On this beautiful sunny morning in Surrey, my thoughts move to darker times in the past and perhaps ahead. I have been reading Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore. If you have not read it, do.
The research accomplished by the author is compelling, as is the prose. But, what is striking me is the repetition of history in the attraction of the Charismatic Leader. Now, I put that label in capitals as I want to emphasis not only that this is a type of person who becomes a leader easily in a leadership vacuum and that is an important follow-up on Saturday's post, but the Charismatic Leader is the type people want in a crisis.
The two points provide a framework for what is happening in Greece and even France. Dealing with France first, one may gasp and say, correctly, "Hollande, charismatic? No!" He seems the opposite of the bling-bling Sarkowzy, now fading into the past quickly in this modern age of media hype and un-hype. But, the charism of Hollande is exactly that he is the supposed intellectual next-door, the man of the people, even a populist, if a socialist can be a populist. Hollande's charism is that he reflects the normal man of France. The youth and middle-aged can identify with his manners, his seeming, caring demeanor (a la Clinton, I feel your pain) and even his non-first lady, the first mistress.
Hollande fits the bill for France and really is not Mr. Ordinary. Here is a comment from him before the election:
Asked about fears that he was too bland to be president, Hollande said: “Everyone says François Mitterrand had huge charisma. But before he was president they used to call him badly dressed, old, archaic and say he knew nothing about the economy … until the day he was elected. It’s called universal suffrage. When you’re elected, you become the person that embodies France. That changes everything.”
Mr. Boring becomes President Charismatic. This does say more about the French about Hollande, but there it is.
The new president embodies the French ideal of the revolutionary, which is a charismatic ideal in France. They love their revolutionaries. The office of the President of France is one for an egotist. Now, Hollande's real ally is the scary Alexis Tsipras, a communist and real Charismatic Leader. He is a true radical and his agenda is more than getting Greece out of an austerity mode. He preaches hatred of the normal means of working with problems by an inflamatory and blatantly false rhetoric. This past week in France, Tsipras stated.
"We are here to explain to people in Europe that we have nothing against them. We are fighting the battle in Greece not just for the Greek people but for people in France, Germany and all European countries."
Now, Hollande is not the same type of charismatic leader as Tsipras, but they are going to work together against austerity measures which are necessary. These socialists, and I think the new man of Greece, the man of the hour, is a communist, don't you, will work against the democratic and capitalist system with which ideologically they disagree. From the same article--