I. Introduction: The Age of Trump
By now, it’s self-evident to everyone that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US Presidential election to Donald Trump because:
(1) Clinton’s campaign arrogantly failed to address the concerns of angry, fear-driven, lower-to-middle income, non-urban, relatively under-educated, nativist white voters, whereas
(2) Trump directly played to those concerns and effectively exploited them.
The exit polls fully confirm this.
Welcome to the Age of Trump.
A classical term for angry, fear-driven, lower-to-middle income, non-urban, relatively under-educated, nativist white voters, deriving from the mid-19th century, is Know-Nothings.
So we may accurately call Trump’s supporters and voters, Trump’s Know-Nothings.
II. The Four Primal Fears of Trump’s Know-Nothings
As the exit polls and other sources show, Trump’s Know-Nothings are bound together by their sharing four primal fears.
- Fear of never getting good jobs or losing the bad jobs they already have.
- Fear of being blown up by foreign terrorists (as opposed to domestic terrorists: remember Timothy McVeigh)?
- Fear of having the 2nd Amendment repealed and their guns taken away from them.
- Fear of people with darker skins who will take away their jobs (see fear-1), blow them up (see fear-2), or shoot them before they can pull out their own contemporary equivalents of six-guns or Winchester 73s and blast the Darker People into oblivion first (see fear-3).
III. The Fate of Professional Academic Philosophers in the Age of Trump
Given the existing state of contemporary professional academic philosophy, and given the four primal fears of Trump’s Know-Nothings, in the age of Trump, professional academic philosophers will face the deadly two-sided pincer-squeeze of:
(1) increasingly oppressive demands for sharply decreasing college and university funding, for shut-downs of tenure, for course-content control, for loyalty oaths, etc., etc., from Trump’s Know- Nothings outside the Professional Academic State, driven by their four primal fears, and also
(2) increasingly oppressive demands for conformity and silencing alternative voices, from coercive moralists in professional philosophy inside the Professional Academic State, driven by an unthinking fear and hatred of Trump’s Know-Nothings and by an increasingly intense bunker-mentality.
The Age of Trump will NOT be a good time for the Professional Academic State.
The Age of Trump will NOT be a good time for free expression, and for daring to think and speak for yourself.
Therefore, the Age of Trump will NOT be a good time for either professional academic philosophy or real, serious philosophy.
IV. What Professional Philosophers Can Do About it
So, what is to be done in the Age of Trump?
As a professional academic philosopher, you have basically three options.
Option 1: You can try to move to Canada.
Good luck! Canada is a small country population-wise, with only 98 universities.
And you’ll soon discover that the former Americans who already have jobs there are the most rabid Canadian nationalists, and don’t want you.
Option 2: You can cave in, take your beating from both sides, and pathetically wait until retirement.
Good luck! Did I hear:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation…. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. (Thoreau, Walden)?
Or otherwise put, as Dalton Trumbo said of McCarthyism in The Time of the Toad and as Czeslaw Milosz said of Stalinism in The Captive Mind: there are only just so many live toads you can eat before you get sick to your stomach, unto death.
Option 3: You can face up to Trump’s Know-Nothings and the coercive moralists in professional philosophy alike, and meet them all head on, by resisting and rebelling against them both–a plague on both their houses!–and pursuing open philosophy and Utopia Now.
Now I strongly recommend option 3.
In rebellious response to fear-1 of the Know-Nothings, you can offer them Universal Basic Income (UBI), Universal Free Healthcare (UFH), and a Fifteen Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs).
If UBI, UFH, and FHW-for-UNBJs were jointly implemented, then no one would ever have to fear losing their jobs, and everyone would have enough money and time to be able to pursue creative, meaningful activities and do productive, useful jobs, if they chose to.
In rebellious response to fear-2 of the Know-Nothings, you can offer them Universal Open Borders (UOB).
If UOB were implemented, then everyone would soon realize that folks everywhere, with any sort of body shape and coloration, speaking any sort of language, and from any sort of ethnic background, must treat everyone one else with sufficient respect for their human dignity–because one’s next door neighbor could be anyone, from anywhere.
In rebellious response to fear-3 of the Know-Nothings, you can offer them Universal No-Guns (UNG).
If UNG were implemented, then no one would ever have to fear being coerced by guns, hence no one would ever have any need for them, other than a vestigial fetish that could gradually be cured by concentrating on their creative, meaningful activities and productive, useful jobs .
And in rebellious response to fear-4 of the Know-Nothings, you can offer them the North and Central American Utopian Zone (the U-Zone).
If the U-Zone were implemented, then UBI + UFH + FHW-for-UNBJs + UNG would be jointly implemented right here, and therefore everyone here would be living in a real-world Utopia right now.
So if all of these proposed radical reforms were actually implemented, then Trump’s Know-Nothings would have nothing to fear but fear itself.
And, correspondingly, you would have freedom from fear too, by not having to live a life of quiet desperation and toad-eating unto death in the Age of Trump, but instead you could dare to think and speak for yourself, and pursue real, serious philosophy as a full-time lifetime calling.
Why not do it?