One of the most striking, strange, and truly scary features of the social and political train-wreck that was the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the first few weeks of 2017 in The Age of Trump-POTUS, is President Donald Trump’s simultaneous addiction to, and Mussolini-like exploitation and manipulation of, a single communicative medium: Twitter.
In a very intelligent recent piece in Pacific Standard, “The Message of the Twitter Medium,” Rick Paulas writes this:
“In 1964, scholar Marshall McLuhan wrote the five most important words ever to emerge from the field of media theory: ‘The medium is the message.’
The main thrust of McLuhan’s idea is that the actual content (i.e. this very story) means far less than the medium through which it’s being delivered (the computer or smartphone on which you’re reading). That is, the technology delivering the message — the printing press, television, radio, the Internet — inherently changes how we communicate, and in doing that, alters the message, even tweaks the circuits in our brains, and thus transforms society. The message in the bottle means nothing compared to the bottle as message delivery service.
Over the past year, one distinct social medium has become the chosen avenue in which the President of the United States communicates with the public. That, of course, is Twitter.
While there are many essays to be written about the actual contents of President Donald Trump’s information and misinformation, it’s also important to dissect the medium of Twitter itself, in terms of how its structure and built-in aesthetic affect the messages contained therein. This is an attempt at that.”
Then Paulas proceeds to spell out eight structural or aesthetic features of Twitter that systematically affect the content of Tweets:
1. 140 Characters or Fewer
2. Ability to Self-Publish, and a Chronological Timeline
3. Inability to Edit
4. Embedding of Photos, Videos, GIFs
5. Filter-Bubbling Through Following, Block, and Mute Options
6. Lack of Reciprocity
7. Separation Between Posts and Mentions
I’m completely in agreement with Paulas’s incisive analysis.
So for the purposes of the rest of this post, I’m going to focus on “the actual contents of President Donald Trump’s information and misinformation.”
But I’m also going to deploy a philosophical thesis that I call The Life-Shaping Thesis, which says:
the communicative media we habitually employ, partially determine and shape the content of our lives.
So in other words, moving one step beyond McLuhan, I’m saying:
the medium is not merely the message, it’s also, to an important extent, the mind behind the message.
OK. Trump has 25.4 million followers on Twitter.
Leaving aside a few movie stars, rock stars, and other reality TV celebrities, that’s a lot of followers, perhaps even the most followers that any political Twit anywhere has.
So Trump is a political Super-Twit.
More or less arbitrarily, I concentrated on his Tweets from first thing in the morning on 10 February 2017 to mid-afternoon on 17 February 2017, so (roughly) seven consecutive days in Trump’s Twitterverse.
For verification, you can find this run of Tweets here.
During that (roughly) seven-day period, Trump generated exactly 100 Tweets, for an average of 14.3 Tweets a day.
He used the term “FAKE NEWS” or “FAKE MEDIA” 6 times, usually in capital letters.
And at least 22 of the Tweets were what I’ll call Nasty Attack Tweets: nastily denying something, nastily abusing something, or nastily abusing someone.
Each and every one of the 100 Tweets contains a head-shot of Trump, and in addition to that, Trump posted 17 pictures of himself, for a total average of 16.7 pictures of himself per day.
A perfect example of all of these tendencies is the already-notorious “enemy of the American People” Tweet from the evening of 17 February, that’s the featured image at the top of this post.
According to that well-known “failing,” “FAKE NEWS” medium, The New York Times, Trump deleted an earlier version of the post that accused only “failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more” of being a collective enemy of the American People.
But surely, calling almost all the leading news media outlets in the USA — namely, The NY Times, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, and CNN News — not merely “FAKE NEWS media” but also an “enemy of the American People,” is likely to bring down their collective wrath upon him in an all-destroying, Watergate-like investigative conflagration.
In that connection, it’s also amusingly ironic that Trump left The Washington Post out of his official list of Public Enemies, although, to be sure, on other occasions he’s directed Nasty Attack Tweets at them too.
So, what can we conclude from all this?
First, Trump is an egomaniac who is obsessed by the need to trump-et out little bits of his inner and political life in 140-character chunks, or less, more than once every two hours, 24–7, so that he’s in the social media limelight every single day, at all times of the day and night, looking at himself.
In other words, Trump is essentially living from Tweet to Tweet in his own self-created, self-reflecting Twitterverse.
Second, Trump is obsessed with the concept of fakery, falsity, or phoniness.
As I argued in “Trump and the Logic of MINDFUCK,” this is intimately connected to his being, in effect, the biggest bullshitter in the world.
In other words, Trump is essentially living a life of pure bullshit, both inner and political, from Tweet to Tweet, in his own self-created, self-reflecting Twitterverse.
Third, Trump cannot feel that he is winning his own game of inner and political bullshit-life without not merely defeating others but humiliating them too.
In other words, all things considered, Trump is essentially a cruel bully and a political tyrant, who is living a life of pure bullshit, both inner and political, from Tweet to Tweet, in his own self-created, self-reflecting Twitterverse.
Therefore, Twitter is not only the perfect medium for Trump, but also the fundamental vehicle and shaper of the content of his inner and political life: take away his Twitterverse, and he’d collapse both inwardly and politically.
My proposal, then, in order to neutralize Trump even before voting him out of office in the 2020 Presidential election, is not to impeach him — which, after all, would still leave him with all or most of his 25.4 million online followers — but instead simply ban him from Twitter.
But in any case, to Trump the political Super-Twit and his Twitterverse,
Je vous dis, merde!
“Je vous dis, merde!” (literally, “I say to you: shit!” or more loosely, “You’re so full of shit!”) is a morally and politically defiant slogan invented and first published by an early 20th-century Catalan anarchist who used the nom de guerre “Miguel Almereyda.” Almereyda, who was murdered in a French prison in 1917, was also the father of the famous French film director Jean Vigo, who immortalized the same slogan in his breakthrough 1933 film, Zéro de conduite, aka Zero for Conduct.
Here is the seven-part platform of The Wake The Fuck Up! Party , aka The WTFU Party —
1. Universal Respect for Human Dignity (URHD):
· Human dignity is the absolute non-denumerable moral value of every member of humanity, and everyone ought to try wholeheartedly to treat everyone else in a way that is sufficient to meet the demands of respect for human dignity, especially including (i) alleviating or ending human oppression, and (ii) actively engaging in mutual aid and mutual kindness.
2. Universal Basic Income (UBI):
· Anyone 21 years of age or over and living permanently in the USA, who has a personal yearly income of $50,000.00 USD or less, and who is capable of requesting their UBI, would receive $25,000.00 USD per year, with no strings attached.
3. A 15-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs):
· Anyone 18 years of age or older who is living permanently in the USA, who has completed a high school education, and is mentally and physically capable of doing a job, would be offered an eco-job, paying a yearly wage of $25,000.00 USD, for fifteen hours of work (three 5-hour days) per week.
Thus anyone 21 years of age or older with a high-school degree and who is also mentally and physically capable of working, would have a guaranteed yearly income of at least $50,000.00 USD if they chose to do an eco-job.
The rationale behind the three-year gap between (i) being offered an eco-job at 18 and (ii) beginning to receive their UBI at 21, is that every young adult who has finished high school will have the option of pursuing three years of part-time or full-time free higher education without credentialing, i.e., for its own sake, after high school, before making longer-term decisions about what I call job-work and life-work.
Here are a few more details about UBI and eco-jobs.
(i) The UBI is to be paid by a monthly stipend check.
(ii) Eco-job income is not taxed.
(iii) For all individual yearly incomes of $50,000.00 USD or under, no tax will be levied; hence for someone receiving their UBI and also doing an eco-job, no income tax will be levied.
(iv) For all individual non-eco-job incomes, for every $1.00 USD earned above the standard UBI of $25,000.00 USD, the monthly UBI stipend is reduced by 50 cents, until the recipient’s UBI is reduced to zero; hence for those individuals with yearly non-eco-job incomes equal to or under $50,000.00 USD, the maximum UBI + non-eco-job income sum is always $50,000.00 USD.
(v) For all individual yearly incomes over $50,000.00 USD, for every $10,000.00 USD earned, that surplus income is taxed at the rate of 1%, with the highest surplus income tax rate being 50%; hence the maximum surplus 50% tax rate starts at individual yearly incomes of $550,000.00 USD, and applies to all higher surplus incomes.
4. Universal Free Higher Education Without Credentialing (HEWC):
· Everyone would be offered, beyond their high-school education, a free, three-year minimum, optional (but also open-ended beyond those three years, as a further option), part-time or full-time universal public education program in the so-called “liberal arts,” and also in some of the so-called “STEM” fields, including the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences.
· For many or even most people, their HEWC would fall between (i) the end of their high school education at age 18 and the corresponding availability of eco-jobs, and (ii) the beginning of their UBI at age 21.
· But HEWC would be open to anyone with a high school degree, no matter how old they are, provided they are mentally and physically capable of doing the program.
5. Universal Free Healthcare (UFH):
· Every human person living permanently in the USA will receive free lifelong healthcare.
6. 2-Phase Universal Open Borders (2P-UOB):
· Phase 1: Starting in 2021, there will be universal open borders with Canada and Mexico, and everyone who moves across those borders and then claims residence in the USA, will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the USA, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents to depend on the current availability of (i) adequate funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the USA, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the USA and elsewhere in the world.
· Phase 2: Also starting in 2021, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will collectively form a Global Refugee Consortium (GRC), with three-way open borders to any political refugee, economic refugee, or asylum seeker from anywhere in the world (aka “global refugees”), who will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the three GRC countries, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents, and the precise distribution of new residents among the three members of the GRC, to depend on the current availability of (i) funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the three GRC countries, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the GRC and elsewhere in the world.
7. Universal No-Guns (UNG):
· No one in the USA, including police, internal security forces of all kinds, armies, and intelligence forces of all kinds, has the moral right to possess or use guns of any kind, for any purpose whatsoever, because the primary function of guns is coercion, and coercion is immoral.
· UNG would be implemented by repealing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 2021 and then universally banning the possession or use of guns thereafter.
I’m also assuming that Universal Public Education (UPE) — universal free access for all human persons of any age to good public education up to the end of high school — already exists in most countries, and needs no further justification.
Where UPE does not already exist, it would automatically become a necessary part of the seven-part WTFU Party package, thereby making it a eight-part package.
Mr Nemo, Nowhere, NA, 18 February 2017