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Pieter Brueghel, The parable of the blind (1568)

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This Is Where Things Can Get Dicey

The end times of a cult are when things get dangerous. And the personality cult of Donald Trump senses the end is near. This is where things can get dicey.

Image: Pieter Brueghel, The parable of the blind (1568, public domain)

Cults often run to destruction. And when they do, things can get really crazy. We have seen this in the past, at places like Jonestown. Right now, we can see it daily, watching the news.

In this particular case, the cult is not only powerfully anti-scientific and even anti-rational and anti-objective, but also anti-compassionate, and sometimes even anti-life in general. It is a cult that views clean technologies with abhorrence. If you try to talk with a cult member about climate change, efficiency, or renewable energy, you are likely to get a sneer and a question, “You really believe that?”

The end time for one part of the cult has been coming for a long time. But the inevitability of the failure of the system became obvious when it bet the whole of its intellectual capital on the idea that climate change is a fraud. It had to make that bet, however, because the cult’s allegiance to greed is blind to reality.

We must bear in mind that the end times of Donald Trump’s presidency are, unfortunately, not the end of anti-science and irrationality. Quite the contrary, they are a time when we have to watch carefully. I say this because he is the center of a personality cult, much like Jim Jones, David Koresh, and others. And like them, he has been telling his followers to do things that are self-destructive. In the case of Jim Jones, it was drinking “kool-aid” laced with cyanide. In the case of Donald Trump, part of it is showing allegiance to the “Chosen One” by refusing personal protection in the face of a deadly pandemic. And the result is that Trump’s followers are getting sick and dying, and spreading contagion to their families, friends, and strangers.

From the point of view of the environment and renewable energy, Trump is already moving as fast as possible to foul things up for the future. His moves on the Arctic so far are probably not the end of what he will do. He will get his revenge on all who failed to keep him in power. That will include his enemies, but, if he is like other leaders of personality cults, it will fall especially heavily on his loyal followers.

Trump’s efforts to suppress the American democracy and negate our constitutional process are clear. They have gone to the Supreme Court, as he predicted they would. But the Supreme Court showed that it was intent on adhering to the constitution rather than support the cult of Trump. And that is when things get really dicey.

Trump should know by now that there is no legal way out of his mess. And so, with a mind that is not guided by reason or patriotism, he will make moves that are irrational and un-American. This is were we really have to look out.

It might make sense, in his diminished thinking, to do all the damage he can to the environment. His revenge could be applied to just about anything in the world, and I have no doubt that he will issue more destructive presidential orders to do that.

Another action, which he suggested himself, is that he might leave the country if he lost the election. This is a real possibility, I think, because he must know that he can be prosecuted for illegal acts he has openly committed, and because he could open to possibly literally ruining lawsuits.

Having painted himself into a corner, he will lash out, I feel sure. But so can his followers. And that is true not just for now, but for the indefinite future. If Trump lives to 100, his followers might still be counting on his return thereafter, because that is the nature of a cult.

I have been tempted to label them as a meta-cult, because I believe it is a perfect storm of many cults, some of which have been slowly taking control of the Republican Party for decades. Among them might be the fear-mongering John Birch Society, which would make the US Post Office a socialist tool, as I was told by a member of that group. (The same man also maintained that Benjamin Franklin was a socialist, though he would not have known the word, and that socialism was out to end the country he and others like him founded.) Another is the cult of Ayn Rand’s “objectivism,” and Milton Friedman’s “free market,” which devalues completely anything that cannot be given a monetary value; after all, love can be purchased and beauty regularly goes up on the auction block. The most recent is the personality cult of Donald Trump, the “Chosen One.” (I am tempted to believe this might be true – the question is, “chosen for what?” Perhaps he was chosen to punish America for its devotion to greed.)

Now is a time when we have to be careful because members of the cult feel the end is near. That is when things get really dicey.

My suggestion is that we prioritize our focus on what is most important. It is not revenge. It is not even prosecution and punishment, as appealing as those ideas may be. No, we must address the most urgent problems.

Just as we have been aware that we cannot let our focus on climate change slip because of Covid-19, we really must be clear that it not slip because of the tragic end that Trump and his followers may make of his administration. We must take whatever happens in the context of preserving our sanity, our democracy, the most of all, the Earth.

When things get really crazy, we should try to be wise, just as we always should.

Image: Pieter Brueghel, The parable of the blind (1568, public domain)

 
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Written By

A retired computer engineer, George Harvey researches and writes on energy and climate change, maintains a daily blog (geoharvey.com), and has a weekly hour-long TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. In addition to those found at CleanTechnica, many of his articles can be found at greenenergytimes.org.

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