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The Politics of Cruelty

Our Enlightenment Legacy On the Ropes

It’s a no-brainer why Donald Trump is so enamored of Vladimir Putin and men like Rodrigo Dutarte. He personally trashes European leaders and NATO in Brussels, then struts all puffed-up and man-proud next to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the authoritarian leader of Turkey. He's comfortable associating with male tyrants, while democratic politicians make him fearful and distrustful. The man has zero political experience in a democratic context, while he has decades of experience as a ruthless Manhattan real estate mogul and reality TV star. Tyrants like this always employ cruelty as a weapon of politics. The smart ones figure out the buttons they need to push within their tribalized base cultures to advance their power. In the case of Donald Trump, one of those buttons is the satisfying sound of liberals and progressives squealing in horror at cruel decisions made by 3AM Twitter or in a well-publicized TV announcement. He clearly announced his current Supreme Court nominee in prime time because, as we’re being told ad-nauseum, it will result in 40 years of right wing control of the court, which he knows will send Liberals and Progressives into apoplectic fits of panic. So he wanted to rub it in, sadistically, as if he were stirring a wound with a stick. As Dr. Stekel suggested, because the prospect of a right-wing generational-lock on the US Supreme Court is so painful for Liberals and Progressives, announcing it this way made Mr. Trump feel especially powerful, as it no doubt made him feel invulnerable to the Mueller investigation -- at least for the moment. His (and our) problem is that the feeling of omnipotence from an act of cruelty is ephemeral and, like a drug that wears off and makes reaching that great original high evasive, more cruelty will be necessary in the future to sustain the feeling of power.

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story | by Dr. Radut