A popular aphorism on this side of the great divide is a line from the poet T. S. Eliot who wrote “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Most of the time it is part of a general critique of the age, with regards to the human condition. Our betters, rather than face the reality of the human condition, concoct comfortable sounding fantasies to explain the inequality of man. The reason Johnny can’t read, for example, is because of some flaw in the schools, not the mating decisions of his ancestors.
Reality avoidance is a modern problem. In recent times it seems to have become something of a plague on society. Movies and television have shifted from fantastical tales of human achievement, like space travel, to comic book tales of god-like creatures saving the child-like humans from reality. Mainstream politics is one fantasy camp screaming at the other fantasy camp over their imaginary differences. The mass media makes fantasy literature look like a technical manual.
The election of Donald Trump has probably been the greatest catalyst for political fantasy in American history. Since he came down the escalator in 2015, few have bothered to look directly at the reality of this phenomenon. Instead, all sides have spent the last five years building elaborate, plausible explanations for what was happening around Trump, rather than accepting it at face value. Our politics the last five years has been a war between competing realities.
Those fantasy versions of Trump are not fixed. Take for example the alt-right crowd that jumped on the Trump train earlier than anyone. They convinced themselves he was the Pinochet they imagined, who would come to power and rescue them from the fringes of political reality. When the reality of Trump turned out to not be something other than the rise of the god-emperor, they turned the other way and created a fantasy world in which they have always been deeply skeptical of Trump.
In this version of reality, we see the use of a scapegoat character that is common to all of the political fantasy camps. The “boomer” is the uncritical believer in conservative politics that is the archenemy of the red-pilled realist. Whatever contradicts the fantasy is boomer politics. They heap onto this character all of the things they think are wrong with modern politics. Even their impotence is the fault of the boomer. For them, Trump is the king of the boomers, who refused to accept the red-pill.
Of course, fantasy has a kernel of reality. The people still convinced that Trump will make some last-minute move to deny Biden the election are delusional. They can accept that the election was rigged, but they cannot accept that this is the result of a deeply corrupt system that is beyond reform. They hold onto the fantasy that somehow, within the rules, there is a solution to the problem. They are now like a UFO cult waiting for January 6th to see the prophesy revealed.
Probably the most deluded people in this age are those fully invested in establishment politics, both Left and Right. The cranks and nutjobs embracing woke politics think they are fighting the man. The fact that the most powerful institutions on earth are backing them is lost in the fantasy. The racketeers of Conservative Inc., in contrast, are sure that once Trump is gone it is back to business. They will be out there selling Reagan and Buckley memorabilia to a new generation of conservatives.
Lost in all of this is the fact that Trump will waddle off the stage next month and no longer serve as the catalyst to these fantasies. The red-pilled crowd will need to come up with a new way to convince themselves they are special snowflakes. They won’t have the MAGA-hat wearing boomer as a foil. The true believers in MAGA world will not have Q or their god emperor to star in their fantasy. Both sides of this relationship will be looking for a new type of escapism.
The mainstream crowd will have it a bit easier, simply because they can plug into mass media and forgot about the world. Still, they will have to come to grips with the fact that they helped install a dementia patient in the White House. The people around the Pretender Biden are not interested in the colored revolution. They just want to steal as much as they can before it is too late. Those longer for a return to the old ways will have to find a new excuse for why things are not working.
Next month will kick off something of a triple witching hour in the fantasy camps of American politics. The three main camps have relied on Trump as a tent pole to hold up their preferred version of reality. With Trump headed off to retirement, those fantasy versions of realty are no longer tenable. The red-pilled will need a new way to pretend they are special snowflakes. The MAGA crowd will need a new banner around which to rally and the blue-pilled will need a new devil.
People may prefer fantasy to reality, but reality does not go away when you stop believing in it. In the coming months, lots of people are going to arrive at the end of a fantasy road. Maybe they come up with a new fantasy. Maybe the ruling class brings back the escapism of sports and consumerism. It’s also possible that people have run out of ways to avoid facing the reality of this age. Like all forms of escapism, the world of fantasy politics may be coming to an end.
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