Monday, September 11, 2017

Age of the Strong Man

There is such a thing as global weather, though no one can predict it, neither Marx, nor Lenin, nor Che Guevara. Not Hegel, not Woodrow Wilson, and certainly not Gorbachev.

Global weather is as difficult to predict as the meteorological version. And yet there is such a thing. Everyone alive in 1968 felt it; it was as if history were coming to an epitome. Many were stunned by the counter thrust —Reagan, Thatcher, Deng Xiaoping.

These days we throw around words like "fascism" to explain current politics but maybe we need to peer beneath such ideological categories and recognize that this, above all, the age of the strong man.

The evidence is too abundant. One of those things you either ignore or explain away if you can.

In the United States there is the populist, anti-democratic Trump, of course.

In Russia, there is wildly popular, anti-democratic Putin.

In China, Xi Jinping is, as the LA Times described him, "on the cusp of gaining power unseen since Mao Tse-tung."

The US, Russia, China — the three great powers. What global mood do they reflect or collaborate to fashion?

On a smaller scale there is of course Turkey's Erdogen. And though I don't mean to complicate the issue beyond reckoning, Netanyahu is on this scale, too, Netanyahu as Israel's seemingly eternal, eternally crushing  potentate.


It's the age of the strong man. Whatever can be done for democracy must reckon with that brute fact.

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