Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Social Experiment

“You are about to enter a new dimension.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone."

Well, that’s not quite it, is it?  It’s more like a social experiment.  

“You are about to become part of a gigantic social experiment.  It is an experiment that encompasses the entire U.S.A. as well as having effects on the Global Economic and Political Systems.   It is an experiment that will use the ideas of Ayn Rand to Minimize all constraints on Capitalism in America as well as minimizing or eliminating the American social safety net.”

Donald Trump’s election as the forty-fifth President of the United States has now created a political situation where the Republican party, under Trump, will be in control of all three branches of government - the Legislative, the Legal System, and the Executive.  It is no coincidence that Trump, who resembles Howard Roark and John Galt, the alpha male heroes of Ayn Rand’s two novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, was elected at the same time that Paul Ryan, a longtime fan of Rands, who was basically inspired by reading her novels to get into politics, has become the Republican Majority Leader in the US Congress.

For years Libertarians and the followers of Ayn Rand have only dreamed of an America where her extremist views would be put into practice.  Now that dream has turned into a reality.  We are about to witness and be part of a brave new Social Experiment.  One in which we will have Capitalism shorn of all constraints, all safety and environmental regulations, minimum wages, etc.   A social experiment where the American social safety net will be drastically minimized or eliminated.  A social experiment where the legal system will consistently favour Capital over human rights.  A social experiment where Science and other forms of knowledge will become political and seriously compromised.

Science has rigorous standards of evidence and replication.  In Science, if a replicatible experiment disconfirms a theory, that theory may have to be abandoned.  It should be the same for a political experiment, but not all previous social experiments have worked out this way.  Only the Allies’ victory in WW II was enough to “disprove” Fascism, and only the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union was enough to “disprove”

In a working democratic system, if a political approach has been tried and failed to deliver, the representatives of that approach can be voted out of office during an election.  This should be the case in the US.  If, after two or four years, Americans see that the Social Experiment has been a failure they should be able to vote Republicans out of office.  My guess is that this is not actually going to happen, and it won’t happen because of something called - “Authoritarianism”.  

Trump’s most motivated followers were Authoritarians: people who value authority over everything else.  They saw, in Trump, a “Leader”,  someone who would fix everything for them.  They were not necessarily “Libertarians” - people who claim to value liberty above all else and who often gravitate to Ayn Rand’s views about a minimal state.  

But if you delve into Rand’s novels it becomes clear that the type of model she has in mind for leadership is the alpha male type, typified by Donald Trump.  Loud, brash,  bullying, and out to break any rules and step on anybody who gets in his way.   The problem with rules, regulations, and scientific knowledge is that they become impediments to the alpha male.  They make it harder for him to get what he wants, to do his job as a Supreme Leader.  

What I believe is most likely to happen is that the arms of the US government will be utilized for authoritarian purposes: to restrict freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and restrict voting rights.  There is too much at stake to allow the American people to “disprove”  the coming Social Experiment.  For starters, all scientific evidence, in the form of economic and demographic statistics that contradicts conservative Randian ideology will be eliminated or “re-interpreted” so that it can confirm our “Brave New World”.   

We are already seeing this happen a month before Trump’s inauguration, as part of his transition team conducts a witch-hunt for EPA bureaucrats and scientists.  Rest assured, like so many other Social Experiments, the authors of this one will do everything in their power, and it is now considerable, to keep this Experiment going permanently.