I’ve avoided writing about Donald Trump’s antics for a while, mostly because they’re predictable IF you accept the fact that Trump is a relational disruptor extraordinaire, and a narcissistic psychopath.
What people seem to be stumbling on is the behavior of Republican senators, and why they haven’t united to throw Donald into the wood chipper yet. If you ask me, it’s coming, and soon. At the same time, their behavior is a classic example of how the Authoritarian v-Meme works.
Let’s review. Social structures, created by shared values aggregated into a Value Set/v-Meme, using a brain-wired set of common Knowledge Structures, create coherence of information, and the potential for coherent action in a group of people. That’s how you get people to work together. There’s a shared, emergent behavior that comes when people’s brains line up not just in specific information, but also in time and space.
And all these things are governed by the level of empathy.
So.. if I had to arrange these things in a line…
Value Set=>Social Structure<=>Knowledge Structure=>Information Coherence=>Coherent Action
So… let’s review the Authoritarian v-Meme, which few would disagree is a.) running Trump’s Brain, and b.) most of the Republican party at the current moment.
- Authoritarians sit in a hierarchy/power structure.
- Truth in that power structure is decided by the person above you in that structure, and moves downward.
- In-group/out-group dynamics are dominant.
- If you’re in the In-group, you believe! (core value)
- If you’re in the Out-group, you don’t believe — but become depressed. (core dynamic)
- If you’re depressed, you’re easy to control. (core dynamic)
- The group moves together in the same direction pretty much from external forcing. Your beliefs are installed from the outside, causing you to move. Or you’re depressed, and you shuffle along with everyone else.
- Agency is low. You don’t suddenly get to decide you DON’T get to go with the crowd.
- Culture (which can come from any of the value sets, but with origin unknown) creates modest sidebars for constraint of behavior.
With this in mind, let’s consider former Senator Jeff Flake’s comments yesterday. Flake said that “at least 35 Republican senators would vote for impeachment if it were a secret ballot.” This is totally consistent with the value structure of the Republican party. Inside the social structure, those senators’ actions are constrained, as Trump is the apex of the Authoritarian pyramid. BUT — these senators also exist in the broader culture. If they could mask the effect of social structure, 35 would vote against Donald Trump. That’s what Flake is really saying.
The aggregated total system of their shared brain wiring is creating some serious cognitive dissonance about now. What WILL happen is, as the momentum builds for impeachment (modes and ways) this group will move en masse, over a very short time toward impeachment, as other leaders in the Republican party abandon Trump’s authority. There are signs that this is already happening far up the Authoritarian pyramid, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell siding with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on release of various parts of the intelligence portfolio.
What’s the takeaway? The actual social system is working according to its driving physics. Once one understands and analyzes the information flow, everything is going, well, according to plan. The emergent plan. And how else would 35 Republican senators be expected to act? All this isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.
When will they flip is anyone’s guess. Why? It’s a collective limbic/basal ganglia decision point. That means it’s an impulsive switch — either on or off. And when it turns to ‘Off’, it will be because the threat of inherent trauma (massive losses in the next elections) will create the Survival v-Meme neuroplasticity to remove Trump from office.
My guess is most of them, in the trauma space, are in fright, freeze and fight. But before long, we’re going to see this turn to flight.
6 thoughts on “Quickie Post — Republicans and Trump’s Impeachment”
Authoritarians within the authoritarian system will defend themselves even against a wannabe authoritarian leader like Trump. Authoritarianism oddly is not dependent on a single authoritarian leader such as in old school authoritarianism.
Rather, what matters most is a rigid hierarchy, but that can be remade as needed. See Corey Robin’s explanation of the reactionary mind, during the revolutionary era, in their attack on the tradition of the ancien regime. To an authoritarian, weak authoritarian systems must be eliminated to be replaced with more effective authoritarian systems.
The single greatest problem of Trump is that he is a failed authoritarian leader. Authoritarians do want someone to promote as leader, but in the end anyone and everyone can be sacrificed for the greater good of authoritarianism itself. There is always someone around ready to take over as the new authoritarian leader.
Besides, in the present authoritarianism, real power is wielded by powers behind the scenes: deep state, inverted totalitarianism, etc. Trump simply isn’t that important in the scheme of things. The ruling elite will turn on each other in an instant, when it serves their purposes, even something as simple as self-interested survival.
Yep, yep, yep. The value set/v-Meme protect itself.
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Here is something that has been on my mind for many years. My study of the revolutionary era made me realize how destabilized society becomes when the ruling elite splinters. Things really get interesting when the ruling elite turn on each other. That is what happened in the American and French Revolutions, both having been co-opted by aristocrats in fighting for power against monarchists. And in both cases the same segment of aristocrats sought to control the revolution to rebuild a new and better hierarchy.
That was a complaint that revolutionaries like Thomas Paine lodged against these counter-revolutionaries. They were looking for different justifications for maintaining the old power and privilege. But Paine argued that simply being born to fortunate parents should not give an individual extra rights denied others, that is everyone deserved an equal vote and representation (sadly, fewer Americans had a right to vote directly after the revolution than before it). Those seeking to take control of the new governments, of course, were unpersuaded by Paine’s arguments. Such radicals like him were useful in inspiring the revolutions. After the revolution, it was a different situation. Then Paine was a problem to be dealt with or simply silenced and ignored.
So here we are again. The last time the ruling elite splintered was during the Populist era, but Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership maintained the social order by reforming the system from within (he went so far as to argue that the ruling elite should take seriously the arguments of socialists because, if they didn’t, the socialists would gain power; he recognized the problems were real and required a solution, one way or another). For some reason, it’s harder to imagine someone like him showing up now to break up the monopolies and such. The ruling elite falling into conflict might presently have far more grave results.
It’s not really clear to me that the ruling elite have really turned on each other — yet. I think there is a difference between Left and Right, but there are many days it seems that the Ds are putting up with R excess so that they have their day wielding the same scepter.
Yeah. I agree. We aren’t at that point yet. But I sometimes have the feeling we are getting closer to that point. Such shifts can happen quickly. No one could have predicted the American Revolution at the time. I’m sure it seemed like it came out of nowhere, even for many involved. I doubt George Washington was contemplating revolution before it happened.