Leaders and Followers – Miserable Monday

  • In Brazil, a far-right candidate, leader of the once insignificant Social Liberal Party, Jair Bolsonaro, just won the first round of Brazil’s presidential election. Bolsonaro, until recently on the fringes of power, has stirred controversy by making remarks variously described as misogynistic, racist, and homophobic. This in a country that is mostly nonwhite.
  • Saudi Arabia yesterday dismissed as “baseless” any accusations or implications that it was involved in the disappearance and apparent murder in Turkey of prominent Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, who was described by Washington Post editorial editor as “committed and courageous,” had written critically about Saudi’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • About China at this moment in its history, political scientist Stein Ringen has in no uncertain terms concluded that,  “The People’s Republic of China is … not ‘an authoritarian system,’ it is a ‘totalitarian state.’” Ringen named four characteristics of totalitarianism, each of which he said applied: 1) government upheld by terror; 2) government reach from public life into private lives; 3) government rule through an extensive bureaucracy; and 4) government under the authority of a commanding ideology.
  • On the question of whether the current situation in the United States bears any resemblance to Europe during the interwar years, when fascism was on the rise, Holocaust historian Christopher Browning writes that there are “several troubling similarities and one important but equally troubling difference.” He concludes his disturbing article in the October 25 New York Review as follows: “Trump is not Hitler and Trumpism is not Nazism, but regardless of how the Trump presidency concludes, this is a story unlikely to have a happy ending.”
  • The United Nations today issued another dire report on the coming consequences of climate change. This one is, if anything, grimmer even than its predecessors, if only because the time frame is shorter than previously was estimated. But, for those who wonder if anything can be done to stop what literally is the rising tide, there is this: my recent blog (see below) on why leaders find it so difficult to stave off what all but the densest among us recognize is a deadly threat to life on this earth as we know it.

To Save the Planet – Leadership


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