Welcome to the USA: a place where bad ideas never die

This article was first published on Open Democracy Transformation.

Watching from Europe, the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the United States seems like a ‘Fall of the Soviet Union’ moment in history. The ‘Fall of America’ moment we are currently witnessing – with world-leading infection and mortality rates and a disastrous lack of federal leadership – is of a different nature. It can be understood, not as the end of a bad idea, but rather as the pyrrhic victory of a whole set of bad ideas long present in U.S. culture which have grown to define the country in the last few decades.

It is hard to look at this list of terrible ideas without seeing a nation in terminal decline. Looking on from Europe, Trumpism has revealed the U.S. as a place where such ideas never die, and his Presidency is a disaster because it is based on a coalition of people who passionately believe in them. Continue reading here.

 

Book Review – How To Be A Dictator: A timely look at narcissistic authoritarianism

In my review of Frank Dikotter’s new book How To Be A Dictator, I argue that history only makes sense if we understand the psychological pathology that underlies it, and our own propensity for partaking in such pathology. We need a clear-eyed understanding of history as a recurring series of monumental follies, led by cretins who duped or forced millions of us into humiliating childish submission. Only then can we hope to avoid the repetition. Read my review here

Dikotter

Trump has put the American public into a state of ‘collective madness’

Raw Story spoke with Ian Hughes, Ph.D., author of “Disordered Minds,” which explores how a small proportion of people with dangerous personality disorders are responsible for most of the violence and greed that scars our world. He also contributed tto “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” edited by Bandy X. Lee. Read the interview on Raw Story here.

Disordered Minds - Ian Hughes

Unpicking Donald Trump’s psychopathology helps explain the toxic reality facing America – Euronews View

Two hypotheses – if true – would explain America’s alarming descent into bitter division and moral confusion.

The first hypothesis is that President Trump’s divisive behaviour is a result of a narcissistic disorder. There is plenty of evidence to support this hypothesis. Current estimates are that narcissistic personality disorder affects around 1% of the general population, meaning that there are over three million people in the United States with the disorder.

The second hypothesis is that this dangerous minority exercises a malign influence on society disproportionate to their numbers. If there is hope in our present situation, it lies in the fact that the current occupant of the White House is opening our eyes to the reality that individuals with dangerous personalities can plunge entire societies into division and moral confusion. Creating a collective understanding of this fundamental truth is the first essential step to recovery from the collective madness.

Continue reading here….

 

 

Review of Jared Diamond’s ‘Upheaval’ – How countries seldom learn from their past

With Donald Trump and Brexit mounting their daily assault on our senses, we could be forgiven for thinking that the world is having a nervous breakdown. Many readers will turn, therefore, to Jared Diamond’s new book Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change in the hope that it might ease our anxieties by showing us how countries have successfully navigated major upheavals in the past. Read my review in the Irish Times to see how reading Upheaval might even make your anxieties worse. Read here…

Continue reading

The chaos of Trump and Brexit shows that democracy is not simply majority rule

Anger at neoliberalism’s broken promises has morphed on both sides of the Atlantic into vilification of immigrants and, in the hands of Donald Trump, into an almost daily display of hatred towards the poor. In both the US and UK, political leaders have emerged to scapegoat minorities as the cause of society’s ills and legitimise their truncated vision of democracy as majority rule as the solution.

This article on Euronews Vision warns that when, as Oscar Wilde warned, democracy comes to mean the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people, the worst is yet to come.

 

We are only human – Ian Hughes ponders the limits of what we can know

The article below was written quite a few years back when I was working as an atomic physicist. It still rings true today…

ABRAHAM PAIS relates in his biography of Niels Bohr that the renowned Danish
physicist once claimed to a friend: “I have made a great discovery, a very great
discovery. All that philosophers have ever written is pure drivel!” Continue reading