Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Trump and the Decadence Imperative.

I  see Trump is about to slash large parts of Obama’s policies on clean energy. Well, that’s hardly surprising. Trump is a salesman, not a statesman. He has no vision apart from the juvenile notion that the person with the biggest candyfloss is the most important. It seems that America’s enviable reputation as the world’s dirtiest country is about to be augmented, and dear old John Doe can be seen sliding nicely back towards the Dark Ages. Unfortunately, it isn’t only America which will suffer the consequences; the rest of us will have to put up with them, too.

But of course, Trump is not entirely to blame for this. America is the most rampantly free market-obsessed of the world’s largest economies; and whether you’re a free marketeer or not, one effect of free market obsession is undeniable: it proposes, supports and conditions the view that personal wealth must be the pre-eminent preoccupation of all those who want to belong. 

This is decadence at work, and I don’t use the word in its traditional moralistic sense. Decadence is simply the condition in which wealth, luxury and the drive to consume – even when it means consuming vast quantities of stuff that is irrelevant, superficial and tawdry – takes priority over more important matters. How many good Americans, I wonder, would be prepared to give up their annual cross-state trip to Disney World merely to help save the planet for future generations?

And let’s not put all the blame on America. This sad fact is true of the big western economies generally. It’s just that America is leading the way, and maybe that’s what Trump has in mind when he talks of making America great.

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