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Dance to the Muzak – Bannon and Trump read the Crowd

According to Dale Purves what we hear is often determined by our Darwinian programming which filters out sounds that don’t help us reproduce.

Purves points to the McGurk Effect:

How does this apply to modern politics?

As mentioned in a previous post Lord Ashcroft has released Hopes and Fears based on polling he did in the US 2016 Presidential election.

In it he publishes a graph of how voters from different points in the political spectrum responded to controversial questions such as whether Barack Obama was born outside the USA or if Hillary Clinton is ‘culpable for murder’.

Here are some of the results:

Given the McGurk Effect, it’s not hard to see how easily clickbait, fake news and filter bubbles feed off our predictable irrationality and confirmation bias.

This cognitive perfect storm creates  blindspots in society that allow vast chunks of the population to ditch their own interests and plump for Trump.

The current US President once said he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose a single vote.

By reading the crowd and making the right noises, Trump has been able to say and do anything and still win.

The McGurk Effect doesn’t just apply to Trump’s high visibility and invincibility but also to the powerlessness of his voters.

Steve Bannon now supposedly runs America on behalf of the American People but very little about him is known. Bannon may have helped Trump tap into voters’ fears and anxieties but will he help deliver a better economy in time for re-election in 2020?

In an age of populism and demagoguery Bannon and Trump have somehow ended up delivering for Goldman Sachs — the ultimate con.

Trump, May, & Farage deliver the anti-establishment messages but it’s Steve Bannon, Rupert Murdoch and Goldman Sachs who really benefit.

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Transatlantic Aliens

I came across Transatlantic Aliens in the bookshop today.


The blurb referred to the cultural contribution made by Europeans who moved to the US in the 1930s and 1940s.

By looking at how celebrated outsiders such as Theodor Adorno, Simone de Beauvoir and Vladimir Nabokov experienced American life, Will Norman celebrates their transformation of alienation into novel ways of interpreting the modern world.

Given President Trump’s recent Executive Order indefinitely banning all refugees from Syria from entering the US, the book — which came out in October — couldn’t be more relevant.

This is an excellent blog post by author Will Norman on the need to not demonise foreigners — written just days after President Trump won the 2016 US Election:


Norman starts by saying, “These are dark days for Cosmopolitanism.”

Dark days indeed.

Theresa May told the Conservative Party conference in October that a Citizen of the World is a Citizen of Nowhere.

Following Amber Rudd’s speech about naming and shaming firms who hire too many foreign workers — the Pound dropped like a stone.


One interpretation of Cosmopolitanism is that the Cosmopolis, the world state, is an ideal state in which citizens must live their lives regardless of local constraints. This is a morally driven universe which comprises of international solidarity above all else.

I do not feel this is Mrs May’s interpretation. Although English Culture is itself a mix of so many influences, the incorporation of habits, customs and languages from around the world makes the PM squirm. 

In Mrs May’s worldview, the more that Cosmopolitans feel they have in common with outsiders, the more readily they distinguish themselves from fellow British citizens and the less loyalty they show.

Tory donor Lord Ashcroft commissioned a study into the US election which referred to Cosmopolitan Activists — 25% of whom are less than 24 years old — the majority of whom believe in gun control, government regulation, green energy, same sex marriage, immigration, multiculturalism, social liberalism and feminism.


There are so many contradictions in what our politicians now say that there’s no fun in spotting inconsistencies.

Now that they’ve lost power, maybe here are two former Chancellors whose words we can actually trust.

Here is George Osborne on how the Government has prioritised controlling immigration over the economy:

And Ken Clarke on how Enoch Powell would have been surprised that the Tory party is now ‘mildly’ anti immigrant:

Where do we go from here? 

I hope there is more public participation in the debate surrounding the terms of Brexit.

If not then commission hungry lobbyists will run the show and sell Britain into feudalism for a fraction of what it is really worth. 

The British Parliamentary system is not equipped to override inherent conflicts of interest – if this isn’t fixed immediately this will lead to Britain’s downfall.

How to solve such a problem? 

Strategic Noise. We have an accountability problem. Certain people are getting away with passing lots of favourable legislation because there is no independent scrutiny or oversight.

Better reporting of parliamentary, local government and international affairs would do a lot to warn people of what is coming in a structured way that allows for organised civil responses that go beyond attending protests. 

The Government is well equipped to rely on and perpetuate bureaucracy – the rest of us need to start catching up.

Too many people are keeping their knowledge to themselves. 

The more we know about what is actually happening up and down the country and about the political process the more we can more meaningfully get involved.

Will political parties suddenly adjust to allow new ideas? 

Or will they do what they can to protect the status quo?