to change that perception, to make people feel poor. It helps, as in Trump's case, if there is genuine poverty, but it is not essential since the perception of poverty is often relative. Regardless of their status, people will feel poor if they are besieged by images of those with much greater wealth. Most Trump voters were not poor, they were merely resentful of those wealthier than themselves.

There are significant lessons for Australia in Trump's rise. The extreme right here is also rising. Abbott, Hanson and others are ready to run the demagogue's play book. Legitimate calls for greater equity in the distribution of the nation's wealth are easily subverted, and as in the US, Muslims are already demonised. The frequent changes of leadership by both parties reflect a lack of real leadership. When governments rule by appeasing popular opinion it empowers demagogues who, by comparison, look strong.

It is easy to dismiss our wannabe demagogues, to see them as the sad, pathetic opportunists they are and to recognise that their policies are the path to, at best penury and, at worst war. For, be clear on this, when nations put their own interests above all, when they will not make small sacrifices that produce large benefits for others, they are on the path to war and not the type of superpower proxy wars we are familiar with, but total war.

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Blowin Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 10:04am

Yeah , except the reason that Trump got elected was that he stated removal of the political establishment. The group he demonised was the political , corporate and media classes that are so dismissive of the diminishing standards of living that the American working and middle classes are enduring. The Muslim thing was in line with already stated US government policy and is really only focussed on by those that wish to shore up the continuing decline of equality.

So great article , but utterly incorrect basis for the whole thing.

Loving the way that Trump supporters are painted as shrill little people encompassed and driven by fear, but it's exactly this portrayal that is best suited to the anti Trump chicken little panic brigade.

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tonybarber Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 11:30am

By your reckoning - China is on the path to war. Maybe that is where you could spend your imaginative thoughts.

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indo-dreaming Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 11:43am

Ha ha Another Trump thread, number ten started by Blindboy :P

And it to the list.

The Call to war

Turnbull and Trump

Trump - some observations

Absurdity Rising

A Crisis in Management

The Idiocracy


Trump and the War on Science.

The Inauguration

Trump and the risk of war

Trump and the triumph of ignorance

The hypocrisy of the U.S.A

Trump and the concept of an elite.

Women's day in Washington well done Swellnet!

Australia Uber Alles

CAN YOU FEEL IT? WELL, CAN YOU? Shhhhhhhhh Trumpy won!

John oliver on Donald Trump.

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indo-dreaming Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 11:47am

The China Sea thing is a worry.

IMO China claims are ludicrous and affect so many different Asian countries, shit is going to have to hit the fan one day, and any war that involves China would be scary.

I know nothing about trade etc, but IMO the whole world should be moving away from it's relationship with China and moving manufacturing etc into other Asian countries with cheap labour.

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GuySmiley Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 2:17pm

There is no shortage of anti Trump media, rightly so in my book, but I would love to hear from people who think Trump is doing a good job, I would love to hear their reasons, would love to hear how they see things going from here, presumably better in their minds, but how?

People here have rightly complained about the democrats whinging about the election result. BUT Trump won where it counted and he became president. The sooner the democrats realise they had the wrong candidate and political strategy the better, they now have less than 2 years for the mid-term primaries and they don't have a minute to waste. Nothing will reign in Trump's excesses more than Republicans fearful of losing their seats in the mid-term elections. Maybe Trump doesn't care, we will see .... the parallel here was a weak Labor party allowed Howard to run riot so the Democrats need to toughen up quick, its in their hands.

I don't see a war between America and China over the South China Sea unless Trump does something completely stupid. Anyone else thinks those man-made islands could be destroyed by a tsunami or extreme cyclone?

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peterb Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 4:55pm

Trump isn't doing a 'good' job, he's doing the bad job he promised to do.

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indo-dreaming Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 4:55pm

Listening to ABC radio despite the fact most people on there are very anti trump, quite a few have actually said despite what they think of trump economically they expect him to be good for USA with the decisions and policies he is making, many have also said the one thing they cant fault is that he is pretty much doing what he promised.

And no I'm not really a trump fan, but I'm not a hater either, i think he is a bit crazy, but I'm also happy to see an underdog get in and stir shit up.

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sypkan Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 6:12pm

"Trump isn't doing a 'good' job, he's doing the bad job he promised to do."

Exactly, and isn't it a unique experience to see a government follow through on its promises?

Yep indod the abc narrative has become quite reasonable of late, occasionally pro-trump even. There's been some great stuff on RN. Great not because its pro trump, but because they're presenting a much more reasoned neautral perspective, without the hysterical hyperbole we've had for the last 18 months. And even some of his haters have had to acknowledge there is some good in there amongst his madness, phillip adams is a prime example.

In fact some media just look plain dumb constantly bagging everything he does because he has been so successful. Which is just feeding the fake news thingy in trump's favour, irony? karma? hilarious either way.

I hate to say it but I reckon he is going to be good for the US and a lot of people in media are going to have reassess their bias. Even if eveything he does is dumb by the old rules, any change offers opportunity, even if it's shortlived gains. Geez they squeezed 30 years out of the neo-liberalism/globalisation experiment changes before conceeding its not going so well.

Again I hate to say it, but I reckon he'll probably be in for two terms. That's if his ADD or impeachment, don't get him first.

Even if trump goes, given the state of the democrat party - with their fading relevance and total inability of self reflection - the republicans are looking pretty secure for another term at least unless something big happens.

Its gonna be a long 8 years for the haters.

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sharkman Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 6:49pm

Hmm Sypakan.....I hate to say it but I reckon he is going to be good for the US and a lot of people in media are going to have reassess their bias. Even if eveything he does is dumb by the old rules, any change offers opportunity, even if it's shortlived gains. Geez they squeezed 30 years out of the neo-liberalism/globalisation experiment changes before conceeding its not going so well.

I am really interested to hear you explain "its not going well?" , the USA has 4.8% unemployment , down from 10%+ since Obama got in, the economy is doing very well, the military can kick anybody's butt on the planet , what was wrong with the USA before Trump got in?

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talkingturkey Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 7:36pm

Sippy, comrade, you've finally gone 'full Trump'. We tried to warn you...never go 'full Trump'. We failed. So sad.

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blindboy Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 8:17pm

sharkman the unemployment rate you quote is misleading. It is only those with no work at all who are actively looking for work. If you include those who have stopped looking and those with very little work, the figure is over 9%.

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sypkan Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 8:36pm


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sypkan Sunday, 26 Feb 2017 at 8:53pm

Sharkman, I actually think obama has done an alright job. I'm not an end of days trumpite despite my flirtations with the dark side.

Yep unemployment is doing alright, but I think you'll find much of that is casual short term stuff, hardly replacing the recent job losses. But still a gain nonetheless, and probably good management of a bad situation.

The economy is doing well, or is it?

The fed has pumped a ridiculous amount of money into the stockmarket and the economy. The stock market is supposed to fluctuate, be free, and find equillibrium. Pumping money into it, to preserve some peoples wealth, is the opposite of 'free markets', and the extrene capitalism the US so dearly loves. The fact this money comes from the poor to alleviate the losses of rich dudes who fucked up in the first place doesn't seem free or fair, and more importantly, its not remotely convincing that everything is sweet... let's roll as usual... Imagine if that money was invested in real initiatives rather than propping up what has become a pretty rickety ponzi scheme.

Those jobs now don't look so hot considering.

Yep, the military can kick anyone's butt, but for how long? And, wouldn' it be better to spread this wonderful religion of supposed 'liberalism' by winning peoples hearts and minds? Rather than destabilising countries militarily, to impose new, more accomodating, leaders (for resources or to spread democracy depending on your view). My view is, either way, the interventionist policy has meant 15 years of war. 5 years in Vietnam was too long for most of the public. In this internet age, it is inconceivable that information could be so controlled, and the public so accepting of a 15 year war that is no doubt grubbier than vietnam...if only we could see the pictures...

The lip service to environment, equality, and diversity from billobamahillary while cosying up to the likes of the saudis is so distasteful and unacceptable I cannot even believe they try and justify it. Especially considering it is now well accepted that saudi arabia uses our petrodollars to fund wahhabi schools across the globe, ....but don't you dare mention the M word, its all peace and love.

What was wrong before?

Aside from above, the underclasses of the US have been sacraficial lambs so the rich and powerful can take over the world with their economic imperialism (blowin's term (a bloody good one...very apt)) under the guise of doing good. It may have started with good intentions, but it became seriously corrupted over time. And now the narrative trying to justify the means seems so far from reality people just can't accept it anymore.

But most of the US bogans probably just care about factory jobs and transgender bathrooms...

which are reasonable concerns to have

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talkingturkey Monday, 27 Feb 2017 at 12:53am

A hot mess, Sippy. Breathe. Have a think. Lay off the Trump Kool-Aid.

Now, where's some real answers at?

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sypkan Monday, 27 Feb 2017 at 1:23am

Not with the democrats, that's for sure

As I said...totally incapable of self reflection

Their arrogance is astounding

The real answers will come in eight years. When trump's shine has well and truly faded, the economy is even fuckeder, and the democrats have finally given up on the futility of identity politics

Maybe then...if its not too late...dumbfucks!!

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talkingturkey Monday, 27 Feb 2017 at 1:32am

Er, yep, you're all over it.

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tonybarber Monday, 27 Feb 2017 at 9:53am

'Good' or 'Bad'. What do they mean in the context of Trump ? It would be best to first define what 'good' is plus a corresponding 'bad'. How about define these metrics and then see whether any come to fruition. For example, if the Mexican wall is not built is that a 'good' or a 'bad'. Maybe qualify that with has the build begun - it will take more than 4 years.

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sharkman Monday, 27 Feb 2017 at 12:27pm

interesting view Sypakan , 8 years ago Obama inherited to GFC , where unemployment was over 10% , the economy was the worst it been since the great depression , bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan , spending a Trillion $'s a year on these 2 wars , Osama was running around , yet Trump convinced the USA it was not great, even though with record low unemployment, got out of 2 wars, nailed Osama , brought in Obamacare , not bad in 8 years.
Trump is attacking and replacing some of the political elite and replacing them with the business elite/billionaires , who will make more money as Trump has already started to deregulate the Finance Industry , like before the GFC , so the rich are still getting richer , actually more so now.
A climate change denier , trying to ruin the EPA , and even advocating coal and oil over RES's , which in the face of science doesn't look too promising unless you are in the fossil fuel business.

Unemployment in the USA is at an all time low even though there are a lot of white middle class workers who have had their jobs become obsolete , who are right fully pissed off as no one offered them another workplace , so they got fat , and welfare dependent , but its cheaper to keep them on welfare than retrain them , so is it Government or business who are really responsible? looking at the Trillion $ Trump wants to spend on infrastructure , will not re employ these people in Construction , and to think that all the business's who have factories in cheaper labor Countries will come back , is just not a business reality.
Trumps immigration policy will cripple Silicon valley , and there is already an outcry from the IT/IP business's in the USA as 40% of people who work there are immigrants.
So to me not a lot broken , but now a lot to lose , but I agree that the democrats need to lift their act , as did the Republicans in the last 2 elections , we will see what happens in the next few mths how Trump navigates all the issues that are currently dogging him , as he seems to sliding into Fascist/dictatorship with his treatment of facts , the media , and those Pesky Russians!

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yocal Monday, 27 Feb 2017 at 2:41pm

Skypan I find myself agreeing 100% with your reasons to knock neo-liberalism (which for some implies globalisation as part and parcel), and that America's interventionism is cruel and riddled with hypocrisy, but I see from the same perspective as Sharkman, that the ideology of closing borders, censoring the media and fear-mongering is much much worse for America as a whole. But perhaps Trump's presidency is a great Lesson for humanity, for questioning our values.