Although the book was written seven decades ago, there is no surprise in the fact that George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four has zoomed to the top of the best seller lists following the presidential election in the United States. Replete with manipulated realities by the Ministry of Truth, it foreshadowed the new definition of “alternative facts” (an oxymoron if ever there was one!), Orwell stretched his imagination to write a dystopia rising out of the ashes of World War II and the rise of Communism.
Often, it is not the ideologies that divide people so much as the nature of the propaganda and the unashamed deployment of rhetoric completely detached from current or any other reality that poses genuine threats to the mental stability of all within earshot. Appearing on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC last night, former CBS news anchor, Dan Rather, described the current political/media ethos in America as a “twilight zone” in which we are being asked daily if not hourly to accept that 2 plus 2 is no longer 4, but rather is 5… something that we all know is simply not true.
Megalomania is defined by Merriam-Webster as a mania* for great or grandiose performance…a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur.
*Mania is defined as excitement manifested y mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behaviour and elevation of mood.
Although there are literally millions of American voters who feel their “institutions,” including their government has abandoned them, and they fear for their fiscal, and social survival, (and there is certainly some justification for their fears and their anxieties) just because their world looks bleak and hopeless is not reason to gulp a kool-aid of rhetoric that surges forth in 140-character tweets from some self-imagined Mount Olympus.
Recent books on the vulnerability of John F. Kennedy evoke the kind of contemporary political culture that tragically too often depends on some definition of “masculinity” ….usually inferentially the fear of its lack. Men quite literally, from the earliest times, have been (and with Trump’s example) paranoid of being portrayed as wimps. Girlie cars, and girlie jobs,…girlie dress (unless for satire and entertainment) …..and among straight men, homosexual men, are a kind of killer pandemic. And yet, for men to come clean about our collective and massive cover-up of our deepest fears, our most puzzling uncertainties, our need for power and control….that is the most telling feature of this unhealthy relationship of modern men to their dependence on strength, power, superiority.
And, using Trump as the latest manifestation of aborted masculinity, it seems that there is a large number of both men and women who long for a “real man” in leadership, without pausing to contemplate its implications.
The fact that the Atomic Clock was advanced by 30 seconds today, from 3 minutes to midnight to 2½ minutes results from the pugilistic, ballistic, and media-dominating most toxic test tube of testosterone to have strode (Trump moves only through striding like a colossus, as if to incarnate the image of hard power) onto the world stage since the middle of the twentieth century.
Let’s not be seduced any longer!
This machismo and this bravado comprise the Mask, the Persona (in Jungian terms) to cover a dangerous and fundamental neurosis. While the man himself may believe it is his “identity” (and that in itself is reason for deep anxiety), there is no reason to conclude that Trump’s bloviating is anything more than a “show”. It is nothing but a show, a public display of all of the worst traits of the “Ugly American” about whom books were written in the mid-twentieth century.
Megalomania is, in a word, unsustainable because it is false. While every word from the mouth of Trump is beavered over by the media trying to dissect its relative “truth” Trump continues to dominate the news cycle, as if there were no other news by “Trump-News”. He is not only a reality television creation ( an entertainment based on a business model that finds the cheapest way to generate ratings, and to sustain them, without providing real content.
However, ratings must be segregated from “elections”….and the business model of racing to the bottom in costs, wages, protections for workers, protections for the environment and even to the bottom of the barrel in shifting production and jobs to third world countries where both the workers and the environment literally have no legal or cultural support and protection must not be allowed to become the model used to sustain democracy.
Ratings are being purchased, through manipulation, propaganda, message generation and deviance from proven valid information. Trump may have mastered the business model in its most “base” incarnation; he has not and will not ever comprehend or provide leadership for his own country based on its honoured tradition of integrous institutions of government. The two facts that have provided much of the impetus and the soil for the rise of this hominid of vacuity are the blatant purchase of the election campaigns by the rich and the personal ambition to become wealthy that seems to be an intimate component of the political DNA of a preponderance of Washington politicians.
The acquisition of wealth, just as research demonstrates the ability to pass academic tests, provides proof only in its own silo. Neither passing tests and exams nor acquiring wealth assure competence or the promise of success in any other field of human endeavour. And the acquisition of wealth is not and will never be a national purpose or a national goal worthy of the name. The facts that two Canadians own as much of the nation’s wealth as 30% of the people of Canada, and that eight billionaires own half the world’s wealth are not jewels in the human crown of achievement of the last century.
They are just the opposite.
We are growing, nurturing, fostering and aiding and abetting our own demise, both in our flagrant disregard of the doom forecast by serious scientists on the ecosystem on which we depend for our physical survival and in our flagrant contempt (through our public figures) for both the public interest and the mechanisms, traditions and protocols that have been generated over time and from serious political and often violent debate for its enhancement.
Caring solely and exclusively for himself and his personal reputation, and using the language of “making America great again” to cover his raw narcissism is one of the most successful con jobs to have overtaken the ballot box in modern history. And the sooner we adopt the position of the president of Mexico to cancel all appointments with the occupant of the Oval Office, to cancel all media coverage, to refuse to interview this charlatan, to simply exercise the editorial and ethical responsibility of going silent on his Cecil B. de Mille epic, yet hollow, productions.
The Canadian Centre for Policy today released a report on the serious threats facing the Canadian news media, following the dismissal of hundreds of reporters at the very time when a strong, aggressive and courageous cadre of reporters and editors have never been more needed to protect the public interest in the face of the tidal wave of “alternative facts”.
Have we so abandoned our capacity for critical reading and reflecting that comprise the various literacies (print, media, digital) that we no longer value the opportunity to deploy our critical faculties in our own defence?
Are we so full of our own capacity to withstand even previously unimaginable threats (like a new nuclear arms race, the return of waterboarding, the listing and deporting of people we don’t like, the barring entry to authentic and desperate refugees fleeing for their lives from despotic murderers, trade wars, and the triumph of misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the death of science all in the name of some hollow sounding faith in the only one who can “FIX” everything for us?
Wake up America!
Wake up Justin Trudeau and stop planning our government in response to this monster!
Wake up all the editors in all the major networks to your responsibilities to the public, not merely to your investors! Forget covering the "policy" options, and bring your investigations to the dangers implicit in the moment!
Wake up teachers, and activists, environmentalists, and incipient politicians to both the potential for real leadership and the dangers of its faux dominance!