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."
"I am not here to blackmail, I am here to mobilise," he said.
Mobilize who and what?
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--
Opinion polls suggest Tsipras's party Syriza could be in a position to lead a coalition government in Greece after a second general election next month. He was in the French capital to meet members of France's far left, including Front de Gauche firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who stood as a presidential candidate in April.
The young and charismatic Greek politician will travel to Berlin to reiterate his message; this is that Greece wants no more austerity and is willing to tear up the country's €130bn (£105bn) bailout agreement if necessary.
His defiance appears to be catching. Before Greece held a general election on 6 May, the 37 year old and his Syriza party were widely mocked as a motley collection of ex-Trotskyists, Maoists, champagne socialists and greens, who appealed to fewer than 5% of voters. After polling more than 25%, the Greeks and the rest of Europe have been forced to take him and his party seriously.
At a press conference at the French Assemblée nationale on Monday, there was a scrum as dozens of journalists from around the world packed into a small wood-panelled room in the parliament building and jostled for the chance to ask Tsipras questions.
Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist party and president of the European Left party, himself a former journalist, was having no truck with those waving their arms about and huffing and puffing about not being able to address the Greek politician.
"It's me who decides," he said firmly. Laurent added that he was "delighted to welcome" Tsipras and supported his crusade against austerity that was not only "conducting us into a dead end" but was "anti-democratic".
Tsipras does not care about democracy or he is redefining it, as so many Marxists do.
Notice the language of division. Americans, does this type of rhetoric remind you of someone--the most divisive president we have ever had?
Wake up, Europe and America before the EU turns into one great playground for tyrants. and read the book.