Saturday, February 25, 2017

Robert W. Perry on the Phenomenon of Trump

President Trump

Robert W. Perry, writing for the the American Conservative, offers a mostly positive assessment of our new president in "The Meaning of Trump" (February 21, 2017; hat tip to Bill Vallicella), but Perry also recognizes some of Trump's limitations in the face of "a governing challenge that he may or may not be capable of meeting," for he "manifests some traits of personality and temperament that could impede his chances for success":
One is . . . [Trump's] tendency to advocate often contradictory policies that seem to reflect a disjointed and incoherent worldview . . . .

Second, Trump seems to lack a facility for getting below the surface of things . . . .

And, third, . . . Trump [does not clearly] possess . . . the political temperament to deal effectively with the kind of politics that inevitably emerge when the country struggles to move from an established era to a new and often frightening new day.
These echo three concerns that I've had about Trump - his contradictions, his superficiality, and his intemperate character. Perhaps he can overcome these three. The need for a coherent policy can force him to iron out his contradictions; learning on the job can deepen his understanding beyond the superficial; and controlling his tendency toward intemperate remarks can result from the experience that such remarks are counterproductive for a president.

The stakes are high. Consider, for example, free speech.

The hard left threatens extreme violence against free speech and calls this "antifascism" (with the aim of a multicultural totalitarianism). Islamism threatens extreme violence against free speech and calls this "jihad" (with the aim of a totalitarian sharia-ruled global state) The ultranationalist right - if it is anything like the ethnic nationalism of the twentieth century - will threaten extreme violence against free speech and call this "the will of the folk" (with the aim of an ever-expanding ethnically pure totalitarian nation). As for the EU, it threatens lawsuits against free speech and calls this "rule of law" (with the aim of a totally regulated transnational multiculturalist society ruled over by a superstate, a sort of soft totalitarianism).

What's a classical liberal to do? Other than defend free speech, of course . . .



At 8:01 AM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...

What the classical liberal, which I am also, needs to do when faced with two choices, neither of which meets his own preferences precisely, is choose the lesser objectional one.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Right. And this century will see a lot of hard choices. Islam(ism) will pose the greatest threat, for reasons every one of us can see even if most of us still refrain from saying so. What's the other tine of that fork? Transhumanism? Either way, it's good-bye mankind. Maybe the machines really will take over. Or is there a way between the horns of that dilemma? Can we retain the best of classical liberalism even as we follow science into a future of thinking machines? Lots of questions . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:00 AM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...

As it happens, I am now reading "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" by Yuval Noah Harari. I think you might also like to read it.

BTW, I finished "Moonglow" by Michael Chabon. I liked it. It brought back some poignant memories for me.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I read a review of Harari's book just a few days ago. It does sound interesting.

Glad you liked Moonglow. Chabon is a great writer. I enjoyed the take-down of Von Braun, that old Nazi (and I mean that label in the old, true sense of the term).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:45 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

Science fiction is no longer "genre" writing.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Indeed. Science fiction is now realist literature.

Jeffery Hodges

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