All around the world people are up in arms at the inauguration and presidential foreplay of Donald Trump, and scratching their heads and saying – how did this happen?
I’ll tell you how it happened in two words: Harry Potter.
Unfortunately we are all complacent. Even the most liberal, avante garde, lesbian-hugging Muslim-relic juggling professor of Forest Dynamics is guilty, because unfortunately every one of us is a dyed-in-the-wool consumer. Harry Potter is the ultimate consumer book franchise. The figures tell us this clearly.
The beloved consumer system that we are all a part of has created two classes: the convenience class (that’s us, that’s you and me) and the profit class (that’s them). The convenience class are mightily discerning when it comes to their convenience and comfort, and they read Harry Potter. The profit class don’t give a damn about anything except getting consumers to part with their money, and they sell Harry Potter.
Harry Potter and Donald Trump, fear of Muslims, deforestation, animal cruelty, rich and poor gap etc (and one could go on, and on, like Ariston) are all boils on the surface of consumerism, an edifice which must have a strong complacency in order to keep it alive and ticking. It must enforce a plurality of disconnects in order to work. Harry Potter is the ultimate disconnect fiction. It is a fantasy of magic and entitlement. It is the very embodiment of the profit class’s dreams: an audience captivated by marketing. It does not confront or challenge, it transports and assuages. Trump sounds bombastic and challenging, but in fact he does the same thing – and watch out, because he’s really good at it. He presents fantastical ideas like building an $8 billion wall for free. That’s some powerful magic right there. For free? Wow. How is he going to do that?
Of course what will happen is that profit class companies (the same ones that bravely went in to build a bomb-shattered Iraq) will build it, and the convenience class will pay for it in taxes (like they did in Iraq). So it’s a wall for free, but the U.S. taxpayer will pay for it. It’s okay though, because the magic of disconnect has already been spun.
(Who bombed Iraq again?)
The political machinations being touted, and in particular the strong anti-Muslim rhetoric, can’t help remind me of Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, where he indirectly charts the terrible grindings of Europe leading up to the second world war. But it’s okay – if you’ve got your head stuck in a readable fantasy you will not notice this going on around you. You are safe. You will be protected from it. Until that is, they arrive at your door, kick it down and stick you and your spoiled children on a rattling cattle-cart to take you off to a death camp.
So don’t be surprised at Trump’s success. Don’t cry. Don’t say how exasperated you are. You should be congratulating yourselves. We should be congratulating each other. Every time you step into a supermarket, every time you buy 2 for 1 at Waterstones, it’s a win for the profit class, and thus a vote for Trump.
The power for change? It is within us all, and it lies not in demonstration or civil disobedience, but in strict and conscientious consuming. There’s no point rioting against his policies when you wear a pair of mass-produced trainers. But very few of us have the stomach for that – which is real change – so the next time you complain about Trump – check your shoes first.