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Democrats, demagogues and despots via the FT

“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 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.”

he goes on to say:

“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.”

Source: Democrats, demagogues and despots, Financial Times. To get behind the pay wall, just google the article’s title.

Superb article by Martin Wolf. He touches on two extremely interesting points: The importance of institutions/systems and the dangers of demagoguery (no matter who’s using it.) He doesn’t get into the technical progression/evolution of demagoguery, which I think is really a point of fundamental importance in this debate.

Although some believe they’re in a battle of identity and are currently satisfied their side has won- there is evidently no real victory in authority by groupthink. It doesn’t matter how many millions of Christians believe in prayer- prayer still does not work. Building a border wall with Mexico will not improve the lives of people who are struggling financially in the rust belt. And the first effect of tariffs on Chinese products would be prices going up. Likewise, all the evidence shows that being outside of the single EU market will have a profoundly negative impact on the UK economy.

…and that’s how and where people in power are forced into corners and have no choice but to take ever more extreme and authoritarian positions. When one can’t rely on facts or evidence to defend their ideas, what’s left is wordplay and manipulation.

Take the current line of Mrs. May’s government on Brexit: We can’t discuss our strategy because that would *give away* our bargaining position. This is said as if there will be some sort of puff of smoke moment in the negotiations and suddenly David Davis is going to have magic beans to offer the EU that will make Brexiteer proposals irresistible. And those magic beans will make the EU accept everything that goes against the EU project, and is in fact to the project’s detriment- and this to benefit the one country that’s not a part of the union (versus the 27 that are.)

And let’s not forget it was just yesterday when she actually said that the factory and rail workers who were planning to strike had contempt for the common man. Ah yes, those liberal elitist factory workers and rail workers!!! 

factory

Liberal Elitist Factory Workers Earning Ridiculously High Minimum Wages

So once it becomes clear that the populist promises  either don’t materialise or don’t engender the promised effects- then those who got their hands on power using this methodology don’t have many options. Evo Morales (now approaching what may become his fourth term as president of Bolivia) has proposed the creation of a para-governmental agency to “defend democracy”. A democracy which is under constant attack. Especially from foreign forces (allegedly.) He gets to appoint officials to this agency, and they get to decide what constitutes democracy, what threatens it, and also how to define the word foreign. Fascinating.

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20 comments on “Democrats, demagogues and despots via the FT

  1. Steve Ruis
    December 21, 2016

    I believe the minuscule hen said it this way, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” and look at all of the trouble she caused. Mr. Trump is less the architect of this move than a tool of the plutocrats currently running the U.S. but the dangers are no less real. Studies show that our current federal congress listens to the poor and middle class 0% of the time when it comes to making policy. Their paymasters rewarded them by allowing them to be re-elected.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hariod Brawn
    December 21, 2016

    Well, we’re protected from despotism here in the U.K. because the army pledges allegiance to the queen, not to parliament! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Devries
      December 22, 2016

      Then it’s about time she organised another Pride’s Purge.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely! Thatcher didn’t at all damage the social justice system. Those miners and their fancy rights to die by the time they turned 42 were so haughty and above themselves.

      Like

    • acflory
      December 22, 2016

      Really? I didn’t know that. So in theory, at least, if Parliament goes completely bad, the monarch has the option to do away with Parliament altogether?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        December 22, 2016

        In theory, yes Meeks. It’s called Despotic (or Absolute) Monarchy:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_monarchy

        “The divine right of kings, divine right, or God’s mandate is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm. It implies that only God can judge an unjust king and that any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase “by the Grace of God”, attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.”

        Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Scottie
    December 21, 2016

    I have never understood those people who vote for a person that is advocating against the voters interests. I know it happens, and mostly because of a single issue. Like the poor person who votes for tax cuts for the wealthy, or gay people who vote for representatives who are against same sex marriage and equal rights for LGBTQ people. Maybe charisma and being a demagogue is part of it? Thanks. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  4. foolsmusings
    December 21, 2016

    The problem is that we’ve given away so much control already that taking it to the next level is so easy for demagogues.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. acflory
    December 22, 2016

    Every system gives rise to demagogues; Stalin didn’t exactly spring from a democratic system did he? In democracies, however, it’s a wee bit harder and the ground has to be prepared ahead of time. And guess who prepared it this time? The media.

    One the media began to /debate/ intelligent design – as if fair play dictated that it be given equal air-time to Natural Selection – the rise of DumpTy or someone like him, was just a matter of time. Another effect is that the institutions designed to prevent the election of a crook into the Whitehouse, haven’t had the guts to do their job. DumpTy is going to keep his empire and have the Oval Office too.

    By /law/, DumpTy should step away from anything that could lead to corruption, but he’s so ‘popular’ that he’s been placed above the law. All because people have stopped believing in facts. They still want their iPhones and their Occulus Rift VR gear, but they don’t want the scientific facts that led to the development of these goodies.

    If the truth is inconvenient, say it ain’t so.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Scottie
      December 29, 2016

      Another thing about his base scaring congress is that now they are saying they won’t make the nominated Sec. of State present his taxes as the law demands. It is the law, but they claim they can waive it if they wish. They don’t want the people to see his deep business ties to Russia. The people want to see the taxes, it is the laws they get to see the taxes, but republican thugs are going to try to prevent it. I bet the get their way also. Hugs

      Like

      • acflory
        December 29, 2016

        So much for one law for everyone. I think we’re seeing how societies tip over onto that slippery slope. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        December 29, 2016

        Well said Ma’am, well said. Hugs

        Like

      • acflory
        December 30, 2016

        -hugs back-

        Liked by 1 person

  6. acflory
    December 22, 2016

    @ Hariod Wait! I know what Divine Right is but I thought the Magna Carta put a dent in that? The modern monarch has no such right to ‘rule’, does she? Be gentle, remember I’m Australian. :p

    Like

    • There are still odd technicalities; for example the current government is saying they have the right to invoke article 50 (for Brexit) without parliamentary consent based on their “royal prerogative from the Crown”.

      Like

      • acflory
        December 22, 2016

        Hmm..that sounds like cherry picking, and yet more politicking.

        Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 21, 2016 by in activism and tagged , , , , .
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