Over the last few days it's become clear that Donald Trump's minders have been unsuccessful in reigning in his megalomania and malignant narcissism. In the one interview since becoming US President, all Trump could talk about was size, and he told multiple lies in doing so. Read the incredible transcript. It was an extraordinary interview. Trump shied away from discussing important matters of state. Instead, as reported in the Washington Post, he was "endlessly obsessed with his popularity".
You've read about people who seriously believe they are Jesus Christ - well that's how Donald Trump behaved. To my mind, he exhibited all the symptoms of grandiosity, delusion and self-obsession. He falsely claimed he would have won the election by "millions" if not for "millions" of fraudulent votes that all went to Hillary Clinton. He falsely claimed that "we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches". He even went so far as to claim that his much criticised appalling speech in front of the CIA wall of honour drew "the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl".
The authoritarian "scum-bucket" leader and his willing, docile followers
If you haven't read about authoritarians and their followers before, I suggest you bone up on the subject. In his booklet, Bob Altemeyer wrote this (my paras):
So (to foreshadow later chapters a little) suppose you are a completely unethical, dishonest, power-hungry, dirt-bag, scum-bucket politician who will say whatever he has to say to get elected. (I apologize for putting you in this role, but it will only last for one more sentence.) Whom are you going to try to lead, high RWAs [right wing authoritarian followers] or low RWAs? Isn’t it obvious? The easy-sell high RWAs will open up their arms and wallets to you if you just sing their song, however poor your credibility. Those crabby low RWAs, on the other hand, will eye you warily when your credibility is suspect because you sing their song?
So the scum-bucket politicians will usually head for the right-wing authoritarians, because the RWAs hunger for social endorsement of their beliefs so much they’re apt to trust anyone who tells them they’re right. Heck, Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany running on a law-and-order platform just a few years after he tried to overthrow the government through an armed insurrection.
About authoritarians and how to counter them
Although some people have criticised the Democrats for not providing a counter to Trump's brand of authoritarianism, it's really quite difficult to do so. Particularly when the populace is flooded with lies on multiple subjects all the time. It seems to me that all that can be done is be constantly vigilant and wear it down over time, countering the lies with facts. In an article at the Washington Post, Xavier Marquez wrote about how lying to the populace may be useful to:
- cement shared values
- as a strategy to achieve the leader's goals
- cement the loyalty of subordinates.
Western political thought has three main arguments about why lying may be useful. First, some kinds of lies can hold political systems together: Myths such as Plato’s “Noble Lie” can cement shared values among citizens. Second, lies can be strategically valuable. This idea is represented by Machiavelli’s argument that princes should lie when necessary to achieve their goals. Finally, lies can cement the loyalty of subordinates. All three provide insight into how and why authoritarian societies and leaders lie.He goes on to point out that those same lies are normally the undoing of authoritarian leaders, particularly in a Western democracy where the leader doesn't control every aspect of society. However he also warned that "Where there isn’t competition from alternative sources of information, myths can become deeply embedded over the longer term. "
This points up the importance of countering the lies. Trump spouts so many of them that it's hard to keep up. Maybe by identifying the key lies and focusing on why they are lies and the damage they are causing, eventually all but the most delusional Trump supporters will recognise them. Eventually, people may see that they've been conned.
The secession of the USA from the world, and internal wrecking
This brings me to Donald Trump wanting to secede from the world. He wants to build a wall between the USA and central and south America. He wants to get the USA out of international collaborations like the United Nations. He wants to stop international trade between the USA and the rest of the world. By what he has said and what he is doing, the only time that Trump wants to engage with any other country is to plunder its resources (steal Iraq's oil).
I haven't even started on how Trump wants to wreck the USA internally.
- Plundering and privatising national parks, turning them into mines and tarring them over, to reduce native plant and animal populations, biodiversity, and destroy the natural world that Americans rely on to sustain them
- Preventing government agencies from sharing critical (or any) information with the general public, farmers and state and local agencies
- Privatising the public education system to dumb down the masses. (Trump can't control public education. He has a better chance of controlling private schools through allocation of public moneys.)
- Slashing the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that polluters and despoilers can pollute and despoil the USA
- Stopping science so that the USA no longer expands knowledge and understanding of the world
- Stopping the arts and humanities so that people lose all hope and (Trump hopes) will rely more and more on their "leader"
- Preventing millions of Americans from having access to health care when they need it. (Killing off people when they are at their weakest is not the way to build a strong society.)
- Making Americans pay for his Mexican wall, by slapping a 20% surcharge (tariff) on goods from Mexico
- and more.
WUWTers are devout authoritarian followers
...first and foremost, followers have mainly copied the beliefs of the authorities in their lives. They have not developed and thought through their ideas as much as most people have. Thus almost anything can be found in their heads if their authorities put it there, even stuff that contradicts other stuff. A filing cabinet or a computer can store quite inconsistent notions and never lose a minute of sleep over their contradiction. Similarly a high RWA can have all sorts of illogical, self-contradictory, and widely refuted ideas rattling around in various boxes in his brain, and never notice it.
Willis Eschenbach couldn't help himself, writing, with no evidence of "partisan politics" - ha!:
After the Trump Administration told the Department of the Interior to shut down all their Twitter accounts because they were being used for partisan political purposes by Democratic government employees, some National Park Service employees got in a huff about how their rights were being violated. So they put together a new Twitter account called AltUSNatParkService.
Check out the official climate twitter feed of US National Parks, which has not tweeted since 19 January. Not a political tweet in sight that I can find. Nor any partisan politics. It's an information tweet feed, only providing straight facts. (To a rampant conspiracy theorist all science and everything climate is "partisan politics".)
It's been reported that the EPA will have to submit all research and information to political appointees for vetting before it's published or released. It's worse - the Trump administration has reportedly shut off research grant spending at the EPA. This is coming from various sources, not all of which I can verify. That's because, there seems to be a purge and definitely censorship and silencing. Dark times.
WUWT-ers have in the past taken great exception to what they call the politicisation of science (which hasn't existed much before now, except as a creation of right wingers in the USA). Now they embrace it. More from Bob Altemeyer:
When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do. High RWAs seem to get up in the morning and gulp down a whole jar of “Rationalization Pills.”
Authoritarian followers are highly suspicious of their many out-groups; but they are credulous to the point of self-delusion when it comes to their in-groups.
Will Trump be able to carry out the delusions of climate conspiracy theorists?
Trump's actions, lies and promises, needless to say, confirm the self-delusions of climate conspiracy theorists. They are the are just what the illiterati at WUWT were hoping for. For years science deniers have campaigned to stop scientific research and sack all scientists. Well, they might get their wish partially fulfilled under Donald Trump. However science will go on, if not in the USA public service at least in universities, private research facilities, and everywhere else in the world.
From the WUWT comments
I don't have time to go through all the deluded comments at WUWT. Here are a small number that illustrate the self-delusion.
Willis Eschenbach, in a sneering reply to someone complaining about the politicisation of WUWT, promoting the conspiracy theory that climate science is a hoax:
January 25, 2017 at 9:36 pm
Danny Thomas January 25, 2017 at 8:33 pm "Will be happy when we move on and return to discussing the science."
Sadly, Danny, these days this IS the science. These people are spreading all kinds of scientific half-truths and falsehoods, under the imprimateur of the US Government. That is both unacceptable and illegal.
My best to you,
More conspiracy theories from Wondering Willis Eschenbach, that climate science = "radical ideas" - WTF?:
January 25, 2017 at 10:31 pm (excerpt)
Thanks, Danny. This site has never been just about the science part of climate science. It is also about the political aspects of climate science, of which this is one. This is not “Yay for us boo for you”, far from it.
The climate alarmists have long used the government to spread their radical ideas about the climate. Having often called for the government to get out of the climate advocacy business, I am overjoyed that this is occurring.
January 25, 2017 at 11:04 pm
Willis, you used the following Edmund Burke quote “For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.” I’ve always felt that “necessary for good men to do nothing” is an oxymoron as doing nothing is usually not considered a trait of a good man. Rather, evil will triumph if no one stands against it. Good men, like you, ARE standing against the deceit and corruption of the climate change crowd.
There may be degrees of right wing authoritarianism. Not every science denier agrees with Willis that scientific information should be censored and kept from the general public. Frederik Michiels wrote:
January 26, 2017 at 12:48 am
imvho: science is a debate. i agree that there is also a political side.
but radically censoring is touching at the right of freedom of speech.
if rightfull AGW skeptics wish to be associated with that, i pass.
just ponder that little detail
Reasonable Skeptic has the ultimate delusion, and is still hoping, after all these years, that someone, anyone, will one day prove that everything we know about physics, chemistry and biology is wrong:
January 26, 2017 at 9:12 am
I come from the opposite position. To me, the science is the science and alarmists can trot out study after study after study to win any scientific debate by sheer volume.
I am more interested in the process that creates science. If you can demonstrate that the process that creates science is flawed, you can win the debate and get people to understand that the reality of climate science is far more open for discussion than they were led to believe.
This is an example of advocacy masquerading as a scientifically run agency and is thus important for people to understand. They are exposed to a tiny part of the process that is guiding the understanding of climate science by the voters.
Just my perspective :)
Geoff Sherrington touts his "credentials" as an environmental vandal of the unique wilderness of Kakadu:
January 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm
So that readers should not conclude that those who visit here have all been through an green stage and/or an epiphany, my own path has led to strong rejection of the need for national parks and world heritage area. They are another method of centralist control of land and its use. In practice, some work out well but others become neglected sources of weeds, fire, pests. The park mechanism globally is used to restrict valid land uses like mining.
Credentials. Representing my then corporate employer, I caused action to delay an imminent inscription of Kakadu Australia onto the world heritage list. Be keen to know if anyone else can claim to have tamed the monster to that extent.
There is lots more of the same. However, not everyone agrees with the direction WUWT has taken. Not that it's changed a great deal, perhaps it's just more overt in it's authoritarian worship and political basis. KarlB wrote:
January 26, 2017 at 12:59 pm
I used to look forward to WUWT when it was focussed on climate science, not so much now. Can’t really be bothered with all this recent political ego polishing.
Enough of politics? But here we are...
I know this is a climate blog, however the world is at a crossroads and politics are threatening our future which means I'm going to write about it. (I'll keep blogging about science, too.) As Sarcastic Rover (from Mars) tweeted:
Hey, I liked this account a lot more when it wasn’t so political too.— SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) January 26, 2017
But here we are.