Tag Archives: Trump

Donald Duck rants and raves

For about two years, Friday night was the night where I’d write a post for this blog. I didn’t care too much about the quality at the time, – a little of course – what mattered was the process. Building. Moving forward. Adding words to my repertoire. In time, writers realise that it works in a similar way as fossilisation. You add layer upon layer, and somewhere in the depths, let’s call it subconscious, a pressure starts growing. A forgotten shape, a feeling, does not decompose down there. It gets solid. And one day some part of us will have the courage to break through it all, knowing that there is something waiting. Something demonstrable. Perhaps that wasn’t exactly how I saw it at the time, but I do now. Time gradually moved me forward.

What better moment to honour this freedom I apparently experienced, than on a Friday night? I’m listening to Stromae on KEXP at the same time. And what better subject to add to this meaningless pile of information than our dear friend and buddy, President Donald Trump? May I start this with the question: ‘for how long will people keep reciting the list of American presidents?’ And, you know what? Let me end it there as well. Or, instead, at a recommendation to listen to the New York Times’ Daily of today. If you’re into the media discussion, that is. They’re far better at wording all that than I am. And I’ll spare you Larsen C as well.

Which leaves me in a void. A similar freedom I used to envision myself to have. A blank canvas. The unthreaded snow I’ve seen recently, here in Amsterdam and in Vienna.

It’s scary in the void. It reminds me of a time when I was a kid. Several times. When I was ill, I’d see this infinite space of living links. In black and white. The worst was that I was one of them. And so was everybody else, regardless of their pretending. Their beliefs. It was terrifyingly real. So real that whatever my parents told me, I was six the first time, has never been as convincing. So real that I still believe in it.

Why is it that whenever we have the sense of being free, we are faced with our worst fears? Why do we keep carving our blank canvasses with vileness? For lack of a better word. Is the reason what they say it is? What who says? So many have spoken, so many have carved us as they have themselves. So few have been free, who taught the rules.

Someone once taught me that Friday night is no better than any other night. I don’t know if I can believe that.

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Don’t Panic

So. Here we are. The final month of 2016. John Oliver made a shitty-year-tribute to it. Do look that one up. Anyhow, this is my first post since the infamous elections. I feel obligated to write about the state of the globe, and the task has presented itself to me as daunting. Thus, here I am, digging up my old motto. It’ll have to come alive again.

A symptom, they call him. Žižek in particular. I agree. But a symptom of what? The plain and clear answer would be voters’ dissatisfaction. About the slowly tightening thumbscrews, compelling us to conform to the psychoindustry. Mindscrews. Dissatisfaction with the tiny cubicles that we are forced to create and recreate. The prison we have to work harder and harder for. If we even have that chance. Our identities. Our trust. It could have been Sanders, now it was Trump.

The ecological crisis
I’m quite sure that the history books will point out climate change as a trigger for the current instability. After all, the consistent lack of water in Syria was one of the main drivers of the local war and the consequent refugee crisis. More of such events will follow. And let’s be honest: those refugees were an important trigger for the Brexit and, for example, the Dutch ‘No’ against the trade agreement with Ukraine. Their arrival also encouraged the pro-Trumps. It was certainly part of the campaign discourse. What flabbergasts me though, is that no one is truly threatened by these people. It’s only in the minds. This never needed to become a crisis. These people could have just dissolved over the many European cities… Such a shame.

And though I don’t have data to prove it, I’m sure the repression of the ecosystem is part of the cause of the upsurge of anger worldwide. I’ll get back to that briefly.

Framing
Now, when it comes to these refugees, we should not forget that Europe has been a breeding ground for discriminatory views upon the arrival of strangers, notably those of the Islamic faith. The media have gratefully fed us with our own shitty thoughts. The vibe has been able to spread over the net and infected the US as well. The emergence of the FPÖ in Austria  came even before the 9/11 incident, when the Algerian integration in France was still considered a success. But the schism was already latent. Could we have cured it back then? It doesn’t matter now. What matters is that the constant repetition of thoughts we condemned 20 years ago has worked. Even if, gratefully, Austria has voted against the extreme right wings today, their numbers have been growing all over Europe and in the US.

Dictatorial leaders all around the EU break the rules consistently
Putin, Erdogan, Orbán and the eastern European cluster, now possibly Trump as well. All have an effective regime of controlling media and education, eradicating political opponents and encircling themselves with a fortress of trustees. They all structurally and consistently break international agreements and by that lower the standards of international collaboration.

Continuous economic instability
While the US stock exchange is at a higher point than ever, recent years have not been reassuring. The fluctuating oil prices, Chinese, Russian and Brazilian market failures and the threat of gradual EU dismemberment – if you’ll allow me the term – have demonstrated significant weaknesses in the system. House prices in several regions in the world, including in the Netherlands and the US are above the pre-crisis levels, whereas the salaries have barely raised and unemployment is far higher than in 2008. Where did that money come from? It’s a bubble again. People sense this kind of thing. They are not stupid.

The emergence of surveillance infrastructure
Oh. Something else. 20 years ago, there were no mobile phones, barely any cameras and certainly no crazy algorithms that track down people who even think about performing an illegal act. We all know how it is today. Our environment is filled with spyPhones. And while they constantly watch and listen to us, software is figuring out what our actions mean. Knowing us better than ourselves. No real threat, until we undermine someone or something that does not want to be undermined and is willing to make some sacrifices for that. Or until we are faced with malevolent hackers or AI. The progressive intrusion into our private spaces is something to be nervous about. This nervousness is collective and it’s global. Even if we choose for it ourselves: the choice is no real choice. It’s seduction. There’s an uncanny voice in the back of our heads.

Our heroes are falling
The fact that there are wealthy elites in this world is rooted in abuse. We know that now. Slavery of the poor. Economic disadvantaging. Land grabbing. All keep happening day in, day out. People are not entitled to their own little spot on earth, no, they are persecuted. And the role models, whom we thought had deserved more than ourselves are dropping like flies. Clinton was just one of them. Lance Armstrong, Bill Cosby, the Church, Sinterklaas, Neelie Kroes. The list is infinite and growing. Wikileaks, the Panama Papers, Edward Snowden. Revelation upon revelation fuels the anger. And to quote Michael Caine in The Dark Knight: ‘In their desperation, they turned to a man they do not fully understand.‘ A clown.

Now what?
I’ll tell this story more elaborately one day, but I once met a guy in a valley in Istria, Croatia, who told me his third eye was very developed. Don’t ask. He heard voices sometimes. Once, a voice told him: ‘if the clown becomes the president of the US, this man will start the third world war’. This was eleven years ago. He was convinced the voice spoke about Rudy Giuliani. When it comes to being a clown, however, I don’t think that guy competes with Donald Trump. And if I look at the circumstances, it wouldn’t surprise me if the voice in this man’s head, who had excellent local wine by the way, knew what it was talking about.

But even if we’re at the dawn of a new global conflict, and don’t get me wrong here, I believe there’s still a huge chance that people will prove wiser than that, I believe we can learn from our ancient spirit father Douglas Adams. When the world gets eradicated because of an interstellar bypass, it’s a great idea hold your thumb up and hope for an extraterrestrial race to pick you up and swipe you towards your next adventure. Don’t panic. Those two words were his.

No, but seriously. I used to wear Adams’ quote on my black Eastpack at school. Painted in Tipp-Ex. The soundbite feels like a dear old pet. And I still think that’s the way to go. Not by ignoring the problems: we should keep looking the beast in the eyes. Because even in the face of war, it’s ungrounded fear, being swept away, that will lead us to make wrong decisions. If anything, being afraid of war will cause us to move straight towards it. Bouncing back will invite it to bite us in the face. Like a driver who fixates on a tree ahead. He’ll hit it. And we shouldn’t. Nobody wants that. More than ever, we all have to speak out against the injustice in our surroundings, aware that us westerners were born into being part of the evil. Fight to bring justice back. And I don’t mean lawful justice. I mean soulful justice. Cos when the shit hits the fan, there’s no need to give yourself to quick-tempered choices. Even then we can stay cool.

 

The globalist and the populist

‘You’re breaking society apart with your conformation to the big powers’ said the populist to the globalist.
‘It’s you who’s causing the problems.’ answered the globalist. ‘by turning your back to the emerging global organs of power, you not only weaken yourself, but also others. The market is growing beyond your control and we need to confront it as a single, global unity.’
‘You’re the one who’s opening the market up’ said the populist. ‘You’re giving it space thrive and by that, increase its catastrophic impacts on the environment and society. Do you call that confronting? You’re only making it worse!’
‘For one thing, we need international collaboration to protect the environment. The problems have grown to a global scale.’
‘But that collaboration fails! Have you seen how oil companies act, now that all international trade agreements have basically given them carte blanche to drill and frack wherever they can point their pin on the map? Just the local resistance groups have been effective against that at times. International trade lets it happen.
‘Local groups can stop things temporarily, but they cannot make a judgement call on what is important and what is not. After all, it’s the people who want the oil, it’s the people who buy it. Do not be hypocrite here, you’re the ones who beg for it. The markets cannot drive on solar energy yet, it simply isn’t effective enough. Besides, there are more dilemmas we have to face together. Together we can combat climate change, together we should stabilize the war zones and together we can feed the world’
‘The arrogance… Can you not see it? You’re flying far too high. To think that you can solve these problems with a global order while you’re truly just kissing the feet of the same people who are wielding the scepter and making it worse. It’s the power you’re after! Not saving the people or the animals and the plants. Once you have your position, there is no change’
‘You see, that’s where you’re wrong. I mean, yes, indeed, there has been little change in the sense of the reform we need. But neither has there been a truly global power to establish that reform. We’re divided by people such as yourself. We are trying to build something bigger, something better, yet you undermine out plans time and time again.’
‘Us? Isn’t it clear how much you are messing up? You’re destroying countries with Machiavellian power games’
‘Not true. We’re building an alliance that is capable of dealing with the problems of the future. Sure, there have been victims, but they are few if you look at what we are trying to attain. You, on the other hand, would be ready to see society crumble, leaving us all incapacitated. You’re fuelling a false sense of autonomy, a false feeling of power and democracy. You’re thriving on a rush of popularity, a sense of individuality and the adventure of short-term success. What you want reminds me of films such as Fight Club and V for Vendetta, or Mr. Robot. But those films always end when the power falls. What comes afterwards? They are false flags of freedom. Freedom is what you receive if you’re safe and nourished. That’s what the big authorities are for.’
‘Those films are popular because the global powers have become our main threat. You’re not the protector, but the aggressor. We’d be perfectly fine if it wasn’t for your threatening policies. Do you think it’s the people who created nuclear weaponry? Do you think it’s us who are bringing down the banks? Do you think we are causing the ecological crises? We are pawns in your game, and we no longer want that.’
‘Well, if we failed to have properly regulated the markets so far, then that’s one thing. But as I said, you are the market! No one would pump the oil from anywhere if you didn’t buy it. The banks would not have fallen if it wasn’t for the people’s desire to earn money on houses. Nuclear arms wouldn’t exist if there was no nationalism to fuel it. It’s the small people with their tiny ideologies, not globalization and cooperation’
‘Globalization is not cooperation’
‘It can be’
‘But it isn’t! It’s dominion of a small group of people over a large one.’
‘Well, it’s not possible to create a single global organization for 7 billion people at once, right? Globalization is young.’
‘There we have that arrogance again! No, of course it is not possible to create such an organization, and it’s not desirable either! What happened to diversity? You are making us into a mass of people who are all the same, all slaves, numbed by the satisfaction of their desires. Let the locals sort things out! Sure, we can work together when necessary, but our collaboration should be the result of negotiations, not on orders of some global power.’
‘And what if those orders would be based on justice and security? How are the small states going to negotiate with the big ones if they don’t have protection from above? Will they not be swallowed by their bigger neighbours?’
‘Again, it’s the markets that swallow us, the greed that society propagates, not our neighbouring countries.’
‘A globalized society gives the chance to protect the weak from that greed. We can protect regions from catastrophes, fight undernourishment of children, give healthcare to those who need it, but only if the thriving regions support that type of justice. On the long run this will not be possible purely with nation states. They would increase their battles for the resources, people would keep suffering worldwide. Survival of the fittest nation, every one for itself. Be honest, just reign by the people does not exist. They would come up for their own individual benefit. Look at how they go as customers.’
‘Indigenous peoples are a perfect example of how such a world would be possible. They have lived for eternity without damaging the environment. Indeed, it thrived with them in it.’
‘Their numbers were far lower, they died at young age. They suffered when nature was unkind to them. Modern times have made us independent from these issues. We can now intensify agriculture to a degree that we can truly nurture a growing population.’
‘While incapacitating them. You take away their land, make them work with machines they can’t afford, using complex organizational knowledge they don’t have. You’re keeping things centralized and by that ignore all those who live outside of your reach. Those who do not adhere to your demands.’
‘Yes, but is that wrong? The centralized approach is by far the most effective way of producing anything. People living in cities use less energy, footprints are far lower if agriculture is concentrated and far less land is needed that way.’
‘But it doesn’t have to be that way if rural people are self-sufficient. If they get organized locally. We can go a long way with permaculture.’
‘They’d still want computers and internet. They’d still need schools and hospitals. They’d still want the newest Iphone and the best cosmetics. They simply have become dependent by their own choice. They’ve traded autonomy for luxury, and they do not want to trade it back. Your ideals sound great, but they require sacrifices people don’t want to make’.
‘No, they’re not. They’re based on genuine disagreement with the globalist road towards more inequality. Rejecting that doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting all trade, or merchandise from neighbouring countries. It does mean stepping back from certain all luxury. Some, maybe, but there are plenty of people who do that. Just look at the movement of vegetarians and vegans.’
‘And yet a lot more people don’t step back. To cover that, a more solid and efficient trade structure over the globe could highly decrease their impacts.’
‘The rich will get richer and the powerful more powerful’
‘We create benefit for everyone. It is in your own interest to join such trade. It supports the wealth of everyone.’
‘On the short term, maybe, but not on the long one’
‘We’ll generate more money!’
‘And take a bigger proportion of it, while it loses value.’
‘And yet your comfort has been rising. Remember how it used to be? People lived in the mud. No hot water, no electricity, no hospitals. People would kill each other! If you wanted protection, you’d have to give a proportion of your food away. No-one checked on the lords. International cooperation has improved all of that. Living standards are higher than ever, and governments check on each other. There’s peace now.’
‘That’s true, but it doesn’t mean we should keep going this way. Further protection does not add to our freedom; it undermines it. Just look at the national security agencies who are taking more and more of our privacy away. The global which-hunt on whistleblowers. The feudal powers have just moved up some levels and are gathering momentum to control us in a whole new way. ‘
‘Using justice for everyone, what is wrong with that? Isn’t it more sensible to create a global democracy, instead of many little local ones? The way it is now, the people in the powerful countries vote about the destiny of the people in the weaker countries. Powerful leaders look after the benefits of their own countries, not those of the global people as a whole. Wouldn’t it make far more sense to elect a single global leader?’
‘No. Power corrupts, and you know it. The more you centralize it, the bigger the risk that it goes in the wrong direction.’
‘Not under proper regulation that avoids abuse.  On the contrary, in that case. Then the different groups balance out each others power. That’s how we can create a stable, just global society.’
‘No it’s not’ said the populist
‘Yes it is’ said the globalist
‘No it’s not’ said the populist
‘Yes it is’ said the globalist
‘No it’s not’