Those who self-identify as “The Resistance” must understand one thing: Trump is no accident of history, no aberration. He is the logical outcome of the system that preceded him. If you would fight against him, you must fight against that system.
In a recent article “Beyond Trump: Rebooting the System from inside the Death Machine,” Nafeez Ahmed, Andrew Markell, and Gunther Sonnenfeld articulated their perspective on Trump’s rise to power less succinctly and with fewer no-nonsense tools than I intend to offer in this essay. While coming close to the heart of the matter, they didn’t quite arrive which often happens when attempting to clarify “the crisis of civilization.” After all, we’ve never been here before, and if we’re honest, we must admit that we have difficulty articulating it for ourselves and never quite know how to articulate it to others.
King Donald is the ultimate finished product of industrial civilization’s paradigm and the consummate mirror of our personal and collective shadows. It may be that before he completes his first term, he will be impeached or removed by some other means. Catabolic collapse and the climate catastrophe that he is presently exacerbating will continue unabated. Other madmen or madwomen will succeed him. But more importantly, he isn’t just one politician who isn’t any worse than another.
Last year, Kali, the Hindu Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection, appeared on the Empire State Building, projected as an avatar of conservation by the filmmakers of Racing Extinction, a documentary about the environmental catastrophe now upon us. At the time I was so struck by the image, I wrote an article about the apparition. This is the sign of the times, Kali Takes New York, I raved. On election night, as the results were projected onto the Empire State Building, all I could see was Kali’s fierce stare. This was déjà vu. This time, Kali took America.
Whoever the next president turns out to be, her or his term in office will likely coincide with another financial crash, which could well turn out to be much worse than the 2008 debacle. Social pressures from rising inequality and dashed expectations will build to explosive levels. And climate impacts may well take forms that even a Donald Trump cannot ignore. Altogether, the next eight years are unlikely to be as safely corked and bottled as the last. They say crisis is opportunity. We may be facing more opportunities than we know what to do with; may we seize them skillfully!
When an individual or a society will not confront its shadow, it invariably projects it onto the “other.” The shadow loves nothing more than the notion of exceptionalism. In fact, it thrives on it. Exceptionalism’s twin, of course, is entitlement. We are entitled because we are exceptional. We are entitled internationally to extend the tentacles of corporate capitalism to every inch of the planet, and we are entitled intra-nationally by “virtue” of race, class, and economic status, to deliriously consume everything in sight and oppress and dominate all whom we deem not exceptional.