Let's not make our job even more difficult than it already is.

Hanlon's Razor:

Hanlon's razor is an aphorism expressed in various ways including "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity," or "Don't assume bad intentions over neglect and misunderstanding." It recommends a way of eliminating unlikely explanations for a phenomenon (a philosophical razor).

Trump's Razor:

According to Trump's Razor: "ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts" and that answer is likely correct.

I am not sure I find these "Trump and Bannon are 5 steps ahead of us in this game of 11-dimensional chess and whatever you're doing about it is wrong" articles that have been circulating the last few days on the left to be terribly useful or productive.

Neither of the razors above is a hard-and-fast law. They are heuristics—tools for evaluating arguments. They are pretty useful, though, and tend to work in a practical sense more often than not.

The stuff that Trump, his goons, and the opportunists who surround him are doing is terrible on a level seldom seen in this history of this country. The work involved in resisting it is immense. That said, we do ourselves no favors when we build up vast conspiracies and turn these guys into evil super-geniuses. There is a fine line and much gray area between not underestimating the risks and the damage they can do, and painting ourselves into a corner where we see a vast, coordinated array of forces and then throw up our hands because what can anyone do?

And to be clear, when I quote Hanlon's Razor, I do not mean to imply that there is not malice or bad intentions involved. I absolutely think there are.

But I see basically no one on the Left saying that resisting Trump is going to be easy, or that marches are all we need, or that we can rely on the Democrats to stop him. I see millions of people marching and networking and going home to talk with their friends and families to figure out what they can do, and then doing it. Things are probably going to get worse before they get better, but these what-if thought exercises don't change the fact that there is a lot of work to be done and we need to do it.

Show Comments