EXCLUSIVE!!! A sneak peek at Melania Trump’s 2018 Calendar

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For the last few months I have, I know not why, been receiving emails direct from Donald J. Trump, all begging for two things: praise and money. In addition to flattering comments on his racism, his outright corruption and the success of his rapid weight loss regime, he’s also very keen to recieve campaign dollars so he can carry on his important life’s work in support of pedophilia, climate breakdown and global war. Although that might sound a little cynical, I should add that he is careful to address me as ‘Friend’, which would make it all okay except for the slightly disturbing fact that every single one of his actual friends has at some point been investigated for sexual assault.

Slightly put out to be the recipient of such missives and disappointed never to have gotten a reaction to my admittedly less-than-friendly responses (sample reply: ‘Fuck off, you fat racist piece of fucking shit’), I marked the sender as ‘spam’. More recently, however, a new email arrived, this time from Melania Trump. It offered me, as a ‘valued supporter’, a very special something: an exclusive peek at her 2018 calendar. I’m not suggesting that you rush to Amazon and order an advance copy; after all, since I myself looked at it two days ago my eyes have felt kind of itchy, any sense of optimism I was feeling about the new year has dwindled and I’ve been suffering from a deep-seated and persistent feeling of nausea. For that reason, and also because of the copyright issues involved, I’m not going to share the actual photos with you, but I would like to give you a flavour – not a pleasant one, admittedly, more medicinal if anything – of what the calendar contains.

Cover: Melania Trump sits looking out of the White House window wearing a white ballgown and an expression on her face suggesting that she’s thinking of jumping through said window. In the background her husband Donald Trump can be seen shouting angrily at the television. The words ‘Melania Trump 2018 Calendar’ are written in cursive script, but the word ‘calendar’ is misspelt.

January: Melania Trump sits looking out of the White House window wearing a red ballgown and an expression on her face suggesting that she’s thinking of jumping through said window. In the background her husband Donald Trump can be seen shouting angrily at his Samsung Galaxy S3.

February: A winter landscape. Melania Trump strolls a tree-lined avenue accompanied by members of her immediate family. Her lip is curled up in a disdainful manner and she is holding the hand of her son Barron, who appears to have been crying. Her husband Donald is looking at his Samsung Galaxy S3 with an expression of considerable anger. Security guards follow at a safe distance.

March: Surrounded by cherry blossom trees, Melania Trump sits naked astride a horse.

April: Surrounded by silk sheets and rose petals, Melania Trump sits naked astride a security guard. On the bedside cabinet a Tiffany’s security pass is partly obscuring what appears to be a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’.

May: Melania Trump looks on disdainfully while her husband makes a speech. Her husband is mocking a military veteran with facial disfigurement suffered at the service of his country. Every single person in the room is wearing an expression of extreme discomfort.

June: Melania Trump is pictured in a formal pose with her family in their home in Slovakia. The photo is rendered in sepia tones. The oldest man in the photograph is wearing a military uniform with a number of medals on it, including at least one eagle symbol. The walls of the room are bare except for a framed photograph of Jozef Tiso. No one in the photograph is smiling.

July: A beach scene, in which Melania Trump is lying on a sunlounger in a bikini. She has a contemptuous expression and a pair of mirror sunglasses, and is surrounded by security guards. Her husband is several metres away, seemingly shouting into his iphone. Also present is their son Barron, who appears to have been crying.

August: Melania Trump stands next to her husband, President Donald Trump, and their Chinese counterparts. They are standing on a red carpet and Donald Trump is holding up a cheap bookmark he has been given by the Chinese President as a mark of their two countries’ friendship. He is beaming with pride. Melania Trump is wearing a disgusted expression on her face.

September: Melania Trump enjoys afternoon tea with a select group of her closest friends, consisting of the wives of Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. Roy Moore’s wife has a spiteful expression on her face and appears to be telling an anecdote. No one in the photograph is smiling.

October: Melania Trump descends from Air Force One. She is preceded by her husband, Donald Trump. Neither of them is smiling. Through the plane window you can just make out the face of their son, Barron Trump. He appears to have been crying.

November: Melania Trump sits next to her husband Donald Trump at what appears to be a formal banquet. Donald Trump has his eyes closed and looks like he is in the act of relieving himself. Melania Trump looks like she is aging ten years for every second she spends in the company of her husband.

December: A family Christmas. Barron Trump is sitting in the middle of a huge pile of presents, most of which are unopened; he appears to have been crying. Melania Trump is smiling as she admires a very expensive necklace in a gilt-edged mirror. Her husband Donald Trump is shouting at a gigantic television screen, while on the wall a large coffee stain is dripping onto the expensively-coiffured carpet, where lies the remnants of a high-end coffee pot. A few feet away, amidst the wrapping paper and already forgotten presents, there are the remains of a Samsung Galaxy S3.  The TV screen shows an image of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Hannity condemns “Trump, sorry I mean Obama” as “sick, pathetic and obsessed”

Fox News host Sean Hannity has launched an extraordinary attack on ‘President Trump, sorry I mean President Obama’, calling him ‘obviously sick, pathetic, and twisted in this obsession with President Obama, sorry I mean President Trump’.

Hannity also claims that he recieves nightly phone calls from the White House during which ‘President Trump, sorry I mean Obama’ appears to be ‘either very drunk or on some sort of drugs’. He reports that the calls, which sometimes go on for several hours, reveal ‘Trump, sorry I mean Obama’ to be a man wracked with self-doubt, desperate for approbation, and, above all, profoundly out of his depth in his new role. Hannity stated that he is ‘worried’ for the president’s state of mental and physical heath, and pleaded with him to turn instead to a competent professional.

‘President Trump, sorry I mean Obama, you must stop calling me’, he pleaded directly to camera Thursday night. ‘I know you have an enormous amount to deal with right now, what with Mueller’s investigation about to knock on your door any second and the creeping suspicion that everyone in the world is looking at you and either laughing or crying with rage, incredulous that the American people could have entrusted the machinery of world government to someone so patently corrupt, obviously temperamentally unstable and catastrophically ignorant of the most basic aspects of what political power entails. But I have a family and a very high-pressure job. I need to sleep at night, not listen to the bitter, self-pitying, incoherent ramblings of an inebriated madman’.

Hannity also explained that ‘President Trump, sorry, I mean President Obama’ has an abiding obsession, one which ‘seems to be consuming him from inside, like a particularly malevolent cancer’, with the notion that he is ‘not nearly as well-suited to the job as his predecessor, President Trump. Sorry, I mean Obama. No wait, Trump’. According to Hannity, ‘Trump’s, sorry I mean Obama’s’ entire political agenda, right from the moment he was inaugurated in January this year, from Climate Change to North Korea to the Middle East, has been determined by a pathological need to destroy and thus emulate the achievements of his widely-respected counterpart. His fixation on ‘President Obama’s, sorry I mean President Trump’s legacy’ is said to be such that he is unable to face up to basic facts about his own situation, automatically projecting every criticism that is made of him ‘directly back onto Obama. Sorry, I mean Trump’. Hannity claims that even those within ‘Obama’s, sorry Trump’s’ inner circle now instinctively copy this behavior, to the point that in any statement that emerges from the White House or is made by his supporters in the media ‘you might as well just replace the name Obama with Trump, and vice versa. That’s how insane things have become. It’s very confusing and frankly puerile’.

Asked after the show to specify which media figures are guilty of such behavior, Hannity refused to comment, saying only that he ‘hoped that Melania, I mean Michelle, can hide the president’s iphone so I can get a good night’s sleep for a change’.

Is Donald Trump on opioids?

If you google ‘Trump on opioids’ you get lots of news reports about his initiatives on the issue – he declared it a national emergency, but then did nothing else whatsoever for months, and he has now appointed Kellyanne Conway, who looks uncannily like the ‘After’ photo in an ad warning of the dangers of crystal meth addiction, his opioid czar. If you google ‘is Trump on opoids’ you find only one link, to someone casually making a daft quip on Twitter.

Without wanting to cause offence to anyone affected by the crisis, I think his inaction on the issue may be a tell. It’s also possible that his alternating bursts of euphoria and irritability, his very evident mental confusion both on and offline, his weight gain and his public slurring of words, his sniffiness and bizarre water fixation may all be somehow connected with reports that he has a quack doctor in New York who prescribes him whatever medications he needs to keep him (after a fashion) able to function. There are, after all, many things that connect Trump with Michael Jackson, from his 1980s ubiquity to the myriad rumours regarding various forms of abuse to which he’s subjected other people in his life. Trump has similarly spent pretty much his entire life immune to the consequences of his actions. Perhaps when his wife promises to give a voice to families suffering from opioid addiction, she’s unaware of the ironies involved. Maybe the thing that does for him will be whatever he’s taking to numb the pain and guilt he surely must suffer if he’s not actually, as all available seems to suggest, some sort of inhuman monster.

This is a blog, not a fake news site. I’m not pretending I have any inside information on Trump’s habits or medical proclivities – despite having read quite a few articles on the subject over the last few months, I’m still not even sure what exactly the term ‘opioids’ actually refers to*. I’m just innocently raising a question that I’m surprised not to have seen asked elsewhere.

The facts remain: opioid addiction is rife throughout the United States. In the words of Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America is ‘awash’ in the stuff. At the same time, its President is clearly deeply unstable in myriad ways. Maybe there’s more to Trump’s claim to be a man of the people than we previously suspected. 

*In an earlier version of this post I even misspelt it.

Britain First is a terrorist organisation

Although definitions of terrorism vary and often conflict, you’d be hard-pressed to find any that didn’t contain the notion of political violence combined with the threat of further political violence. Just before the Brexit referendum, a member of the British parliament, Jo Cox MP,  was shot and stabbed to death by a political activist. We know he was a political activist because he had been photographed campaigning with the group Britain First, and it was the name of that organisation that he shouted as he murdered her. In court he shouted slogans calling her a traitor.

Of course, there are no documents proving that Thomas Mair was a formal member of Britain First. In much the same way, there doesn’t seem to be such as thing as an Isis membership card. Both organisations seem to recruit principally via the Internet, where affiliations are notoriously fickle and rarely formalised. Mair’s proximity to the leadership of Britain First is much more remarkable than that of any number of European-grown Islamic terrorists is to the leading figures in Isis. No media outlet automatically absolves Abu-Bakr Al Baghdadi when one of his distant disciples ploughs a truck into pedestrians in Catalonia or shoots up a Parisean theatre. Much like both Isis and the EDL, Britain First is an online operation spilling onto the streets. Those who create its violently hateful propaganda are responsible when someone responds to their exhortations to murder ‘traitors’.

Yet somehow, in the furore about Trump’s retweeting of three fake videos posted by one of the group’s leaders, the terrorist angle hasn’t been mentioned. This is odd, given the irony that in supposedly making a statement against terrorism, Trump was promoting it. He won’t face any action by Twitter, as he is their number one star player. Given that Twitter more or less did the decent thing by removing and decredentialing other far-right hate preachers a couple of weeks ago, a concerted campaign to get Britain First removed from the platform might succeed, and would cause huge embarrassment to Trump – or, given that he seems immune to such emotions, his cause.

It’s also important to expose Nigel Farage’s links with BF. Although he has now denounced them as neofascists, Golding et al were very open in the past about their connections, even boasting in this video of attacking anti-UKIP protestors on his behalf. Anyone who was unfamiliar with Britain First but who still finds Farage’s shtick amusing also needs to be reminded that in the wake of the referendum he boasted that it had been won ‘without a shot being fired’. We don’t need to delve into his apparent family history in the National Front to see that his disassociation from the explicitly nazi movement is disingenuous at best. If Trump hadn’t come across Britain First before, it’s no thanks to Nigel Farage, who surely has Golding and Fransen among his email contacts, along with Robert Mercer and Julian Assange. In any game of Six Degrees of Separation starting from any figure in the international fascist movement, Farage’s name won’t take too long to crop up. His comment about the referendum was an implicit statement of allegiance with a terrorist organisation which murdered an elected MP in order to stop her campaigning to help people fleeing war. The name of that terrorist organisation is Britain First.

‘#GOPedos!’: Republican Party to change name, campaign on pro-pedophile platform

The news that Roy Moore’s support in the run-up to the December senatorial election has actually risen since the pedophile allegations may have shocked and horrified some. The Republican Party, on the other hand, is trying to turn the situation to their advantage not just in Alabama, but also nationally.

‘Some of us feigned the usual concern about what he was alleged to have done’, said a party spokesman Wednesday. ‘As you will have noticed, the strategy adopted by all leading Republicans was to say that if he was found guilty, he should step down. It was obvious that there would be no criminal trials, especially before voting opens, so we knew we were pretty safe’.

However, subsequent events in Alabama have convinced party chiefs that even that approach may have underplayed their hand. ‘We had no idea how well pedophilia would go down with the evangelicals. Since it was revealed that he almost certainly sexually harassed underage teenagers, their support for him has gone through the roof. The data we’re receiving suggests that if the reports about him abusing children had come out a few weeks earlier to allow for more voting registrations from self-declared ‘christians’, he would have got over 90% of the ‘religious’ vote! It’s pretty clear that he should have campaigned as a pedophile candidate right from the start!’

Senior figures in the Republican Party are now planning to clean the slate of non-pedophile candidates for the 2018 elections. Any sitting congressman who does not currently have child abuse charges hanging over their head has received a memo requesting that they ‘pull out all the stops’ to get their name linked with pedophile activity ‘by the end of January at the latest’. The party is also buying up advertising space across all ‘Christian’ TV networks and investing massively in social media ads targeting ‘evangelicals’ as part of a concerted effort to rebrand itself with the slogan ‘#GOPedos’. Faces such as Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, who research has revealed to fit most people’s image of what pedophiles look like, are to be pushed to the fore, and looking forward to 2020 a number of videos are being prepared which will confirm what we’ve all long suspected about Donald Trump. The party is also ‘keeping a close eye’ on how Trump’s tweeted support for a British terrorist organisation plays with his base, and may adopt an explicitly pro-violence platform should the president’s explicit admission that yes, he is basically an actual nazi serve to firm up his support amongst the worst people who have ever lived.

No actual Christians were available to comment as we went to press.

Trump has effectively abolished the role of President

Although Robert Mugabe was a tyrant, he was also apparently a stickler for constitutional procedure. He did everything by the book – while others cheated in elections and persecuted opponents on his behalf, he made sure that he appeared to be above reproach, partly by regularly rewriting the book to suit his requirements. The facade was thus paper-thin, but even as he clung to power he did so on the understanding that his position was above board.

Although Donald Trump has shown himself to have autocratic instincts, he’s clearly no Mugabe. As Khizr Khan pointed out, it’s unlikely that he’s even familiar with the Constitution, and debatable whether or not he’s au fait with the distinction between the Senate and the Congress. (Neither am I, but I’m not even from the USA, let alone President of it.) His actions have confirmed again and again that he does not appreciate the separation of powers, but rather believes himself to be in total and unimpeachable authority over not just the executive but also the judicial and legislative branches. His governing medium is is not formal procedure, but Twitter, and he tweets not in the name of Potus, but Donald J. (as in, juvenile) Trump.

The office of the President has existed since 1789. The holder of the office embodies the role: he or she is not more powerful than the State. Myriad checks and balances pertain to the position, restricting any attempt to impose absolute power. He or she is subservient to the Republic. There are numerous problems with this setup, all sorts of loopholes and imbalances which could if exploited maliciously be used to topple the whole edifice from within. The most explosive element would be a potus who was ignorant of and thus careless with the rights and responsibilities of the role. The current Republican Party, insofar as their intention was to detonate the structure of American democracy and install one or another of their kind in power in aeternum, chose well.

How can we be sure that this is the case? In his recent tweet regarding the release of the three college basketball players, Trump, in his customary but still staggeringly infantile way, confirmed that he does not believe in the office to which he was elected. He insists that it was he, not the White House or the State Department, that chose to intervene on behalf of the players. The notion of himself an incumbent in an elected office rather than as absolute ruler does not even occur to him.

Thus, any talk of the Republicans stealing the Presidency is misplaced. As things stand, the role of president is in abeyance. Trump regards himself as a dictator, with limitless power. This indicates that attempts to remove him through constitutional means will fail. Mugabe was at last persuaded to remove himself from an role that he ultimately respects. Getting rid of a man who doesn’t recognise that he’s only playing a role will be impossible – Trump is not going to give up being Donald Trump. As Lacan said, the madman is not only the beggar who believes himself to be King, buy also the King who believes himself to be King. (Note Trump’s prominent use of that word in the aforementioned tweet.) Trump will either die, or must be made to die, on the throne.

The left should stop hoping that the right will play by the rules

The next Prime Minister of Italy may well be Silvio Berlusconi, the four-time premier and tycoon who is in many ways the prototype for Donald Trump. Although Berlusconi was banned from elected office for life in 2015, he is currently appealing to the European Court of Human Rights on a technicality. He is being represented by the same British law firm which includes Amal Clooney. After all, everyone has the same human rights, even if (as in the case of Berlusconi) they’ve been convicted of tax fraud, wiretapping political rivals and paying for sex with underage prostitutes, and are planning on forming a government with the political descendents of Mussolini.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the US are falling over themselves to condemn Senator Al Franken for the incident in which he groped a colleague in 2006. A few weeks ago condemnation of Harvey Weistein was universal. No one claimed he had been set up or that the charges were ‘fake news’. On social media many progressives are proud that they condemn all wrongdoers, no matter which side of the political divide they line up on. They are waiting in vain for the right to reciprocate and/or congratulate them.

The abstract principle that everyone has the same right before the law and must enjoy the same access to justice is a fine one. Similarly, it is of course essential that those who have done wrong must be brought to justice and the hypocrisy of those who only pay lip service to universal principles when it suits their political agenda exposed. It is noble of liberals and the left to stand up for such principles.

However, there’s clearly a problem: the right is neither grateful nor impressed. If Berlusconi is successful, he will pay off his lawyers, bribe his way back into power and set about ripping the constitution and the rule of law to shreds. (Italy’s recognition of the European Court of Human Rights may well be at stake.) In much the same manner, no Republican in the US will turn round and thank Democrats for preserving the human rights of all Americans by berating itself for ‘allowing’ some of its leading figures to get away with abusing women. The idea that the right-wing will suddenly learn a valuable lesson about hypocrisy and renew its commitment to democratic values is morbidly mistaken.

Right now all over the world the right is abandoning its commitment not just to the rule of law, constitutional precepts and human rights, but to the very notion of a shared reality. There is no fact or value that they will not deny whenever it is expedient to do so. Whether this takes the form of Michael Gove in the UK decrying the work of experts, politicians in the US rejecting out of hand careful research documenting the pedophilia of a Republican senatorial candidate and the overwhelming evidence of regular sexual abuse by the President, or right-wing pundits from Fox News to the Telegraph openly lying about climate science to protect corporate interests, the savage nihilism of the new global right-wing movement is beyond anything we have encountered in the age of democracy – with a couple of notable exceptions.

That doesn’t mean that the right will not, drawing upon seemingly inexhaustible reserves of cynicism, use the tools of democracy, including the media and the courts, to suit their purposes. At this moment they are busy weaponising every element of our civilisation to attack liberal values and entrench their power. That includes not just the notion of women’s rights in order to purge opposition politicians and liberal celebrities, but also movies, computer games, children’s cartoon characters and other cultural icons, from Ghostbusters to Gamergate and Pepe the frog to pizza and cow’s milk. Their commitment to literally building up their armories is no accident – what we are witnessing is the equivalent of a psychopath grabbing everything he can as a tool to beat his victim to death. (The most powerful weapon nowadays is, of course, the Internet.) That means they will happily employ the notion of free speech and the discourse of human rights when and where it suits them. No Republican or fascist will ever insist that those rights also be granted to their political opponents, and they will never turn such weapons on themselves.

This does not mean that we abandon our commitment to honouring universal values. Rather it’s a question of priorities. Just as the right to free speech does not mean that everyone can demand access to mass and social media audiences, liberals and the left must not prioritise causes established and exploited by the far-right. With the very real threat of fascism bashing down the door of democracy, this is not the time for human rights lawyers to be defending budding autocrats like Berlusconi, and in much the same way, while it’s right and necessary to condemn the Louis CKs and Harvey Weinsteins and Al Frankens of this world and disown anyone who casts aspersions on their victims, the left must not spend so long howling in the desert at its own hypocrisies that it lets the real enemy off the hook. Democrats did not facilitate abuse by those men in the same way as the Republicans are for Moore and Trump.

In the meantime, while doing all they can to expose and annihilate the far-right agenda, US progressives would do well to study Italy’s dismal history of vapid and hapless post-Berlusconi governments to learn an instructive lesson in how mere neoliberalism managerialism, committed to no values beyond GDP growth targets, inevitably leads back to yet more right-wing populism – or something even worse.

(Based around a conversation with @ChiaraLiguori.)

Trump ‘devastated’ by Franken revelations: ‘How could anyone treat a woman in such a way?’

US President and Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump is said to have been ‘profoundly shocked and disgusted’ at the revelation that Democratic Senator Al Franken briefly groped a female colleague during a TV stunt over eleven years ago.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a White House insider said that neither his staff nor his family had ever seen President Trump as downbeat as over these last 24 hours. He is said to be profoundly shocked that anyone, particularly someone in a position of responsibility, could even think of treating a woman in such a way.

President Trump spent Friday away from TV cameras and was not present on social media all day. Aides reported that he was ‘heartbroken’ upon reading the reports of Franken’s behavior. He is believed to have spent the day in consultation with close female friends, including a number of noteworthy feminists who have been seeking to bring him up to speed on the depth and extent of sexual abuse of women in the US. The President is said to have been ‘humbled and horrified’ by what he has learned.

President Trump is known and respected for his dedication to the furtherance of women’s rights. He has said on several occasions that protecting women from sexual abuse is the single biggest motivating factor in his becoming involved in politics. He used his inauguration speech in January to call for a ‘new feminist dawn’ in America, and has been consistent in seeking to ensure that any woman who does report untoward conduct by men in any area of life is given a full hearing by the justice system and that the right of all women regardless of their age or political affiliation to live free of sexual harrasment is respected at all times and in all places, ‘from hotel elevators to TV studios to the back stage areas of beauty pageants’. In return, he has been universally heralded as the country’s ‘first female president’, and rumors are now spreading that he may be awarded the Nobel Prize For Feminism And Never Having Been Recorded Boasting About Regularly Molesting Women FFS in Stockholm next month.

In other White House news, President Trump’s daughter has been appointed to lead a global task force to investigate the sexual abuse of women by political figures, while his son Barron Trump is to head a commision of inquiry into the mounting problem of Fake News and will also take charge of the Government’s response to the opoid epidemic, negotiations with North Korea, hurricane relief and healthcare reform. Finally, Julian Assange has been appointed Australia’s ambassador to the United States, replacing a woman who had been variously referred to by President Trump on social media as a ‘stupid aborigine slut’ and a ‘fat bich whos too ugly to even rape, lol’.

As long as Trump plays ignorant, his supporters will too

The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan came up with the concept of the ‘subject-supposed-to-know’, an impersonal and intangible entity which carries knowledge on our behalf. As I understand it, this relates to the conscience. When we feel morally guilty, what authority is it that knows we have done something wrong? For many, the answer is an omniscient god. Lacan’s insight is that we all in a sense believe in God whether we like it or not.

This raises two questions for me. In a heavily mediated society where even our most intimate thoughts and gestures are mediated back to us even while we think and act, could a mediating institution play such a role? Or perhaps a political tyrant, as George Orwell posited? Social media could well come to embody the two, in that so many of our experiences are thought of in terms of their value, evaluated as potential cultural capital, and also because the affordances it offers to directly repressive regimes are boundless.

The other thing that concerns me ( in fact I now see that the idea actually came from Slavoj Žižek) is what we can call the subject-supposed-not-to-know. For example, most of us have grown up in the light of terrifying facts regarding the climate which, were we to take them seriously, would compel us to transform every aspect of our lives*. Instead, we deal with the question as we do with death, pretending it’s not real and dealing with each instance of it as though it were occasional and incidental, with no implications for how we ourselves should think and act. There is clearly some sort of (as Lacan calls it) ‘Big Other’ that embodies and excuses our lack of awareness, an authority which, unlike us, is truly ignorant of the problem. Here we can see that these tools are particularly useful for understanding the role of mass and social media in our lives.

The other pressing instance of the subject-supposed-not-to-know is directly related to this: supporters of Donald Trump. In a way unerringly similar to that of a cult leader, Trump acts out their ignorance and thus allows them to continue with a kind of hysterical blindness. This is true not just of the climate, but also of his own behaviour. If we want to understand why they are so resistent to acknowledging his failings while so ready to blame others, this provides an answer. As long as he pretends that the allegations (including admissions he has himself made in the past) don’t exist, it’s as if they’re not real. He is aided in this by partisan media outlets and social media platforms which facilitate tunnel vision/amplify our blind spots and enable wilfull ignorance of that which their participants do not want to acknowledge. Trump’ s supporters embody an increasingly prevalent condition which affects us all, just in a more extreme form: they and we are effectively, as José Saramago pointed out, blind.

*The now-ubiquitous term ‘triggered’ (as in provoked) actually describes an effect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. What else is this trauma which we’re so keen to avoid addressing that we displace our fear and stress onto substitute targets, eg race?

The world’s most infantile cult

Trump’s tweets about ‘making friends’ with Kim Jong Un, complete with exclamation marks more befitting an eight-year-old, confirm once again a level of naivety about world affairs which most people, judging his role and the background to such statements, will regard as both terrifying and contemptible. But his online supporters (presuming there are some who are not automated) seem to lap it up, insisting that his appeals for everyone to get along be taken at face value. Their insistence that the most superficial aspects of world affairs – reports of personal conversations between individual world leaders – are the only defining ones also explains their (faux?)-naif response to his statement about Putin’s ‘response’ to his (apparently pretend) questions about election meddling. For one thing, the theme of lying is too adult to acknowledge; for another, they appear to be too deeply embedded inside a particular worldview to truly care about what’s true or false, or, as Reza Aslan wrote last week, ‘Trump has been spectacularly successful at getting his supporters to believe his blandishments rather than their own eyes’.

It’s common to see Trump supporters on social media extol love and friendship, and denounce the ‘hatred’ and ‘negativity’ of his opponents. I’ve written before about the sentimentality of tyrants. With his gold bath fittings, made-up golf trophies and puerile insistence that such tokens of his success – his toys – be explicitly acknowledged and admired, Trump resembles a more insecure version of the man who will inevitably, in the next few days, become his new BDF (Best Dictator Friend): Rodrigo Duterte of (as it’s correctly spelt) the Philippines, who combines unmitigated brutality and obscene outbursts with teen-like melodrama, especially when it comes to karaoke. There is a long history of autocrats seeing their subjects and counterparts in a mawkish light; there’s also a Michael Jackson element to both Trump’s worldview (and that of his immediate family members) and his appeal, which it’s fair to suspect may suggest similar predilections. Maybe some Trump supporters think that Roy Moore, like the King of Pop, just wanted to play innocently with those children, and would react just as nonchlantly if it were revealed that their hero does too.

I’ve long contended that such naivety is a symptom of a retreat to a less complex and frightening world in the face of the changing climate. The infantile depiction of the world of Fox News and the bogeyman worldview of Infowars are cases in point. There are a number of factors that account for the success of such propaganda. For me, such a retreat to a world of fairy tales is a response to our inability to discuss the environmental consequences of our way of life responsibly. If you can deny the facts of global warming, you can (be persuaded to) deny anything. Once confronted, acolytes of the new right habitually deny everything we try to use to counter them: reason, the experiences of others, universally-agreed upon historical fact, intellectual and scientific authority, even what they themselves have just said. This last is telling: owning one’s own statements and the logical consequences thereof is a habit one acquires as one matures. Instead, faced with truly incontrovertible evidence that their argument is based on false premises, both children and self-declared supporters of Trump repeatedly try to shift the blame by changing the subject, and when that doesn’t work resort to insults. I find most of the time that I have no response but to plead with such people to grow up.

Trump supporters and their equivalents elsewhere may perceive and behave in accordance with a cartoon version of reality, but it’s not a innocent or harmless one. It encompasses the cruelties of children: spitefulness and bullying, including racism of the most puerile kind. Read, for example, this exchange between two adult Trump supporters as reported by Kyle Griffin. Then there are phenomena like the trans bathroom controversy and the building of a wall to keep out outsiders. It is not a world defined by and for adults.

Social media exacerbates this. It’s a playground in which it’s extremely easy to discard the standards of reasonable debate. Bullies and political manipulators were much quick to recognise and mobilise its radical potential than defenders of progressive values. I suspect that as fascism takes hold across the planet, meaningful resistence will not be centred on social media in its current form.

Children often begin to distinguish themselves from their parents by forming gangs. Some join cults. I think it’s essential to take seriously the notion that Trump’s base is a cult. Thus in trying to turn the tide – and, Canute-like or not, we have no choice – we need to turn to the wisdom of deprogrammers and those who know how to counsel individuals caught up in the cult mindset. Trump (etc) supporters behave and argue like children, because that is the mentality particular to their cult. The critical question is: given that their childish retreat into a more reassuring world is partly a symptom and result of our own failure to begin to address very real problems which, Trump or no Trump, threaten our continued existence, what do we have to offer them which is better than the comfort blanket they are so attached to? How do we engage with them without getting drawn into a cartoon-level battle of good versus evil? Should we even treat them as adults, or as children? I have no idea whatsoever. I think it’s time to read up on how cults work.