This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism.
His name was Hunter S. Thompson.
Most people read Hellís Angels for the lurid stories of sex and drugs. But that misses the point entirely. Whatís truly shocking about reading the book today is how well Thompson foresaw the retaliatory, right-wing politics that now goes by the name of Trumpism.
He claimed that a small part of every human being longs to burn it all down, especially when faced with great and impersonal powers that seem hostile to your very existence. In the United States, a place of ever greater and more impersonal powers, the ethic of total retaliation was likely to catch on.
I first read Hell's Angels by HST way back around 1974.
Yeah, it's true...I DID pick up the book because I figured that there would be plenty of "lurid stories of sex and drugs."
I was a young horn-dog and just dumb enough to think I might score with some buxom motorcycle mama even though I didn't own a bike.
The bikers I did wind up making friends with weren't Hell's Angels.
Most of them weren't even all that political, and some of them were just high school buddies who wanted to own a bitchin bike and find a bitchin old lady.
A few years earlier I had discovered Bethesda Maryland's premiere rock and blues group, The Nighthawks.
Their star front man, Mark Wenner, was a heavily tattooed blues harp player who had a bitchin Harley, and a lot of relatively good natured biker types were big fans of The Nighthawks.
Funny thing, HST's Hell's Angels book didn't seem to jive all that much with the bikers I got to know, and that puzzled me.
It wasn't until I wound up traveling around the boonies of Northern Minnesota that I began to get a clearer mental picture of the kind of folks Thompson talked about in his book.
It didn't clear up my confusion, though.
Now I couldn't square the truly miserable creatures I met up in MN with the righteous and fun loving bikers I used to know back in Bethesda.
And they sort of looked the same.
But it sounds like Thompson was onto something, and I will go find my old copy of his book and read it again. It's been decades but I still have it.