I really wasn’t sure if I would write for my blog anymore but, on the eve of what will likely be a truly terrifying Donald Trump presidency, I was inspired to post a few words.
I’ve long predicted that the natural outcome of our so-called democracy was an eventual decline into tyranny. Now that a megalomaniacal billionaire has risen to power, it seems that the circle is now complete. Not only has Trump risen to power, the Republican party has asserted near total dominance over American politics. The fact that the party that has been largely responsible for the conditions that bred Trump has assumed total control of the politics of this country is a stark lesson:
Right or wrong, it is the ones who are most committed to an outcome who will prevail.
As time went on, Democrats slowly bought into the same Capitalist system that had become religion to Republicans and thought they could continue to provide meaningful differentiation around social issues. But, as the hallmarks of their philosophy, such as science and macroeconomics, began to systemically fail, trust in the Democratic agenda eroded. People have a natural bias against reason anyway and the systemic failure of what was presented as reason only gave people an excuse to give in to their fears. The ideological purity of Republicans has prevailed. They never relied on reason but on the emotions and fears of their constituency.
Sadly, it was my experience on Twitter that let me know that we as a culture had crossed the Rubicon. When I wrote The Currency Paradox, I expected significant feedback from those with the knowledge and expertise to challenge it fundamentally. I honestly did not think the concepts I presented would survive scrutiny but I thought that the dialogue would be cathartic. It has been obvious to anyone who is watching that Capitalism is fraying around the edges and I thought that The Currency Paradox would spur some much needed debate about what should come next. I took to Twitter, the most open of forums, to present my ideas to challenge, thinking that no crucible could be better.
I was wrong. Spectacularly so.
I attempted to engage both technologists and economists. Most wouldn’t even read the essay, which is shorter than some long blog posts. The few who read it discounted it immediately, mostly without criticism or constructive feedback. A handful could only challenge it on an ideological level, their arguments crumbling feebly with simple logical counterarguments.
What I learned was that Twitter was not so much an open forum or a soapbox but a podium; it had become a place for the intellectual and cultural elites to dictate to those looking for the comfort of their ideas. Twitter became a place where validation from those many people consider their intellectual and cultural superiors became far more important than discourse. Elites of all stripes turned Twitter into the equivalent of a giant high school, where approval from the popular kids became far more important than exposing oneself to new, challenging ideas.
For all the talk of the abuse of others on Twitter, what I learned is that Twitter failed more fundamentally, in the core of what should have been its ultimate purpose: the dissemination and scrutiny of new ideas. I couldn’t “break” a new idea on Twitter. I couldn’t engage. So I left the platform.
In a real sense, Twitter is rigged. I watched as technologies and algorithms were changed to systematically decrease my reach and influence. I was walled off into my own corner by those who perceived themselves my betters. Neither the accuracy of my observations nor resilience of my concepts mattered, I simply was not one of the popular kids. No amount of truth could change that.
So I find myself on the eve of the presidency of a fascist. It doesn’t surprise me how we got here. We got here because we stopped believing in truth and started believing in systems. Twitter is one such system. We don’t care if the systems are rigged or broken. But no one else seems to understand that the act of rigging a system invalidates it. A broken thing will eventually collapse.
The advantage of a fanatic or demagogue is their ideological purity. They exist in a world in which their beliefs are truth and therefore unassailable. What they do not understand is that there is indeed objective truth, optimal forms of reason and existence that will eventually undermine and destroy any belief that doesn’t adhere to them.
We are likely on the cusp of the failure of the experiment called the United States of America. It is a system that was built on hypocrisy and the blood and exploitation of innocents. It’s religion is Capitalism. Much like Twitter, it has been a comforting notion. And, like Twitter, it has failed to fulfill its promise for the majority of people. Re-read my description of my Twitter experience. You may notice how well it parallels the experience of many in this country.
In the end, truth will have its day. Trump too shall pass. But it’s likely to be a difficult and painful journey and we may not like what we find along the way.