Trump as a Fascist Part IV: The Alpha Male, the Nation and the State

Trump as a Fascist Part IV: The Alpha Male, the Nation and the State


Howard Adelman

If you are an Alpha Male, there is no necessity that you will be a fascist. However, there is no example of fascism that does not have an Alpha Male as its leader. An Alpha Male as a leader of a fascist moment is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition, of identifying a movement as fascist.

I thank God (colloquially and not ironically) that I come from a tradition that puts the stress on non-Alpha Males as political and spiritual leaders. Abraham was not an Alpha Male. Isaac was not an Alpha Male. Jacob was not an Alpha Male. The list goes on. Neither Joseph nor Moses were Alpha Males. Sampson was, but he was not a leader, but a martyr.

An Alpha Male has the following characteristics, often seen and promoted in ads or on internet sites as positive virtues. Those promotions are social and psychological equivalents to the ads I would read in comic books when I was a kid about the skinny guy on the beach being beaten up. But if he took the Charles Atlas exercise program, he would be the beater rather than the beaten. Further, he would get all the girls.

For a central characteristic of an Alpha Male is one who strives to win, not just by demonstrating superiority to a rival, but by whipping that rival. Winning versus losing is not enough. The victory must be convincing to all who watch. Hence, the pitiful display, both of the way Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton (“Lock her up”) and his need and insistence that he won with the greatest majority in history.

The advertisement for himself begins, always, with self-confidence. It is not that self-confidence is a vice. It is clearly not. But when at fourteen years of age as a student in a military academy when, in a baseball game, you hit a ball into left field and the ballplayer fumbles the catch, you not only boast that you hit the ball way into the stands, but insist that your teammate verify the truth of that claim. The self-confidence is not only physical, but vocal and revealed in both action and thought (not reflection, for the behaviour tends to be on auto—pilot).

Accompanying this form of self expression is a demonstration of perseverance. Again, perseverance, stick-to-itiveness, is not a vice in itself. It is normally a virtue. But when that doggedness is accompanied by two other characteristics, it is without question a vice. Tenacity is insufficient. First, there is no second guessing. What is expressed must be reality. There are no social or intellectual checks and balances. However, a second characteristic is also present – the ease with which the Alpha Male changes his mind. But the change always comes from his mind and never the influence of others. He must be the genesis of all thought and action. He must define himself. No one else.

Until he changes his mind, he is immovable in his convictions. But if and when he changes his mind – and that will be often – there will be no admission of such. DT has never confessed that he was wrong in his insistence that Barack Obama was not born in America. He will go from being a professed supporter of LGBT rights to demanding that transgender individuals be kicked out of the armed forces virtually overnight without any acknowledgement that he has changed his mind.

As a result, this Alpha Male, afraid to be the victim of a bully, becomes the bully on the beach. After all, in his world view, there are only winners and losers, dominance or submission. That is expressed in every aspect of his body language which I have already depicted – from the pompadour hair styling to the upwardly thrust chin and the exposure of his neck as if he were daring anyone to come up to the podium and try to slit his neck. Exposing his neck is not an act of submission but of bravado. Don’t slump; thrust your shoulders back. Don’t fold your arms; display them and your hands, for you, as the Alpha Male, fear no one. Shake hands, if possible, with your palm down. DT took instructions from the best Alpha Male manuals.

This bravado is also expressed in his use of language – the repetitions, like the rattling of a gatling gun, the unapologetic way in which he interrupts a conversation or abandons it if he cannot prevail. It is why he is such a poor listener for he is in thrall to his own voice. When he speaks, he so frequently uses the device of the pregnant pause that he would make the believer think that he is the source of a brilliant idea every fifteen seconds. He stops in the middle of sentences, even the middle of a phrase, to communicate that everyone listening must “hang” onto his every word.

As everyone now recognizes, the crisis of the time may be North Korea developing nuclear weapons, but what absorbs 80% of his energy is himself and how he appears to others. He needs to stand out. He needs to say what he wants to say and insist that what he says becomes the centre of attention. When he is not the centre, he is very creative in interrupting the public conversation and turning the spotlight back on himself. Thus, he is not a simple Alpha Male, but one who suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder. He has to demonstrate that he can do what he wants, when he wants because he can. He does not ask. He tells. He must show that he is in the lead and ahead of the game all the time even when he is leading backwards and retreating.

If an Alpha Male is a leader, does he not have to demonstrate that he takes care of the people close to him, that he listens to them to find out what they are thinking? Does he not have to demonstrate that he can put his own ego aside to learn and grow rather than demonstrate defensiveness and insecurity about one’s own ego?  The answer to both questions is – Yes. The issue is the few that he allows to be close. In front of those few, he will demonstrate that he can sideline his ego, but only to allow it overnight to re-appear bigger and supposedly better by the next morning.

That does not mean that he lacks considerable social skills. He can laugh and tell a story. He can flatter and make others feel good about themselves. But only so long as those around are sucked into his construction of reality. When they demonstrate they are the agents of their own actions, even when those actions conform to his own wishes or, in the case of The Mooch, to his own style, he will not only be dismissive of them, but can resort to humiliation and denigration. DT’s treatment of Jeff Sessions is a case in point. Just because the norms of justice demand that any Attorney General recuse himself when the subject of an investigation includes him as a central figure, that is of no consequence. The only thing that matters is that Sessions acted without consulting him and getting his stamp of approval. The preeminent Alpha Male must make all decisions that may affect oneself.

Such an Alpha Male must not only be the star of the show, but the All-Star. However, that ego must be fed, fed by people who are in awe of him. At the same time, the Alpha Male must demonstrate that he goes into battle with a magical talisman that deflects both bullets and criticism. He firmly believes that nothing can harm his Ego.

However, the weakness of that ego, the insecurity behind the insistence on only self-validation, is the need to rely on others demonstrating an overwhelming sense of reverence and admiration. He must not only be imposing and impressive, formidable and frightening at one and the same time, he needs to be exalted and treated as a wondrous being. In turn, he doles out approval in superlatives – he is the best; isn’t she the greatest. But what about self-deprecation? What about admitting that you do not have all the answers? Any form of such admission is not a demonstration of superiority, but of inferiority and dependence on others.

What about honesty and integrity? DT is a serious serial liar. He can barely tell the truth even when he has no need to deceive. One could argue that the Alpha Male has no reason to lie because he is unconcerned with how others view him. But a super Alpha Male needs to create his own reality and suck everyone else into his vortex. Lying and insisting on its truth is not a mere tactic of never admitting you are wrong, but an ontological need for the only reality can be one that the Alpha Male creates.

What has all this to do with politics – especially in a democratic order? Everything, especially if the democracy has put itself at risk by removing barriers to the ascension of an Alpha Male to a throne of power. According to Giovanni Gentile, what made the world was not an objective understanding of it, but an imposition of the ideas of a subjective agency upon it. In objective thought, opposites in contention were the source of validating reality. In Gentile’s fascist world, the one who chose among opponents in contention determined leadership. Nothing exists external to the human mind and spirit and the most dominant expression of human will, therefore, defined reality. There was no empirical reality independent and capable of assessing and evaluating the predominant spirit. What that spirit must do is offer to “his” people, especially appealing to those left behind by the current direction and dialectic of history, was a vision of a totalized whole of society in which they could all be a part. All thought had to be subsumed by the state and independent media could only be a source of false ideas and untruths.

Thus, individual interests of divergent groups were to incorporated into one movement that in turn was determined to incorporate them into the state. That meant a state defined by humans and not by laws and a constitution. That meant a state based on a doctrine of, “L’état c’est moi.” The “stato etico” was to be the means of resolution of the problems of alienation. What about the conservative vision of a diminished state. No problem. The issue was not how much the state delivered services, but how much the state expressed that unified vision where efforts to balance and deal with various interests were anathema. The state may shrink, but no one can be free of its ever-presence and the omniscience and domination of its leader.

Thus, two propositions are identified with the theory of fascism. “The State is a wholly spiritual creation of its leader” and “the nation is also a creation of mind and not a pre-existing entity.” Make America great again means “make America.” The past is denigrated and the future becomes wide open and adaptable to the contingencies of the time and place. A dominant human will imposing its authority on the will of others must prescribe that reality with the message that he is the deliverer from the forces of oppression and the spokesperson for the historical expression of a pre-determined destiny. There are no independent laws and there is no independent reality separable from that vision and articulation.

Education may be privatized, but simply to allow the movement to capture control from the pre-existing state. Individualism, the idealization of the self-centred and self-interested self, must be idealized only to subsume that individual in the will of a nation and a state bound together by a common vision of a greater America that, at its ultimate, will demand the self-sacrifice of the individual for this duty to serve the higher expression of the larger community. For it is in the national spirit that the individual truly lives and experiences reality.

There is, thus, a rejection of materialism, a rejection of empirical positivism, a rejection of scepticism, for a vision of man creating through the exercise of that “free will” his own world. And it will be his world, a world he can own and not a world that is passing him by. To participate, he and she must become active agents in this project of self-creation accepting the vision of the leader as the maker of the new reality. And making that new reality will not be an easy enterprise. It will take work. It will take a sustained effort. It will take trust in the leader. Since the movement believes in the state and in the nation, but not government, the exercise of government is only instrumental to serving the vision. As such, the movement will have more of the characteristics of a mass cult than of a political party.

Its roots will be the family. Leadership will extoll the foundation of society in the traditional family, and, in turn, the social group in which one experiences a commonality of purpose. Diversity becomes a swear word in such a context. Instead, the stress is placed on a commonality of tradition, even as one reconfigures those traditions, such as the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty, and, most of all, the commonality of language. Hence, the insistence that those recruited into the community share that language and those traditions.

How can man act on both society and on nature? With respect to the latter, denying both the importance and the relevance of nature’s laws. The problem with the concept of global warming is not the earth warming resulting from human activity, but the idea of the earth warming by forces almost out of human control. The exercise is not to conform to nature’s laws, but to insist that humans, more specifically, societies led by leaders are in control independent of such forces. If that means being a climate change denier, so be it.

Only in this way can liberty escape the prison bars of liberalism, escape the individual driven by drives and interests, in favour of a nation and a state created independently, indeed, in disregard of, such natural forces. Only then will the nation and the state express the free will of the individual to achieve a higher state of being through that nation and through that state. Contrary to the suggestion that DT is an anti-statist, he is anti-government. Chaos is not an accidental feature of his administration but its core. For only out of chaos will the new emerge.

No wonder that super Alpha Males and this notion of the nation and the state forge such a perfect marriage. Congratulating the scouts for the universal virtues developed and created as part of civil society is anathema, for the boy scouts must be harnessed by the movement towards an organic nation and state. Using a scout jamboree as if it is a movement rally is par for the course and not considered deviant behaviour. For there can be no virtues outside this spiritual movement thrust forward by the vision of a renewed nation and state.

Hence, fascism is and must be totalitarian even if, on the way to that end, compromise may be necessary. Therefore, individuals who fall by the wayside out of this cultish movement must be denied the rites even of a proper burial of their role and, instead, literally tossed under the bus. Because the rise of fascism is opportunistic. The absence of ethics as we know it in all these ways  is a telling revelation of the means and ends of the movement.


Donald Trump the Fascist – Part I

Donald Trump the Fascist – Part I


Howard Adelman

On Friday night at dinner, my friend complained that a crossword puzzle with the clue “mission” required the answer, “errand.” He thought that was unfair. I defended the answer to the clue because an errand – sending someone to fetch something – was one kind of mission, an activity directed intensely towards a single goal. My companion conceded the point and then asked what about the word “stupid”? The answer in the puzzle was “crass”. In this case, I tended to agree with my friend who was incensed at the injustice of the query.

However, my concurrence bothered me. For I knew I was often ignorant of some of the meanings of terms. Though I thought “stupid” conveyed primarily “lacking intelligence,” and “crass” conveyed “boorishness,” perhaps the two terms did, in some of the uses of each, enjoy a family resemblance. I looked “stupid” up in the thesaurus and found this additional equivalence:


Crass behaviour is stupid and does not show consideration for other people.

They have behaved with crass insensitivity.

In this meaning, “crass” is not so much defined by the words and deeds of the character said to be crass, but by the crass individual’s ignorance about the effects of his (or her) behaviour. A crass individual is stupid in his or her insensitivity to others.

I begin with this very small anecdote because of puzzlement about Donald Trump who seems both crass and stupid. But how can someone so stupid, so ignorant about so much, know such a great deal about those who follow him? More significantly, how can he keep not only his own populist followers, but also so many conservatives and Republicans (the latter two are not identical) in line if he is both stupid as well as crass? Simply put, my answer comes in explaining Donald Trump as a fascist.

However, before we explore that response, it is well to understand another very different reason why we may be avoiding pinning the tail of fascism on the ass of Donald Trump. We use him and need him as either an object of ridicule or as a measure of madness. I focus on the latter.

Instead of calling DT a fascist, we say that he is mad, daft, crazy, an insane narcissist. Senator Jack Reed (D- R.I.) said, “I think — I think he’s crazy. I mean, I don’t say that lightly and [mean that] as a kind of a goofy guy.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted against the Republican efforts at “repeal and replace” of Obamacare, seemed to express her concurrence. This was on top of his ignorance. “I don’t think he knows there is a [Budget Control Act] or anything,” added Collins.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and celebrity on “The Shark Tank,” dubbed DT “bats” and David Brooks of The New York Times described DT as suffering from “multiple personality disorder.” However, if DT is mad, he has certainly developed a mastery of celebrity politics, more than sufficient to wipe the floor with his 16 opponents on the campaign trail for the nomination and then to go on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College.

One problem is that if Trump is mad-as-a-hatter, we should not normally ridicule him. Blaming a madman for his erratic behaviour simply undercuts the judicial principles developed over the last century whereby the mentally disturbed are not laughed at, but rather treated for their illness. If DT is mentally ill, some might criticize him but not laugh at him. For most cases of mental illness, we extend sympathy and empathy to the troubled individual. However, some diagnoses empirically do not generally elicit sympathy. Offering sympathy or empathy in some cases takes place only at considerable risk to the one who proffers it to a severe narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. For the latter will only use that empathy to disadvantage the person who is attempting to offer it, always in order to get the upper hand. DT is a master at doing just that. Further, if he claims personal experience trumps reality supported by evidence, we can end up only treating the individual as a deliberate liar rather than delusional.

Most important, we fail to get at the source of his erratic behaviour that runs so counter to his own interests. Just last week, these irrational patterns included:

  • Continuing the efforts at humiliating his only critical ally in the legislature when he was campaigning and who was so important in linking him up with the conservative core of the Republican Party, his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions;
  • Embarrassing an organization such as the Boy Scouts by treating youth as a staging ground for his rallies with his railing against the Washington swamp, and getting those boys to cheer for him rather than his applauding them for upholding the universal virtues that the movement tries to instill in its youthful members;
  • Doing far better than central casting, appointing Scarry Moochy, Anthony Scaramucci, as his Communications Director [for only trn days] who even upped DT himself in his profanity and use of humiliation to drive his rival, White House Chief of Staff and a pillar of the Republican establishment, Reince Priebus, from office by accusing him of being a criminal and crazy at one and the same time; the Mooch called Priebus a leaker (a felony) and a paranoid schizophrenic;
  • Contrary to his campaign pledge to guard their back, DT announced that he was not only denying transgender military personnel access to state-supported funds for medical procedures to which they were entitled as members of the armed forces, a denial policy pushed by many conservatives, he went further and tweeted that he was kicking them out of the armed forces altogether, claiming the decision followed consultation with “his” generals when, in short order, it became apparent that they had been blindsided and were unwilling to implement an order contained in a tweet.

The list could go on. These were only the most outstanding expressions of what is easily dubbed as madness. These were not simply breeches of democratic norms and standards of decorum expected of a president, but symptoms of a very deep illness.

There is another view. His nuttiness is merely his unique brand of cutthroat cleverness. As the campaign was heating up, Konrad Yakabuski in The Globe and Mail eighteen months ago wrote that, “While the historians debate whether Mr. Trump is a bona fide fascist or just an opportunistic rabble-rouser, the pundits have already decided that he is crazy – like a fox. His endless disregard for the boundaries of acceptable political discourse only serves to ensure that he dominates the news cycle – to the detriment of rivals struggling to gain basic name recognition – and to consolidate his support among a slice of the electorate that is hopping mad and sick of slick career politicians.”

Craziness had been converted into political craftiness based on absolute amorality. The main object is to continually hijack the debate, to hijack debate altogether, in favour of one outlandish claim after another, each more extreme than his previous record. Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post, six months after Yakabuski penned his op-ed, opined that he had once thought that DT was just “being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy.”

Crazy or crazily calculating? However, if DT is that sick, should we laugh at him or ridicule his behaviour? Rather, should we not try to analyze the source of his dysfunction and urge treatment? Instead, DT has served as a boondoggle to liberal satirists. And he is such an easy target given his inability to complete a sentence unless he has his eyes literally tied to a monitor. With his compulsion to repeat phrases, his open-hands used to wave away criticism like a set of bothersome flies while he communicates that he is totally open to the audience as his limbs move in unison to draw in identification with himself as the abiding authority.

Like primates, wolves and dogs, Trump snarls.  Dogs snarl as a defensive, protective gesture and to provide a warning signal. DT does it to communicate threatening disdain as he shrugs to deflect criticism. His distinctive eye roll relays his contempt while his smirk discounts the other as a fool and his finger pointing identifies his enemies. He purses his lips to scowl at his opponents as childish miscreants and turns his torso towards them as an expression of domination. Finally, his swept blonde hairdo signals that he is not afraid to convey any of these characteristics, but wallows in the attention these gestures bring.  He is not only a celebrity who is energized by the spotlight, but a black star that uses all its energy to absorb the light from everything around.

Many in America are reluctant to use the term “fascist” and apply it to Donald Trump lest they be regarded as “off the wall” and exaggerating. They would, thereby, undercut the opposition to Donald Trump. However, non-Americans need not be so timid. My friend, Michael Marrus, wrote an op-ed in the Globe and Mail on 7 July entitled, “The new face of fascism, American-style.” ( Michael is a European historian and for years was the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.

Other than prudence, Michael offered many other reasons why the term fascist had been avoided. The following elements seemed to be missing:

  • a cult of militarization and war
  • a celebration of youth
  • an idealization of sacrifice and death
  • an incubator of economic depression
  • seething ethnic quarrels.

My inclination is to suggest that all of these are lurking in the shadows. However, Michael suggested another reason for avoiding the use of the term fascist. Citing George Mosse, he wrote that, fascism is a “scavenger ideology,” “less a coherent body of thought and policy than a mood articulated by talented demagogues who patched together, from the popular culture, strident calls to action in the service of ill-defined myths of a nation’s greatness.” Michael urged us to resist the temptation and the many reasons on offer for avoiding the link between Trump’s overt behaviour and the label “fascist”. Rhetorically, he asked whether Trump’s contempt for a free press and his cruel insinuations and use of stigmas indicated a fascist personality. DT’s behaviour was not merely crass and stupid. Nor could his remarks simply be dismissed as just “inappropriate” and “disappointing”.

Michael cited Robert Kagan of the Brooking Institute, one of the few Americans unafraid to link DT with fascism in print. For fascism has come to America, “not with jackboots and salutes … but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac ‘tapping into’ popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party – out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear – falling into line behind him.”

The result has been:

  • an emphasis on fealty rather than loyalty
  • a professed disdain for elites as Trump surrounds himself with obeisant generals and billionaires as well as sycophants
  • embracing rather than rejecting the principle of contradiction
  • contempt for convention, comity and civility.

In People Magazine in 1981, Trump described humans (actually “men”) as “the most vicious of all animals.” He went further than Thomas Hobbes in insisting that this military viciousness was not even controlled or controllable by political institutions, but meant that life was just “a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” You were either a killer or a sucker. He was not a believer in the doctrine that the end justifies the means, but an idolater who believed that the only end worthy of effort was victory űber alles, including especially army generals whom he relished being made into his subordinates. The world is divided into alpha males and the “rest.”

As Trump boasted, “I was elected president.” Neither his supine nor his clever and intelligent opponents were able to defeat him. And in a memorable effort to confine Donald Trump within the constitution and some scraps of morality, Khizr Khan, father of a decorated deceased Muslim war hero whom Roger Stone, one of DT’s mentors, had labeled a “Muslim Brotherhood agent,” this “agent” waved the pamphlet containing the constitution, offering it to DT as reading material for DT seemed so ignorant of its contents, Trump was easily able to brush an attack launched from a pinnacle of virtue into the swamp created by the dam he has so assiduously built in the valley below.

As David Givens, Director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington, noted during the primary campaign referring to Donald Trump, “Nobody has done it this well since John F. Kennedy. Or Mussolini.” It is to Mussolini and his philosophical partner, Giovanni Gentile, that I want to move. However, I will first elaborate on the debate over whether DT is a fascist. My position is clear. Whether a clown or crazy, Donald Trump’s behaviour does not simply bear a superficial resemblance to that of fascists. Donald Trump deeply identifies with the philosophical tenets of fascism.

With the help of Alex Zisman – and others.

Explaining Why Hillary Clinton Has Not Won the Hearts and Minds of Millennials

Media and Millennials –
II Explaining Why Hillary Clinton Has Not Won Their Hearts and Minds


Howard Adelman

Based on my son’s suggestion, I have what I believe might explain the strong reluctance of millennials not to support Hillary Clinton that goes much deeper than the surface reasons offered by them which I contend are often distorted. For my youngest son is even angrier at the media than at a nihilist and psychopathic liar like Donald Trump. He blames the mainstream media for creating Donald Trump. But which media? He watches television shows and follows the news on BBC, NBC and CNN, watches the debates and satirical news shows, but only online, and reads newspapers, again only online. Is there a difference between reading a newspaper online versus in print?

When he reads news online, he hates distractions. He wants his news to be factual, brief and to the point. He generally does not read my blogs, even when they are directly intended for his eyes (as in the Bernie Sanders series) because they are far too long and he regards my distributing them them as equivalent to his releasing his films incompletely edited. He would argue that they are unfinished and not just long. But are these the only reasons?

Four years ago, Liew Chee Kit and Gan Wei Teng wrote a paper, “Print Newspaper versus Online News Media: A Quantitative Study on Young Generation Preference.”
( In their study, millennials not only preferred online news to print media by a wide margin, but did so, not so much for convenience and saving money, but because online media is not only immediate but also interactive, even though most millennials do not respond with tweets. What matters is the ability to do so. What matters is that the millennials feel that they can at least respond to the “intellectual prison” and “handed-down frameworks” of the print media. It is this permissible use that goes far beyond printing a few letters to the editor in newsprint that most attracts those millennials who read newspapers online.

But look at the differences between print and online newspapers, at least as I experience them. Interactivity is irrelevant for me even when I read news online – which I do extensively. But I read differently. I read a print newspaper holistically. I read newspapers online intentionally, seeking out stories about which I am thinking. Reading online deepens my investigation of a subject. Reading a newspaper in print broadens my perspective. On the other hand, in spite of my very poor memory, I recall more, much more, from reading a newspaper and can usually place a story spatially on a page. I cannot do this with online newspapers, but what I can do is extract pieces that interest me and deposit them in reference files. This is probably another reason why I do not file these snippets in my memory; I file them in my computer. In newspapers, I skip over ads – with some exceptions – but they do not annoy me. I hate online ads.

Most important, I like the very thing that I believe many if not most millennials hate – being guided by what is on the front page, by the position on the page, in determining the salience of a story. Some even claim that they respect stories more if they are printed. I do not believe I do, but I may. But I certainly appreciate the aesthetics more. Of the three Toronto Newspapers, on the basis of aesthetic reasons, I think the National Post, the newspaper most on the right and the one most discordant with my own views, has the best typeface, spacing, margins and sizes of stories. For me, it is the most attractive newspaper to read. I do not read online news based on attraction, though, perhaps, I may do so subliminally, but I do not think so.

Further, unlike many readers of online material, length does not bother me and so I impose on my readers 2500 words on average even though studies indicate 1,000 word maximums – and even less – should be adhered to except for scholarly articles. Finally, the old-fashioned convenience of portability, especially for doing sudoku and crossword puzzles, ends up trumping online news. But I read far more online news that I get from newsprint, for online reading allows side excursions, checks and in-depth exploration.

So what is the difference between myself and my son, between my past-the-due-date generation and my youngest son, a millennial? It is not the media in itself, I believe, but the way we use it and the way we experience it. The alternative media sources and their characteristics do not determine preferences, but the questions I bring, the frameworks – intellectual and aesthetic – do make a difference. And millennials, I believe, now experience the world much differently than previous generations.

What issues bother him and many of his cohorts? I believe environmental issues are first and foremost on the agenda. Whereas my generation in the sixties faced down a nuclear arms race and feared Armageddon, we still believed we could get control of the nuclear threat. Millennials, on the other hand, prioritize environmental issues, but see their own behaviour and practices as frequently hypocritical, and the government policies attacking the problem as too little and far too late. The Armageddon they face is perceived to be even worse than a nuclear war.

There is another issue that made Bernie so appealing. Though many of their upper middle class friends who graduated from university do not bear the huge educational debts of their other friends who were not lucky enough to grow up in families that could support their education, those who are better off see the burden that their other friends carry who were not blessed with parents who could pay the costs of their education. They also see how that burden impedes their life prospects. Further, many of their compatriots in their mid-twenties still live at home and many of them believe they will never accumulate the capital on their own to buy and own a home – especially since the group he hangs out with are downtowners.

Because of the economic burdens they carry and the economic prospects they see before them, they can ill afford the disproportionate share of that money on media, electronic media in particular, compared to what we spent on all media when we were that age. And this at a time when house prices have increased twice the amount of the purchasing power of money! So they generally find ways to get the information and visual views they want in the least expensive ways, even if that way is at the expense of the producer. They take Uber drivers at the expense of the careers of taxi drivers who have their own families to support. So their social concerns are not with the undereducated working class. Though they might come from upper middle class families, their goals – and this is true of all the ones I know in my personal experience – do not include wealth accumulation as having a significant priority. Happiness and work satisfaction do. Millennials do not want to and are very reluctant to work in jobs they do not like. On the other hand, they see no inherent fault with wealth accumulation.

What unites almost all of them in my eyes is that they are products of the new electronic media age. They are not entirely enamored with that media. Although they are most familiar with and embedded in the electronic media with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., they also recognize that those networks are infused with crazy and outlandish beliefs and even prejudices. Further, they have all personally witnessed the transformation of these media from vehicles for enhancing communications among friends to tools for pushing products and services.

The new social media have, I believe, had a potpouri of results, assembled in no particular order and without elaboration:
• An emphasis on speed and immediacy of retrieval, a propensity not to be equated with narcissism and an indulgent emphasis on self
• An emphasis on originality and almost a visceral gut hatred of the repetition of traditional TV news, though, in contradiction, most watch shows with repetitive themes and storylines
• An emphasis on their choice and a hatred of anything fed to them
• They are very comfortable with the use of technology, but some of them, the critical ones, are also very uncomfortable with the results – when they see a mob chasing a Pokémon on private property, and that many in that mob may come from their age group, they are appalled
• The reason some are appalled is that they see within themselves and among their cohort an increasing inability to separate fact from fiction, a problem they all face; in fact, given the current age, all of us are prone to see reality as fiction and to take fiction for reality – Tina Fey’s comic sketch that portrayed Sarah Palin as able to see Russia from her house, was never uttered by Palin, but try convincing most millennials or even most older viewers of Saturday Night Live
• Donald Trump is at the extreme, an individual who cannot discern the difference between reality and the products of a fevered imagination; they hate Trump, I believe, because he represents the parts of themselves that they hate
• The nature of the media that allows instant communication undercuts the need for forward planning and social commitments, but that is replaced by valuing spontaneity and improvisation, on the one hand, and a permanency and consistency of belief on the other hand as the place to find solid footing in a very slippery world
• In spite of their resistance to fixed plans in the future, they almost all see themselves as living in the future rather than the present; that is why they are mostly not narcissists even though they take millions of selfies
• They are disgusted by their elders and with themselves for looking at politics as entertainment, but primarily hold the media responsible for enhancing the phenomenon when moderators do not moderate or hold politicians to time limits; these moderators do not turn off the microphones of their guests when they evade answering questions (the guests are pivoting), and when the guests tell outright lies; instead, rather than interrupt the drama of the occasion, they (and we) are forced to wait until afterwards for these egregious failings to be pointed out in fact checks “after the fact”
• The media rate winners on style and follow trends instead of providing much more leadership on discussions of substance
• In the name of balance, outright dissemblers are permitted on stage as performers
• They recognize that they live in a world in which imaginary friendships brought on through the accessibility of information with others seem to be as real as intimate relationships and that makes them long all the more for authenticity and the fixity of values and points of view
• They recognize that people live in bubbles, strengthened and reinforced by their exposure only to media that reinforce their own values whether liberal, conservative or anti-establishment
• They are not political institutionalists and totally underrate and even ignore the importance of institutions in preserving values and trust; instead, they tend to believe that those values are imbued in individual persons and are not protected but undermined by institutions.

Media have indeed transformed the world and has transformed the millenial generation and the future of politics. So how could Patrick Caldwell two years ago in Mother Jones write that “Millennials Love Hillary Now”? ( ) Well then she had 58% of the 18-24-year-old population; now she has less than 32%. Then Senator Elizabeth Warren, now a heroine for millennials, ran almost 10% behind Hillary in the support she drew from them. The explanation – Bernie Sanders came on the scene in a big way and did what Barack Obama did in 2008, showed her up as both wooden and programmed, on the one hand, and a shape-shifter in comparison on the other hand. But Bernie did it as an ideologue rather than as a soft shoe salesman. Bernie spent months and an enormous amount of money that in part strongly served the agenda of the Republican Party in instilling that portrait of Hillary.

Millennials believe that an authentic guy like Bernie stands outside the accusations they level at advertisers. They seem to be uncritical of the degree to which their views have been infused by repeated exposure. So all the efforts Hillary put in to appeal to millennials were undermined by Bernie. It certainly helped that Bernie projects himself as a more authentic individual and authenticity is where millennials hang their petards. Bernie was double-digits ahead of Hillary among millennial voters. And the suspicions of Hillary continue because pragmatic politics, because shifting position in the face of changing circumstances, this great virtue among traditional politicians, is viewed as a disability on both the right and the left. And although Hillary Clinton managed to win their support for a period, she never won their hearts. She never won their minds. And without the allegiance of the heart, the heads of millennials tend to grossly exaggerate Hillary as simply a politician who changes just to meet the requirements of gaining votes.

The explanation again can be found in the nature of the media and in the shift to gender egalitarianism that Hillary Clinton surely represents, an explanation to which I alluded in my third paragraph of part I. Women are now the majority in medical classes (they were restricted to 10% when I was in medical school), in law classes and, over time, may even become the majority in engineering schools. Women come in all shapes and sizes. But a man like Trump still lives in the locker rooms of the fifties with an attachment to the superficialities of the greater sex. Ivanka Trump can be brighter and exhibit greater ability than her brothers, but she still conforms to Trump’s singular vision of a beautiful woman. So do most of his female surrogates. And many women, experienced with and having created shields to gender marketing, know that branding distorts women into a single mold to sell products. The revolt against this idolatry has been instigated by women and adopted by the millennial generation, except by white males who still cling to Trump’s artificial vision of the female universe.

Has Ivanka Trump altered her appearance by surgery? That is no longer absolutely necessary since photoshop can achieve the appearance of the same result; many if not most partners meet as a result of media images through dating services now. In my experience, women can spot inauthenticity in appearance a mile away. And authenticity is physical as well as emotional and intellectual for millennials. Hence, the reference to Hillary as wooden and an automaton. It is her body language that is primarily seen as inauthentic even when they claim it is her shift in positions. Millennials want to view the same body that avoids shape shifting mentally or physically. And constricted body movement are viewed as inauthentic even when they are the result of seven decades of institutional pressure and shaping.

The irony then is that millennials have this intensive desire for a firmament beneath their feet based on an anti-idol approach to humanity, but without a divine presence. This does not mean one is necessary. But like all religious seekers, including those who are absolutely secular, they are attracted to absolutes. They crave stability in the fleeting world of the media that veers between the attention span of a two-year-old and the equally compelling nature of repetition loved by young children. Hillary Clinton simply disappoints them and men, at least intelligent ones, now follow women in this revolt. That is why a seventy-five-year-old democratic socialist with fluid arms and a flexible visage could win their hearts and Hillary could not. Millennials are desperate for a very different kind of fluidity than the one Hillary offers, and a stability and security that the media fails to provide for a generation so dependent on that media.

With the help of Alex Zisman