“I alone can solve”

Excellent piece by Yuval Levin from Commentary Magazine on the threat President Trump will pose to institutions, pluralism and – in the end – the American way of life. Full text Donald Trump’s insurgent takeover of the Republican Party and his victory in the 2016 election together constitute the culmination of a series of institutional breakdownsContinue reading ““I alone can solve””

5 ingredients for a populist backlash

American populism according to Niall Ferguson. In this recent talk he explains what is needed for ‘peak populism’ to get hold of America, as we see happening now. The context is set by four ingredients: 1) a surge in immigration 2) rising inequality 3) the perception of corruption 4) a financial crisis. Add a fifthContinue reading “5 ingredients for a populist backlash”

President Trump: what’s the matter?

Donald J. Trump has been elected President of the United States and will succeed Barack Obama early 2017. The campaign between the two flawed candidates was ugly, negative and intense. The outcome is nothing short of stunning. And has unveiled a divided America. In the coming days a million explanations, analyses and comments will flood theContinue reading “President Trump: what’s the matter?”

Judge less and understand more 

Reading this interview with J.D. Vance is one of the best ways to better understand the motives of Trump’s electorate. Vance is the eloquent and reasonable voice of conservative America. Here’s the full transcript of the interview: Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People – The American Conservative By Rod Dreher On July 22, 2016  I wrote last week about the newContinue reading “Judge less and understand more ”

Values come first, facts & policies follow

Understanding Trump by George Lakoff A lot has  being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half aContinue reading “Values come first, facts & policies follow”

When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism

Strong and insightful American Interest article by Jonathan Haidt on how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between nationalism and globalism. What on earth is going on in the Western democracies? From the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and an assortment of right-wing parties across Europe through the June 23Continue reading “When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism”

Incompetent, yet the leader

We keep cultivating this mythical image of a strong leader. It’s time for some nuance. A good start would be to make way for women. Men tend to think that they are smarter than women – and this confidence takes them to the top. Yet this hubris says nothing about their real talent for leadershipContinue reading “Incompetent, yet the leader”

America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny

We dangerously underestimate the risk of populism in this ultra-democratic era. American democracy is in danger of extinction. In an erudite New York Magazine article, Andrew Sullivan  links Plato’s warning on late-stage democracy, the problematic role of our emotional mass media, the economic stagnation of the American middle class, identity politics, fascism, and people’s preferenceContinue reading “America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny”

The Obama Doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit”

Obama’s foreign policy is widely criticized for being dangerously reluctant (drawing unimpressive red lines for instance) and too timid (America shouldn’t be leading ‘from behind’). In this Atlantic article the president speaks at length about his decisions and doesn’t shy away from sharing his doubts. We get a front row seat at many important momentsContinue reading “The Obama Doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit””

The Trumpdozer

The Rolling Stone long-read that caused quite some online stir, arguing that the the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show, in which Donald Trump makes the winning point that the regular guy has been screwed by a conspiracy of incestuous elites. The author,  Matt Taibbi, ends his piece withContinue reading “The Trumpdozer”

How good are we at predicting the future?

Pretty lousy actually, as this short World Economic Forum article about our past attempts illustrates. To me, the historic examples also demonstrate that we tend to think in incremental changes (rolling house, flying postman) – we’re just not wired to imagine the unknown.  

What makes a good life?

This unique 75-year long Harvard research followed more than 700 men from teenager to old age, with one simple goal; to understand what makes them happy and healthy.The short answer is: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Three lessons can be drawn: 1) social connections ensure a longer life, healthier life. 2) it’s notContinue reading “What makes a good life?”

The Future of Europe

What is to become of Europe, now that it is in the midst of a perfect storm of several crises: recovering from a deep recession, coping with an unprecedented number of asylum seekers and refugees, not being able to protect its borders, terrorist attacks and – as a result – declining trust of its citizens?Continue reading “The Future of Europe”

Why our brain is hard-wired to love Trump

Interesting Politico piece arguing we don’t really care about the truth, the reason why so many politicians get away with lies. We are inclined to believe them unless we have a previous reason not to believe them. It’s all about cognitive dissonance. Related, some insight on whether the Republican party will survive the Donald.