Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Trump Victory Part 2: Anti-Establishmentarianism

...but they all understand him! 
This picture is from:

The Western intellectual elite are heart aching about the election of Donald Trump on a minority vote. I can hardly blame them. In the UK we might feel that "Brexit" was a bit of a jolt, but it hasn't rocked the governing establishment. The genteel quasi-aristocrats who have been the mainstay of stable British politics for many a year are still in charge and even though many of them are not entirely comfortable with the Brexit vote they respect the poll and are getting on with making the best of a bad job; it all looks just how a healthy democracy should operate. Not so the US; if the UK is in choppy waters the US is in the midst of a storm.  

In his first days Donald Trump is proving to be a dishonest tike who will not concede a point; e.g Lost the majority vote did we? No! The election was rigged! Small numbers at the inauguration? Dishonest media! All the popularity polls are negative? Fake news! This man shows a worrying tendency to be unwilling to cope with the world of reality beyond his spin and "alternative" facts. Why doesn't he just accept these results, get on with the job and prove to us that he's not such a loser after all! No! To an "alpha" male with his ego "reality" is what he thinks it should be!  We are all hoping that he isn't so ego driven that he attempts to corrall people into his fantasy land by recourse to force, the last resort of the incompetent. Trump's politics is the gut-reacting emotive politics of shoot first and ask questions afterwards. In spite of all this, however, I'm not happy about banning Trump from a full-blown state visit to the UK: If in the UK he gets treated like a president he just might start behaving like one. We can but hope. I'm clutching at straws I know, but straws seem to be the only thing one can grab now-a-days!

Recently I overhead a radio program where an American academic was analyzing the accession of Trump to the presidency. I heard him suggest that America is in the middle of a culture war where Donald Trump is a blue collar millionaire who speaks the emotive language of passion and polarization of his class. This highly charged language connects with a large slab of the population who distrust the established elites and instinctively regard Trump's demagoguery as much more genuine. Of course that demagoguery sounds even better if you feel disaffected and alienated. The constituency that Donald Trump appeals to was referred to by Hilary Clinton as a basket of deplorables - well, we now know that was not the wisest piece of campaigning on Hilary's part, but I think we know what she means; and so did Donald's fans: It confirmed to them that the elite establishment is a thoroughly conceited and snobbish clique: The EU may well have suffered from a similar reaction to their perceived irrelevant elitism. But it is not likely to occur to the Trumpkins that stuck-up elitism is a universal human failing; push out one lot of snobs and you may get another lot who are a lot, lot worse.

As political incorrectness is now de rigueur we may as well categorise, label and identify some of Donald's constituency: In the culture war that is now the US Trump is depending on the support from a miscellany of traditionalists, southern baptists, cloud-cuckoo-land fundamentalists, quack prophetic ministries, conspiracy theorists, anti-establishmentarians, anti-intellectuals, rust belt workers disaffected by the economic fluctuations of globalism, pseudo-libertarians, the KKK, crypto-fascists, misogynistic rolling coal alpha males - the list could go on, but all of them want to roll the clock back to simpler times.  Now, as I have a special interest in Christian fundamentalism I thought it appropriate that I should focus on this particular sub-constituency to exemplify the "culture war" theory.  I need look no further than my favourite young earth fundamentalist, AiG theme park boss Ken Ham. In a Facebook post dated 3 February he writes the following: 

The left wing secular media is doing to Trump what they've done to Answers in Genesis for years--false accusations, lies, misinformation, censorship, and more.
And the left wing protestors are involved in what secularists did to the Ark Encounter--false accusations, ad hominem attacks, lies, and more.
Notice how the left that's falsely accused Christians of intolerance for years are some of the most intolerant people on the planet. Left wing media and protestors want free speech as long it's their own speech and their own views--they want to censor real free speech.

This all fits in so snugly: It's easy to see why Ken Ham is one of those establishment hating "deplorables"; that establishment, particularly its academic wing, have fallen into the heinous sin of criticizing, mocking, and  even worse, ignoring Ken Ham's young earthist anti-science project. So it's not surprising that Ham looks to be a Trump supporter. It is clear that Ham identifies with Trump's own experience of being on the receiving end of the status quo's contempt and sees Trump being handled in a way that he himself has first hand experience of.  So, sleaze or no sleaze Trump is the champion that Ham is cheering on. Notice Ham's particular gripe though, namely the demon "left wing media". In fact in my experience of anti-establishmentarian culture it has a tendency to group together a large swath of its opponents under the appellation "lefties"; in particular, the pseudo-libertarians may even go as far as to call anyone "socialist", whose vision of government is larger than theirs!  But I think Ken Ham will find that it is not just the "left wing" which opposes his "you-weren't-there" anti-sciencism: Let's recall that fundamentalist Pat Robertson and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly have criticized young earthism and see it for what it is: An anti-science project.

Regarding fundamentalism's anti-sciencism:  It is probably relatively easy to keep together a small handful of tame young-earthist scholars such as we see at Ken's AiG: Keeping them in place is achieved by both the carrot and the stick.  Carrot wise their reputations, careers and social loyalties have been forged in the relatively small fundamentalist community; in fact so small that one finds the names of the same scholars cropping up again and again in connection with young earthist apologetics; they are big fish in a small pond. As for the stick one only needs to look at the heavy duty spiritual threats that Ken Ham is capable of directing at those who he labels as "compromisers". If one is a timid Christian lacking in spiritual confidence that can have an intimidating effect. 

Of course, establishment academic science is a far bigger field than young earthism, where the latter tends to concentrate on undermining the assumptions of current science and the assumptions of cosmic epistemic integrity which make science possible. Keeping a world-wide and disconnected clientele of established scientists reading from the same hymn sheet would be a far harder task if it wasn't for cosmic epistemic integrity keeping them together. In contrast the small number of fundamentalists have no settled cosmology  and can't agree on some very basic science: Viz:  whether  the world is flat or geocentricwhether the cosmos is old but the earth is young earth, whether the sun should be considered a star or not, whether cosmic integrity can be disposed of, whether the cosmos is just a facade etc. Fundamentalist "science" is a mess! My conclusion is that God's creation has an observational integrity which keeps most established scientists in harmony. To explain this feat of organisation away, fundamentalism is tempted by conspiracy theorism 

End Notes: 

1. KenHam, perhaps buoyed by the victory of his political champion, has recently had the confidence to spell out his scrambled anti-science version of natural history based on a literalist interpretation of the Bible: 

Bible's history has the earth formed before the stars -- evolution is incompatible with Bible.
Evolution belief has birds formed after dinosaurs. Bible's history has birds formed before land animals (which includes dinosaurs). Evolution and the Bible are incompatible.
Evolution belief has fish before fruit trees. Bible's history has fruit trees before fish. Evolution is incompatible with the Bible
People cling to naturalistic evolution -- it's their (false) basis for determining their own morality and reject being subject to their Creator.
Christians who add evolution to the Bible are making man's word infallible and God's Word fallible! No! It's the other way around."

2. Below is the link to another fundamentalists who has been backed into the Trump supporting camp:

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