Discussion Group Issues
Bill Schrader Pavilion
30 October, 2016
12 noon to 13:30
A E C F B D
A – How do you plan to get money out of politics?*
B – Should the serious overpopulation of feral horses on US public lands be culled or processed for meat, leathers glue, etc. ? These over 100,000 feral and corralled horses on public lands as well as domestic horses are protected by Congressmen [mostly from urban areas] from culling or processing. The government cost of maintaining this horse welfare system is about $80 million a year. Despite the government’s feral horse contraception program, their numbers are doubling every four years. Horses used to be considered livestock, but Federal law appears to treat them more as pets. Is reform needed? [Rick]
C – Among leading nations, America has a special place in denying accepted findings in warming, evolution, and abortion. I suspect that this comes from the the competitive churches that recruit believers. By now, some will override anything based on their “right” to believe – including the fact that blacks do not deserve government support. Agree?
D –The new Hubble, with a $9 billion budget will be launched in October 2018. It is 6.5 meters in diameter compared with the Hubble’s 2.4 and is designed to look for infra red light, or left over heat from 13 billion years ago. Thus it will observe a million miles from earth and from behind a huge umbrella. This article puts me back into reading about flying cars in Popular Mechanics – its fun!? So have fun and watch all the videos and slide shows – especially the one of it unfolding a million miles away. Remembering the Hubble’s wrongly configured mirror, tell us if you think it will all work perfectly?
E – The press is setting up a trade rumble between China and the US. Do we really want such a complex and important action treated as a test of will?
F – Would you like to discuss my outline (see below) on the nature of demagogs? In particular, is their rise an inevitable source of failure to all democracies.
*The NYTimes has posed 15 questions for Hilary and Donald which we will answer over this season as if we are constructive presidential candidates.
Some philosophers have argued that Athens’ democracy was destroyed by the demagog, Cleon. Wicki notes four characteristics of all demagogs:
1They fashion themselves as a man or woman of the common people, opposed to the elites.
2Their politics depends on a visceral connection with the people which greatly exceeds ordinary political popularity.
3They manipulate this connection, and the raging popularity it affords, for their own benefit and ambition.
4They threaten or outright break established rules of conduct, institutions, and even the law.
Indeed, a section called “Methods of Demagogs” outlines 12 tactics that Trump has been accused of. But the statistics show some 455 revisions to the article in the last 365 days, so that these findings may not be the result of disinterested scholarship.
More acute insights are found in Aldous Huxley’s “The Devils of Loudon”, a history of a witch burning in France that he uses to illustrate, then contemporary, McCarthyism. But even the appendix to the history, where he highlights its contemporary lessons, is so rooted in his religious views, that his insights would not be read by many moderns. Accordingly, I wish to translate them in the rest of this brief note.
1 – He believes that demagogs are extraordinarily good at persuasion, and they become addicted to practising it.
2 – He also thought that their reach had been extended by the emerging radio-based media. If he was right then, how much more effective the contemporary demagog who can overnight voice lies on cyberspace.
3 – He emphasizes the importance of the demagog’s target group’s demand for a solution to their (maybe real) problems.
4 – Finally he notes that a demagog must find a purely evil group that embodies everything holding his people down. The group may be the plutocrats running a democracy, or it may be existing unpopular groups – Hitler’s Jews; Trump’s immigrants and blacks. This demonization is a fundamental tool of the demagog, and the foundation of his power because they create an existential emergency for him to fix without hinderance.
Thus the cultivation of a demagog’s target group requires the demonization of some unfortunates outside that group.
Demagogs are bad news. QED
So lets discuss if Trump is a demagog and weather you believe Huxley’s insights are as important as I do.