This Matt Labash profile of Mike “Murphestopheles” Murphy, lately of Right To Rise fame – is fascinating. (People said ‘Right To Rise’ sounded like a late-nite viagra infomercial. I thought it sounded like a zombie flick, and I think this post-mortem of Murphy confirms me in that intuition. Although I see the other point of view.)
I suggest to Murphy that many of these things he’s decrying have been the tricks of his trade. He’s like a magician denouncing the false-bottomed top hat. “I don’t mind technique,” he says. “I can be shameless. I have a long career at this. But when everything is a short con, then there’s never another short con. Because you need trust, and you’ve destroyed it.”
I guess that’s my favorite bit. But it’s hard to choose. It’s like David Mamet rewriting P.J. O’Rourke, adapting Melville’s The Confidence-Man.
The anti-Trump argument from Murphy’s side is: running the long con is the only sustainable strategy. Trust is there to be betrayed. A resource. Question of when you burn it, and how brightly, not whether. The cynicism really is bracing.
This does suggest a simple, binary classification. There are so many ‘cons’ – neo, theo, paleo. How have we missed the elegance of a two box solution: shortcons and longcons. This also solves the riddle of ‘the Establishment’. Who, if anyone? Answer: any and all longcons, including the ‘anti-establishment’ ones. The rest: shortcons, like Trump. (It seems so simple, but I didn’t write the piece, or provide the quotes for it.) And the final lines:
“If we have real, creative destruction here with Trump, and we have Armageddon or worse, out of the ruins will come new successes. New movements. And eventually, new rackets.”
“And I’ll be in on them,” Murphy says with a half-smile. “I admit it, I’m a racketeer.”