Must Big Thugs Always Rule?

Image result for trump kids on safari

Trump kids shoot exotic & endangered animals

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

–Wm. Shakespeare

The fault we have to contend with in trying to establish democracy is that a huge percentage of the population—of any population—wants a gorilla in charge. A Big Daddy to protect them. Someone who’ll beat his chest, give orders, and relieve them of the responsibility of thinking for themselves. Someone whom they perceive as stronger, smarter, and wealthier. Someone with no observable self-doubt, who will reward his loyal followers and punish his (and their) enemies.

This tendency to worship a thug no doubt has psychological origins in childhood. Unfortunately, it gets re-enacted throughout history. There are always been a few sociopathic murderers willing to assume the role of dictator, and a coterie of lickspittles willing to serve as his chief officers and propagandists.

Last week I quoted an Assyrian emperor bragging about his exploits: In the valor of my heart and with the fury of my weapons I stormed the city. What he doesn’t mention is how very well protected the emperors of Assyria were. I doubt he ever came near the front line. When he went “hunting,” a group of servants trapped lions, put them in cages, and then released them for his majesty to shoot. Subsequently the court artists would depict him riding in his chariot and slaying the dangerous beast. Same thing happens today. However, instead of an alabaster relief depicting their prowess for millennia to come, these great white hunters have to settle for transient trophies—a photo of themselves with the dead animal, and a stuffed head.

From the Bible, we get the common people’s reaction to a mass murderer: …the women sang to one another in dances, saying “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands.”(I Samuel 21:12) The numbers were highly exaggerated in both cases, but the impulse is adulation of the killer. Popular culture has always reinforced this tendency, feeding the young myths of super heroes from Beowulf to Batman, from Odysseus to Luke Skywalker. Among all the good and complex characters in my next novel there is one mass murderer. Keep an eye peeled for the forthcoming book, A Meteor Shower.

Sylvia Plath wrote, “Every woman adores a Fascist,” but of course it’s not just women. Men do as well, perhaps to an even greater extent. Both sexes voted in Bolsonaro in Brazil. They support Duterte in the Philippines. And in the U.S., it’s not just Trump. As awful as he is, we should not get misty-eyed about his predecessor. According to a newly released book (Double Down: Game Change 2012), Obama commented with reference to drone strikes, that he himself “is really good at killing people.”

Despite all the setbacks of the last few years, I still have hope that we can restore some form of democratic government here. After all, only 40% of Americans support Trump. Sixty percent do not. The unanswered question: who and what will we support in the days to come?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Privacy Policy

We do not retain any credit card information
and will not sell, lend, or otherwise transfer your
contact information to anyone, ever.