In only a matter of months, Donald Trump has made the unthinkable real. Many laughed, at first, at his candidacy, dismissed him as a clown. Now his fascism snowballs with increasing weight. Even mainstream media outlets have compared him to the Fuhrer. His every latest rant conjures a reminiscence of that terrible Nazi rise.
Given the grave threat, which has left many stunned, it is vital to break out of such incredulity, to accept that Trump will keep escalating as he seeks the next crest of attention. Now that he has called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims, it is only a matter of time before the violence slouching in his rhetoric spurs a rash of physical attacks. Hate groups are already benefitting (1). A few days ago a severed pig’s head was thrown at a mosque in Philadelphia, and in general attacks on Mulisms are on the rise. Trump didn’t create this hysteria but he stokes it and focuses it in monstrous ways:
Instead of standing by and saying things like, “Can he get any dumber” and dismissing his campaign as “foolish,” we need to open our eyes. The blitzkrieg-quick momentum of the demagoguery, and how far it has taken America (and the world) into darkness, is probative and prophetic. Painful though it is, we need to confront this fascism. We are not doomed to repeat history, yet if we do repeat it, WWIII will end history. Notice how divorced from fact and reality Trump’s narcissism sits, on its throne of lies, and realize that his ego needs more and more, which requires pushing the tension to extremes (the desire to hate in his followers demands it, so Trump is also a pawn). The ultimate end, as his grandstanding meets stronger and stronger resistance, will be a nuclear launch. Deified hate, in its supreme reach for anti-glory, will not shy from sacrificing the human race.
The brain is far different from a computer, so I am leery of analogies. But we’ve begun to discuss how computers “think, see, hear,” and so on. They continue to complexify, and rudimentary comparisons can be useful. So, I want to bring up the concept of a psychological virus The psychological virus as a correlative of a computer virus.
Computers are adaptive and malleable but when a computer virus takes hold, it attenuates the machine’s ability. It does so by infiltrating and spreading into command systems, wherever they might be in the operating system. The result is an infection, a terrible hobbling of the machine’s reach. Likewise, Trump’s insidious, demonizing phillipics send out a psychological virus, a trojan horse for the mind.
The hate seeps in, solidifies a black-and-white worldview, creating what psychologists call confirmation bias. Perception gets skewed, sees what it wants, regardless of evidence. The neuroplasticity of the dendrites gets locked down, with an emphasis on the higher, cortical regions. The mental garden of neurotransmittters, with all its capacity to bloom with candor, hardens into a warren of intransigence.
Once a psychological virus is in place, it can’t be removed, unlike its computer counterpart. Our society embraces the idea of the adult human being as a rational autonomous agent. However, as marketing firms, scholars, and political advisers know, this is far from how life actually transpires. Simple emotional appeals, the ‘big lie’ (to reference the infamous Hitler quote) are far better ways to reach much of the population, especially when they are disaffected, as by a cruel, unjust economy. Better to channel thought rather than appeal to its noble rational side. Better to strap autonomy within a harness of prejudice rather than let someone steer their own well-considered course. The followers of hate-speakers can be incredibly intelligent and yet also psychologically trussed.
When capacity for thought has been subverted so much that it modifes fact for specious, fallacious ends, the sort that sustain and expand a militarized, racist march, the person in question has been fully co-opted into the darkest of mental diseases.
The use of such techniques (I'm calling them psychological viruses to show how vulnerable, how susceptible, we truly are; and to belie the great myth of our simple rational autonomy) is well-known. They have been investigated and documented throughout the bellicose record of human discord. In light of this scholarship, we can talk of the psychological virus as being the weapon of 'neurochemical warfare': the use of rhetoric to mobilize people into a crusade, and instill a devotion to whatever atrocity is demanded by the collective delusion. That there is one great leader, a singular force akin to a god, a perfect being who can do no wrong, that is the historical exemplar, and it is one that Trump clearly craves.
The stronger he gets, the weaker he will get. Even the slightest hint of disagreement could become a slight: a lack of fealty to the Father. He will lash out, thinner and thinner, needier and needier. At some point, the very existence of the world itself must offend him. He will then try to make it pay for imposing the truth: that he is not really a god, not always right, not even close; and, in fact, he pushes to become something far different, the opposite of what he claims: a spearhead, not of the good and pure, but rather of global evil.