Many people muse about President Trump and often have difficulty in making sense of the man. He appears to be someone of contradiction in that he is both anthropocentric and post-modern in his thinking. For example, under modernity the dominant ideas were anthropocentric ones in that economic growth, rising living standards and the exploitation of the environment and other living things were legitimate in all circumstances. Biocentric equality and the belief that we are dependent on the environment had not yet come to be accepted. Today, many of us believe that to champion the interests of Mr Trumps donors in the polluting fossil fuel industry is something reactionary and against the interests of future generations. The President appears unconcerned with the long term future and only seems interested in the here and now. As a populist, with a working class constituency to please he also seems uninterested in the effects of green house gases or the opportunities in renewable sources of energy and the great technological opportunities and challenges ahead. Mr Trump also seems post-modern in his approach to language and evidentiary too. When the low numbers of attendees at his inauguration were noted he simply said this was media lies. For the post-modernist, language is not something which necessarily needs to be predicated upon truth but upon usefulness and plausibility. Such thinking was offered by the White House today when they employed the term ‘alternative facts.’ Someone rightly noted that alternatives to facts are fiction. Former President Obama noted Trumps lack of intellectual curiosity but if self promotion is the only real objective then facts actually become unimportant. One simply deals with inconvenient fact or criticism through the use of denial or personal attack via social media. The reality of individual achievement, scientific or social standing become irrelevant if the message or facts do not happen to support Mr Trump’s views. Bankers who pondered what action to take with regard to Mr Trump’s plurality of huge business disasters decided he was a great promoter of his own brand and little else. In terms of the future, we are likely to see a Presidency which will be ego centric and divisive and one which will be unconcerned about fact, truth or the rationalism that accompanied the modernist anthropocentric age. Emotive language rather than evidence will be the key tool of rebuttal and the strategy of argumentum ad hominem.
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