Saturday, July 23, 2016


Apparently the whole world is following the US election campaign. Justin watched the Republican Party convention live in Melbourne and telephoned me immediately afterwards, still laughing at Donald Trump’s acceptance speech in which the bombastic narcissist described himself as “humble and grateful” to be nominated. 

Trump’s speech was broadcast live on most of the television stations here in the US as well, but I didn’t watch it. I avoid as much as I can the theatrics that pass for politics in this country, so Justin knows more about it than I do.

My knowledge of European politics is about equal to his, but I know more about Asian politics than he does. Justin has no more interest in Indian politics than I have in US politics, despite having lived in Bangaluru for a decade, so we talk about European politics.   
I’d prefer not to talk about politics at all, but we have nothing else to talk about. During our last conversation, I mentioned that I’m currently reading Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday and rereading Dante’s Inferno, but Justin said he’s never read the Inferno and never heard of Zweig.

I've come to enjoy talking with Justin, to the extent that I enjoy talking with anyone; but I’d prefer to be left alone.

I am alone. Everyone else - even Justin, who is more intelligent than most, and should know better - assumes that Trump is an extraordinary political phenomenon. They often say he could be another Hitler, not realizing that every ruler is potentially another Hitler. 

In times of crisis, people usually band together and help each other through it; but only at first. If the crisis continues, they start looking for someone stronger and wiser than they to tell them what to do. We're in such a crisis now, not surprisingly; we've been in one crisis after another ever since we created what we used to call civilization.

Sooner or later everything we build falls, because the foundation of what we used to call civilization is the enslavement and exploitation of one group by another, so it's unstable. People usually assume that rulers keep the ruled enslaved by force, but a minority – and the rulers are always a minority – can’t keep the majority enslaved by force alone. Only an idea – what Plato called a myth, and David Hume called opinion – can make the majority submit to a minority. We live not in the real world, but a world we’ve imagined. a prison of our own making.

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