“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] “Have courage to use your own understanding!”—that is the motto of enlightenment.” – Immanuel Kant: What is Enlightenment
I’ve been learning a lot lately about Kant and his theory of Enlightenment lately and it made me wonder about the majority of loyal Trump supporters in the USA today. I’m aware that some of you may be Trump supporters yourselves and you might not like this post very much. But, well…
“I suppose it was just never meant to be…” 😥
Kant describes enlightenment as being able to think for one’s own self without having to look towards another for guidance and he speaks of the unenlightened man as being a coward or not having the courage to separate himself from the herd. In this way, the unenlightened person loses their ability to think critically and to become a fully mature and rational human-being.
Kant also believed that all citizens should be pushed towards enlightenment and not held back from it by being told what to believe by a civil authority. He believed it was most righteous and ethical for a ruler to encourage free thought and debate.
Another Quote from Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?”
“But would a society of pastors, perhaps a church assembly or venerable presbytery (as those among the Dutch call themselves), not be justified in binding itself by oath to a certain unalterable symbol in order to secure a constant guardianship over each of its members and through them over the people, and this for all time: I say that this is wholly impossible. Such a contract, whose intention is to preclude forever all further enlightenment of the human race, is absolutely null and void, even if it should be ratified by the supreme power, by parliaments, and by the most solemn peace treaties. One age cannot bind itself, and thus conspire, to place a succeeding one in a condition whereby it would be impossible for the later age to expand its knowledge”
“What did that have to do with anything, Wolf Boy?”
Well… President Trump has been recognized as the worst serving American President in known history by the American Political Science Association. He’s systematically America’s alliances, aiding his country’s adversaries, encouraging dire climate change effects, he’s a known racist, and misogynist, leading his country to the point of economic recession, blatantly undermining the US democratic system, and is a pathological liar. Most of these facts are well-known worldwide and yet he is still accepted by a hardcore group of supporters, unwilling to budge from their positions, no matter what atrocities he commits and they are fiercely loyal.
The law doesn’t matter to a majority of his supporters even with hard-hitting evidence like obstruction, as alluded to in the Mueller Report. Often trump employs a manipulation tactic called gas-lighting on his supporters by telling them to believe only him, and to ignore all other forms of information. He does this by calling any negative attention “fake news” and he mocks objective media coverage. He is known to twist truths and he controls irrational minds by stoking fear and hate, which is often racially charged. The supporters believe it without digging deeper than his word, his party’s word, or the word of very partisan news channels like Fox News.
This made me think of Kant’s “Enlightenment” philosophy because I believe that a large number of his followers are being manipulated and it’s because they are incapable of independent thought without guidance from another source, unable to question his lies or the lies of his party and to see through his visage of being…
“…like, a really smart guy”
– Donald Trump, President of the USA
They believe what they are told more or less. They don’t bother to fact check and if they do, they work hard to rationalize away their observations rather than allowing the new information to change their opinions. I suspect that none of them want the curtain to fall. If open racism, sexism, hatred, lies, corruption and incompetence aren’t enough to deter his supporters and they willingly believe his propaganda, then I see no alternative then to suppose that they are either victims of manipulation, uneducated, cowards trying to fit in with their crowd or hatefully prejudiced people.
I don’t believe that it is coincidental that a large number of Trump supporter’s are Evangelical Christians, since it’s common practice for Evangelicals to surrender free thought in servitude to the Church, their Bible and their Religion. They take their beliefs with an all-in or all-out approach, similar to a cult. They believe what they are told from the one they worship, God. But it’s a message from God delivered through the Church and the Church is run by a man. Taking “God’s word” as ultimate actually means believing in the Church’s word as ultimate and the church is run by a man at the top. So believing everything Trump says is not a far stretch for these types. These people do not believe in the need to think for themselves, since the thinking is done for them and so they are far from enlightenment as described by Kant and likely wallow in immaturity. I think this is a big part of the reason why Trump still retains support regardless of his shortcomings and the way that he is destroying – both America and the world at large.
Thoughts? Opinions? Feel free to leave them down below!