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Duck-and-Cover America: Advice to College Graduates in The Age of Trump


Duck-and-Cover America: Advice to College Graduates in The Age of Trump

Tom Engelhardt

Class of 2018, I’ve always been told that a joke’s a good way to launch any talk. It’s a matter of breaking the ice, though on your graduation day, with the temperature soaring into the upper eighties, that may not be the perfect image. Still, you know what I mean: an attempt to lighten the atmosphere a little before getting to the tough stuff.


Advice to college graduates in the age of Trump:

Do not idolize criminals, no matter how wealthy and powerful they are.

Find a poor man who is kind to all and is worthy of respect.

Emulate his greatness.


Tom, you are right about what was done to our generation, but the damage lives on and may even be one of the unsuspected roots of school shootings, or even the opioid epidemic!

Nuclear war may not be high on most people’s agenda of what they want to do something about, but the nuclear apocalypse is in the back of the mind of everyone I have questioned closely about it. 10, 20, 50 times a day the thought flashes across my mind: this is all temporary, this is all going to be swept away in a blinding flash someday.

If you doubt this is really widespread, that younger folk actually filter their view of the world through this belief and have internalized it, consider the immense popularity of post-apocalypse movies. Or even zombie movies! (Wikipedia lists 447 zombie movies, the majority of them made in the past 20 years!)

It’s not just regular folk, young and old, who believe there is nothing we can do to stop this, most of the activists I know, myself included, have accepted that we have no control over the actions of our billionaire overlords and their warfare state, and we have pulled back to focus on organizing locally, some around bread and butter issues and others around the culture wars.

Compounding the problem, if we put 10 or 20 people in a room, whether regular folk or activists, to talk about stopping nuclear war, the discussion usually degenerates quickly into pointless but heated arguments that go nowhere about hot button issues . Is Russia or China a menace? Is Assad really a moral monster? Is Putin? Did Russia steal the election for Trump? Is America being taken advantage of by ungrateful allies? Is Israel a democracy? Is this coming apocalypse a fulfillment of God’s prophesy? The list is long and constantly changing, fed by the endless inane “left vs. right” debates in the MSM.

Truly, we have nearly all been terrorized into passivity, Which is arguably the main function of their nuclear arsenal. What we need is an issue that can cut through this twisted knot, an issue that can spark the outrage of regular folk, offer a shred of hope and engage their will to survive, an issue that cuts across all the left-right debates, party identification and religious doctrines. Can I suggest a candidate for this?

How about outrage over the fact that the billionaires and the merely wealthy are spending billions of dollars, up to $100 million each, on luxury hideaway bunkers or backyard bomb shelters, while doing virtually nothing to help the rest of us survive?

The fact that survival plans are in place for the “most essential government workers”, but none for us?

The fact that Russia is spending billions on plans and shelters to help as many survive a nuclear holocaust as possible, but when a false alarm of a nuclear attack was broadcast in Hawaii this January there were hundreds of thousands in the streets milling around in a total panic but the government couldn’t manage a simple “all clear” message for half an hour?

All of these things have been amply documented.

How about leading people to realize that WE are being set up to be the zombies in a zombie apocalypse, while the rich folk in the far suburbs are “prepping” to mow us down as we and our children come stumbling out of what’s left of our cities, sick, hungry and desperate?

Perhaps during the next nuclear war scare, dozens of folk could descend on town and city halls all across the country demanding shelter? Perhaps that could spread so that the next time it’s thousands or tens of thousands in every major city?

For most “activists” and intellectuals who (perhaps rightly) believe that nuclear war will destroy us all and that we mustn’t offer false hope, this strategy is anathema. But people need hope to survive, and perhaps It doesn’t really matter whether there is “really” a chance to survive a nuclear war. The mere fact that our overlords are planning to may be enough!


Nuclear Winter will kill most of us, If the ‘elites’ can last 5 years in their bunkers perhaps they can survive when they return to daylight; but 5 years, or more (that’s just a guess) is a long time to live underground…or in a spaceship.



If the billionaires believe they can survive - which apparently they do - then they will live as though that is true and feel free to go ahead and risk a nuclear war, or perhaps even start one in cold blood. Those that are paying attention know that their system is doomed, and their greatest fear may be the guillotines. But the shelters they’re building show that they are not simply planning on collective suicide.

Perhaps they need to be reminded that if any of us survive, we built and equipped those hideaway bunkers, we have relatives inside as their guards and servants, and we will know how to find them and get to them!

Millions of us massing at city centers and even at town halls near their shelters, demanding action to give us a chance too, might just terrify them enough to make them back off!


Just a thought:
Moving to protest by the millions into cities will make us easier to isolate and kill. Unfortunately, solving our over population problem as well as relieving some of the Global Warming coming (Nuclear Winter will cloud out the Sun light cooling the Earth and causing starvation for a while), may be tempting to do to those with the power to decide.
Our better solutions may be to appeal to our humanity… …they all have mothers, most have children, know creation’s beauty and know their ‘truth’; all needing to maintain a positive self image.
We all have to find a way to live together on this planet or perish together. Remember Freud’s assertion of original guilt where we rose up to kill the Father figure?
The radio silence so far from the rest of the Universe is mute testimony to the survivability of post industrial populations, i.e. the only ones that can send electromagnetic signals.


Lots of luck appealing to their humanity. I went from the Chicago Public Schools to a fancy private high school where i got to know several children of the super rich up close. They were all struggling with why they should deserve their wealth and privilege while surrounded by poverty. They all agreed that it had to be that they were somehow a superior sort of human. Protecting their wealth from the rest of us was baked into their value system.


Yours is the simple message of true enlightenment.


My advice to College Graduates…get the fuck out while you still can and find a life of sanity and peace.


Don’t flatter me.

You really think so?



The wealthier you are the less you care about fellow humanity in general. No amount is ever enough. Greed is the engine of our demise and inequality is the spark that ignites it.