History from the bottom up.

Eugene Vodoloazkin in First Things:

I am convinced that political cataclysms are not only and not primarily the result of social and economic factors… Even a despotic regime cannot arise without the existence of a social demand for its appearance… 

Let us imagine that Stalin arrives in London and proposes to institute government-sponsored terror. His proposal would not attract Englishmen in the least. The dictatorship would be annulled without having begun. But in Russia, the dictatorship was realized in full. It would seem that there was a demand for it and that it solved certain problems… 

… A national leader, any national leader, does not appear accidentally, and when he does, he is called on to solve specific problems. At the same time, it is obvious that the problems, say, Charles de Gaulle faced were very different from those François ­Hollande faced. The example of Hollande testifies to the fact that the generation of faceless leaders is on the way out. The majority of those who are in leadership today serve as the final paladins of a departing historical cycle. 

What is coming will require a leader who is a reformer or even a revolutionary. As an epoch ends and a new one begins, such a leader is unlikely to exhibit the expected attributes of a responsible political actor. He comes to prominence because he manifests in the most vivid fashion the changes the majority has been waiting for. Perhaps this explains Donald Trump.

In other words, history moves from the bottom up. The “great leader” or catastrophic war occurs because the souls of the people demand it. Stalin was not an accident, but rather he responded to some need for self-destruction deep in the Russian soul. History also moves from the heart outwards: it wasn’t a poor crop or lost war that caused the Russian Revolution, but some stirring from within.

Though it is hard to see how Trump responds to some need deep in the American soul. We Americans have our virtues but lets not pretend depth is one of them.

Interesting thought though.



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