This section of a recent talk in Vancouver by Chris Hedges begins at 41:58 in the video linked below the transcript.
Trump has no coherent belief system or coherent ideology, but his ideological vacuum is being filled — by the Christian Right.
What comes next, history has shown, will not be pleasant.
A corrupt and inept ruling elite, backed by the organs of state security and law enforcement will transform workers into serfs. The most benign dissent will be criminalized. The ravaging of the ecosystem will propel us ever closer towards extinction. Hate talk will, as stagnation and decay continue, call for attacks against Muslims, undocumented workers, African Americans, feminists, intellectuals, artists, dissidents, all of whom will be scapegoated for the country’s decline.
Magical thinking will dominate our airwaves and be taught in our public schools. Art and culture will be degraded to nationalist kitsch.
All the cultural and intellectual disciplines that allow us to view the world from the perspective of the other, that foster empathy, understanding and compassion, will be replaced by a grotesque and cruel hyper-masculinity and hyper-militarism. The language of racism, bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia will infect our national discourse.
Reality, any discourse based on verifiable fact and truth, are under assault. Verbal confusion reigns. Truth and illusion have merged. Mental chaos makes it hard to fathom what is happening. We feel trapped in a hall of mirrors. Revealed lies are answered with new lies. The rational is countered with the irrational. Cognitive dissonance prevails. We endure a disquieting shame, even guilt.
Tens of millions of Americans, especially women, undocumented workers, Muslims, and African Americans, suffer the acute anxiety of being pursued by a predator.
All this is by design.
Demagogues always infect the governed with their own psychosis.
The lies pour out of the White House like flocks of pigeons:
Donald Trump ‘s election victory “was a landslide.”
He had “the largest inauguration crowds in American history” (laughter).
“Three million to five million undocumented immigrants voted illegally.”
“Climate change is a hoax.”
“Vaccines cause autism.”
Immigrants are carriers of quote “tremendous infectious disease” (laughter).
“The election was rigged” — until it wasn’t (laughter).
“We don’t know who really knocked down the World Trade Center.”
“Mexico will pay for the wall.”
And “America will be great again!” (laughter and applause)
Trump, a 70 year old man with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss” (intense laughter) is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good-looking!” (raucous laughter and applause). He does not read. He knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, art, or governance, but insists “my IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it!” (raucous laughter). “Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure — it’s not your fault!” (laughter).
He goes on to say of the mediocrities he has installed in his Cabinet, that, quote, “they have by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled” (laughter).
It is an avalanche of absurdities.
And this mendacity would be easier to repulse if the problem was solely embodied in Trump. But even in the face of a rising despotism, the Democratic Party and the liberal elite refuses to denounce the corporate forces that eviscerated our democracy, impoverished the country, and created Trump.
The neo-liberal Trump demonizes Muslims, undocumented workers, and the media. The neo-liberal Democratic Party demonize Vladimir Putin and FBI Director James Comey.
No one challenges corporate power.
The warring elites pit alternative facts against alternative facts. All engage in demagoguery. And we will, I fear, be condemned to despotism by Trump and by the cowardice and dishonesty of the liberal class.
The order for some employees of several federal agencies, — including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research service, the National Park Service, and the Department of Health and Human Services, — to restrict or cease communication with the Press or members of Congress, along with the attempt to impose 10-year felony convictions on six reporters who covered the inauguration protests, is part of this campaign to marginalize reality itself and replace it with fantasy. “Facts” for demagogues depend solely on those who have the power to create them.
And the goal of the Trump administration is to create an artificial consistency, an absorbing and endless spectacle, that advances its warped perspective of the world. It must, as it has day after day, dominate our lives as it re-configures reality. Fantastic and absurd assertions are treated seriously, a process that over time erodes the power of the rational.
“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations,” Hannah Arendt wrote. “The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda—before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world, — lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.”
This assault on fact, on truth, on reality, is empowered by the loss of credibility of our democratic institutions, and it has thrown the country into an existential as well as an economic crisis. The courts, university, and press, are no longer trusted by tens of millions of Americans who correctly see them as as organs of the corporate elites. These institutions are traditionally the mechanisms by which a society is able to unmask the lies of the powerful, critique ruling ideologies, and promote justice.
Because Americans have been bitterly betrayed by their institutions, the Trump regime can attack the press as “the opposition party,” threaten to cut off university funding, taunt a federal jurist as a “so-called judge” and denounce a court order as “outrageous.”
The decay of democratic institutions is the prerequisite for the rise of authoritarian or fascist regimes. And this decay has given credibility to a pathological liar.
The Trump administration, according to an Emerson College poll, is considered by 49 % of registered voters to be truthful, while the media are considered truthful by only 39% of registered voters.
Once American democratic institutions no longer function, once larger sectors of the public believe, as Trump said, that the press is “the enemy of the people,” reality becomes whatever absurdity the White House issues.