Trump-Ajax and the mistake of reacting with “hubris” to injustices

The dramatic conclusion of Donald Trump's presidency in many respects raises many questions on the political situation and on the very figure of the outgoing president. What happened on January 6 – with the invasion of the American Congress building by extreme fringes of its supporters and its tragic death toll – unleashed the masses and social media that have always been opposed to the president, who with undisguised satisfaction were able to say: “See? We always said that Trump was a danger to democracy ” . The insults were joined by mockery, which portrayed him as a joke character, the prototype of the arrogant incapable, who only manages to make his opponents laugh, who obviously instead qualify themselves as models of democracy, liberalism and of intelligence, politics and more.

Thus, it was Trump, who had tried to oppose the much more tragic violence (in terms of victims and destruction) committed in recent months by extremist movements ( Antifa , Black Lives Matter ) was immediately considered, wrongly, directly responsible for the occupation of the seat of Congress, the first in the history of the United States. Not only that, he who had set his policy on the enhancement and revival of the ideals of American civil and political life had to suffer the easy criticisms (as easy as superficial and ideologically wrong) to what remains the most successful liberal democracy of history, not only on the part of Europeans, proud of their increasingly technocratic power and less and less tied to popular will, but also by totalitarian regimes, such as the Iranian and Chinese ones.

The decision not to accept the electoral defeat on the part of the president, who certainly only wanted to pursue a (wrong) principled position, shared by many Republicans and many of his constituents, has in fact transformed into a sort of senseless whim, which almost certainly marked the end of a political career that could also have continued and "resurrected" in the upcoming presidential elections. A whim that seems to have transformed Trump into that caricature of a politician that the mass and social media opposed to him (almost all of them) had long drawn. The final, rational and hopefully reasoned evaluation of Trump's political work will, as always, be up to posterity.

Now, in the face of the caricature that old and new adversaries hasten and almost take pleasure in painting, and in front of the inglorious end of the one who led the most advanced country (economically and civilly) in the world for four years, impressing a political direction that surely , however you think it has left its mark, it is natural, as some have already done, to compare Trump to a character in classical tragedy and to read the conclusion of his presidency in the light of those ancient values ​​(today so despised by many) that often they teach us to better understand the successes and failures, the merits and demerits of human beings.

The combination that seems most appropriate to me is that with a character whose deeds are described in the Homeric poems, made an immortal example for our culture, and a term of comparison for our spirituality, by Sophocles (496 – 406 BC) in the tragedy entitled to him: Ajax Telamon . As is well known, after the death of Achilles, Ajax was undoubtedly considered the noblest and most valiant among the Greek warriors who besieged Troy: according to reason and fairness, the weapons of the deceased should have gone to him, including the magical shield forged by the god Hephaestus. However, in the assembly of the Achaean princes gathered to decide who to attribute the honor to, Ulysses brigging in a cunning way and without too many scruples managed to be preferred to Ajax and thus to win the precious fighting tools.

Whether you approve of them or not (which is obviously always subjective), honesty wants us to recognize that Trump has done politically important things: think of the peace agreements between some Arab countries and Israel (the first after almost a century of wars); the relaunch of the American economy, one made up of work and entrepreneurial initiative in favor of the lower middle classes; the "actively" critical relationship with dictatorships and the support of human rights; the promotion of scientific and technical research in the "traditional" sectors (for example in the oil field); to the modification of international power relations in favor of the governments of individual states (especially those elected in a free and democratic way) and to the criticism of technocratic or globalistically correct international organizations. All policies that certainly could not automatically guarantee his re-election, but which certainly deserved to be placed at the center of the electoral campaign debate and evaluated in their concrete consequences.

Instead, the mass and social media have focused from the beginning on a personal denigration of the president in office, made up of allusions, negative truths expanded if not invented, and positive truths diminished if not silenced, which has ended up decisively influencing The vote. To all this were added the anomalies of the electoral procedures: the rules on voting changed a few days earlier, the malfunctioning counting software, the Republican observers kept away from the polling stations, etc.

Who in this story can be compared to Ulysses, more than the new president Joe Biden, who for now has proved to be a rather "gray" figure, similar to many European and Italian politicians, is the Democratic Party as a whole, which astutely has took advantage of all the above not only to win the presidential elections, but also to win the majority in both houses. However understandable the belief of Trump and his constituents that they have been cheated, like Ajax, with cunning and incorrectly, of what they were entitled to, that is, of a correct and transparent electoral procedure, the fact remains that the elections from from a formal point of view they remain regular and Biden's victory legitimate, as was the Achaean decision in favor of Ulysses.

One of the major achievements of Western thought was the distinction, established in medieval canon law between the moral and the juridical-political level of public action: the victory of the Democratic Party was very questionable from the moral point of view, but perfectly legitimate from the from a legal and valid political point of view: confusing the two plans was the mistake that inspired the choices that Trump, perhaps at the "gut" urging of many of his constituents, made after November 3. As is known, blinded by anger, Ajax decided to massacre the Achaean princes who had contributed to the unjust assignment of weapons, but deceived by Athena he ended up killing the animals brought in by the army, transforming himself from a brave warrior into ridicule butcher. Then, overcome by shame, despite the pleas of his concubine Tecmessa, he took his own life.

Trump's was also in a sense, as has been said, a political suicide, which harmed his supporters and ended up making his opponents happy, who could claim to have proven proof of all that they had said badly about him, in some cases inventing, almost always exaggerating defects common to all political figures. That men can legitimately carry out morally dubious if not downright condemnable actions is a reality that is part of human nature, of that "crooked wood" of humanity that must be respected, because it would be worse to try to correct it, as many of those want to do. who took sides against Trump in the name of the "superiority" of their politically correct principles.

Defeat deemed unjust or in any case caused by unfair means, is always difficult to accept, especially when you are not fighting only for yourself but also for your voters, but politically delegitimizing the winner, not recognizing his victory, can lead to consequences. worse, even if clearly unwanted, for themselves and their supporters, as the episodes of January 6 have shown.

I confess that I have always been in doubt in front of the character of Ajax, sometimes appreciating his value and righteousness of mind, sometimes criticizing his presumption, his "hubris" as the Greeks said. I don't feel like making judgments about Trump in the light of recent events: I think it is more important to talk about the political legacy he leaves to the Americans and to the world.

The fate reserved for Ajax's remains may still help us in our comparison. The commander-in-chief of the Achaean army, Agamemnon, in order to punish the fact that the suicidal hero had tried to kill his comrades, decided to leave their body unburied (the greatest insult to the memory of a man for the Greeks: think of the analogous theme of the tragedy "Antigone" , also by Sophocles). The same Ulysses, however, shrewd yes, but not blinded by hubris and therefore aware of his own faults and understanding towards those of others, praying him at length convinces him to attribute to Ajax the funeral honors that are due to him.

Not all Democrats are on extreme positions (the most conspicuous ones on the mass and social media) that deny the value of any human and social reality that conflicts with their dogmas – as high in the abstract as they are devoid of concrete content and therefore all the more capable of harm human rights and the regular conduct of public life. It should be the task of the "moderates" of the party to resume and perhaps enhance, even if it is obvious that it is by modifying its contents, Trump's political legacy. If they succeed, we will be facing another case in which American democracy has overcome a difficult crisis, otherwise, if the extremistically correct positions prevail, the consequences could be very serious not only for the United States but for all Western countries. .

The Democrats, fairly or not, have legitimately obtained the responsibilities of government. American voters will soon have new opportunities to judge with their vote: whoever is not an American voter can only observe and perhaps try to comment on the developments, results and mistakes of the Biden presidency.

The post Trump-Ajax and the mistake of reacting with “hybris” to injustices appeared first on Atlantico Quotidiano .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Thu, 14 Jan 2021 04:54:00 +0000.