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Two Cultures, Two Americas — Post-Election 2016 Edition

The implications of the stark contrast between those who voted for Hillary Clinton and those who voted for Donald Trump are what I wish to discuss. Two cultures. Two Americas. Unequal, unyoked, mutually hostile, and — other things being equal — on collision course. A philosopher should have something to say about this situation, especially a philosopher with a sense of history and its relevance, as well as one aware of the existence of contrasting worldviews. That would be a philosopher such as myself, schooled in the work of Thomas S. Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, long aware of the incommensurability problem (it was my dissertation topic, after all!), and thus aware not just of the philosophical problems created by accounting for vast divides but the dicey practical problems involved in communicating across them.

These sorts of events are not limited to the U.S., obviously. The British voted for Brexit on June 23, which as I noted many pundits also thought would fail. Nigel Farage, one of the most visible Euro-skeptics, was one of the brains behind Brexit. The French might well put National Front president Marine Le Pen in charge of their country when the time comes. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me. What some call “populism” and others, “economic nationalism” (and still others, simply racism and xenophobia) is on the rise around the world. What it is, is a mass rejection of globalism / globalization. Many common people have figured out that what globalism / globalization has done is enrich a tiny elite, destroying middle classes in its wake in places like the U.S., and destabilizing their communities without bringing them tangible benefits. In Europe, much anti-globalism is in response to the flood of Middle Eastern migrants, primarily Muslims, from third world countries, and the rising tides of terrorist attacks, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes they’ve brought with them. Eurocrats, CEOs, and bankers may think open borders are a good idea, but they don’t have to wipe up the blood!

I’ve previously commented on the so-called “alt-right” in the U.S. which has little use for a “movement conservatism” it sees as impotent, and which clearly was already dead in the water: one of the most basic reasons Trump rose to the top despite attacks from within his own party. One wonders how much soul-searching will go on within the upper echelons of the GOP to figure out that Trump, with his media-savvy and ability to use even media hostility to his advantage, had very little to compete with. There wasn’t much in the way of ideas discussed in the GOP debates, because Trump’s competitors didn’t have any! Had Trump not run, however, issues such as globalism, immigration, trade agreements, and border controls wouldn’t have been on the table! Everyone with a functioning brain knows this!

Be this as it may, the open antagonism that developed over Trump’s candidacy, and now over his victory, are indicative of more going on. One could argue that the culture war has just gone to the next level. The left thought it had won hands down (largely because of the collapse of “movement conservatism”). But that was before Donald Trump, and now we are seeing a rising clash between the two cultures, two Americas, both pre- and post-election 2016?

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