Have you ever wondered why Donald J. Trump behaves in such an odd, childlike manner without the suggestion of even a modicum of shame? Or have you found yourself thinking about how President Trump seems to have a view of the world that is based, at least in part, on fantasy? Perhaps you have even started to believe that we have elected a man who suffers from an undiagnosed mental illness; I will admit that notion has crossed my mind more than once.
Additionally, I have considered the possibility that President Trump’s life long privileged status has led to the development of the entitlement based mindset of a rich brat, where he believes that everyone should kowtow to his desires or be punished. I personally find the latter possibility reprehensible, but that is because I believe that only a person who has never been adequately critiqued by those rearing him and/or fails to relate to “common” people could develop such a mindset. Could our President suffer from Affluenza because his wealth and power to punish intimidates those around him, thus resulting in kowtowing? Perhaps Spicer and Conway may serve as points of reference for future deliberation on the matter.
American sociologist C. Wright Mills coined the term “crackpot realism” in the 1950s in an effort to explain the self delusions that are often present among the powerful elite. According to Tom Athanasiou in Divided Planet: The Ecology of the Rich and Poor, Mills suggested that “Crackpot realism is realism gone mad, and crackpot realist are those who ‘in the name of practicality have projected a utopian image of capitalism.’ They have information in abundance, but ‘have replaced a responsible interpretation of events with the disguise of events by a maze of public relations.'” (1996, p. 298). Further, Athanasiou explained that a crackpot realist will frame his or her messages to society’s poor by suggesting that the lives of poor people will be better in the long run as a result of capitalism, while the truth is that the crackpot realist only really sees the capitalistic framework as a process for continuation of his or her “privileged circumstances of life” (p. 298).
Mills actually used the term “realist” sarcastically; He meant to illustrate the self flattery buried in the delusional thinking patterns of the powerful elite, where politicians have long held the belief that they are, in fact, the true realists in society. Further argued by Mills is the notion that de-regulation efforts meant to allow the free flow of markets in an unrestrained capitalistic economic framework imply an unethical and amoral social position.
Crackpot realism is realism gone array for a number of reasons: (1) capitalistic greed cannot be sustained in the long term because it offers little in terms of justice and equality and (2) unrestrained capitalism is unkind to those who lose in a capitalistic society (Athanasiou, 1996). Rather, resources must be used wisely by society, with conservation at the forefront of thinking regarding future global sustainability. The poor must be allowed a living wage. More, expansion, cautious economic policy, and peace must prevail in order for the global biophysical budget to be maintained (Athanasiou, 1996).
In spite of all of the hypothesizing I’ve done lately in an attempt to try to evaluate and understand the behavior and thinking of our current President, it appears that C. Wright Mills may have provided the answer to my question more than fifty years ago. The answer is likely that we simply have a crackpot living in the White House.