Epistemological Apathy and Egomania
The Not-so Mysterious Case of Donald J. Trump and the Implications for American Democracy
Bryant William Sculos
Over the past several months, there have been a number of articles written exploring how to typologize Donald Trump ideologically. Is he a fascist? Is he a conservative? A populist? A liberal? A sexist racist xenophobe? Some irrational combination of all of them? A cursory look at the comments sections of Internet new sites, the blogosphere, and social media shows that there are a variety of preferred terms used by people responding to the incalculably racist, bigoted, hateful, and often wildly outlandish or incoherent comments and policy proposals of firebrand Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Most of these labels, while probably accurate, are vulgar and not worth repeating here, but two of them stand out as potentially having a great deal of accuracy and indeed political significance. Trump is often referred to as either an asshole or a bullshitter (which is equivalent to being "full of shit" for the purposes of this essay), and sometimes he is referred to as both at the same time. Assuming that these "expert" political commentators do not genuinely believe that Donald Trump's body is full of male bovine feces nor that he is an exceptionally large anus, these labels likely refer to more sarcastic idiomatic meanings. What the creative masterminds who use these epithets (again, however accurate they are) likely don't realize is that these terms refer to rather well-defined concepts in contemporary philosophy and sociology, specifically developed by Harry G. Frankfurt and Aaron James respectively. In their respective books, On Bullshit and Assholes: A Theory, Frankfurt and James offer specific conceptualizations of "bullshit" and "assholes." Taken together, looking at the political campaigning of Donald Trump, it becomes quite obvious that, strictly technically speaking, Donald Trump is a bullshitting asshole. As such, I argue, Trump is not so much unique as he is a manifestation of what our contemporary social condition produces, and as such Trump exists as an extreme caricature of an increasingly cold, narcissistic, self-righteous capitalistic mentality that must be a central concern for all of us as we aim to move beyond the present towards an emancipated and habitable future.
'Our Revolution' is Not a Revolutionary Movement
On August 24, Bernie Sanders officially launched his post-presidential bid project, Our Revolution. Hoping to build on his primary success, Our Revolution looks to endorse and financially support down-ticket Democratic candidates around the country. This is part of the vision Sanders laid out about reforming, or in his words "revolutionizing" the Democratic Party. It offers an ambitious, and a somewhat respectable goal, to fight to push a center-right party further to the left. However, as many have noted Sanders himself while being much further left than his Democratic counterparts, is not the bastion of leftist politics the media, and many of his supporters think he is. Sanders campaign, which he called revolutionary, only offered revolutionary politics inside the Democratic Party. To his credit, he gave the party a big scare, he offered a viable alternative to the neoliberal politics of Hillary Clinton, making such waves that party officials even conspired to possibly use Sanders lack of religion against him. Leaked emails showed that a few DNC officials wanted to out Sanders as an atheist in two southern states they feared Clinton could lose. Sanders also inspired millions of young voters to become interested in politics. His campaign was reminiscent of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign in that regard. Tens of thousands packed auditoriums to hear Sanders speak up for the 99%, to stand up for Native American rights, and to demand workers be paid a higher minimum wage. Yet, his politics still came from a liberal, pro-capitalist mindset, and so does Our Revolution. What Sanders is selling as a revolution, is, in reality, nothing more than an attempt to reform a capitalist, centrist party. Our Revolution cannot be revolutionary in this sense, as it is simply not possible to revolutionize a counter-revolutionary party. At the end of the day, Our Revolution is still supporting capitalist candidates who by and large support the Affordable Care Act over universal healthcare, or at least support slowly progressing the struggling health care plan towards some version of socialized care, meanwhile courts around the country pick apart the plan, leaving it in shambles and as further rises in health insurance costs skyrocket, leaving what might be left of the affordable part of the plan on the cutting-room floor.
White Workers Resisting Capitalism and White Supremacy
An Interview with RedNeck Revolt
Redneck Revolt came out of the original work of the John Brown Gun Club, a working group of the Kansas Mutual Aid Collective based out of Lawrence, Kansas from 2002-2008. The John Brown Gun Club focused on attempting to simultaneously grow a militant and armed culture within already existing liberatory and revolutionary movements, and attempting to stem the tide of right wing reactionary recruitment within white working class communities. Our work had two main focuses then: providing armed community and tactical defense trainings to build the capacity of our movements and demystify the firearm, and to be present at social and economic gatherings of white working people where groups like the Klan, Minutemen, and white reactionary militias recruited. Over the course of several years, we trained hundreds of members of social movement organizations from across the country, as well as attended dozens of gun shows and similar events to head off racist recruitment. When Kansas Mutual Aid ended its work in 2008, the John Brown Gun Club went with it. In early 2009, Redneck Revolt was founded in Colorado, and enjoyed a limited life within local gun shows as well as being present at Tea Party rallies in the Denver area. Redneck Revolt started to focus less on armed defense within already existing social movement organizations, and to refocus on the other goal of the John Brown Gun Club: to engage in anti-racist movement building within the white working class. Redneck Revolt went on hiatus in late 2009. A decision was made to dust off the concept and the project in June of 2016, as the rise of street level fascism and reactionary ideology has swept across the United States in response to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. Several of us felt that it was far past time for this project...
The Science of Corrosive Inequality
As the Presidential campaign season begins to get into full-swing, inequality will become a prominent topic, and misleading conventional narratives will abound. Both the presumptive nominees of the two major political parties have addressed this topic at length already, and will certainly have much more to say as the general election phase kicks-off. Inequality is a prominent topic because we are still dealing with the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis that spawned the Occupy Wall-Street movement, which did much to put the issue of economic and political inequality back on the table for discussion. This is why the topic came up in the 2012 Presidential election cycle, and why during this election cycle one candidate in the Democratic Party's primary was able to attract a very large following by focusing predominantly on this issue. The success of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump shows that the issue of inequality, and its various social, political, and economic effects, still resonates deeply with large portions of the electorate on both sides of the mainstream partisan divide. This is the case, principally, because a great many non-elite Americans are still living with the economic consequences of the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession. Inequality, political and economic, not only helped to inflate the bubble whose bursting caused the crash, but it also determined in large measure who benefited from the bailouts and the "recovery". Rising inequality from the 1970s on helped funnel more and more wealth to the top of the income scale. These people spend their money very differently from others. When this group has surplus income, they are very likely to purchase financial instruments. As more and more wealth was channeled into their hands by the economic and political policies..