The writer Aldous Huxley, famous for his portrayal of a new dystopian world order in his , Brave New World, once opined that, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall make youmad." For many, this is easy to understand. Some might feel several of the mainstream policies President Trump has promised and appears intent on delivering, are the source of anger and frustration.
Many have turned to hyperbole in the media to express how they feel about his attempts to secure the homeland. Similar arguments have occurred in the United Kingdom over the decision to leave the European Union.
Other countries in Europe are engaged in a similar debate. With a reported 20 million migrants appearing intent on making the journey to Europe in the near future, this is an issue that is likely to further polarize societies in Germany, France, Italy and, particularly, in Eastern Europe.
Terms like racist and fascist are becoming ever-more frequently used to label those whose political viewpoints do not conform to those expressed by die-hard liberals. It goes to the heart of the arguments over how to protect the homeland and the associated problems of forging multi-cultural societies — a problem for which solutions are not easy to find.
Political opinions have never before arguably appeared more divided. A chasm has opened up in Western societies between those who are liberally minded and those whose values are based upon conservatism. It is a situation not easy to plaster over to cure — an approach which was taken by President Obama to many complex problems.
President Trump has a point when he says he has been left a mess. In what will be a huge shock to many liberally-minded people, it is unlikely that historians will be kind to President Obama. His legacy of indecision and obfuscation will be clear.
Even for some of who think the politicised fulmination at the Oscar’s ceremony will persuade those who legitimately have a different viewpoint, a moment may arise where they appreciate that a new world order is being formed. The farce over the announcement over the best film award was a monumental moment for many who think actors should not stray too far from their profession.
While many will reflect fondly on President Obama’s natural charm and easy-going manner, and bristle at the business-like approach of President Trump, it is a point of debate as to which one is most suitable for the increasingly complex world in which we live. At least President Tump wants to make decisions.
This debate has a root. It is the values and belief systems on which societies are built. It includes, however — and this is the uncomfortable truth for liberally-minded people — it includes arguments over their veracity and applicability in today’s globalized world.
At the heart of President Trumps narrative is that globalization has not worked for America. His arguments over trade imbalances with Mexico forcefully underscore that view. They gain traction with audiences across the Mid-West. A natural constituency where a narrative based on making America great again readily finds traction, as its fits their perception globalization has not benefited the United States.
Huxley also observed, “there are things known, and there are things unknown, in between are the doors of perception.” In a world where the certainty of the past has been replaced by the dislocating uncertainty of the wicked problem, one which has no obvious solution, that door of perception has opened a lot wider. The gap between what is known and what is unknown has arguably widened dramatically, fuelled by many things such as what has become known as “fake news.”
Surely, “fake news” is a matter of perception, right? Many emphasize with some of the viewpoints of “fake news.” It goes to the heart of their concerns over the direction of the country. Over 17 million British people expressed a similar viewpoint when they voted to leave the European Union — implicitly rejecting its liberal policies over migration.
After all, liberals should ask themselves. Why was the President elected? Why did the majority of British people vote to leave what was supposed to be a utopian Europe – never again capable of going to war? Some might say because those who supported the President and the argument over leaving the European Union manipulated the news. But that would be to implicitly suggest people are inherently unable to make up their own minds and take on an argument, for all its obvious failings.
Others would take a counter viewpoint that the President and those who argued from securing British national borders were speaking for them what was the truth. Their concerns of what might be as far as domestic terrorism, irrespective of the reality of the situation, has found a deep resonance among those constituencies.
Liberal-minded individuals are shocked. How could anyone believe their arguments are wrong? They argue their views of the world are grounded in fundamental values and belief systems that are immutable. But what they do not appear to see is that the world is changing. The bedrock of their fundamental values and beliefs is no longer solid. Public opinion is moving away from liberal-minded policies.
Their reaction to this is to turn to hyperbole. Their vitriol towards the President and those they see as having been behind the arguments over the vote in the United Kingdom has known little bounds. Many accused their opponents of lying.
But, as ever, there is an alternative viewpoint. One which says at its heart, “give the President a break.” Let him explore his boundaries. Liberal-minded policies have not been shown to be totally effective. Maybe there is an alternative way; one that does create an even better situation in the United States where the quantity of drugs smuggled across the border from Mexico is significantly reduced. One in which the ever-changing world of terrorism does not find a new catalyst inside the United States with devastating results. Who is to say that in an ever-changing world the status-quo ante is a position from which one can never shift?
In the current highly uncertain and “wicked” world, there are no longer any certainties. The fog of uncertainty shrouds perception and makes any decision making difficult. So, why not allow the President to explore his options? It is just possible that surrounded with decent experienced advisors they may come up with something that works.
Academics struggling to offer concrete proposals on how to address the issue of problem solving in a wicked world have concluded, not surprisingly, that small steps have to be taken to explore a wide-range of options. Each step is taken tentatively with the full knowledge of having to reverse if indications show the policy needs revision.
Over time in Afghanistan and Iraq, military commanders have become attuned to this approach. From believing at the outset a military solution alone might work, many have become converts of the approach that looks to think outside the box. Given that under President Obama’s watch the so-called Islamic State went from being an offshoot of Al Qaeda to arguably the most powerful terrorist group ever witnessed in history, perhaps the new President has a point. President Trump does not seem like a man willing to allow the threat to evolve to yet another even more deadly incarnation based on its emerging cyber-Caliphate.
When it comes to securing the homeland against the inevitable march of North Korea towards nuclear -tipped ICBM’s pointed at New York and San Francisco, surely even the most liberally minded political animal would like to see some options on the table? To be fair to the President, he has shown flexibility. Regarding China, he quickly reversed his position over the so-called “One-China” policy. And regarding Russia, the President, too, arguably has a point.
Perhaps cooperation with Russia to degrade the Islamic State in Syria is an example of an approach to solving a wicked problem. It is a view that should not be dismissed too readily. A new world order has to be formed. While it may have some of the dystopian ideas expressed by Huxley, it just may have some good qualities. For those of a conservative mindset, the values and beliefs which are at the core of the Russian Orthodox Church do not stray far from many of their viewpoints.
All successful business-men are pragmatists. Perhaps on other issues, President Trump might also evolve his position. That is the nature of politics. Too many in the media are trying to play a short-game. In their wildest fantasies, they believe they can depose the President. It is time for them to take a deep breath and step back.
Taking a dissenting viewpoint from that which many liberals regard as the truth is not a crime of itself. It’s a challenge to the accepted viewpoint. There is a certain power in dissention. Itcan be argued that, of itself, dissent is a good thing. It offers alternatives. It makes us all question implicit assumptions which we often take for granted. It is good for society as a whole. It can lead to renewal of values and belief systems.
Perhaps the most relevant of Huxley’s observations that chimes the most with the current situation is this; He noted that “great is the truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about the truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects … totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by their most eloquent denunciations.”
It is a viewpoint that perhaps one or two editors in the mainstream media in the West might care to reflect upon.
Dr. Dave Sloggett is a contributing writer and an authority on international terrorism with over 42 years of experience in the military and law enforcement sectors working in a variety of roles, specializing in intelligence analysis and human behavior in the context of hybrid and asymmetric warfare. He is an authority on counterterrorism and his work has taken him to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, West Africa and Northern Ireland where he has studied the problems of insurgencies, terrorism and criminality on the ground, often working closely with NATO. His research work at Oxford University in the United Kingdom focuses on the prevention of acts of terror.