Why we love Tony Blair
KPN readers may be puzzled that Prime
Minister Tony Blair has so far been given such an easy ride. Justification is one thing (there can be no
justification for savage random attacks on innocent civilians, and Blair has
cunningly used this fact to escape criticism), and motivation is another (the
motivation provided by the illegal war in
To help explain our love affair with Tony Blair we must go back in time a little, to the days when we left the forest to live on the savannah. The open plain was a more dangerous place, where fierce predators roamed. We were not equipped to match the speed, the fangs, the strength of powerful carnivores: singly, we would not have survived for long. We had relatively large brains, but they weren’t much protection of themselves – you can’t reason with a hungry lion. We survived, we flourished, so well indeed that today the largest predators depend on our goodwill, because we are at heart pack animals.
Back in those days, one imagines the leader was the best physical specimen, a focus for group effort in hunting expeditions, and for the defence of the little clan. Just as is the case in predatory species today, the alpha male would have given the orders, and obedience to the leader had considerable survival value.
Today we retain those tribal characteristics. Our need for a leader, once necessary for survival, has today become a dangerous liability. The situation has changed dramatically. Today’s leaders are in charge of a pack that may run into hundreds of millions of individuals. Today’s leaders are no supreme physical specimens: the emphasis is on cunning and, above all, charisma.
To mitigate the absolute rule of tyrants, democracy came along. Democracy that lived up to its name (demos, the people, and kratos, strength, i.e., people power) spread the power required to run the government to temporary representatives elected by the people. At first, the new system worked well, but gradually our fatal need for Fuhrers reasserted itself. In our heads we are nearly all professed democrats - a system that spreads power and is based on individual human rights and freedom has a strong appeal to decency. But in our hearts we long for surrogate gods.
Look at the way the leader is chosen in
‘the land of the free’. Look at the
hype, the half-billion dollars spent on the
Democracy, it was once imagined, would be
proof against tyrants and a guarantee of decency in foreign policy - a focus on
freedom and human rights at home could not justly translate into oppression and
war abroad. Well, it turned out that
that democracy was no guarantee of benevolence, no bastion of freedom, no
beacon of hope to the peoples of the world.
KPN readers will know something of the writings of Noam
Chomsky and others. Most recently, there
has been the illegal, pre-emptive war against
Where has democracy failed the people of
The general reaction to the terrorist
A better example of how we prefer charisma over wisdom in our leaders could hardly be found, or even imagined.