Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Talking with Gilbert Wesley Purdy On His Book, Elitism and the Election of Donald Trump

I apologize on behalf of Blogger...I have tried to use color to differentiate individual talking, but it is coming out incorrectly in the printed version. I have added names to the speaker to show who is talking. Thank you for your patience, especially since this blog article is connected to our online activity!
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Book Readers Heaven is proud to host Gilbert Wesley Purdy in talking about his book, Elitism and the Election of Donald Trump! Welcome!

Gil: Thank you...

Glenda: Can we begin by clarifying directly from your book title, please. In the book, we discover that Elitism has different definitions used by different people. For purposes of what you want to share with America, how do you personally define Elitism?


Gil: There are power elites, wealth elites and various versions of cultural elites (most of the latter declining).  Power and wealth elites are pretty much interchangeable.  Who are the elites so many public figures point to as the insidious source of all of our problems?  As I pointed out, they are largely a myth.  Boogeymen.


Glenda: Your Cover places a profound statement immediately: America in Critical Condition. First, could you tell us a little bit about your background which allowed you to come to this conclusion...



Gil: My background is in engineering.  I was trained by the Navy, originally, as an Electrician’s Mate Nuclear Grade.  From there I worked: as a power plant mechanic; then as an electrical field engineer for computer-based control systems; an instrumentation engineer; and a computer-based process control system lead engineer.  Following my first career, I became a hermit and quasi-hermit for a number of years and a food pantry manager. While I was a hermit (with a possum for an upstairs neighbor, as you’ve noticed elsewhere) I began freelance writing.  As free rent options for myself and my library disappeared, making my hermit career impracticable, I returned to doing physical plant maintenance for a few years.  I have put the past four years entirely toward freelance writing.

Glenda: and Second, Would you pinpoint specific issues that you identify as placing America in critical condition.



Gil: I put some 15,000 words into explaining it in Elitism and the Election of Donald Trump and could easily have doubled that if I hadn’t spent a lifetime trying to learn how to say a lot in the least possible number of words.  The overview might be that we have come to define “truth” as a word synonymous with our group’s political/economic agenda.  The only widely shared idea of truth is that there is no such thing.  That it is an outdated Elitist construct.

Glenda: Given that Trump has been in the presidency for some months, do you think anything has changed, revised, or been eliminated during those months that needed to be done and was it a satisfactory response from him in your opinion?


Gil: I’m not at all sure what you are asking here.  Power is shifting to the legislative branch because the White House is dysfunctional.  The White House reality show, however, is such compelling television that it looks like all the meaningful action is taking place there.  In fact, almost none is.  It’s something I predict in the book.


Glenda: "Too much has been lost and too much hangs in the balance to try to gain place by pleasing one faction at the expense of the others" is stated early in your book. To me, it seems that, almost daily, we are being forced to ignore political parties and try to deal, or at least be aware of, what's happening today. While I agree that we cannot please one faction to the expense of others, do you see a way that speaking out truthfully will be accepted ever again?



Gil: Only time will tell.  There is nothing to do but to try.

Glenda: Specifically, You knew immediately while watching the election process that something was wrong... Can you elaborate on those points that affected you the most?


Gil: The use of reality television scripts.  Of course, there would seem to be no scripts for reality television characters.  But, in fact, each character comes to write their own based upon their own previous viewing experiences (or is declared “boring” and tossed off the show).  The most important thing, by orders of magnitude, is not to write one’s part such that it is boring.  As for just being oneself, we’ve long ago developed scripts for that as well.  It’s just one more line of possible character development.



Among the myriad effects of this, there is no shame to lying per se.  If it makes your character compelling it is actually a positive.  If you miscalculate and it makes your character unattractive, it is a negative.  Or you can attempt a gambit and rewrite your character as compellingly unattractive.  Written well, the audience can love to hate you to the point where you become essential to the plotline.  Such a gambit is extremely difficult to manage, as Milo Yiannopoulos can attest.

Glenda: Lying was obviously something that has been picked up on, over and over... The size of the audience, to me, was not that important although it was spotlighted by Trump's staff over and over... Can you, again, pinpoint those areas where you saw lying, that would lead to future disastrous results?


Gil: It’s not so much that lying leads to this or that.  It’s that there is no longer any cultural agreement as to what is “a lie” and what is “the truth.” Any attempt to come to such an agreement is fiercely rejected.  That being the case, there is no basis for decision-making except as calculation for the maximum possible personal and/or group gain.  Inasmuch as there is a definition, the truth is whatever optimizes your and/or your group’s empowerment.  A lie is anything that causes less than optimum empowerment.  Thus every group has its “truth.”


Everything Trump said on the campaign trail was the truth because it increased his brand recognition, ego gratification and possibilities for greater wealth.  When it turned out that the brand was suffering for his behavior, it was because others were twisting what he said by lies.  His surrogates always told the truth because what they said enhanced their own name recognition and business opportunities.  All of this was done by telling people what they wanted to hear.  The campaign was virtually dripping with truth.


Glenda: "The truth people wanted to hear was the “truth” that justified them in their hatreds; dramatic “truths,” perhaps, that made the election seem less boring than past affairs... Policies were pathetic attempts at plot development and were largely cast aside. They were ignored in favor of confused, emotionally charged rants and conspiracy theories. Emotional connection was not the most important thing: it was everything. The candidate played to the pit and the sweeping emotion of angry cries and thunderous applause was so affecting that those in the cheap seats took it up as well..."  Many of us, especially women, saw this happening and yet, as I saw it, those in power allowed it.  How could that happen during an election? Or, why do you think it was "allowed?


Gil: Who do you think was in a position to forbid it?



“Those in power” implies  some person or group stands outside and above the fray.  If the Obama Administration tried to intervene it would only have been interference in the election process.  It would only have taken matters from bad to worse.  There are good reasons that such actions are absolutely verboten.  After all, in four years it would be the Trump Administration’s turn to intervene in the elections if they saw them as going off-track….

Glenda: The following quote from the book was "the truth" in my opinion. The presidential election had been transformed into a reality television show. One of the candidates was a reality television personality who knew how to play to the camera. Policies were pathetic attempts at plot development and were largely cast aside. They were ignored in favor of confused, emotionally charged rants and conspiracy theories. Emotional connection was not the most important thing: it was everything. The candidate played to the pit and the sweeping emotion of angry cries and thunderous applause was so affecting that those in the cheap seats took it up as well. His opponent was a “weak character”. No one was even sure why she was on the show except to be a foil. Scores of fact-free fan-sites were required in order even to turn her into a serviceable evil, demonic character that the audience could hate enough to keep the emotion building up. Without those sites she would only have been the greatest of television disasters: boring. 


Glenda: Not being a fan of reality shows myself, do you, and how do you correlate your statement that America is in Crisis, with what seems to be the "me" generation that we now find ourselves in, so much so that a national election could be turned into such a farce?


Gil: The ”truth” according to the present administration (for just one example) is that Climate Change is a hoax.  This is its truth because it is the position that most empowers its wealth elite.  Nevertheless, Climate Change is real.  When the “truth” that underwrites policy is determined in this way, a nation is in critical condition.  It will make self-destructive decisions.   


The Ctrl-Left has decided (for just another example) that the “truth” is that the “Heteropatriarchy” has dominated Western society to this point thus is responsible for every tragedy.  It declares that disempowering the Heteropatriachy will in-and-of-itself bring about profoundly positive social justice — put an end to tragedies.  It is the position that empowers its intellectual elite.  This truth also requires the auxiliary “truth” that immediate wholesale redesign of a complex society will arrive at improved outcomes as a matter of course.  But all of history argues powerfully against this truth.  The actual historical data says that wholesale societal change leads to unpredictable and largely destructive results.  The truth is that radical change results in severe instability.


For a half-century now the U.S. white heterosexual male has had the playing field entirely to himself.  His family lived ever better for it.  Even Europe still had a long way to go in order to compete effectively.  As the result, Americans won every competition, were the best at everything.  We came to expect that it would forever be the case.   It was inherent in being America that our answers were always correct.  We learned that we were by definition right and the rest of the world was wrong.


As the reality that we were always right began to be challenged a wide range of defenses were deployed.  At the same time, the system that made us so enormously powerful began to threaten our existence.  Wealth and power began to be dispersed among other nations.  Our waste products began to threaten our survival.  


But our technologies have reached unimaginable heights.   Again we have reason to understand that we can always be right by virtue of simply being American.  Donald Trump promised the U.S. white heterosexual male without the education to fully participate in these technologies that they will be brought along for the ride.  The Ctrl-Left intends to use the technologies to replace all that went before with a perfectly just new construct that overthrows the dominance of that group and the educated white heterosexual male wealth elite.  Neither goal is achievable and each faction is dedicated to fight to the death. 



In a world that is crumbling under the weight of our desires, we have chosen to believe that those desires are the source of truth.  This pattern repeats itself across all social and political factions.  America is in critical condition.

Glenda: Let's move on to the principles that you enumerated in your book. The one that bothers me most is the "Fake News." phenomenon...that is sweeping America, claiming that everything that is not agreed with or against your own beliefs and thoughts, is really Fake News created by the "opposition" whoever that may be? How do you recommend we deal with this?


Gil: My answer in the book is about as brief as I can get.  I had to have enormous self-control to keep it that general — to allow the reader  to fill in the fine detail as it might relate to their own individual circumstances.

Glenda: You move on from Fake News to ask the question-- "Defining Truth." with a subtitle of "Alt-Right, Conservatory Talk Radio. I have seen this over and over in past conversations. The thing that bothers me most is that, logically, most times what is being said, does not make sense. But more, how do we, perhaps I can say those who open themselves to read beyond their own biases, begin to communicate with those with whom we disagree? Or do we just ignore things to keep peace? Can we afford to continue to do that?

Gil: The particularly insidious “Chinese handcuff” nature of the problem does not condemn us to passivity but it does force deeply ironic, humble and patient answers upon us.  It is almost impossible to  “communicate,” as matters stand now, without being just another faction with its own alternative truth.


Glenda: Specifically, you talk about these things in the past tense, that fake news and truth have been used for many, many years. While I agree, what I see now is that everybody is questioning who can we trust in our government?! Doesn't this mean that something is bound to "break" since people are now questioning and not being willing to accept the questionable old-school rhetoric?


Gil: You can trust each faction to continue to try to advance its own interests. Inasmuch as one aligns with your own interests, and is competent, you are likely to be as satisfied as possible — perhaps even to feel that your trust was well-placed.

Glenda: I want to briefly speak to the issue of religion and the reality we now have of each religion having their own god, specific truth, and no other truth, and how you see it affecting America specifically. 


Gil: This is properly the subject of a book, not an interview question.  For present purposes, religious groups are just factions like any other.  They have their agendas and their actions can be predicted based upon them.

We are "Post-Truth" - “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”


Glenda: For me as we look toward the end of the book, I personally must come back to our president who has declared media as unbelievable that anyone that is not for his decisions is...wrong...or criminals... A person who has used the emotional lives of America, to further divide our country...and so much more... In the past there has been a balance...now it seems the President demands his way or else...Can the crisis you've already identified possibly get better with the present leader in the White House? Specifically, what is your opinion of what has been happening since you first wrote your book?


Gil: I think it is fair to say that events are unfolding almost exactly as the book predicts.  The only thing that holds out some hope for matters to improve in the short term will be the Democrats scoring large victories in the 2018 elections.  In this way, they may be able to avoid becoming a permanent opposition party.  In the end, they are the more rational party though there would still be a lot of work to do, should they manage parity, within their own ranks.


Many thanks to Author Gilbert Wesley Purdy for participating in this important discussion, based upon his book Elitism and the Election of Donald Trump.



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On the Facebook Reviewers Roundup Group Page, we will open this discussion to the public for comment and further discussion. This will be formally schedule for Monday, but you'll be able to start adding comments and questions as soon as you wish, with the responses starting on Monday.


Note: I am having trouble with Blogger Programming
and cannot get to my review...
You can access it from the Magazine Version
on February 19th..