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Foundation and Trumpire by @BloggersRUs

Foundation and Trumpire

by Tom Sullivan

A tweet thread last week from Matthew Chapman of ShareBlue media distilled the essence of Donald Trump's worldview. It bears reprising.

We already know the sitting president thinks there are only two kinds of people in the world: winners and losers. But one telltale of what I call the Midas cult (everything that can be turned into gold should be) is the need to reduce every human interaction to a transaction. Chapman believes in Trump's mutated version, every transaction is essentially a con.

No human interaction, no deal is worth making unless he sees himself as the winner and you as the loser. If he cannot twist the arrangement to fit that frame, it means he's being ripped off. For this reason, Trump will overturn the western alliance and a half century of international treaties. He will will forego billions and billions in trade. He will spike bipartisan DACA deals he asked for because Democrats signed on. If they wanted it, they somehow must be ripping him off. Chapman concludes, "He is not just bad at being president, he has a defective way of seeing the world that is not compatible with being president."

In Isaac Assimov's Foundation series, psychohistorian Hari Selden uses a blend of mathematics and sociology to predict human developments over vast time frames. Selden foresees the coming collapse of the Galactic Empire and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before another empire arises. He formulates a plan for shortening the intervening period of chaos and decline to one thousand years. Selden even leaves recorded instructions for helping the Foundation navigate the crises his predictions show (in general terms) will inevitably arise. Members of his Foundation will be the new order's midwives, dedicated to preserving "humanity’s light against an inexorable tide of darkness and violence."

But in Foundation and Empire, a mutant known as the Mule begins conquering the planets of the Foundation. Selden's mathematics could not predict the appearance of a single individual capable of disrupting his plan. Wikipedia describes the Mule as a "mentallic," having the ability to "change the emotions of others, a power he used to first instill fear in the inhabitants of his conquered planets, then to make his enemies devoutly loyal to him."

Our own Mule may be such a person our founders, men of the Enlightenment, could not have foreseen two and a half centuries into the American experiment. Now, as the Foundation did, the task is to render him harmless.

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