Jane Jacobs’ Two Moral Syndromes: Understanding Trump & the Presidency

This will be very short.  It is the one-page appendix to Jane’s fourth book, Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce & Politics (1992).  That title suggests some insight to Donald Trump’s campaign to become U.S. President, specifically his background as a businessman and his attempt to success as president, the ultimate guardian.  To Jane, these represent the two moral syndromes that dominate political life and are essentially mutually exclusive:

[page 215]

THE COMMERCIAL MORAL SYNDROME [which she dubbed “traders”]

Shun force;

Come to voluntary agreements;

Be honest;

Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens;

Respect contracts;

Use initiative and enterprise;

Be open to inventiveness and novelty;

Be efficient;

Promote comfort and convenience;

Dissent for the sake of the task;

Invest for productive purposes;

Be industrious;

Be thrifty;

Be optimistic.


Shun trading;

Exert prowess;

Be obedient and disciplined;

Adhere to tradition;

Respect hierarchy;

Be loyal;

Take vengeance;

Deceive for the sake of the task;

Make rich use of leisure;

Be ostentatious;

Dispense largesse;

Be exclusive;

Show fortitude;

Be fatalistic;

Treasure honor.



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