Personality cults are a dangerous phenomenon in all cases but, in a major political figure, they can be disastrous.
One central factor that is mostly ignored by the media when reporting stories of Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump is their ages, and how those incontrovertible facts affect their attitudes and decisions. They are all running out of time, and that makes them unpredictable, capricious, focused and dangerous. They all have nothing to lose in their quest for achieving their goals/dreams. None of them have any interest in their people, or their people’s future, they only care about their own personal dreams/goals, which includes the promotion of their egos and resulting personality cults.
Putin and Jinping have more money stashed away than they can possibly use, and more power than anyone else in their milieu. What have they got to look forward to? Trump doesn’t have their money but, within his milieu, he seems to have an amazing amount of power as well.
They are all going to die relatively soon, either by natural means, or by the hands of others. I would submit that their deaths play an increasingly major part of their thought processes, their determination, and their commitment to their goals and fantasies. As that happens, they become increasingly, albeit quietly, more and more dangerous. Few people seem to acknowledge this reality, at least in public, or anticipate the results of this basic truth.
The other common factor among them, which is linked to their characters, and exacerbated by their rampant egos is the development of their personality cults: They’ve transformed their political leadership roles into personality cults. Xi Jinping has increasingly turned Chinese policies into Xi Jinping policies. I must say that watching him preside over the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong control by China this week, reminded me of a kingly/emperor-like homage ceremony. Trump does the same with his acolyte rallies, and Putin’s recent, staged, press conference where all his ministers sat before him in obedient silence reflects the same megalomania.
This is nothing new in the history of dictators, or would-be dictators. They all come to believe that they’re infallible, and that they have a “right” to be where they are, even if they didn’t believe that when they started out. Such illusions are usually their eventual downfall, ie Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, but they are increasingly dangerous before they reach that point.
China’s history and demographics say that the regime has to blow-up in civil war eventually. Russia is good at making people disappear in Siberia and the U.S. will one-day wake up to the stupidity of following an egomaniac. The problem is, when will those events happen, and can the process be speeded-up. Of course it can be, but who will take on the task?
I always remember a quote from Joseph Stalin, who reveled in his personality cult. He said, in so many words, “You have a problem, if the problem is dead, you don’t have a problem anymore”. True, absolutely, prophetic, one can only hope.
Age is a factor that is often ignored. Supreme Court justices in the U.S., politicians of all sorts, in all countries and at all levels, dictators and wannabes are all subject to age limitations, and that controls their thinking more and more as they get older.
May I suggest that we, as citizens, the media and government policies should pay more attention to this undeniable and important reality?