The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

The Age of Bullies ?


Messianism is the belief in the arrival of a messiah, who will save or liberate people.  Understandably, the need for a messiah is increased during times of stress or fear.  We can witness the increasing number of messiahs or “strong-man” leaders in the last fifty years, which has been a time of many wars, of vast technological changes, of increasing concentrations of wealth, and puzzling social change.  I would speculate that need for strong-man leaders will only increase.

But, who would want the job of messiah?  Obviously, it would be someone with a very large ego.  As my wife says, men with large egos have a strong need to be “large and in-charge.”  They are obligated to assure their people that all problems are under control, and there is no need to be fearful, as long as they are in-charge.

Compare the loudest strongmen on the world stage today, i.e., Putin of Russia, Maduro of Venezuela, Xi of China, Erdogan of Turkey, Duterte of the Philippines, and Trump of America.  Each one claims legitimacy from some “election” and hates the press.  This year, each one of them assured their people that the coronavirus was under control, and that there is no need to worry.  Sadly, that need to appear “large and in-charge” increased the loss of life.

Today, Wall Street is fretting over another trade war between China and the U.S.  We are indignant that China did not share enough information with us about the virus, but why would that be in the best interest of Xi?  It is better for him if the U.S. suffers even more than China.  It weakens us economically, and it makes him look more “large and in-charge” to the Chinese people.  He can show them how much better he controlled the virus than the U.S.  Withholding information on the virus costs more American lives, but why is that bad for Xi?

You might believe that any decent human being would have shared the information and prevented additional deaths, but whoever said bullies are decent human beings?

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