Friday, January 22, 2016

The unbearable lightness of postmodernity and Donald Trump

R.R. Reno writes, in "Populism," in the Public Square section of the latest issue of First Things (February 2016), p. 3:
The rise of populism in Europe -- and here in the United States by way of Donald Trump -- is a rebellion against postmodern weightlessness. Political commentators are right to point out voter concerns about immigration, economic distress caused by globalization, and the technocratic establishment that holds them in disdain. But underneath these concerns lies a metaphysical disquiet....

.... Populism is a response to this vacuum more than a movement of economic grievances, or even anti-immigrant sentiment. It reflects a concern that our common life lacks metaphysical dignity: There's no longer something greater than utility or some other bloodless good capable of binding us together strongly enough that the rich and powerful remain accountable. [emphasis added]
Reno is almost always worth reading; and whatever one thinks of some of the positions taken by writers at First Things, it is well worth getting a subscription and reading it.


Chuck Martelowski said...

The final stage of America's economic downfall began with trade agreements: NAFTA first, then an entire parade of them, continuing to the present day. Every third world hothouse of potential illegal immigrants wants its piece of the pie. And the pie, lest we forget, is us.

NAFTA was hotly debated for a while, but was finally passed, in a sterling act of bipartisanship by a congress whose members promptly retired and took lucrative jobs promoting the interests of the foreigners. THEY made out just fine, while US manufacturers moved to the banana republics (some just a stone's throw south of the Rio Grande) and left American workers unemployed and angry. Suckers!!

The promised bonanza of high-paying service jobs that NAFTA and its successors would shower upon American workers never came. And the few good "service" jobs remaining have gone to the little boys and girls imported like sardines from the Indian subcontinent, who are welcomed in this country under the cover of the wonders of diversity schtick, as if their presence was actually somehow good for Americans.

As for our genial neighbors to the south, what they import is crime, cultural degradation, and lust for the panoply of American subsidies for non-achievement. Catholic bishops love that sort of thing, and beg for more of it.

All in all, it is the biggest swindle in American history. Bernie Madoff is a piker by comparison. And it was accomplished by Republicans and Democrats moved by the wondrous spirit of bipartisan achievement, that spirit which most Americans should know by the declarative, "the fix is in."

The Chinese curse should be amended to "may you live in times of bipartisan harmony."

Pat Buchanan was one of the few politicians with the guts to call NAFTA a swindle. For doing so he was ostracized by Republicans and "conservatives," and suddenly branded a racist by people who used to be his friends. The Bush mafia was a key player in this character assassination. They and their hired stooges constitute the Republican establishment, and it is gratifying to see their chump presidential surrogate candidates, bought and propped up with millions from the Bush network of country club hackers, humiliated in poll after poll.

Donald Trump is picking up on many of Buchanan's issues, and unlike Buchanan, cannot be crushed under the Bush heel. He has billions of his own. Erratic as he may prove to be, he is currently pushing all the right buttons. He and Ted Cruz are all that remain for members of the silent, presecuted, ridiculed and impoverished majority. All democrats and almost all republicans are clearly and correctly identified as The Enemy.

And so are the current pope and his network of ecclesial hand puppets.

Chuck Martelowski said...

"But underneath these concerns lies a metaphysical disquiet...."

I suppose word bladders like Reno have to peddle stuff like this. As with word bladders of USCCB affiliation, doing so enhances the delusion of their relevance.

Mark Citadel said...

I don't usually agree with First Things, but this observation was remarkably apt. Trump is filling a bigger void than just the one left by spineless politicians.

William C. said...

"... word bladders like Reno ..."

Such mincing charm! Surpassed only by the insights of observation. No wonder I find my heart strangely warmed. Though the delicacy of expression may be a trifle off-putting to more bracingly masculine tastes.

Chuck Martelowski said...

It is only natural that American Catholic clergymen, especially the bishops and cardinals, should cherish the culture of support for non-achievement as they do. When it comes to non-achievement, what class has achieved less and come to matter less than Catholic bishops? They and illegal immigrants share a natural affinity: one seeks justification for breaking the law, while the other spins florid excuses for such lawlessness in return for the comfort of thinking that “at last, someone finds me relevant!”