Perhaps you’ve felt the need for speed. Or you’ve felt the need for weed. Or you’ve felt… I don’t know… the need for tweed.
OK, the wordplay breaks down pretty quickly.
In any case, you most likely never felt the need for chaos, and it’s not just because the phrase doesn’t rhyme.
No, it’s because you probably don’t agree with the following the statements:
I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.
Sometimes I just feel like destroying beautiful things.
I think society should be burned to the ground.
Wow, those are pretty crazy inklings, aren’t they?
Well, it might surprise you to know that a “staggering” number of Americans agree with those statements, including 40 percent of Americans who want to torch all of our political and social institutions, and 24 percent who believe society itself should be completely destroyed.
Yes, that probably surprises you. Now, does it surprise you to know that harboring such dark thoughts is positively correlated with supporting Trump?
OK, that probably doesn’t surprise you.
You see, a new study has shown that “a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to ‘chaos incitement’ and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.”
The researchers state that these individuals have a “Need for Chaos” (NFC) that manifests itself in “willingly spreading disinformation … not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites, left and right, and to mobilize others against politicians in general.”
Leaving aside the fact that both Chaos Incitement and Need for Chaos are great names for punk bands, the study found that NFC is a “strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers, willing to adopt disruptive tactics.”
Yeah, this basically means angry people who blame others for their problems. These are the individuals who rant about American carnage and think hordes of “illegals” are murdering citizens in the streets and see no solution other than a Shiva-like destruction of the nation’s foundations.
And this pathology (there is no other word) is “associated with support for Donald Trump.”
Of course, there are some issues with this analysis. For starters, it discounts racism as a prime motivator among Trump voters, which as we all know, is a well-established link.
However, there is little doubt that “NFC can also explain some of Trump’s support, as a not insignificant slice of the American electorate seems to be driven by a desire to tear down the system.”
In other words, many of Trump’s biggest fans don’t even believe in the mythical Make America Great Again slogan. They just want to see everybody suffer. These political nihilists do not “share rumors because they believe them to be true. For the core group, hostile political rumors are simply a tool to create havoc.”
And as many experts have noted, Trump himself “has consistently sought to strengthen the perception that America is in chaos, a perception that has enhanced his support.” And this effort has paid off, because many Americans — including a disturbing number of his supporters — fantasize not about peace and prosperity, but about rage and entropy.
They envision a country, even a world, where everything burns.
They see bedlam all around them. And it makes them smile.
Featured image: The butterfly effect is illustrated using a light source attached at the free end of double pendulum. The double-rod pendulum is one of the simplest dynamical systems with chaotic solutions.