Trump as a Utopian Thinker

01/28/2017 12:46 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2017

History is replete with examples of men who have come along with a new vision on how to fashion a better world. Karl Marx in the 1840s saw a Europe going through the throes of an Industrial Revolution that was pauperizing the working class and he urged the proletariat to rebel and take over the means of production and destroy the rich and powerful oppressors. Lenin finally carried out this utopian idea in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and ushered in 50 years of economic hardship and misery for most of the Russian people. What started as a utopian vision ended up producing a monstrous dystopia.

Adolf Hitler saw a Germany ravaged in World War 1 and in the 1930s saddled with hyperinflation and depression who proclaimed that Germany could be made great again with the right leadership, his leadership. He sold them on the idea of being a superior race who needs a leader who could make Germany great again but provide a model for all of Europe to emulate. The Germans were desperate and they voted him full power to reengineer their economy and society. His utopia ended up producing a brutal and ugly dystopia that led to the Second World War and unremitting destruction of countries and lives.

I say that Donald Trump is also a utopian thinker. He views America as a great nation that has fallen on hard times and that has been betrayed by its elites. He highlights only certain issues resulting in a grossly distorted picture of the real health of the American economy and society. He describes American cities suffering urban decay and warring gangs out of control. He claims that the U.S. has squandered its wealth by getting involved in foreign adventures and making one-sided agreements benefitting other countries at America’s expense. U.S. manufacturing companies have gone abroad and abandoned the working class to fewer and lower paying jobs. American businesses are suffocating in a swamp of regulations that kill business incentives. And he claims that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese and environmental protection measures need to be relaxed.

This picture of a once powerful but disintegrating America requires a vision and a savior.

The vision is to “Make America Great Again.” The savior is a David who the people can put their hopes on to slay the hideous Goliath. This David has the wealth and means to clear the swamp and make America great again. The workers will have good paying jobs, they will not have to fight in foreign wars, and the wealthy can continue building their wealth with no worries.

Donald Trump has a savior complex that stems from his own egotistical mindset. His thinking starts with “me,” not with “we.” He is the Great Man who built a great world-wide hotel chain. He has superior acumen and drive. He is craftiest of men who does deal after deal and always wins. He can do more in a day than most human beings can do in a lifetime.

  • “As President I could run the Trump Organization—great, great company. And I could run the company, the country. I’d do a very good job, but I don’t want to do that.”
  • “I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.”
  • “Creating a movement like the world has never seen before.”
  • “Over the weekend I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai.”

Trump differs as a utopian thinker from Marx and Hitler in that they had published their visions in great detail in Das Kapital and Mein Kampf.

Trump has published The Art of the Deal that has no institutional vision but only advises on how to negotiate and renegotiate and emerge as a winner. There is no outline of how to form a new society of new institutions and how to get them passed through a Congress and a Supreme Court.

In becoming the 45th President of the U.S., Trump sees himself as having the opportunity to save America. On his first working day of his administration, which he declared as starting on Monday, January 23, 2017, he is televised in the Oval Office of the White House busy signing executive order after executive order. Every executive order seems to done with little thought or debates, even with his Republican party members. Trump wants the public to think: What a business man! What a doer! No more government of lazy overpaid bureaucrats. This Holy War is about saving America.

Trump’s major idea is to renegotiate everything and to make sure that every agreement advantages America. He isn’t concerned whether it disadvantages others as long as it advantages America. “I win, you lose” is just as okay as “I win, you win.”

His narrow mindset will be his undoing. It is this mindset that will turn his utopian vision into a dystopian disaster.

Consider Trump’s rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Obama developed to increase our commercial and political involvement in the Far East. Asia is the fastest growing economic region in the world. American industry must keep producing and delivering goods and services to this vital part of the world. Our Asian allies are facing an increasingly assertive China and wonder if they can count on America’s support in the region. TPP was partly designed to keep China from overtaking and controlling much of the riches and influence in this area. My prediction is that cancelling TPP will end up increasing China’s influence in all of Asia and reduce America’s influence. By making a phone call with the Taiwan President, Trump has already riled Chinese leadership with a wish to get back at Trump.

In Europe, Trump has come out against NATO and the European Union (EU). Trump said that NATO is obsolete. NATO was designed to restrict the Soviet Union. The need doesn’t exist anymore because Russia is smaller and Trump gets along with Putin. Trump also came out against the European Union. Trump said that the U.K. Brexit vote to leave EU is a 'great thing.' Nor does Trump think much of the United Nations which he sees as “a political game.” Trump has created great uncertainty and distrust in a large number of our allies, including Japan, Germany, France, and the Baltic nations.

In the Middle East, Trump has already rattled the major countries. Obama managed in 2015 to get Iran to agree to a nuclear deal; without it, Iran would have had a nuclear bomb within a year or two. Trump called the Iran nuclear deal “a disaster.” Turning to Israel, he will defend them unequivocally and he is considering moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, provoking great anger from Muslims. And he has nominated as America’s ambassador to Israel a person who articulates a claim for Israel to all of Judah and Samaria.

In the Americas, Trump has consistently attacked Mexico for not stopping its people from migrating illegally into the U.S. “I will build a great wall and Mexico will pay for it.” If Mexico doesn’t pay, Trump will tax Mexican imports coming into the U.S. He pays no attention to the fact that a wall is not a sufficient barrier given tunnels and airports and other ways to get into the U.S. The wall would cost over $15 billion to build and one can think of better infrastructure needs for this money. And a tax on Mexican imports would ultimately be paid for by American consumers, not the Mexican government. This dispute with Mexico is sure to unnerve other Latin and South American nations to distrust the U.S. and its intentions.

The only important world power that he hasn’t written off is Russia. “If Putin likes Donald Trump I consider that an asset, not a liability.”

With respect to untruthful speech, Trump has one of the worst records. He will state things as facts when respected fact checking organizations point out their “untruth.” What is so ironic is that Trump has the nerve to call the media dishonest and corrupt with the effect of making media editors and journalists very concerned about what they report. Trump has also taken early measures to restrict federal agency people from sharing normal news and saying that scientific work by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will need political vetting before being published. This goes against the foundation of science, the bedrock of our age.

All of these Trump initiatives have had the effect of “unraveling” democracy.

If the U.S. tries to increase jobs in the U.S. with protectionist measures, other nations will retaliate with protectionist measures. Tariffs and trade wars will increase, global trade will shrink, and U.S. jobs will shrink. Instead of Trump producing job growth, his measures will hurt U.S. jobs and job pay.

Trump’s vision is a recipe for disaster. Trump’s utopian thinking will inevitably produce a dystopia. We have seen this kind of utopian thinking backfire. Trump’s various supporters will realize that they put the future of the U.S. in the hands of a child thinker. He doesn’t read but spends his evenings watching TV news and typing out tweets. Trump’s mind is constantly on himself: “Did he look good? How was the crowd? Did anyone betray him?”

My contention is that “Make America great again” cannot be accomplished without also trying to “Make the World Better.”

When the doom descends, the U.S. will only have one choice. His cabinet, or Congress, or the Supreme Court will act to decommission Trump. It is inevitable that he will be impeached. The question is whether this can be initiated soon enough on solid grounds to avert further disaster and irreparable damage.

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