Thursday, July 14, 2016

Learning from Haidt: Trumpism is the Natural Outcome of Ruling Class Failure

Yesterday I blogged a piece on Jonathan Haidt's analysis of Brexit and Trump and the confrontation of globalism and nationalism.

In Haidt's analysis, globalism is a little bit too far out in front and is provoking a nationalist and authoritarian backlash. I wrote that it was the globalists who were the authoritarians. After all, it is the globalists that have cunningly set up all kinds of global institutions from which there is no dissent and no means to petition for a redress of grievances. Can you spell Authoritarian?

But what really caught my eye was an analysis of how the world got here, looking at World Values Survey data. Haidt wrote that:
as they [countries] industrialize, they move away from “traditional values” in which religion, ritual, and deference to authorities are important, and toward “secular rational” values that are more open to change, progress, and social engineering based on rational considerations.
This is rather obviously an analysis from the globalist elite; it feels a bit like a 19th century colonial governor in his magnificent plumed hat talking about the natives. Compassionate caring social engineers will raise up the benighted heathen towards the rational world of social programs and reason.

Of course, I think that this attitude is precisely what creates Trumpism. People carefully relieved of their religion and ritual their "deference to authorities" are being taught to defer to their globalist authorities and their social-engineering experts. So the only way they have to petition their global overlords for a redress of grievances is through Trumpism or its local affiliates. I don't call that authoritarian; I call it rebellion.

But beyond that I think that the globalist approach misunderstands what it takes for an individual to enter into the industrial world order and succeed in it. It is not a process of advancing from "religion, ritual, and deference to authorities" to "'secular rational' values that are more open to change, progress, and social engineering." It is, I believe a process that must occur in every human heart to change from the rural subordinate culture of the peasant, with its deference to unpredictable lords and gods, to the responsible culture of the city, with its God that sets the world up to run by rules and divine justice, and its rulers that are accountable to the citizens. In other words, on my Three Peoples theory, the transformation occurs as people transition from being People of the Subordinate Self to People of the Responsible Self.

Trumpism, on my theory, is an inevitable result of a top-down transition to industrial capitalism where people are shuffled around into factories, promised life-time employment, kept shuttered up in labor unions, kept quiet with entitlements, educated in government child-custodial facilities, and protected from unemployment and de-skilling by social engineering programs run by the elite rather than by mutual-aid societies run by the people themselves.

Sooner or later, under the top-down system, the elite is going to make a mistake and will not have foreseen some social, economic, or cultural development, and the still-subordinate people are going to wake up and find out that their kind and compassionate political elite has not compassionately provided for them. In the particular case of the Trumpkins the white working class that was taught to expect a prosperous future by sitting back and following orders from its betters has woken up to find that their betters lied. The good old days of good jobs at good wages in the industrial sector are gone, never to return, and the skills that sustained the white working class half a century ago are no longer valuable.

Now, if the white working class had been raised to the culture of the responsible self they would never have got into this situation. They would never have believed in the lie of permanent lifetime employment. They would not have joined labor unions that ended up looting the companies they organized into bankruptcy. And when the world started to move on from Taylorist manufacturing the white working class would have moved on too. But they didn't. They believed the lies told them by the political left; they enjoyed their moment in the sun as political power forced prosperity on them for a season. And now they are angry; of course they are.

My theory of life, the universe, and everything, is that the old country way of "traditional values" was not in fact traditional values, because it was not self-conscious about values. People lived the way they had always done because that is what they did. They lived under a powerful lord as his serfs and underlings. And they worshipped terrible gods that might punish them for nothing. The worst thing was to change; that would almost certainly end in disaster. These people were People of the Subordinate Self.

But starting about 3,000 years ago, in and around cities and towns, people started to change. They started to live and work in a market economy, because that is what people do in towns. And they started to believe in a new kind of God, that ruled over an understandable world and dispensed not divine power but divine justice. They started to believe that to thrive they had to change and adjust to the changes in the market. They started to believe that they were responsible for their lives, and were responsible for doing something about it. These people were People of the Responsible Self.

Pretty obviously, these People of the Responsible Self are not going to wake up one day and say "we was robbed." Because they never would have gone to sleep. Of course they would not have done a lot of things. They would not have voted for politicians to loot other people to give them money for pensions. They would not have sat by while child education went from bad to worse. They would have voted out corrupt politicians on principle, never mind whether they were "ours" or "theirs."

But now our globalist leaders are shocked, shocked that the people they anesthetized a generation ago and more have woken up with a fearful headache. How could their rational secular governance have gone wrong? The science!

Yep. It's not just the white working class that has been living in the dream world. Hello ruling class! This is the future that you created with your top-down politics. You sowed the wind and now you are reaping the whirlwind. Get used to it.

And as for the science, it has been telling us for over a half century that top-down bureaucratic rule cannot work because there just isn't enough bandwidth in bureaucratic rule to fix problems in real time. Only the market can do that, and even then it typically does it with a nasty recession. But at least the recession is better than what they are experiencing in Bolivarian socialist Venezuela.

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