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“Low Trust Society” –

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Last week, Tucker Carlson, an American journalist (ex-FoxNews) and opinion maker, was a guest Joe Rogan Experience, the most listened to podcasts in the US (and the world). Carlson drew on it – a face and a voice second the most listened to podcasts in the United States – he questioned, among other things, the Darwinian theory of evolution, described the existence of supernatural underwater creatures as certain, and put the United States and Nazi Germany on the same moral line.

Carlson is not “crazy.” However, after decades in the world of truth-seeking, he lost all confidence in the power structures he investigated year after year. Of course, a healthy mistrust of institutions that have the power to completely destroy an individual’s life is not wrong, on the contrary. However, instinctive mistrust can occasionally or continuously turn into irrational paranoia.

To trust

Confidence, as they say, comes on foot, but leaves on horseback. One mistake can be enough to completely destroy a reputation built over years. It is, in a sense, inevitable. From experts who brag about their expertise due that they perform their tasks competently. Expertise is expected, even required, and thus earns few points. Lack of expertise is seen as a breach of word, a breach of trust and costs a lot of trust points.

A journalist who tells the truth does not get applause; on the other hand, a reporter who makes a mistake or, worse, lies, is tarred and feathered. Bankers who make money on returns are not on the front page New York Times appear; The bankers who cause the financial crisis by carelessly selling mortgages and financial derivatives do. A government that improves existing legislation usually gets little support, but a government that mismanages a crisis can do no good afterwards. There are countless examples.


The American political enterprise suffers from a fatal erosion of trust in institutional authorities, private, public, and everything in between. This mistrust is fertile ground for “conspiracy theories” across ideological lines. From the social margins, “alternative” facts and narratives are catapulted over the wall guarded by the gatekeepers mainstream conversation. “Alternative”, but therefore not correct.

An American looks at his government and sees a spider web of lies and corruption. Historical examples of government betrayal are one explanation, but not the only one. The massive transfer of power from citizens to government, especially a distant and unloved federal government, didn’t help either. A state that eavesdrops and records its citizens, maintains secret prisons, and does not hesitate to eliminate political opponents in elections does not inspire much confidence. The American citizen does not see his government as an extension of himself and his community, but as the main challenger, even the enemy, of both. Unfathomable situation.


But Americans’ mistrust goes deeper. He doesn’t just trust the state, he doesn’t trust his citizens either.

It is fatal for the republic. Citizens do not see millions of compatriots as (distant) neighbors or at best friends on the same adventure, but as an existential threat to their way of life. As long as these countrymen don’t exercise real power, this is still somewhat profitable. But as these “suspects” work their way to the top of their respective industries, they become more than suspicious: they become dangerous. The table below illustratespublic trust” in various institutions that have “power” – or call it “influence” – in the United States:

You notice the setback, but you also notice that there was no writing to begin with.

Low Trust Society

A society without institutional and interpersonal trust is not a society, but a constant defense of what one loves, against “the other” or “the other.” A cover exercise where critical thinking is mixed with “asking questions”. Then questioning the facts accepted by one person or another body in itself is seen as a positive good. If the government says ‘A’, it’s probably ‘B’, but this is not critical thinking, but critical – and often fact-free – acceptance of improbable nonsense as truth.

The “Low Trust Society” is not only the main cause, but also the result of polarization in the United States. When trust disappears, control, coercion and violence take its place. Control, coercion and violence are the most important breeding grounds for a crisis of confidence. And the wheels keep turning.


Roan Asselman is the author of the book “America Unraveled”. About the cultural battle that is tearing the nation apart” (Doorbraak Publishers). Order through his book this link.


i This applies to the share of Americans who report having “a great deal” or “a lot” of trust in these institutions. The other categories are “some”, “a little” and “none”.

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