I’ve been on this futurism kick for a while—and then I hear that Donald Trump has everyone riled up again with talk of building new futuristic cities, beautifying the old ones, finally making the whole “Jetsons future” of flying cars a reality.
To top it all off, he’s also proposed a very nationalistic program of incentivizing baby-making that sounds like something straight out of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary…or, dare I say it (and doubtless the Left already has, or will), out of National Socialist Germany.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, you can see it for yourself here.
Here are a few excerpts from his speech, entitled “Agenda 47: Quantum Leap in the American Standard of Living,” which I think encapsulate the gist of it:
Past generations of Americans pursued big dreams and daring projects that once seemed absolutely impossible. They pushed across an unsettled continent, and built new cities in the wild frontier. They transformed American life with the Interstate Highway System — magnificent it was — and they launched a vast network of satellites into orbit, all around the earth.
But today, our country has lost its boldness. Under my leadership, we will get it back, in a big way…Our objective will be a quantum leap in the American standard of living…Here are just a few of the ways we can do it:
Almost one-third of the landmass of the United States is owned by the federal government. With just a very, very small portion of that land…[w]e should hold a contest to charter up to ten new cities and award them to the best proposals for development.
In other words, we’ll actually build new cities in our country again. These Freedom Cities will reopen the frontier, reignite American imagination, and give hundreds of thousands of young people and other people, all hardworking families, a new shot at home ownership and, in fact, the American Dream.
Another big opportunity is in transportation. Dozens of major companies in the U.S. and China are racing to develop vertical-takeoff-and-landing [VTOL] vehicles for families and individuals. Just as the United States led the automotive revolution in the last century, I want to ensure that America, not China, leads this revolution in air mobility. These breakthroughs can transform commerce, bring a giant infusion of wealth into rural America, and connect families and our country in new ways.[…]
We will also have a major initiative on lowering the cost of living, with a special focus on lowering the cost of a new car and lowering the cost to build a single-family home. And they will be beautiful homes…[…]
It is time to start talking about greatness for our country again. I will dramatically increase living standards and build a future that brings our country together through excitement, opportunity, and success.
Now, whatever your thoughts are about Donald Trump, and whatever you might think about these ideas, you have to admit that the guy has a knack — even at his rather advanced age — for jolting people awake, even if it is in a rather bull-in-a-china-shop fashion.
The problem is, many people nowadays don’t want to be jolted awake.
I find it fascinating that with all the “big brains” and “bold, intellectually curious” progressives in government and elsewhere in our society, it still comes down to a geriatric and eccentric real-estate developer with a golden pompadour to advance fresh new ideas in our increasingly ossified and creaky society.
Now some will say that Trump’s points are merely rhetorical red meat for a depressed, beleaguered, and almost terminally pessimistic country; that he has neither the intention, nor even the ability — given that true power in America is vested in the now almost omnipotent bureaucratic oligarchy — to accomplish any of these things.
And his track record while in office tends to confirm this; the Wall was never built, after all, and there is something in that criticism. Still, I suppose he accomplished more than certainly I thought was possible, and the headwinds were extraordinary; give credit where it is due, and acknowledge that few probably could have done better.
So maybe we shouldn’t count Trump out entirely; maybe he learned his lesson the first go around, and the second outing will be much more successful.
The important thing is that he’s positing ideas, a way forward, and there’s something almost shocking about encountering bold new ideas in an American leader — of any stripe. They seem to have run out of them decades ago…if not even longer than that.
Just endless talk of tax rates, military budgets, foreign affairs nonsense, domestic and international “terrorism,” and culture war garbage; it’s all so tiresome. What’s needed is something truly bold and new, to make for a better future in the United States itself, irrespective of what’s happening in Ukraine or the Middle East or the South China Sea.
The West is Leftist now; that is a fact I have come to accept. The ideology of the Left governs us, and it is stale and moldy and pessimistic and dismal and dystopian as it has always been, and it turns the future into bitter dust—as easily in the “liberal democracies” of the West as it did in the Soviet Union.
It’s always instructive to take a look at the response by the mainstream media mouthpieces for the Regime; in this case, as in many others, they do not disappoint. The headlines are predictably derisive and contemptuous, which makes them priceless.
For instance, Fortune starts things off: “Donald Trump wants flying cars. Elon Musk says they’re a dumb idea.” I find this fascinating; after being consigned to the dustbin of history as “far-right trash,” Elon Musk is suddenly resurrected as a trusted authority.
Mother Jones sneers “Donald Trump Enters the ‘What About Flying Cars?’ Phase of His Career,” which is doubtless considered the very height of snark and sarcasm to its pompous and insufferable audience. CNBC tells us that “Trump proposes 10 futuristic ‘Freedom Cities,’ featuring Jetsons-like flying cars,” which really isn’t as dismissive as I expected. My favorite headline, however, unquestionably comes from UPROXX, which volubly declares “Donald Trump Wants To Build ‘Freedom Cities’ Powered By Sex and Flying Cars”—and that is, I think it goes without saying, a far better sales pitch than even the former president could devise.
Perhaps the least derisive headline comes from Reason Magazine, which concedes “The Decent Idea Buried in Trump’s Goofy ‘Freedom Cities’ Plan.” The big brains at Reason are just barely able to muster enough magnanimity to agree that Trump has a point that the Federal Government controls too much land, and that it might be more profitably put to use in providing a brighter future for its people.
How generous of them.
What, after all, is so “goofy” about it? Why shouldn’t Americans aspire to something greater than the over-commercialized, Left-Progressive, liberal-democratic corporate slave state and futureless techno-dystopia we’re currently saddled with? El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele has proposed a volcano-powered “Bitcoin City” to revitalize his country; the Egyptian government (perhaps taking a cue from Akhenaten’s Amarna) is constructing its New Administrative Capital — complete with an obelisk-styled spire that will be the world’s tallest building (if it’s ever built) — and Indonesia is following suit with its new capital city of Nusantara.
These are ambitious and serious projects, hardly goofy; they’re the sorts of things the West, and especially the Americans, didn’t shy away from, once upon a time. It’s easy to ridicule Trump’s idea, but there’s something almost shrill and strident and nervous in the abovementioned headlines — nervous, maybe, that the idea might strike a chord with the people, and make them wonder why we’re not allowed to have nice and ambitious things anymore.
Meanwhile, Mary Harrington has an interesting article in UnHerd about all of this, what she amusingly calls “techno-Trumpism.” Her point in the article is well taken: the Leftist, WEF-styled futurism is increasingly nightmarish, what with all the talk of living in pods, eating bugs, owning nothing, driving electric cars that can be monitored or switched off at will by the government, being paid in digital money that is likewise controlled by government overseers, experiencing sexual thrills vicariously through virtual means and no other, losing our jobs and our creative expressions to artificial intelligence, and just generally owning nothing, having no families, having no future, and liking it.
It’s bleak stuff, but as Mary Harrington observes in her thoughtful and, frankly, sympathetic article:
…after all, there’s no obvious reason why the creative destruction of tech innovation should necessarily be ordered to progressive values. The currently dominant progressive tech-optimists imagine green abundance plus social justice; for Trump, the same tech should deliver beautiful buildings, firm policing, cheap cars and more American babies.[…]
Perhaps, as Trump suggests, the power of tech really can be reclaimed by conservatives, in service to familiar themes from American conservative tradition such as individual aspiration and family life—and perhaps that really will be different from the Great Reset pod/bugs proposal. And perhaps this time innovation will actually deliver, without in the process further undermining the social order it seeks to enhance. And perhaps this can all happen without running out of ecological road.
I hope my pessimism is unwarranted and this turns out to be true. In any case, where it comes to setting the crowd alight, these such visions have far greater potential than any amount of tweedy stuff about localism. So whether it’s the WEF version or the techno-Trumpist one, this is probably the future we’ll get — at least for now.
Yes, I think there is no reason at all why the future cannot be reclaimed by the Right, even including the ambivalent innovations of technology. In my previous article, I spoke about some Rightist visions of the future — Guillaume Faye’s Archeofuturism for instance, or the Ethnofuturism of Kaalep and Meister. In both of these visions, there is very much a place for continued technological development — “progress,” as some would call it — though instead of the unfettered and self-destructive development of today, unconnected with any sense of the common good, technological evolution would be yoked to the needs of human flourishing.
And these are, after all, just a very few of the many new and innovatory futurisms floating around in the ether.
The reason all of this especially fascinates me is that, some years ago, I worked for a “science news” website called Futurism. Now virtually everyone who worked there — so far as I know, and excepting myself, of course — was unabashedly and unhesitatingly of Leftist political and intellectual orientation; they were all what would now be called “wokeists” of the most nauseating and insufferable kind.
I remember the day Donald Trump was elected — they were almost comically despondent and rage-filled, and working there was never afterward the same. Gone forever was the cheerful optimism about the future; these people were angry, and it showed.
And I wonder how it must feel to be them nowadays. How bewildering and disorienting. “Futurism,” by its very nature, must always be a left-wing pursuit; the Right, they believe, is staid, and backward, and forever locked in the past. And that’s the nicest thing they have to say about it.
Do they see the dearth of new and inspiring ideas about the future that their ideology now produces? Do they understand what it means? I rather doubt it. The field of futurism is rapidly being colonized by the Right; hell, now even Donald Trump is talking about building soaring new futuristic cities and flying cars.
That’s got to be especially galling. When I wrote for Futurism, practically every other article was about flying cars; and they certainly weren’t considered a “dumb idea.”
Nor do they necessarily need to be — the cartoonish Jetsons or Back to the Future flying car might be impractical, but there are other concepts. For instance, VTOLs that have more in common with stepped-up, human-carrying drones, probably furnished with more sophisticated (and actually useful) AI systems rather than subject to fallible human control; or maybe a variation on modular systems in which passenger-bearing cabins are shunted between ground-traveling chassis, drone-like vertical lifters, and even long-haul airframes depending on the desired form of transportation.
But now the idea must be dismissed out of hand, and all because Donald Trump has adopted it.
I remember something else when I worked at Futurism — they all adored Elon Musk, and practically worshipped the man. He could do no wrong; he was the ultimate futurist hero. And I must admit, no matter where Musk’s political “evolution” takes him in the future, I will always have a soft spot for the man — and for no other reason than that his acquisition of Twitter and his “rightward” lurch (even if more apparent than real) must have caused brains to short-circuit over at Futurism.
It is a strange time we live in. Exciting, thrilling, and envigorating. The best futurists are now on the Right; the Left has been left behind, so to speak, and is stuck trying to conserve a stodgy old vision of the future that belongs in the twentieth century — in the dustbin of history, one might say.
For myself, I wish Donald Trump the best of luck. Maybe his “techno-Trumpism” might even catch on; it could even be the vehicle for a uniquely American form of Archeofuturism or Ethnofuturism…a real American form, having nothing to do with that ersatz Americanism that passes for a “culture” these days.
Hell, I can even see myself living someday in the big, beautiful future city of Trumpopolis, nestled somewhere amid the scenic grandeur of the northern Rockies, or maybe the Sierras, its gleaming towers of spun nanocarbon lifting a mile or more high, and a cloud of VTOL pleasure craft darkening its skies as they carry the sex-crazed, baby-making citizens on their various errands; and in the midst, among it all, the city’s centerpiece: a gigantic, gold-plated colossus, twice — no, make that thrice the height of the Statue of Liberty, with Donald Trump’s scowling visage planted atop the heroic physique of a gleaming Greek god.
Techno-Trumpism it shall be. And if that’s not winning, I don’t know what is…