The term “ignorance is bliss” has never quite resonated with me as much as when I returned to the office after the end of the American Presidential Election and I reread my “Clinton, Trump and Daisy” blogpost. I can remember writing the article, all the while thinking it is almost implausible for the eventuality that Trump would actually become President. Yet lo and behold… here we are.
Now the word “cynicism” now springs to mind.
Cynicism – ˈsɪnɪsɪz(ə)m/Noun, “an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; scepticism.” Or, “Public cynicism about politics”. Synonyms: scepticism, doubt, distrust, mistrust, doubtfulness, suspicion, disbelief, incredulity.
The new President-Elect has caused quite a stir on the world’s stage with his dangerous rhetoric regarding the notorious American nuclear codes, and his outward looking approach on the rest of the worlds’ relationship with nuclear weapons.
Looking back to the last few days of the election, the rumour spreading around that Trump had his Twitter Account confiscated from him was fuelled by Obama’s statement in Florida;
“Apparently, [Trump’s] campaign has taken away his Twitter. In the last two days, they had so little confidence in his self-control, they said, “We’re just gonna take away your twitter.” Now, if somebody can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle the nuclear codes. If somebody starts tweeting at three in the morning because SNL made fun of you, then you can’t handle the nuclear codes.”
One of the major anti-Trump arguments was in line with what Obama said – how can we trust a man with the nuclear codes who has a temperament of a toddler? Especially when there is no eventuality within American politics that would be able to stop Trump from pushing the big red button! Even if all his advisers and field experts tell him otherwise, Trump is still allowed to press the button (or use the nuclear biscuit, which is the nickname given to the credit card-like material which holds the nuclear codes!).
Bearing this in mind, there has been an alarming sense of confusion with regards to the President-Elects position on Nuclear Weapons. He is now denying that he ever promoted horizontal nuclear proliferation (more countries acquiring nuclear weapon capability), despite proof of him saying it in late March whilst being publicly interviewed during his campaign trail.
He argued that there could be a change on outward nuclear policy in favour for proliferation, in which he explicitly referred to allowing Japan to develop their nuclear capability. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he would use nuclear weapons in times of necessity. And even more worrying than these two comments, is his blatant dislike and distrust for the Iran-Nuclear Deal – as he has the very real opportunity to un-do the hugely significant and successful deal between two previous disaffected countries.
Now having a Republican as President and an overall right wing sentiment within the House (who are ready to work with Trump when he takes up his presidency post), it is increasingly likely that the Iran-Nuclear deal will be up for discussion once again. It will be both simultaneously interesting and alarming to see what steps Trump will take in order to reassure the global nuclear stability – or in fact, do quite the opposite.
Many members of the Left, throughout the world, have joined a widespread outcry at Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States due to his lack of political experience and his unsettled temperament. But despite a unison of worried politicians and loud voices declaring their contempt for the President-Elects previous statements, there seems to be a prevailing feeling and rhetoric of cynicism.
2016 has been a bit of a rubbish year across the board. It will always be the answer to the “guess the year” round in a pub quiz. Or if you have a political question that seems completely and utterly bonkers, the odds are in your favour that it happened in 2016. Not just politically, but within pop-culture too, there seems to be a downtrodden feeling towards 2016. Prince. Alan Rickman. David Bowie.
Even the word of the year, nominated by the Oxford Dictionary has underlying links with cynicism; Post-truth.
Post-truth –/ˌpəʊs(t)ˈtruːθ/ adjective, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion of personal belief.”
Rather than remaining cynical, depressed and making memes about how bad 2016 has been, we instead need to join together and create a leading opposition to the new right-wing, populist parties that are gaining popularity amongst the people. We need to ensure we need to work together and rally against them even more, rather than giving up on hard struggles when faced with a strong opposition,
The need for reorganising ourselves in a constructive manner against the seemingly mainstream rightwing was epitomsied in Sarah Marshs’ ““I hate cynicism; you have to fight” 1960s activists on Modern Politics” article in the Guardian. It has made me realise that every generation growing up fights a different battle – whether it was a World War, Civil rights movement, Womens liberation movement, the Cold War, Genocides, etc… Every young and politically minded individual grew up with a variant of the “impending doom”.
For us today the threat of impending doom is a complex one (I’m by no means belittling the previous historical problems we had, but hindsight is a wondrous gift), globalisation, climate change, global terrorist network, rising tensions between U.S. and Russia, refugee crisis are just a few amongst many. To add to this list is now President-Elect Trump and his actions towards creating evident instability on the world’s stage with regards to nuclear weapons.
Marshs’ article is a simple but eloquent reminder that in the face of harsh struggles, instead of allowing our cynicism to take control and block any forward movement. That we need to unite, engage with our disappointment in a constructive way and find a way forward. Students are essential to this type of forward movement.
Students are known for their prolific engagement in politics. We are just starting to engage with and understand a world bigger than our homes towns and we are not quite yet lumbered with the responsibilities of adult life. We have the curiosity and the passion to question the zeitgeist, and enough autonomy to partake in events that show our disenchantment with the direction that things are heading.
This year seems to have really highlighted the fact that we have had no progression on disarmament of nuclear weapons, especially when considering the British Vote on Trident Replacement. But this does not mean that we are complacent in our vehement opposition to the replacement of Vanguard-class submarines that have the capability of causing excessive harm. We are still meeting together, still discussing how to move forward, still illustrating that we will not remain silent on this matter.
Whether you’re holding a small event at your university or school, attended a march wielded with a placard with anti-nuclear weapon sentiments, or simply RT’d and raised awareness of the dangers and illogical reasons of possessing a nuclear weapon – it is important to remain positive and forward thinking and to continue pushing for a nuclear free world!
cynicism in your life, and channel your passion by joining us in the active fight against nuclear weapons possession and proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world by becoming a member of YSCND today.