by Mike Meyer
There is a dangerous pattern that appears in human societies when they are exposed to insanity in their leaders. This has two aspects neither one of which is any sort of conspiracy theory or moral failure.
Humans work automatically and completely intuitively to find patterns in things in order to make sense. This is well understood as a survival characteristic assumed to date seriously from the transition of Australopithecus to upright posture also assumed to be tied to disappearance of forests in a drying period. Hominids lost the protection of trees and gained a distinct disadvantage in not being quick, strong, and not able to see over the grasses in the new plains environment.
Being constantly observant of patterns could well reveal a large cat lurking in the grasses barely within eyesight. This is simply an example of the origins of this as a powerful and instinct characteristic.
We automatically look for shapes and images in the clouds on a summer day. We know we are seeing things that aren’t there but we find it universally enjoyable to build these patterns from childhood. We also know that we often see patterns that aren’t there in daily situations but that doesn’t stop us from impulsively acting on these false perceptions.
This motivated activity includes sound although that is not our best sense. With the steady rise of language as incredibly important we make the same effort to make sense of the sounds we hear coming from another person. The realization that we are overhearing a foreign language conversation comes after an intense effort to understand what is being said. It’s a major relief when we realize that the individuals you are hearing are speaking Korean and not English.
This effort to understand what is being said and what it means now is intensified if the person is important particularly as a manager or leader. The dominant effort is made to ‘make sense’ of what we are hearing.
As social primates we are also intensely responsive to those who are higher in social standing. We are automatically primed to obey if we are called on to act. We may downplay this once the situation is understood but initially we obey. This is particularly true in America where intense programming to individuality causes near pathological denial of what is happening in standard hierarchical situations. This further muddies the waters. But that is another type of problem specific to our culture.
The intersection of these two human characteristics means that very high ranking people are listened to very carefully to obtain the best meaning of what they desire. In that effort we may be presented with things that are actually not far removed from gibberish but, at great effort and spontaneous social review, we will determine that a command has been given. And what at first made no sense will be parsed into complete thoughts (assumed) and statements with proposed justifications on the part of the leader.
Those people directly under the command of that leader or in organizations directly commissioned to act on that person’s commands will attempt to do what they are told before anything else. The bravest may well ask for clarification but what they get may not be of any help and they, normally, won’t ask again. These people who tend to be authoritarian by nature have an additional level of difficulty in recognizing that the leader made no sense.
The result is very much ‘the emperor with no clothes’ as actual commands are determined to have been given and a logical as possible version of this will attempt to be completed. The highest authorities in the command organizations are put under great stress as they cannot refuse to act as that will be assumed to be a denial of authority or a failure in duty.
We have seen that from the very start and are seeing that increasingly in Trump’s chaotic rule. The levels of command confusion are becoming more and more extreme. No one in any direct national position of authority will publicly announce that “Hey, this dude is bug fuck crazy! What the hell are we doing?” That is the immediate end of that person’s career. Needless to say we have seen that end arrive for many people over the last two years. Out of deference to the state and hierarchy, they go quietly. Then they begin to tell people the dude is actually bug fuck crazy.
Of course they are speaking anonymously or have been fired at that point with no position and their credibility is porous with true believers holding on to their positions and more than willing to pay homage to the leader. Some will even manage to choke out that the decision is brilliant. No one else could have done that! No one else with any real knowledge would have tried.
There is a total difference between an informed and decisive change to break a long impasse and panicked flailing and smashing. An element of luck and opportunity can be used in the first and the complete absence of that condition is obvious in the second. We are in the midst of a major example of that at the hands of the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet.
What actually happens in the second case is the result of many random variables. All of the people with actual knowledge of the situation will be holding their breath and hoping for an incredibly lucky break. In complex, militarized international hot spots random variables are not our friends.
This is creeping insanity that can consume an entire society. This is exactly where America is at the end of 2018. The problem with serious insanity, as we all understand, is that you don’t know your are insane. This is not a psychiatric analysis but an historical one.
Everyone in the US government is very worried and have become numb to situations that would have previously resulted in emergency action. The depth of the propaganda and manipulation that has been employed for years leaves us with no moral agreement and officials are desperately adhering to the assumption of sanity. Most will continue to do that until they break or enough people announce that the dude is, in fact, crazy and then everyone claims they knew it all the time and were just about to do something.
Trump just committed an incredibly irresponsible action, among many, that will likely mean thousands of deaths and potentially explosive instability in the most unstable region of this planet. If you have followed this you know that initially it was not at all clear what he was saying let alone why he was saying it. But that didn’t last long. He wouldn’t listen to anyone but his best boys, Putin and, now, Erdogan who were instrumental in this sudden lurch.
This is another nasty intersection as Trump’s pathology is narcissistic. He has no goals other than actively soliciting praise for himself. He seeks out people who will praise him shamelessly but the real goal is praise from people he fears. He has learned that all such people will turn on him (he does not have any idea why this would happen) but he is old and has learned that he should impulsively get rid of them as soon as they show any sign of disobedience. But the ones he fears can’t be gotten rid of so they must be placated. Unfortunately he so far over his head he can’t keep track of what is happening except that getting rid of people throws everyone in government and industry off balance and he enjoys that.
There is no other reason for Trump’s action than his pleasure and the relief from his inability to understand what is happening and to force his will on everyone.
The problems that we in America are facing now can no longer wait for another election or for Mueller to do some magic with a limited report that will, in any case, only confirm what is known. Trump is responsible for massive corruption, fraud, and a nearly limitless range of illegal acts on the part of himself, his family, and his retainers many of whom are already in prison or on their way.
Let’s not worry about that. The dude is bug fuck crazy so let’s look at what that means. I’ll do this as if we don’t all already know what it means but this wild ordering of troops is a serious factor larger than we have yet seen.
Kim Jong-un made a fool out of the US and Trump but he was too small to do much with it. He lost interest as it was too easy leading Trump around by the nose so he told him to go screw himself. Damaging to the national interests but we can, and have, pretended that nothing really happened. Trump will periodically announce great progress and will send helpless officials to cool themselves in Pyongyang’s government offices as he can never admit the slightest defeat.
This instance is another and more dangerous matter. First we have to deal with a larger issue. This is not a political problem. Anyone’s stand on national politics or international relations and what should or should not be done in the larger scheme of things is not relevant here except as it connects to practical international understanding of the situation.
The American imperial age is over and should be. I would ,personally, like to remove US military personnel from everywhere except formal regional defense organizations. And those must be redefined or eliminated but with care and attention.
We should have never been in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria. The Al-Qaeda attacks in 2001 were the direct result of the US attempting to replace the Russians and to continue to steal resources in Middle East (and elsewhere) to drive the destruction of our planet’s climate. The exploitation of resources distorted US actions in these regions and made it impossible to understand their true effect. But these are future issues now because the house is on fire.
The problem is and always has been that once you screw up and put troops somewhere that is unstable it becomes more unstable. It is, at least, three times as hard to pull troops out of a situation than to put them in that situation. We are talking ‘real politik’ at the regional level, not ideology.
What has Trump done? It appears that Putin, who we know needs to get out of a very unpopular involvement in Syria, has been telling Trump to pull out and leave it to him. We know Trump called Erdogan, another low life autocrat, who seems to have showered Trump with praise for wanting to move US troops out of Syria so he could attack and kill Kurdish militias which he hates. Those Kurdish militias have been our functional, local military arm for years. They are allies and fought for us against ISIS and helped stabilize the disastrous Iraq war caused by George W. Bush under the influence of neocon wingnuts.
Trump, in an ad lib, declared ISIS defeated just as they are restructuring and are beginning to again expand as an international terrorist force. He just threw the Kurds in Syria under the buss, not to mention the Syrian population struggling to get out from under a loathsome autocrat. Effectively he has handed the rest of the middle east to Russia and Iran. What? Why? Because Erdogan and Putin told him he would be seen as a big tough guy if he did that. Done.
The US no longer has allies. This is the question that all the states that were our allies are now asking themselves. It depends on the last tough guy to talk to Trump. He’ll do whatever they want.
The reasons are not hard to figure out. He has been in bunker for the last two months and is increasingly irrational. If he were not in the White House he would be standing trial on multiple felonies in a number of states and in federal court. His kids know that they are going up and indictments are pending.
While our media grovels and plays ‘he said, she said’, things are going rapidly to hell in ways that are not easily contained. Out of this the first real shout has come in Mattis’s resignation letter. In character he was unwilling to do his full duty and waffled slightly.
Yes, Trump is crazy and, yes, his actions are in his own interest and not ours. The insanity is extensive. Mattis was seen as the last ‘adult in the room’. At least he wasn’t a two faced liar and crook like everyone else but he is gone.
If this country is going to survive as anything but the richest failed state in history we need to clean up our act and make major changes. That is not going to happen with a slate of the usual candidates in two years. We will be gone by then. Trump is no longer able to control himself at all and he has become irrational to the point of planetary danger.
The Republican Party is insane. Something like a third of our population is now insane also. People in these situations don’t normally wake up one day and say, “Shit, I’m insane. I better fix this now.” That is not going to happen.
People become fully invested in patterns that they think they see and that they define themselves by no matter how destructive. Until the million pound shit hammer falls on them they simply continue to dig themselves in deeper. The most massive war in history dropped the hammer on Germany in 1945 where a similar third of the population supported the Nazi party from 1933 with only 7% as members. That is not talked about but is a very illustrative of what shared insanity can do. It was only a third of the German population and the others were all good people but, still, they went along.
This is not a replay of Germany in 1933–45. Things are incredibly faster now and the information is at our finger tips. But we are ignoring the insanity of part of our population and the situation that has put us and the rest of the planet in. Think about it. Do we act now or wait until after and see what’s left?