I was originally thinking of posting some initial thoughts on the book by Partha Chatterjee I’ve been reading since last week, The Politics of the Governed. But I had forgotten that it was going to be debate night.
Because my girlfriend doesn’t want to be stressed out by listening to Donald Trump scream for 90 minutes, I’m not watching it live. Frankly, I think she makes some very solid points. I don’t need this kind of sustained intensity of shit in my life.
So I’m just following the highlights through a couple of live blogs from The Guardian and The National Post. You know, for all their reputations of being unabashedly left and right wing, respectively, they end up making fairly similar points.
But I’m not about to launch into a detailed analysis of the debate. I feel like so many other people have already said so much about this election and the resurgence of blatant white nationalism in Western society. They’ve said it better than I ever could.
So here are some short reflections on my having lived through one of the most transformative years of politics and society of my life so far. Almost tweet-worthy. Aphorisms for the cacophony of the internet.
1. I’m not the only one to have felt like David Bowie’s death was an omen of the sudden collapse we’re seeing this year. An icon of joy in your own multiplicity dies terribly after a long, wasting illness that was kept secret from the public. Hope and imagination rotted from the inside.
2. My colleague Phil Sandifer is preparing his Theses on Trump for the expanded edition of Neoreaction: A Basilisk. This year could just as easily provoke Theses on Putin from some Russian writer – if Putin had not already intimidated him into silence and murdered him.
3. The form of the nation-state itself is sick. Trump and Brexit – both of which I’ve written about before – are only two signs of the collapse. If you understand history, you know that the nation-state was the incubator of all our modern forms of democracy. But if you understand our current moment, you see that it’s become an obstacle to democracy.
4. The story of the 21st century will be written by migrants and refugees. Huge waves of economic migrants in search of work and prosperity, as well as refugees fleeing wars, government oppression, ecological disasters, or most often all three at once. How the relatively safe regions of the world treat these migrants will speak to our solidarity and ethical resilience in the face of great tests. So far, we’re largely failing.
5. Hope is deceitful. Many people who supported Bernie Sanders for President in the United States have turned to Gary Johnson, from a social democrat and communitarian to a radical libertarian who’d turn the populace into chattel for the richest of the rich. The ones who marched for hope did so alongside people who only wanted to tear the country down.
6. Progressive protestors and activists have spent the last few years since Occupy Wall Street clamouring for the heads of financiers. But that’s the battle of the recent past, looking to punish people who committed terrible economic crimes and swindles. If we really want to stop massive crimes against ordinary people before they’re committed, we must turn on Silicon Valley.
7. The ghosts of the past, even from generations ago, will not die. The white communities of the United States still live largely with no consciousness of the twisted legacy of slavery. Dictators kill thousands to maintain their thrones. Former spies lead petty empires.
8. Voting has little to do with ideals. You throw volunteers and activists at an impassive and rigid electoral system and you get a choice between Clinton and Trump. She, at least, can be lobbied and pressured. He will criminalize dissent – even against racism and basic injustice.
9. Donald Trump would build the greatest kleptocracy the world has ever seen. He would suck America dry of wealth.
10. The poor, the desperate are humanity’s great hope. They travel across the globe in the hope of a better future – such audacity embodies hope. I am not poor and desperate – I’m just a hustling millennial Westerner. But I can still hope.