Thursday, June 7, 2018
Merkel, Trump and Macron
"The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea."
This quote is by Mao Zedong.
With purpose I here distort and use the quote for another purpose and say
"The populist leader must move in the mobs as a fish swims in the sea"
And should be added: "and must have wise and long term aims".
The new declined or late modern era both fosters and needs new types of politics and not least new types of leaders. These can be termed populist no matter if they are rightwing, leftwing or centrists, and no matter if there is a formal western-style democracy or not. Important is only that public opinion plays a major role, that this opinion is easily changed, and it is actively used in populist ways. We cannot see this as in itself good or bad, but rather as a fact. Politicians must adapt to the new changed political climate with its new rules or rather lack of rules of behavior, this no matter if they are of the old type from mature modernity, or they are of a type produced by the emerging new times.
The new era per se should not simply be lamented with nostalgic longing for the good old days. It is already there. But the new type of populist leaders can be judged. Some are qualified, some are not. Some want autocratic rule in order to gain personal power, some want autocratic rule in order to control the decline, some do not want autocratic rule. Some only seek immediate gains out of shifting moods, others plan for many years. But unfortunately, with the shallowing of many countries, the influence of leaders is increasing. Thus their quality is becoming crucial.
The present US and French presidents, Trump and Macron are good examples or personifications of two very different types of late modern rulers.
Both bypass political parties of the classically organized types and build on populist movements of people. They understand how to guide and use the sentiments of their voters. Both think in untraditional ways which can help solve old problems in new ways. But otherwise they are very different:
Trump is unpredictable, acts for the here and now.
Macron is well-considered and has long term plans.
The rule in the coming decades belongs to leaders of both types. Rulers of the first type can break down and even destroy politics and the world. Rulers of the second type can build the future.
Of course the plans of Macron are not meant to be simply accepted and implemented as they are, but as proposals. They should be taken seriously and negotiated. It is a vision on how to tackle the new times. How to adapt France and not least the EU. It might be the last chance for this organization. The idea is to seek a way to limit the rising influence of populists of the irresponsible types we see in East Europe, Turkey and the United States.
Long term careful planning and organization is a characteristic of our Western civilization. To a large extent it is lost in the present declined modernity. Those who have retained or regained the ability and willingness to plan ahead, have an immense advantage.
A few countries uphold stable modernity of the type dominant in the rich world since WW 2, and they have leaders of this type. Here Germany and Merkel is a good example. Unfortunately there are too few Merkels left, and there are too many Trumps and not yet enough Macrons as successors.
Also the old type politicians like Merkel must adapt. Understand and deal fittingly with, or if possible manipulate, the big egos among the new leaders. Put forward reforms to adapt countries and int'l organizations to the new times or at least support leaders like Macron who do this. Upholding mature stable modernity in our times is in itself a remarkable achievement of the political system in Germany. It is admirable and a clear advantage for ones own country. But as no country can exist in splendid isolation, it is important to relate to and influence the outside world. One cannot live after the principle
After us and beyond us the deluge / die Sintflut.
In the end it will devour even the stable island.
Germany has a formidable ability to organize and plan ahead. This could indeed be used in the present troubled world.