…….. so it finally happened. It’s too tempting to say that I’d predicted it, but at the very least I was not as dismissive of the POTUS elect as the world order in general and the media in particular. Without examining the finer aspects of the campaign and issues at hand (yeah right, issues), there is a lesson everyone seems to always ignore: the lesson from history…and the alarming frequency with which it repeats itself.
There is a tendency among the sections of the media and certain educated classes to overestimate the “inherent goodness” of the human race and an even further ostrich like, “neck in the sand” tendency to ignore sentiments of xenophobia and majoritarianism. The unfortunate tendency to underestimate the power of the demagogue. Few words sum it up better than those of Burt Lancaster (Ernst Janning) in “Judgement at Nuremberg”- “Lift your heads, Be proud, there are devils among us: communists, liberals, Jews and gypsies. Once these devils are destroyed your misery will be over.”
It was not the first or the last time, that the enthralled masses lifted their heads, out of fear, out of self-love and self-preservation and wrote and rewrote infamous pages of history. From the hunter-gatherer communities of yesteryear to the silicon age human, I wager the following experiment will always play out in the same manner. Give a large (and partly heterogenous) community a choice of survival at status quo and throw in the choice of a “perceived” better existence at the expense of a few minorities and social outcasts, and every time, the majority arises to supress the “others” to advance their myopic sense of self-preservation. Rawlesian philosophy has never been at the forefront of human behaviour.
Karl Marx perhaps misjudged in his famous opening lines. The words should have been “A spectre is sweeping across Europe, the Spectre of majoritarianism”. It may be class, religion, ideology, fear, hatred or a combination of these, but arguably the most potent human force is that of majoritarianism; that which compels (for no apparent reason) individuals to come together and beat down an established order, or to follow blindly a demagogue, even though he rushes them through the gaping gates of hell. Little wonder then, why the so called “liberals” garner such sparse popular support; and the rabble rousers and liars, stoke the flames which burn the world at large.
Even as I write this piece, the media already trying to put an anti-establishment spin to the upheaval. Trying to convince us that somehow the vote is a rejection of the established political system; the public uprising of a middle class long neglected, their aspirations stifled and their voices unheard. If that were the case, back home, you would have seen a much earlier wringing out of the “so called first political family”, who, in-spite of years of status quo and a near feudal rule, continued raking in public votes…..well, at least till “you know who” happened.
…and there is another, even greater omnipotent entity, which has reared its ugly head and bared its toxic fangs. An entity which lies dormant but forever prevalent, one which achieves its ends through surreptitious and almost surgical attacks on the community it targets. An entity which the common educated man (and unfortunately even woman) descries as fictional. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Patriarchy and its offspring Misogyny. A woman’s shortcomings (genuine or perceived) are scrutinized through a thousand filters, dissected to a sub-atomic level, and magnified to gargantuan proportions to create the perfect villain, against whom all should rail. The other side, well, whatever has been said, done, or written; may be simply passed off as locker room banter. The real misfortune is, that without the implicit compliance of women themselves, this system would crumble overnight. The fact that women so willingly contributed to this façade, reveals the length of the journey to be covered before this demon is slayed….but I’ll halt on patriarchy for the moment (requires another day…or many more so).
Let us now face the unpleasant facts and make our peace with it. Humans are not a pleasant species. An incredibly stupid (if you judge the corresponding cerebral development) and an agonisingly petty and selfish community, who among all species seems most intent upon self-destruction. The soon to be Commander in Chief is hardly the most racist, misogynistic, homophobic, psychopath in history. That spot is reserved, for all eternity, to a character to whom all others pale into insignificance, a character to whom these deluded humans kneel and pray in earnest, every day of their lives, seeking petty gratification and a false sense of absolvement. The greatest genocidal maniac in all of history or fiction (depending on which side of the fence you stand). It is perhaps this character, the masses see reflected in their chosen leader.
At the risk of awful repetition, I cannot end before (for the gazillionth time) quoting Gaiman -
Ah , Humanity….you never cease to amaze me.