The Right struggles to understand Trump and populism

Summary: With victory at the GOP convention appearing more certain every day, the Right struggles to understand the resurgence of populism, so long suppressed. Here are two essays showing how they’re doing so far — by a neocon and conservative. Both remind us that populism is a political movement distinct from conservatism, and need not ally with it (the populist-progressive alliance created the New Deal). Tomorrow’s post looks at similar analysis from the Left. The new coalitions now forming will shape US politics for a generation.

“Equal Rights for All, Special Privileges for None.”
— 1828 Slogan of Andrew Jackson’s populists. Still revolutionary. Works even better today, after slavery.



  1. Typical establishment denunciations of Trump: he is a “monster”.
  2. The GOP must reinvent itself to survive the populist revolt.
  3. Conclusions.
  4. Other posts about Trump & the new populism.
  5. For More Information.

(1) Typical establishment denunciations of Trump as “monster”

Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster.
Now he’s strong enough to destroy the party.

By Robert Kagan (Brookings Inst), WaPo op-ed, 25 Feb 2016.

This sad op-ed shows that people in these establishment’s institutions still believe they are taste-setters and opinion-makers for the US public, and that many listen to their discredited voices. Here Kagan sings a largely content-free song to encourage people to follow their betters. Kagan gives vivid imagery and exaggerations rather than discussion of Trump’s actual policies (lest people realize how popular many of them are).

Kagan describes himself as a “liberal interventionist“; he’s one of the architects of our disastrous “interventions” since 9/11. Of course he opposes populists and their skepticism of overseas military adventures. Does his support gain more votes for Trump on the Right than the votes it loses for Hillary on the Left?

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The neocons captured the Star Trek universe, as they’ve captured America

Summary:  This post looks at the evolution of the Star Trek “universe” from 1964 through today, using it as a mirror to help us see how we’ve changed. It gives us a clear picture, but one we might not want to see. This is the second in this series about the militarization of American society; see the conclusion tomorrow.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

GARTH: “You, Captain, are second only to me as the finest military commander in the galaxy.”
KIRK: “That’s very flattering. I am primarily an explorer now, Captain Garth.”

— From “Whom the Gods Destroy”, first aired January 1969. It was a different America.

Spock: vulcan peace sign


  1. Evolution of the Star Trek universe.
  2. The evolution of Star Trek is America’s.
  3. Other posts in this series.
  4. For More Information.


(1) Evolution of the Star Trek universe

One often-mentioned aspect of the great Star Trek saga, first conceived in 1964 and still running, is that it provides a mirror showing the evolution of American society. The longest trend is its gradual militarization. Roddenberry pitched it as a “Wagon Train” to the stars, explorers moving though a new universe of wonders. The Enterprise met new peoples, sometimes hostile, sometimes friends, sometimes incomprehensible.

Mostly episodes in the original Trek featured exploration, commerce, and diplomacy. These took place during a cold war with the Klingons and Romulans, with some conflicts and even battles (echoing the geopolitics of the 1960s). There were shows about frontier clashes (“Balance of Terror”, “Arena”, ), proxy wars (“A Private Little War”), cold war gamesmanship (“The Enterprise Incident”, “Journey to Babel”), fighting off invaders (“By Any Other Name”), and an outbreak of total war (“Errand of Mercy”).

But these were more than offset by the explicitly anti-war tone of the series (“The Doomsday Machine”, “Day of the Dove”, “Spectre of the Gun”, “The Corbomite Maneuver”, “A Taste of Armageddon”, and the twist endings to “Errand of Mercy” and “Arena”).

The series slowly grew darker, generation by generation, as the Star Trek universe shifted from Roddenberry’s original vision to that of today’s neocons. Deep Space 9 was a war story. Voyager journeyed though a realm of high tech races that resembled the Balkans. I consider this among the darkest of scenarios, where sentient species develop god-like powers without intellectual, moral, or spiritual growth.

The last series, “Enterprise” wars are ever-present: between Andorians and Vulcans, an invasion by the Sphere Builders (in which millions on Earth were killed, and the planet itself escaped destruction by seconds), and a temporal cold war (which briefly turned hot and almost destroyed our time line).

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A different perspective on the US and China, seen by an Frenchman living in Russia

One way to compensate for America’s broken connection to reality — our defective observation-orientation-decision-action loop (OODA loop) is to seek our different perspectives.  In that light I recommend reading this excerpt from “The Wheels of Heaven Stop“, Eric Kraus, Truth and Beauty, 12 March 2009.  For more information about these things see the links at the end.  {Correction:  the title originally described Kraus as an America; he is French}

The Twilight of The Neocons — Rush, we hardly knew ya…

The backlash against the Neocon power-grab is just beginning. The “Reagan revolution” is bankrupt. The United States is a democracy – and democracies do well to create at least the illusion of an equitable distribution of wealth. US government statistics show that earnings of the middle-classes actually regressed over the past “decade of prosperity” – whilst the richest segment of society indeed prospered as never before. As policy goes, this was both short-sighted and foolish. No matter how uneducated, manipulated or obtuse it may be, the populace will eventually realize what is being done to it and – when it has the means to rebel – will do so.

For the record, the failure was not of Capitalism, but with its abuse. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the advanced, industrialized countries have been moving towards some form of moderate Social Democracy, intended to combine the incentives of free market capitalism with some measure of social equity. Sharp deviations in either direction tend eventually to result in compensatory swings back in the other.

If T&B may venture a wild guess, it is that, by the beginning of Mr. Obama’s second term – i.e. well into Great Depression II, the body politic will be ready for some fairly radical policy measures. There is historic precedent – Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Flat Earth gets Rounder

The decline of the Post-War global political structure – which was based upon the overwhelming preponderance of the sole major power to exit the Second War not devastated but relatively strengthened – began not with a defeat but with a victory: the collapse of the Soviet Union. What was not clearly apprehended at the time was that history has no patience with monopolar political systems, and thus, that the collapse of the Communist Bloc signified the atomization of the erstwhile bi-polar world into a constellation of partially antagonistic powers and regions.

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Forecasts for the American Expedition to Iraq – the Sequel

Also, Introducing the New Kingmaker in American Politics!

What comes next in Iraq? Here are some straight-line extrapolations.  Let’s move beyond the obvious good bets: collapse of the current government structure in Iraq, civil war, and continued slow erosion of US popular support. All these were discussed at length in my November 30 Forecasts.

What’s new, forecast-wise?

I.  The descent of Iraq into civil war

This will crash American public support for the Iraq War. In this respect, the bombing of the al-Askariya shrine was the TET offensive of the Iraq War.

No more slow erosion, but instead the development of a consensus that our troops should come home now. There is no longer any point to the War, and our troops no longer have a role – unless we wish to incur high casualties putting them on the streets as peacemakers. Not likely. Note that after bombing of the al-Askariya shrine, we pulled our troops back to their forts so that the Iraq people could riot and kill without our meddling.

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