The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Taking Care of Yourself in the Time of Trump

I’m seeing a lot of people scared, angry or full of despair over Trump’s election, even now, five days later. If that’s you, please watch this (it’s about 12 minutes).

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The Imperial Trump Court


If Trump Is a Nazi


  1. Lurker the Third

    Thank you, Ian! Those are wise and welcome remarks!

  2. Suzan Albright

    Ian, I subscribed after a friend suggested that I read your articles. I have enjoyed them. I hope the friend who recommended you will view this video, and give consideration to your advice.

  3. Ghostwheel

    Just to clarify, I’m neither a Trump nor a Hillary supporter. But in regard to Trump, a few possible non-negatives come to mind:

    It looks like the TPP is dead.

    It looks like Trump is serious about reducing tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

    If the stock market is any indicator, Trump is serious about rebuilding American infrastructure, which could be a positive in all sorts of ways.

    These aren’t yet in the bag, I suppose, but however much one dislikes Trump, these things, at least, fall into the category of “good news, if true.”

    On the other hand, having an anti-science, AGW-denying administration is distressing. But then again, Hillary would not have been of any practical difference. As I understand it, without negative emissions, AGW is already self-reinforcing and unstoppable. And we have, as yet, no technology to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at the scale that’s required, within the time frame that’s required. Even if the possibility of such a technology is not mere fiction, nobody—Republican or Democrat, American or foreign—is spending kind of money required to even hope for traction on this front.

    But Obama wants to spend a trillion dollars on nukes. I’m guessing Trump will also be on board with this, as would Hillary, I suppose.

    I’m sure Hillary would have offered us some kind of fake climate change treaty to reduce the rate of growth of our emissions, and there would have been much clapping and cheering. Twenty-five years of studying this issue (albeit as a layman) forces me to conclude that such a spectacle would have been a lie.

    I’m not happy about moving even faster along the arrow of climate-change entropy, but no real answers were on table. Have they ever been on the table?

    On to the video presentation:

    Ian, you’ve given some excellent advice on all this. But I wonder if that path is more geared towards us older folk, and less consoling to younger persons whose catalogue of experiences is much less full. For example: what about children? I don’t have any myself, but I do have relatives with children. What happens when they start to understand the nature of ecological and economic collapse, that they never even had a chance?

    Just wondering what to say them when (if) they finally put it together. Topic for a separate essay, perhaps?

  4. Compound F

    I don’t know who was the speaker, but his remarks were not unheard; especially the part about harming loved ones. Perhaps it’s all palliative care by now.

    Yet still, there are deadlines, some of which we have passed, some of which we may not have.

  5. Ian Welsh


    Trump may not be as bad as many think, we’ll see. But I wasn’t trying to convince people he was less bad, just convince them to be give themselves permission to be happy in shitty times.

    Similar advice can work for younger people, I think. Better bodies, after all, make the world easier to enjoy.

    Compound F: the speaker is me. 😉

    As I noted in the video, giving yourself permission to be happy doesn’t mean being passive.

  6. Herman

    Thanks Ian, that was a helpful video. I am less upset by Trump’s victory than by the general trends that prevail in the world, but the advice works just the same. Part of me wonders if political engagement is even worth it, since it just makes me feel angry and powerless. Even my local elections were extremely nasty this year and the growth of online and IRL harassment and nastiness makes me feel like it is not worth it. You get a lot of abuse with only a slim chance of accomplishing anything of any importance. Plus, I find that many people who are politically active are egomaniacs, including people who share my ideological beliefs.

    But what other choice is there? I sometimes wish I was like my wealthy uncle who came right out and said he doesn’t care what happens to the country because he has enough money to retire on and spend the last years of his life in comfort. But I don’t have that luxury, so I will keep fighting and keep learning about the world so I can navigate it better. I find some happiness in reading and learning about different subjects.

  7. Compound F

    Cool. Video presentation is new for you, as far as I know. It’s a good, timely post.

    I’ve been emotionally wrought since James Baker took to the lectern in Florida, and that negative emotionality has hurt me and by extension loved ones. It’s unfair, and totally sucks to feel the weight of the world.

    I’m looking for a way not to be constantly wrenched, because is does take a toll on everyone.

    You’ve always been a great source of consolation by virtue of your tireless example.

  8. Ben

    Excellent video. One thing I’d make explicit is that giving yourself permission to not feel angry, and to focus on the beautiful / joyful things in the world, is a practice. Like all practices, it will be difficult at times. It will fail at times.

    Allowing yourself to fail at not letting anger overwhelm you is part of the process of not letting anger overwhelm you.

  9. Daize

    Great advice for life in general, Iain, and not just dealing with a Trump presidency.

    If I may also suggest something to people who are angry/scared/worried: A LOT of what you feel is because of what you have been told about Trump, and some of what you have been told was told to you for highly partisan, self-interested, and manipulative reasons.

    I am not saying Trump is the best thing that ever happened to Americans, and I am no fan of his, but what I AM saying is he ain’t as evil as some would have you believe. Trump genuinely believes he can Make America Better, and some of what he does, as per Ghostwheel’s post, might actually make things better. Be very very wary of those who would have you see the world in black and white!

  10. V. Arnold

    @ Ian
    While I appreciate your intent; it’s painfully obvious those who need that support, have already neglected caring for themselves.
    This will only be a temporary palliative; longer term health requires something entirely different…

  11. David

    Thanks Ian,
    I wish I heard this back in January 2001 for I was really
    freaking out then.

  12. Ché Pasa

    @Ian and Others,

    While Ian’s talk was not about Trump but was geared toward those who feel angry and afraid in Trump’s America, giving them permission and some tactics to be good to themselves, no matter what happens (which I personally think is critically important as we face into the wind), it’s my view that the bulk of the anger anger and fear is based on what Trump and some of his loyalists have been doing. Thus they’re quite rational and appropriate fears, and the anger is more than justified, especially given the fact that the American voters chose someone else.

    I don’t think that Ian meant to suggest that people who are under attack by Trump and his loyalists right now or in the future should be passive in the face of it, but it comes across that way. That’s unfortunate.

    One can be good to oneself and those they love and who love them — and fight back simultaneously. Some of those who have already been attacked have learned that lesson, one that I think is being taught to the whole nation — and to anyone in the world who is paying attention — by the Water Protectors in North Dakota, some of the bravest, most spiritually motivated, and ultimately most generous people I can imagine.

    They are fighting what many see as a lost cause against some of the most atrocious acts of Authority run amok as we’ve seen in this country — at least recently. In the process, they’ve created a spontaneous intentional community on the cold and windswept plains, a community that consists of Indigenous people from all over the Americas and their non-Indian allies of many kinds, a community that is held together with spiritual ties and bonds to the Mother, the Earth, and the Water as sources of Life, a community that has vowed to persist whatever happens in the current struggle.

    The people at Standing Rock have learned how to face down and expose the arbitrary nature of the armored Authority arrayed against them. They’ve exposed the paramilitaries sent to suppress a nonviolent uprising for what they are: corporate mercenaries, sent to serve and protect a pipeline and its owners, not the People — not the Indian people, certainly, but not any people except the Owners and their financial interest.

    The struggle reminds me a bit of the struggles of the Irish and Indian peoples to oust the British Empire — on a smaller scale to be sure, but with much the same motivation: sovereignty, self-worth and spiritual renewal, on behalf of something quite a bit more than themselves.

    As we enter into the New America that Trump and his loyalists have in store for us, that kind of struggle and determination will be necessary far and wide. It’s already been catalysed. To be sustained, its participants need strength and courage and vision, and they need to be good to themselves and one another.

    Every little bit helps…

  13. Jeff Wegerson

    When the Lotte Lenya sings Moon of Alabama it sounds like Alabomba with a silent “b”. When most say the state name naked the “bam” sounds like the Disney character Bambi. Pretty much everybody I hear say Obama say it “bomb-a” not “bam-a.” Hearing you say it “bam-a” was hard on my ears. Can’t speak for anyone else.

    In my view it would have improved the video if you had removed the hanging clothing in the background. It’s a simple thing but helps the viewer concentrate on you and your words.

    I’m no expert but I had the feeling that you may have been watching yourself on the computer screen. It seemed like that caused you to have unusual facial expressions at times. At times you would almost smile in a way that undermined what you had just said. I don’t know what standard practice is in the broadcast world but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did not consider that a good practice.

    But I may be an unhelpful critic here. I hate video. If I have a choice I will take the transcript every time.

  14. adrena


    25 Works of Poetry and Fiction for
    Anger and Action

  15. Ian Welsh

    Did you actually listen to the video Ghostwheel? I explicitly say that what I suggest is not a call for passivity.

  16. adrena

    No worries. I’m just pointing to appropriate literature to give some “oomph” to non-passivity.

  17. Peter

    I suppose that offering a little crisis counseling to the snowflakes can’t hurt but it’s unlikely to do much good. We have a large segment of the population who are traumatized by their own lies and false narratives and anything that doesn’t address that fact just reinforces their victimhood delirium which in some of them is producing ugly hatred and near insanity. Their media, blogs and chattering class continue to feed the victimhood meme internalizing that while projecting the blame for their despair, as usual, onto the Other.

    Single examples don’t usually tell the whole story, unless Trump is involved, but the woman in Texas who banished her 7 year old son from his home because of a mock vote for Trump does illustrate where this liberal self-indoctrination can lead.

  18. Ghostwheel



    I did indeed listen to the video. Ergo my comment that, because children and young people have less experience stored up, what about them? Which you answered.

    And, I hope you make more videos. Keep ’em coming. And I hope you write that book, get an agent, get a publisher, and make some extra bank. If you write it, we will buy it. (Unless you have already wrote it and I didn’t get the memo.)


    “Action is the antidote to despair.” People can and should act if they are so compelled. But … I don’t see what all these violent street protests accomplish, nor do they seem appropriate.

    Where were all these protesters when the governments of Honduras and Ukraine were being overthrown, when Libya and Syria were being destroyed? How is it that Obama and Hillary can enact mass murder and “the left” (whatever that is) remains silent, but Trump merely gets elected and suddenly there’s blood in the streets?

    If you saw the recent John Pilger interview of Julian Assange, you know there are emails proving Libya was, in large part, Hillary’s baby (I should say “demon baby”). She wanted a feather in her cap for when she ran for president. Forty thousand people dead, a nation destroyed, now wracked with warring jihadi factions.

    How is it that such a candidate as Hillary is acceptable to persons on “the left” (if there is such a thing)?

    The whole point here is that fears of a Trump presidency seem, to me, to be wildly overblown. And if I’m wrong (of course I could be wrong), then maybe, just maybe, given how much popular support has been given to Obama and Hillary, that’s just chickens coming home to roost?

    Your milage may vary.

  19. Ghostwheel

    Something to be grateful for: we are living in a new golden age of television.

    No, not the mainstream media, which is utter shit. Of course not that. That’s suffered a severe and catastrophic devolution.

    But I’m watching Westworld now, and I’m just engrossed in it.

    Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead … I love ’em. Can’t be the only one on this site who does, I’d wager.

    Not exactly walking through the forest and smelling the daffodils; I don’t know if Epicurus would approve or not. They did have plays back then. And damn, some of these shows don’t talk down to you and really do kick some dramatic ass.

  20. Ian Welsh

    Yes, if you like TV, watch TV. One of the things I discovered during my meditation progress was that some of my happiest memories are of… World of Warcraft (Vanilla, BC, for those who have played. Don’t like the current version.)

    That’s not “supposed” to be how it is. But… as it happens, that made me happy. Knowing what actually makes you happy, even if socially it’s not supposed to, is important.

    I didn’t want to get into “how bad is Trump”. Even if he’s on the light side, he’ll be bad (terminally so) for some people. Changing people’s political mental modeling is an entirely different fight, and speaking as someone who’s spent a lot of time working at it, it’s really really hard. I suspect it’s actually easier to simply teach them how to chill and enjoy life even if they think bad shit is coming down the pike.

    And bad shit is coming down the pike, even if Trump isn’t as bad as many on the left think.

  21. different clue


    I believe Trump Inc.’s properties are coastal or near-coastal. So Reality will have the last laugh as Trump Inc.’s properties all go “underwater” ( har dee har har) in the face of a Rising Ocean.

  22. Peter


    Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead seem to be Holleyweird’s post-modern versions of soap operas trying to normalize their death-wish culture. The zombie opera seems to offer a positive message that someday you can take a nail gun to the forehead of that obnoxious neighbor without guilt, he was a zombie!

    Now that we are advancing into the post-Clinton era they might use their creativity to produce a drama about the challenges of facing a population of Tweaker Zombie Clintonites rampaging through the streets waving petitions and trying to eat anyone’s brain that still functions.

  23. Peter


    Trump’s latest acquisition is an eerily beautiful Links/Resort on the coast of Ireland that is already threatened by sea level rise. Their application for building a sea-wall to protect his investment states that sea level rise from GW is the cause of the problem. I doubt he will be letting his properties deteriorate because he rejects the Big Green corporate agenda.

  24. tsisageya

    Trumps victory means Killery’s defeat. That’s plenty for me.

    I’ll go now and actually read this. Then, I’ll see.

  25. tsisageya

    I can’t even read this without thinking of the bullshit word “triggered”. It makes me feel like I have a nausea-making gall bladder problem.

    I guess I’ll read it at some point. Maybe there will be a good point.

  26. wendy davis

    @ ché pasa: a commenter at the café left this as it’s global solidarity with oceti sakowan the past two days, as i’m sure you know. if this fails to bring tears to any sentient being, i’d wonder why.
    from kabul, afghanistan:

    i have another link or two, one on ‘actual fascists’, but they’d trip ian’s moderation thingie; never mind. but yes, the answer i to take care of all we can, not just ourselves or our families. that’s always been the problem w/ amurkins, hasn’t it?

  27. Ché Pasa


    The student body president and several other students at Ms Ché’s school (IAIA in Santa Fe) are collecting winter supplies for a run up to Standing Rock this weekend. Quite a few students (mostly Indians) have been there in solidarity with the Water Protectors, though they can’t stay very long. Nevertheless, the experience has changed their lives, and that’s why I urge that the Water Protectors become an example for those in struggle against the coming horrors of state.

    For those wondering where the protesters were before the election, I can only surmise they haven’t been paying attention. People have been in the streets for years protesting and taking action for and against practically everything under the sun. Even I in my lameness have taken to the streets more than once. Anyone who thinks that there haven’t been protests during the Obama regime and against Obama policies and against Democrats and Republicans alike is full of you know what. Full to overflowing they are.

  28. Peter


    I don’t think that these people need to worry too much about the coming horrors of state because Trump may make Sarah Palin head of the Interior Department and her whole family is NA.

    The way this standoff has attracted so many tribes may be very useful even after the pipeline is finished. These connections may offer opportunities for trading ideas on successful development of people and resources especially for the poorer tribes.

    I read a while ago that the children had been evacuated from the camps because of the overly aggressive tactics being used by the young warriors over the objections of the older ghost dancers. When the final decision is made to finish the pipeline there may be more trouble and violence on both sides so more people may be injured and go to prison.

    The intertribal connections may prove very positive and useful but the idea that they can defeat the USG in any meaningful way has been dead for over a hundred years.

  29. different clue

    I am just a lay-amateur science buff, but I think there may be a “cheap” way to wash excess CO2 down out of the atmosphere. And that way involves rain, snow, fog, mist, dew. Water dissolves carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide dissolves into water. Every bit of liquid water recondensed in the atmosphere from the water vapor in the atmosphere is dissolving and intaking some carbon dioxide from the air all around it. Any of that water which clumps up into pieces big enough to fall back to earth or ocean takes its dissolved carbon dioxide back down with it. So recondensed skywater is steadily removing CO2 from the atmosphere with every falling drop or flake. Since much of the skywater falls onto the ocean, the ocean gets richer in CO2 . . . far faster than it could by just insucking CO2 right out of the air at the air-ocean interface.

    The problem is . . . is that we are skydumping more carbon up than falling skywater can wash back out. But if my feeling that falling skywater is washing skycarbon back down out of the sky is correct, then we don’t have to reduce our carbon skydumping down to zero. We just have to reduce it down to less skydumping “up” than what the falling skywater achieves in skywashing “down”.

    But how do we keep “down” the carbon that the falling precip washes down? We try fostering vastly greater rates of plant growth than what we are achieving now. And we try fostering that plant growth in such a way that some of the plant-fixed carbon is kept in plantmass and down into the soil itself . . . a form of bio-sequestration, if one will.

    My purely amateur reading makes me think it can be done. If fellow-readers think this comment is more than just a bunch of silly words, and if any such fellow-readers care to ask me my purely amateur opinion as to how we achieve this greater carbon-sucking carbon-storing plant growth, I would be happy to write my thoughts in another comment.

    And if not, then not.

  30. different clue

    And here is an article I found on the Reddit, about how Floridians voted down an anti-solar ammendment in the same election in which those same voters voted up Trump. It is titled: Florida\’s Ammendment 1 defeat shows why solar won\’t be stopped, Trump or no Trump. Here is the link.

    Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat. And every Blue Zone jurisdiction is an economic combat battlespace which can be shaped by the Blue Majority which governs at every Blue Jurisdictional level. It should be possible to limit the use of electricity within the Blue Zones to those things that only electricity can perform . . . like computering and blogging.
    And therefor it should be possible for the Blue Zones to drive their use of electricity down down down, thereby driving down down down the money and power reaching the Merchants of Carbon.

    We have stopped the Clinton before it could kill again. Now we can focus on slowing down the Trump. Or even perhaps guiding the Trump into the channels we want the Trump to flow through.

  31. “I doubt he will be letting his properties deteriorate because he rejects the Big Green corporate agenda.”

    I suppose physical reality will insist, whatever the likes of Trumpists or anti-Trumpists fantasize about “cheap” environmental and energy solutions. For example:

    “I am just a lay-amateur science buff, but I think there may be a “cheap” way to wash excess CO2 down out of the atmosphere. ”

    No, there isn’t. If one cares about climate change, there’s one and only one solution: Greatly reduce GHG emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild carbon sinks. Period. Anyone who says anything else is a willful liar.

    Of course this means abolishing industrial agriculture, the worst GHG emitter and destroyer of sinks. Which would be best in every economic and political way as well, since Big Ag is a pure evil in every way while agroecology is a fully demonstrated science and practice ready for full global deployment, in tandem with the political philosophy of Food Sovereignty, anywhere and anytime people decide to stop living as slaves and start living as human beings.

  32. different clue


    I think smarter people than you are will read what I wrote after the first few sentences. And since they are smarter than you are, they will have something of value to say.

    To any of those smarter-than-Russ people who are out there, I ask the following question: does condensed water in the atmosphere and/or falling through it dissolve carbon dioxide the way I think it does? Does anyone have proof that carbon dioxide does not dissolve in water and therefor does not dissolve in downfalling rain, snow, fog, mist, dew? ( And in which case, then . . . how does carbon dioxide successfully dissolve into sea water and for that matter, into fresh water where underwater fresh-water plants can grab it and use it for photosynthesis?)

    God . . . I hope we have other readers here who are smarter than Russ.

  33. You do indeed have a “different clue”.

  34. To repeat: If one cares about climate change, there’s one and only one solution: Greatly reduce GHG emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild carbon sinks. Period. Anyone who says anything else is a willful liar.

  35. Peter


    I completely agree with you about dramatic reduction of consumption and repair of carbon sinks being the only program that could even slow the GW. This is a pipe dream in a world where most everyone seeks more growth and claims a right to increase consumption. The technocrats are selling their growth without guilt fantasies but they are mostly about who will profit from the new green industry.

    From what little I know about agroecology it doesn’t seem to be a method of farming but more a method of studying farming and all the interrelations it creates. There is no low carbon replacement that can be applied to replace the system that produces 13 billion bushels of corn every year in the US.

    The collapse of western industrial civilization and the great die-off that it would produce is probably the only solution to AGW. With Trump making peace with Putin the possibility of a Nuke war that could trigger that collapse is fading into the mist.

  36. Peter, you’re probably right that the West will insist on doing things the hardest, most destructive way possible.

    But the fact is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Of course we don’t need all that corn and would be much better off without it, since the pathologies of corporate industrial agriculture are all based on artificially generating “markets” for grotesquely overproduced corn and soy which should never have been produced in the first place.

    Instead all cultivated land should be used to grow food on a local/regional basis for human beings, rather than to produce commodities on a global basis for the benefit of corporations, with food for people allegedly supposed to trickle down from the commodity system. This is the divide between the human mindset and practice, and the Mammon mindset and practice.

    There’s many links proving all this here.

    The physical fact is that if people are willing to grow their own food along the political-economic lines of Food Sovereignty and the science and practice of agroecology, we can grow all the high quality food we need for everyone alive today while ceasing from destroying the ecology. On the contrary we shall integrate our way of life with Gaia.

    However, this would require that most people participate in growing food. And even though in that case it would mean working a few hours a day at what can be called gardening (as opposed to the nasty conditions of agricultural labor under capitalism), to most Western “progressive” types this is beyond the pale, since they’re dead set on being pure parasites on the Earth, giving nothing and doing nothing but taking and destroying.

    And therefore, like you say, I see no reason to think the West won’t insist on doing things the hardest way possible.

  37. Lena

    Thank you, Ian. Your video was very helpful and soothing. Peace be with you.

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