The Cost of Demagogy

When the mob invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6, an era in the political history of the United States came to an end. An era that goes back to at least the Great Depression and the not unrelated World War II.

And after this era, the time came – after so much destruction and sacrifice – to satisfy the desires of the citizens: more democracy, freedom, human rights, social programs.

These are the valuable ‘goods’ that man has been struggling to secure for centuries. Goods for which a lot of blood was shed and for which great sacrifices were made over the centuries in order to obtain them.

Goods that make man more human. That ensure his/her dignity. Social and economic gains. Social cohesion.

The result of these struggles was that the world in general, and the West in particular, conquered what were until then, impregnable peaks. They set unprecedented records in human history.

Never before have so many billions of people reached such a level of economic prosperity.

Never before has science given the tools to so many to enjoy the fruits of “miracles” in the fields of health, information, and transportation.

But despite all the successes that were achieved, they were never enough. Man always wants more.

Success creates desire for more. For life to be made easier. For more goods to come faster. There is a term for it: The Revolution of Rising Expectations.

They put pressure on the political system for the immediate satisfaction of needs and desires – for the elimination of problems.

For example, economic inequality and race issues.

Ancient Athens also faced similar problems. While its leading citizens performed the greatest human miracle up to that time, emerging from the so-called Greek dark ages to create a city that constituted the "school of Greece" – according to Pericles – the demands of the citizens became so great that they created the need for demagogues.

That is, orators who promised the most improbable and unrealistic things to flatter the citizens and secure their vote.

The tragic events of January the 6th do not differ much from what happened in ancient Athens, in terms of the reasons that made them possible.

Demagogy, populism, if you prefer, has created expectations in parts of society that are not easy to fulfill.

And when this is maintained for a long time, and one frustration follows another, the ‘formula’ needed to make the explosion is created.

This explosion, however, cannot be triggered without an arsonist: the talented, ruthless demagogue who has his finger on the pulse of the moment and lights the fire for the disappointed, who “have nothing to lose but their chains.”

The mob that invaded the Capitol has been around for a long time. The problems were old and growing. What they were waiting for was the ‘Messiah’ who would inspire them, promise them that he would solve their problems, and that he would lead them to the Promised Land.

So today it is not enough just to punish Trump, no matter how necessary it is for the future of democracy. Many things need to be reconsidered. Populism. Lies and conspiracy theories. The social media through which the craziest things the human mind can imagine are circulating.

The fact that Facebook,Twitter and Instagram suspended Trump's accounts – some for many hours, some permanently – after the January 6 events speaks for itself about this need.

But this may have been too little, too late.



‘Periodiko’ – our Greek edition’s weekly magazine, which is offered for free (for now) every weekend along with the main section of the newspaper, covers very interesting topics, and as the reader will agree, keeps getting better and better in every way.

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