From Auguste Comte to Donald Trump

Trump is not a crazy narcissist. He is the product of a tradition of thought and practice. It may have started with Aristotle or Auguste Comte. Wonderful philosophers, they transcended superstition in favour of rational thought, but they carried a dark seed: they saw the world as a machine as something we could understand, and manipulate. The machine is also divine when weird mysticism can make more money.

The dark seed grew with all those American “think positive” evangelists: Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Werner Erhard (now Landmark Forum) Tony Robbins and for many years now, Donald Trump.

What is this school of thought? I’m calling it Goal Centred Positivism. GCP. The Learning Annex is a significant promoter of the philosophy and the evangelists. Strains of this mode of thinking are everywhere. It needs to be identified and addressed in many professions and many world views.

What is bad about GCP? To name this is harder than it looks. While it has instant appeal in its simplicity and commonsense, it is a lie. Not everything is as it looks on the surface. There are limits to thinking positively. Like in The Apprentice — Trumps (fake) reality TV show there is always one “winner” and many who loose, who are fired, who are losers. Life is not a game. Respect for the roots, i.e. being radical, going deeper, seeing the whole picture, beyond the simplistic goals.

GCP is very American, Napoleon Hill was an advisor to two presidents of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The rise of Trump (may he soon fall) has revealed deep social, political and financial schisms and fault lines. It has also revealed this schism in world views prevalent in therapy and personal growth.

I’m writing this here in my blog that is also about personal development and psychology. This goal centred positivism has brushed many schools of more reputable psychology. It is probably present in some way in most. The most blatant example is Behaviour Modification. It is central the frame works set by insurance companies who fund counselling and therapy. It is so important to distinguish life giving schools of thought from this dark flow. What is the antithesis of goal centred positivism? Approaches that have one of the following ideas at their centre:

Love
Person
Natural
Relationship
Collaboration
Meaning
Empathy
Ecology
Spontaneity
Revolution
Equality
Progress
Dialogue
Soul
Dialectic
Environment
Long term
Depth

Trump represents the power of a pernicious world view, it is important to understand the tradition and oppose it. Opposition does not come easily to the liberal, meaning centred approaches to change. Lets clearly distinguish true personal development from the crass version.

2 thoughts on “From Auguste Comte to Donald Trump

  1. The “dark seed’. Seems there could be many contenders for the title of “the dark seed”. Surely, the world view of the universe as a machine is a strong contender. Perhaps a problem with opposition is that resistance makes pernicious world views ‘stronger’ and adds to the worlds stockpile of division; perhaps even depleting its stock of unity?

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