Seven hundred years ago an English friar named William of Ockham gave his name to the traditional Western prejudice that the simplest feasible explanation is most likely to be true.
Six and a half centuries later we went to the moon.
Lately, however, we haven’t really felt all that inclined to figure out how the world works. It’s more important to demonstrate our mastery of socially preferred locutions.
For example, one pressing public-policy question of the day is: What are the main causes of Muslim terrorism? Now, an Ockhamite might surmise that one useful answer is:
But the respectable answer in 2016 isn’t supposed to be anything that blunt. In particular, any acceptable explanation must include the six-syllable word “Islamophobia.”
Logically, Islamophobia sounds like it would be an effect of Islamic terrorism rather than a cause.
But logic hasn’t been the goal in 21st-century America. Status is. Repeating the word “Islamophobia” demonstrates that you have been to college, or at least that you watch talking heads on TV who have been to college.
And that’s what really counts.
In summary, Trump has been able to galvanize American politics by telling so many unfashionable truths because the reigning dogmas of our day are smart in form yet stupid in content.
Which is why burgeoning obscene income and wealth inequality must be a central concern of the Alt-Right or any bona fide political movement with self-respect. It’s because the bizarre kooky political ruminations of billionaires that serve as their status and virtue signaling eventually poison the rest of the body politic. In as much as they aren’t already manufactured diversions to keep us thinking about burgeoning obscene income and wealth inequality.