Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ayn, The Donald and the devil's dung

“Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.”
Donald Trump  

I'm really smart." 
Donald Trump

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other.  Ayn Rand 
My father used to tell me, "Watch the immigrants son, they will teach you your own country, because where you only see shit, they can see gold"... I can't think of a better example of my old man's dictum than Ayn Rand. Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1905, Rand emigrated to the USA at the age of 21 and probably no one, native or foreign, has ever understood, and exploited, the dark side of the American soul so quickly and as well as Ayn Rand.

From colonial times America was split between the hard scrabble, small farm and workshop, Puritan spirit of the New England colonies, where the ultra-Calvinist Pilgrim Fathers had fled religious persecution in England to found a "shining city on the hill", this in contrast to the "get rich", exploitative ethic of the slavery-based southern colonies, with their lucrative cash crops: tobacco, indigo and cotton.

I'm making no great discovery to note that being inhabited simultaneously by both of these conflicting spirits is what constitutes the roots of the uniquely American personality. The war of these spirits with each other, along with racism, is what constitutes the core of the American malaise.

The conflict is often resolved by a sort of money-grubbing sanctimoniousness which many people (especially the British) consider America's trademark.

To give you an idea of how welcome a liberating relief Ayn Rand's message that money is the "root of all good" has been to many wealth-obsessed Americans raised in our Bible-beating traditions, let's have a quick refresher of the foundational texts:
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.    1 Timothy 6:10

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24
This train of thought has been recently brought up to date, by none other than Pope Francis:
The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.  Pope Francis: Speech at World Meeting of Popular Movements
His Holiness's reference to "the dung of the devil" brings us to Donald Trump.

The Donald seems almost beyond caricature. Looking for one word to describe him, I came up empty in English, but there is a Spanish word that fits him perfectly: "esperpento".

Originally an esperpento meant something grotesque, an object which you might frighten children or marauding crows with, but esperpento was converted into a term of high art by one of Spain's greatest dramatists, Ramón de la Valle-Inclan

Here is a workmanlike definition of what he created:
Esperpento is a type of theatre developed by Ramón del Valle-Inclán (1869-1936) focusing on characters whose physical and psychological characteristics have been deliberately deformed and warped to the point where they become grotesque caricatures. Valle-Inclán used this esperpento as a vehicle for social and political satire. Span¡shD!ct
To give you an idea how The Donald might fit into all this, let us consider one of Valle-Inclan's most famous characters, the aristocratic, Marqués de Bradomín, who considered that humanity, indeed creation itself, was divided into two different parts, one of them being the Marqués de Bradomín and the other part everything and everyone else.

You can see what fun Valle-Inclan could have had with Donald Trump.

I think that the best way of viewing Donald Trump is to see him as a Rorschach Test  of the American personality, which, if you are American, means your own personality...

Scrutinize (with an intense scrute) the things Trump says and does that resonate with you. What offends you? What amuses you? And why.

This is a very valuable exercise for any American, because an American archetype like Donald Trump to work with doesn't come along every day. DS

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