Stephen Hawking is probably one of the most intelligent figures alive today. His formidable body of scientific work has helped humanity understand some of the biggest mysteries about the universe as we know it. With popular books like A Brief History of Time, The Grand Design, and The Universe in a Nutshell, the world-renowned physicist has single-handedly become synonymous with the word “genius” not just in the world of science, but in popular culture as well.
And yet, even he cannot fathom what it is that has made Donald Trump the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential elections. The British physicist appeared on ITV on Monday morning, claiming that Trump “is a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” Apparently he doesn’t understand much of the Republican Party’s voter base at the moment.
Hawking is not necessarily shy when it comes to politics. In fact, he is an outspoken critic of neoliberal capitalism, often aligning himself with the political left when speaking on social, economic, or political matters.
Last year, when asked in a Reddit Q & A session about the possibly apocalyptic future surrounding the increased robotic automation of the global workforce, Hawking insisted that it wasn’t automation itself that would lead to an economic disaster for workers, but unfettered capitalism that allows the greedy class of machine owners to siphon their wealth at the expense of the immense majority of the world’s population, who would otherwise benefit from automation if the world’s wealth was redistributed appropriately. He stated specifically:
‘If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.’
Of course, ideas like this don’t really resonate with billionaires like Trump, whose current tax plan relies heavily on giving the nation’s wealthiest individuals yuuuugee breaks that are certain to place a heavy burden on the middle and lower classes of this country. Big words like “redistribution” aren’t exactly in the billionaire’s limited and elementary vocabulary at the moment, so it’s easy to see why a genius like Hawking doesn’t really “get” Trump’s popularity. Understanding physics and understanding human behavior are two remarkably different fields of study.
In addition to chiming in on American politics, Hawking also took the time to discuss the upcoming EU referendum in the United Kingdom. ABC news reports:
‘Hawking also appealed to British voters to vote to keep the United Kingdom inside the European Union in a June 23 referendum. He said remaining within the EU provided essential support for British scientific research as well as its economy and security.
He said: ‘Gone are the days we could stand on our own against the world. We need to be part of a larger group of nations, both for our security and our trade.”
Featured image via Getty.