Tuesday, December 20, 2016


"The more powerful the passions and the more uncontained the ambitions, the more likely the democratic system will collapse into despotism. Demagogues are the Achilles heel of democracy. There is even is a standard demagogic playbook. Demagogues, whether of left or right, present themselves as representatives of the common people against elites and unworthy outsiders; make a visceral connection with followers as charismatic leaders; manipulate that connection for their own advancement, frequently by lying egregiously; and threaten established rules of conduct and constraining institutions as enemies of the popular will that they embody. Mr Trump is almost a textbook demagogue. Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence party, has not advanced so far because it has proved harder to capture the UK’s party-based institutions than it is the US presidency. Yet there are similarities between the demagogic elements of the Brexit campaign and the rise of Mr Trump. For both, opponents are enemies rather than fellow citizens who think differently. Both claim to represent the people against foreigners and traitors. The demagogue’s campaign leads naturally to despotism — the tyranny of the majority that is a mask on the tyranny of one. As institutions are brought under dictatorial control, the opposition is driven into rebellion or acquiescence. Despots use the former as an excuse for repression and the latter to demand absolute obedience. A host of examples of the demagogic route to power exists, in both past and present. Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler are case studies of demagogues turned into despots. It is not hard to think of recent examples, from Hugo Chávez to Viktor Orban and Vladimir Putin".
Martin Wolf, "Democrats, demagogues and despots". The Financial Times. 20 December 2016 in www.ft.com.
"Lloyd George was an opportunist in the second sense, one whose fluidity of principal made him a creative politician for a period of great unrest and danger. He was a manager, not an ideologist or class warrior: a manager of genius. 'The difference between ordinary and extraordinary men', he told Lord Riddell, 'is that when the extraordinary man is faced by a novel and difficult situation, he extricates himself by adopting a plan which is at once daring and unexpected'. And the point of the man of action is to get things done when there is danger but no consensus. At no stage in his career was Lloyd George ever at a loss for a plan, a solution, a way out, however intractable the problem appeared. His method of action was instinctive, but a certain preferred pattern emerges: the summoning of the best brains to provide policies; the appointment of executive types, mainly from business, to carry them out; and the exercise of political leadership to mobilize the necessary consent....But the Coalition elected in 1918 also illustrates the seamy counterpart of flexible response: the growth of a purely manipulative style of politics. Like Nixon, Lloyd George came to believe that everything could and should be fixed, managed or bought. His [Lloyd George's] court developed many of the same paranoias and vices, illustrating what a thin line divides creativity from corruption".
Robert, Lord Skidelsky. Interests and Obsessions: selected essays. (1993), pp. 161-163. In an essay titled: 'Lloyd George'.
Which of the two above characters is the American President-elect, Mr. Donald Trump? Based upon the evidence that we have so far, it would appear that Mr. Trump embodies both character traits cited above, by Mr. Wolf of the Financial Times, and Lord Skidelsky. He is on the face of it, a demagogue or at the very least a demagogue in training. Mr. Trump having consistently preferred to slander, and frequently tell lies of the most obvious sort for the entirety of his brief political career. Indeed, one is hard put to ascertain exactly where 'reality' in the most prosaic sense of the mot and Mr. Trump's views and opinions ever cross paths. The frequency of his extraordinary claims and statements, puts paid to even the ordinary leverage that one normally allows politicians in their distortions of reality. In Mr. Trump's weltanschauung (insofar as it exists), reality is something which collapses completely and entirely. Disappearing without a trace. With that being said, is there any hope that Mr. Trump will in office 'grow' into an opportunistic of the 'creative', Lloyd George type? Regardless of certain similarities, I for one cam profoundly skeptical that Mr. Trump will grow into being a second Lloyd George or even a pocket-size one. Why? For the simple reason that Mr. Trump is a complete narcissist, without I would wager any redeeming values, either in politics and in his private life. Per contra to Lloyd George, who for all his corruption and bounder-like personal behavior, was a patriot of the very first-order, Mr. Trump scarcely seems to conjure-up any such a resemblance. Which is not to gainsay that while in office, Mr. Trump may on occasion summon-up some elements of statesmanship and even surprise those of us who distrust him. It is simply that for Mr. Trump being elected President was a gamble and a whim. The type that a self-involved school-boy would indulge in. And in fact, au fond, Mr. Trump psychologically bears a great similarity to nothing more than an over-grown school-boy who has never quite grown-up. The child of rich and doting parents, who indulged his every wish from childhood onwards. And who has treated life as mere stages on a personal anabasis in which other people, are manipulated, moved-around, forced-out, humiliated and or crushed. In short, Mr. Trump is the very antithesis of a Gentleman. He is nothing more than a bounder, a charlatan, a rotter, a mountebank, a fraud. As well as being an ignoramus. From first to last. And it is an has proved and will prove a grave embarrassment that he will soon be given the highest office in the land. One only hopes that his demagoguery stops short of going all the way to semi-dictatorship. Something which I feel, sure that the (relative) strength of American institutions will prevent. The Lord God willing.


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