Friday, August 28, 2020

Chapter 3: Profiles In Judo - Invoking The Greatest Generation, Jonas Salk, Adam Smith, MLK, Lincoln… and AOC.

 Here's another chapter of my book, in which I which futilely offered 100+ original or plausible tactics that might have helped win this phase of Civil War. (Last time we had Chapter 2: "Underlying beliefs that most of us share" - And why that may help... even during a 'civil war.'

Now we'll get more confrontational, eviscerating "MAGA" with pure historical and present day facts. Naturally, I could add a lot more ammo to these paragraphs, like in the section answering charges of "socialism!" But I am starting to get the hint. None of our Union generals is at all interested in agility or becoming a Grant or Sherman. We coulda blitzed this, instead of a slog.

Let's pray they at least win.

POLEMICAL  JUDO   by David Brin 
A Brazen Guide for Sane Americans To Bypass Trench Warfare
And Win Our Life or Death Struggle for Civilization


Chapter 3


Profiles In Judo - Invoking The Greatest Generation, Jonas Salk, Adam Smith, MLK, Lincoln… and AOC.



The most frustrating recent example of “blue polemical stupidity” is failure to answer MAGA… or the slogan “Make America Great Again.” 


A few have tried, using sumo-style opposition, like: “America’s already great!” Oh, that’s a fine counter-slogan, helping our side grunt and shove back at those who demean the nation. But it achieves nothing to undermine MAGA’s power with red masses. It does no judo.


MAGA implies a clear notion of some much better time in the past. So ask a judo question: 'When do you envision that America had its “great” golden age?'

Odds are, they’ll blink in surprise, having never been asked… then stammer something about the 1950s. It sure seems that MAGA folks are referring generally to the era of the Greatest Generation (GG) – the boomers’ parents – who overcame the Depression and crushed Hitler, contained Stalinism, built a booming market economy and middle class, got us into space, built vast infrastructure and systems for education and health, while too-gradually-but-deliberately, taking on many longstanding prejudices and injustices they inherited from their parents and a thousand other generations. 


So let Republicans proclaim the 50s! Draw them onto that limb. Get them to charge ahead with oversimplified/romantic notions of a bucolic, better era. This is what judo is for.

Yes, the GGs had greatness. Oh, but there’s a funny thing about those folks in the World War II generation. They voted high taxes on the rich, and the rich patriotically paid. They admired labor unions. They respected teachers and other professionals. They built spectacular universities and infrastructure. Above all, that clade of Americans had one favorite living human, a man venerated by his people, by his fellow citizens. Ask your MAGA cousin who that most-adored 20th Century American was. 


The New Lords have spent millions and decades portraying Franklin Delano Roosevelt as satanic. While invoking nostalgia for the “great” American era of the 1940s and 1950s, their propaganda sweeps aside one fact – that every notable aspect of that period was Rooseveltian. A time when - I reiterate - unions thrived, the rich paid taxes, science was admired, and moving forward was in our blood. 


Oh, you sour boomers, don’t you dare invoke the Greatest Generation! They were union men, Democrats mostly, held no truck with foppish billionaires, preferred facts over assertions, built giant projects, crafted strong alliances to give the world its first general peace and… oh, yes, can I say it again? Their favorite living human was FDR


And do you know who followed Roosevelt in that slot? Who was the most-admired American during the 1950s, even more popular than the moderate, FDR-like Dwight Eisenhower? It was a fellow named Dr. Jonas Salk, whose team effort used science and immunization (yes, vaccines) to end a terror that haunted every parent in America. Look it up. The most admired American, in an era that did possess a kind of greatness, at least in potential.





Oh, they were far from perfect, my parents and their friends. Their faults were monumental! In fact they were “great” – above all – by overcoming some (not all) of countless ways the fifties etc. sucked!  Above all, they emulated the American Founders, and soldiers of a righteous, abolitionist blue Union and others who pushed our fine Experiment forward by not wallowing in nostalgia. Moreover, they raised us to launch from their shoulders, mightily amplifying their accomplishments with creativity, science and rising compassion, while overcoming many of their mistakes and blindnesses. Becoming… greater. And later generations – millennials, Xers etc. – are better still, generally wiser, nicer, calmer, smarter – the best thing we boomers ever did. 


No, fanatics, you don’t get the Greatest Generation, who would be appalled by your vague shrill MAGA wails. You must flee from their Rooseveltian era, in search of your earlier “great” time! 


How about farther back? Here’s a candidate period – admired by the alt-right and Fox – that’s lauded in a song you might recall:


“Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again!

Didn’t need no Welfare State.

Everybody pulled his weight.

Gee our old LaSalle ran great.

Those were the days!”


Is it 1929 then, that folks at Trump rallies yearn for? Surely oligarchs financing the movement would love to crank-back before FDR. And yet, forget 1929. We all know that’s not it. 


It’s 1861, only this time a confederacy that’s victorious. Plantation lords and their fervid vassals and foreign backers finally overcoming the blue forces of science, facts, equality, industry, accountability, abolition and progress. And let’s admit that during this round of civil war (see Chapter 14), with help from a Russian rising czar, the Confederacy took Washington.


Alas, amid dullard ignorance of real history, they ignore the only place where oligarchy’s victory can take us all. To Paris, 1789. 





Time and again, Blue Leaders have acquiesced to a re-framing of terminology on the political landscape. Fleeing “liberal” into “progressive” for example, then seeing that term equated with “communist.”[2]  Of course it’s all ironic, in an era when GOP leaders are in bed with avowed communist dictators and Lenin-raised “ex”-KGB agents who openly mourn the USSR. 


A huge and recurring liberal mistake is getting lured into expressing hostility to the markets, enterprises and small businesses and startups that generate the wealth we then use to make things better for all children. Where do the taxes come from that pay for their favorite programs? We’ll get to that apparent contradiction in the next section, and later in Chapter 11. 

First, of course the Republican Party plans to use “socialism” against democrats.[3]


A few nationally prominent Democrats, e.g. rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have edged toward powerfully invoking the Greatest Generation (GG) with the “Green New Deal.”[4] Later I’ll list 31 reforms that Democrats and decent independents all want, belying press-incited calumnies about ‘bitter division’ between progressives and 'DNC corporatist types' (Chapter 12.) In fact, most items on that list would be covered by saying: 


“Let’s bring back much of the social contract that served the white working class so well, in the 40s and 50s! High wages, a rising middle, strong union protections, low wealth disparity, much less cheating-influence by aristocrats, cheap college tuition… infrastructure!... investment in science and so on. Only we’ll update all that to include all races and genders! And yes, while mobilizing against the most deadly enemy threatening our world – looming environmental disaster. And expand the greatest generation’s signature program – Medicare – to at least cover all children till age twenty-five. 


“You’d seriously oppose that? The Greatest Generation is spinning in their graves. You aren’t worthy to mention them!”


Oh and let’s be clear – someone please say it aloud – that Dwight Eisenhower made AOC's ‘socialism’ seem tame.[5]





Now let’s swing from socialism to its purported opposite – enterprise capitalism.


Today’s Blue-Left keeps getting suckered into ceding territory to the Right, allowing them to style themselves as the best friends of creative market economics, the generator of most of the wealth they hope to tax. Among the 2020 candidates, only Elizabeth Warren seemed to grasp what the word “liberal” generally meant, for the last 250 years. She laces her calls for social reforms with this will actually help a competitive market economy to thrive!


In fact, across more than 5000 years of recorded history, far more open-flat-fair-competitive-creative enterprise systems were wrecked by oligarchy – by cheater kings and owner-lords and monopolists – than were ever harmed by moderate, democratic socialism (e.g. Canada or Sweden) or even by murderous Stalinists. Uber-rich cheaters must be denounced as the enemy of enterprise. Which is exactly what Adam Smith said.


Adam Smith? The fellow whose Wealth of Nations (1776) is routinely misquoted by the social darwinist right? Yes, the same sage whose The Theory of Moral Sentimentsdemanded that society’s duty lay in uplifting the poor and enhancing opportunities for talent to thrive. In fact, as I’ll expand in Chapter 11, Democrats should reclaim Adam Smith as one of their own,[6] the core founder of liberalism. (If you actually read him, you’ll understand.) See the point made by Evonomics publisher Steve Roth.[7] We’ll return to Smith several times.


If done right, this could overturn the “libertarian problem” dissected later in the book. But foremost the lesson is: don’t cede any territory to the noxious, undead mad-right. 


Especially not the territory of healthy market enterprise, which actually does much better, as a matter of measurable outcomes,[8] across the span of Democratic administrations.


In a reflex that’s encouraged by both left-wing academics and giggling rightist propagandists, young liberals today spurn "capitalism" as a whipping boy term that loses all meaning, though flat-fair-competitive-accountable market enterprise has been the cornucopia goose that's laid our golden eggs, including the confidence to go after ancient crimes like racism and sexism. Yes, there are problems with capitalism! Karl Marx described inherent contradictions that can – unless countered by enlightened rules and referees – lead to the collapse of flat-fair-creative competition. 


This was the point when the American Founders seized and redistributed up to one third of the land from lordly grandees. Or take the Progressive Movement circa 1900 whose anti-trust laws shattered a then-looming Gilded Age oligarchy, restoring some competition to American markets. It had to be done again in the 1930s and 1940s, resulting in the flattest and most vibrantly entrepreneurial society and fastest-rising middle class the world ever saw (shocking Marxists!)


Those on the right who scream hate at the word "regulation" are as unwise is the left's reflex to despise "competition." What works is Regulated Competition. And we’ll get into that later.




Finally, I expect some of our allies on the far-left to rage at my extolling Franklin Roosevelt. As if even mentioning Adam Smith didn’t cause apoplexy! (That ain’t nothing. Just wait till we get to Chapter 12: “Unreliable Allies.”) 


By today’s standards, FDR was bigoted and made some howling-awful decisions, amid a sea of good ones.[9] The same is true of LBJ. And wouldn’t they have recanted mistakes, if informed by the moral advancements we’ve made since? Dig it. What is the best that any leader or citizen can hope for, from posterity? 


To be judged as much better than their times. That he or she could see needles had to move, and strenuously helped move them. That they built platforms from which later heroes might climb further. It’s why we (largely) forgive the faults of Washington and Jefferson. It’s what Martin Luther King said of Johnson and Roosevelt… and it’s what we now say about King, knowing many of his then-hidden personal flaws. 


Anyone condemning them, while ignoring the good, should read Frederick Douglass's eulogy of Abraham Lincoln. Especially this excerpt:


“I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen.


“Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless.[...]


“Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”


May you be eulogized so fairly… but ultimately so well.


August 02020 pragmatic note:  If any of you go out there demonstrating, don't go at night! Those scenes - even peaceful - play into Trumpian hands by looking scary! And his only chance is to stir fear in suburban white moms, who have been leaving him in droves. (STOP with the Karen shit, please, for now?) In order to scare them, he needs lots of night-scenes of fires and molotov cocktails thrown. Meanwhile peaceful daytime demonstrations wean those housewives away from him. And hence if you want to go to demonstrations:
1) Daytime only!!
2) Learn to recognize "agents provocateurs." Take selfies with anyone suspicious looking. Act friendly! But your photo might help nail some KKK provocateur.
3) NEEDED! Volunteers to form fair-sized groups and stroll *with ice cream* two blocks away from demonstrations! How does that help? Take selfies and post them with commentary! 
"We're two blocks south of the demonstration, eating ice cream... and see the people unafraid on the street?.... Now we're two blocks east and... oops... More unafraid pedestrians. So where's this "burning city" we were warned about?"
Get it? YOU'LL DO MORE GOOD STROLLING AND TAKING SELFIES, 2 blocks away THAN THE DEMONSTRATORS ARE DOING! Because you'll shred the Trumpist "burning cities" narrative! How's that for a comfy way to make a difference?


[1]  “Was 1957 America Better Than Today?” I answer right wing adoration of the 1950s.

[2]  Back in the 1970s I founded UCSD Liberals and Progressives, till frustrated by that campus’s Marcuse-left, who took joy from Nixon and sorrowed at the “system’s” success at nailing him for crimes.

[3] “Is Socialism Still An Effective Political Bogeyman?”

[4] “When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts introduced their Green New Deal proposal in February, they chose language loaded with nostalgia for one of the country’s most transformative historical moments, urging the country to undertake “a new national, social, industrial and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.”

[7] “It’s Simple! Concentrated Wealth and Inequality Crushes Economic Growth More billionaire dollars, slower growth. Full stop.”

[8] Comparing economic outcomes from Democratic vs. Republican administrations:

[9] I am of an ethnicity that suffered because FDR made moral and practical mistakes, and I grew up with Japanese-Americans whose parents endured Manzanar. Still, our parents all knew that every alternative to Roosevelt – across the face of the Earth in those days – would have been worse.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Chapter 2: "Underlying beliefs that most of us share" - And why that may help... even during a 'civil war.'

 As many of you have noticed, I've grown fierce about our current phase of "civil war." The issues seem stark, especially what I deem to be #1: rediscovering the core value of facts. That facts-are-things. All other issues - from racism/sexism to freedom, to governance and economics, to saving the planet and rebuilding world alliances - all would swing sharply if our arguments were still swayed by objective reality.

So yes, while I'm pretty vehement... and some of the chapters in Polemical Judo push harsh themes... and even as the stunning Republican convention hurls venomous hatred at every fact-using profession and all reason... nevertheless, I want to offer something that may cheer you up!  

Because the divides that separate Americans may not be as deep as they appear!

Here, as promised, is the next chapter of my book, wherein I point out something crucial. that the best way to draw folks back into the light may be to start with things we share, in common.

And so, before getting to practical methods, any “judo” manual explores what’s most important. Understanding your adversary. And yourself.



Chapter 2

of Polemical Judo


Below the Surface

Underlying beliefs that most of us share



This phase of the U.S. Civil War was not of our choosing. But we’ve been complicit. First, by accepting many indolent assumptions, then by ignoring history.


Take the lesson of the Greatest Generation. As we’ll see in Chapter 3, our Roosevelt-era parents and grandparents overcame a mélange of would-be plutocrats, populist tyrants and communist commissars to craft a social contract that unleashed a confident, burgeoning middle class, spectacular universities and science, vast infrastructure and entrepreneurship – plus a too-slow but ponderously-growing momentum toward justice. 


That social contract was so successful that we forget how rare and special it all was! Our parents were so successful at crafting a middle class dominated society that we members of the Boomer Generation largely assumed (and still assume) that age-old cheater plagues like oligarchy and feudalism – dominant across nearly all of the last 6000 years – were banished for good.


They weren’t. Today’s worldwide oligarchic putsch – propelling America back into Civil War – is both lethally dangerous and boringly predictable. As Hannah Arendt taught, evil can be oafish and banal, while also feral-canny. But one thing villains are instinctively good at is setting decent people against each other.


So let’s dig down to undercurrents that most of us share. Our enlightenment experiment is founded on some notions and practices that were never extensively practiced till recently – common threads that are masked by our dismal obsession to couch everything in left-right terms


For example, if pressed, most Americans would avow:


– that liberty is desirable;


– that men and women of goodwill should negotiate in good faith – either directly or through representatives – each giving a bit in order to achieve positive-sum[1] outcomes;


– that leaders are not the same thing as the state; they can and should be frequently replaced;


– that the rule of law must be applied evenly, fairly and transparently… though we can also change faulty laws – fairly and transparently;


– that money and power often corrupt, and it can happen from any direction;


– that a mature/sincere person should at least consider the foremost - even sacred – tenet of science: I might be wrong;


– that prejudices believed by our parents – and those clutched by us today – might be disproved by facts, at which point it’s time to let them go;


– that expertise and intelligence don’t guarantee wisdom, but knowledge and skill merit respect;


Further, couch it right and you can also get folks across a wide-spectrum to admit:


– that competition and cooperation are not opposites. Humans are inherently competitive beings and competition engenders creativity… but competition is nearly always wrecked by cheating, unless we cooperatively come up with rules and referees to keep it fair;


– that whatever is not explicitly forbidden – via duly deliberated laws that can always be questioned – is automatically allowed;[2]


– that most ‘liberal’ endeavors – at least those aimed at uplifting children – need little more justification than “stop wasting talent”;


It’s a safe guess that you’d credit yourself with holding all those views… while denying that your opposition-neighbors do. 

But try asking: 

Aren’t they just as likely to claim that you don’t?


In fact, all of the nostrums listed above are fundamental to our new kind of society, though you’ve likely not seen them expressed that way. Which is the point here. The first step in bridging our chasm is to escape loaded terminology.





Now let me surprise you by saying other themes run deeper than those above, distinguishing America and its allies from the rest of human history. For starters, can you name any other society that raised its own children to relentlessly criticize their own tribal elders?


The way that you – yes, you – have a powerful reflex to criticize?


A relentless stream of propaganda has poured from the indoctrination system known as Hollywood, pushing themes you agree with! Doubt that? Quick then, can you name a popular film you’ve enjoyed, across decades, which did not promote the following?


 Suspicion of Authority



 Personal autonomy and individuality



Above all, suspicion of and resistance to unfair authority figures. These are traits of a successful Hollywood film. They are also the very traits that enable and empower criticism, of the sort that you – as a politically active person – apply to your nation and its mistakes. It’s all part of a critical self-improvement campaign that enabled us to thread (sometimes just barely) a minefield of potential disasters across the last century, achieving many kinds of progress. It is also the trait that – despite every effort of the oligarchs – may yet win us the stars.


Right now you may be simmering, offended by the notion that you imbibed such values from movies, novels and songs, instead of inventing them yourself. Even worse, the effrontery to suggest that your opponent-neighbors might share those same deep reflexes. 


Get over it! We don’t have time for self-indulgence. Nor is this the place to explore philosophical implications of such a strange propaganda campaign, so unlike the mythologies of any prior culture. Though elsewhere I’ve called it The Dogma of Otherness.[3] What matters now is the calamity that’s befallen us! Because these memes, which underlie much of our success and our strength, are now being used against us.


Suspicion of Authority (SoA) is reflexive in both liberals and conservatives.  Both denounce Orwellian plots against freedom and light. But they part company over which groups aim to be Big Brother.


 – Conservatives fret about power grabs by snooty academics and communists and faceless government bureaucrats. 


 – Liberals see cabals of conniving billionairesracists and faceless corporations.[4]


But when you put it that way, isn’t the answer Duh? All power centers are inherently dangerous! At various times, cheaters and would-be tyrants used corporate, or bureaucratic-socialist, or owner-elite centers of power… and if you’ve spent time at any university, you saw mini-despotisms in many departments. Exploiters and cheaters will fester and plot wherever they feel they can. It’s why we finally invented habits and tools of accountability.


Ideally, we’d warily guard each other’s backs, with liberals grudgingly admitting “all right, I am more worried about plutocrats, while you fear bureaucratic excess. Tell you what. I'll listen to you a bit if you'll listen to me.” 


Ideally. I’ve seen it happen! Though not in 21st Century America. Alas, that synergy shatters amid re-ignited civil war, when each side tells its partisans that freedom can be harmed only from one direction. This political fused-spine disease leaves us unable to turn our heads. A form of tunnel vision, it’s one reason we get trapped into grunting sumo-shoving, instead of thinking two or three dimensionally… helping our neighbors do the same.


If these matters truly interest you, I recommend a brief Socratic questionnaire on ideology[5] that might reveal added dimensions. I promise you won’t view the hoary-insipid-lobotomizing “left-vs.-right axis” the same way again.


Our key point here is simple. The putsch-masters need us at each other’s throats, so they exploit the most inherently American meme – SoA – getting us denouncing each other as authoritarian elites!


This book offers many ways to thwart them. The best and most honorable approach? Get our cousins and fellow citizens to admit: 


Yes, we share the same instincts and underlying fears. 

We differ over particulars. 

Might there be some way we both are right?

And perhaps both wrong?





Oh, I clearly believe one side in our current culture battle is wrong far more often than the other. I will prove it, in Chapter 6. Still, there’s a habit of obstinacy that is all-too humanly shared also on the left.


Example: we all know how American conservatives spent decades ignoring human-generated Climate Change, sneering at the leading role that conservation must play in resolving this peril. Refusing to let efficiency and sustainability become urgent projects, they pray instead to the "problem-solving magic of markets," the way natives of Rapa Nui beseeched big statues to restore their ravaged isle.


But it’s arguable (elsewhere) that the Left has its own incantatory nostrums, e.g. rejecting any role for nuclear power, which helped lift millions out of poverty worldwide without adding appreciably to greenhouse emissions. Three generations have seen high benefit-to-harm ratios from fission reactors. Despite Chernobyl and other scary cautions. Despite pollution that – while frightening – has always proved containable. (This outcomes-ratio stands, astonishingly, even if you include Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Yet, liberals won't even debate adding carefully designed, next-generation nuclear plants to our toolset for crossing a potentially Earth-killing Greenhouse Gap.


Did you fume at one paragraph while nodding at the other? Step back. Can you see a common reflex? To ignore contrary evidence and automatically say no? These "opposite" party lines share an underlying trait – a reflex to prefer distrust over the can-do spirit of modernity and science.


Only dig it… many liberals can be argued out of their reflexes. 

Conservatives can too, on occasion… but not during any phase of our 250 year civil war.





Alas, the honorable approach won’t work if anyone using it is already an “enemy.” I’ll return often to the mad-right’s all-out war on facts and all fact-using professions, a vendetta that diverts the SoA reflex of red Americans toward smartypants “elites” – the scientists, journalists, teachers, doctors and “deep state” officers –who stand in the way of oligarchy’s rule. We’ll get to that in Chapter 5. 


But here we’re exploring our neighbors’ underlying assumptions. And the strongest – that they almost always fall back upon – is: Everything’s a matter of opinion.


Let’s say you gather powerful evidence to support your argument – e.g. regarding climate change. Nowadays, your links are instantly canceled with counter-links, and outraged opponents denounce any claim you make for ‘credibility.’ If you cite specialists, that only makes you a lackey to authority. And don’t you know that “experts” are all conformist lemmings? Every fact-checking service is a would-be Orwellian Ministry of Truth.


As Thomas Paine put it, in The American Crisis: “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” 


But then, that too is citing an authority.


I’ll offer several ways to fight these well-tuned defense mechanisms. But only a few of them are potent enough to overcome the final bastion[6] of defensive relativism, one that our parents and grandparents knew all-too well:


“Oh yeah? Sez you!”




And some things flow even deeper, below conditioning and culture, to a level that’s biological.  


Elsewhere, I’ve both spoken[7] and published papers[8] about the very worst and most damaging addiction to vex humanity – especially America – a plague of self-righteous indignation. Each year, evidence accumulates that sanctimony-rage is a physically addictive state, flooding the body with endorphins, serotonin and the kind of pleasure rush that draws many people to return – relentlessly – to this voluptuous high. The high of feeling so, so wrathfully right. Each of us, if we are honest, can look in a mirror and admit there’s truth to this. 


That doesn’t make it wrong to be indignant! Often, only outrage can stoke enough courage and drive to fight a powerful foe who flat-out deserves it. Heck, this volume is propelled by my own righteous anger over what’s been done to a nation, world, species and children whom I love. I’m furious!


But we’re supposed to be the calm, rational, sapient ones, able to choose when the self-righteous rush may take us… and when to say “hold, enough.” Above all, self-control may let you do as Sun Tzu recommends, controlling your passion, while letting the enemy’s draw him into errors.




I won’t quibble with George Lakoff’s diagnosis of Trumpism. Lakoff is correct that many “red” Americans – yes, even deeply religious Christians – admire a man who is opposite-to-Jesus in every way, because he projects confidence (“I am the chosen one”[9]) and an appearance of macho strength.


Trump’s bravado – absent any sign of past physical or moral bravery – is that of a 7thgrade playground bully. Perhaps some followers look back fondly on that time of life, when nerdy guys weren’t successful or attractive to women. Lakoff says it’s the symbolism of confident strength that counts over reality. (We’ll discuss Republican symbol-obsession in several places.) I don’t disagree, though I suspect that something else is even more important to them.


Despite his dismal record at governance, a myriad character faults and his endless spew of lies, Donald Trump delivers on one vital count. He enrages the very people his followers most hate.[10]


Recall our discussion above, about suspicion of authority (SoA.) Each of us worries about one or another variety of scheming elites. But as commentator Thom Hartmann put it: “When liberals talk about 'elites', they mean rich people. When conservatives talk about 'elites', they mean smart people.” 


Okay, that’s a self-flattering meme. And it should terrify us all. 

[1] No concept is more urgently important than that of positive-sum versus zero-sum (or even negative-sum) thinking. It is the underlying principle of our civilization, distinguishing it from all others. And it is not my purpose here to explain it. Try Robert Wright’s wonderful book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny.


[2] A vast proportion of complex human cultures, perhaps a majority, taught: “whatever isn’t expressly allowed is assumed to be forbidden.” Picture a cop demanding: “Who said you could do that! Show me the permission!” You and I assume – if there’s no apparent way we’re hurting or bothering any people or interests, or imposing any burdens – that we can reply: “Who am I hurting? Show me where it’s disallowed!”


[3] “The Dogma of Otherness,” in Otherness, by David Brin, 1994. 


[4] And yes, I suppose – with some reluctance – that makes me a ‘liberal.”


[5] Questionnaire on ideology. Try it!


[7] See a talk on “The addictive plague of getting mad as hell."


[8] And the scientific background to Indignation Addiction:

[9] “I am the Chosen One.” From Forbes


[10] In popular parlance The goal of the administration is to “own the libs.”