When the PRI swept the 1991 elections, many of us feared that President Salinas de Gortari’s popularity would not only be enough to end his six-year term with cheers, but also to dominate the next election and, obviously, stop democracy. which was already under way, headed by Engineer Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. However, three years later, the same people who applauded and justified all of President Salinas’ decisions turned against him.
Yes, it is true that people are very wise. But it is also true that the masses react impulsively: they suddenly change their minds, and one day they can take positions opposite to those of the day before. We know that the more devotion you have to your leaders, the greater the disappointment and the more bitter the resentment. Just as he can endow them with miraculous qualities, and assure them that they are never wrong, that they have no dark thoughts, and that everything they do, say, think and dream is good, so they can (and usually do) turn love into reproach and trust into discontent.
Elias Canetti has studied this topic in depth. In 1960 he published Mass and Power, the best essay yet published on the dominance (and paranoia) of the powerful, based on obedience and a formidable cult of personality. He studied the kings of the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Asian sultans and wrote, for example, this: “If the king of Monomotapa has good or bad qualities, i.e. physical illness, defect, vice or virtue, his companions and his servants strive to imitate him. If the king is lame, his companions are lame Strabo and Diodorus of antiquity inform us that when the king of Ethiopia had any part of his body mutilated, all his courtiers had to suffer the same mutilation.
“When the king laughed at Uganda’s court,” continues Kaniti, “everyone laughed; when he sneezed they all sneezed. When he caught a cold, everyone claimed they had it; if he had a haircut, everyone had a haircut. Moreover, This tradition of kings is certainly not confined to Africa. At the Boni court in Celebes, it was customary for courtiers to do what a king does. If he was standing, they were standing; if he was sitting, they were sitting. If he fell off his horse, they fell off theirs. ( …]A French missionary from China tells us: When the Emperor of China laughs, the Mandarin laughs too. As soon as he stops laughing, they do so. (…]The King’s model is general. (…) Everyone does the same, but the King does First, cheers and applause can also be seen as expressions of the will to multiply.(…) Very few are able to evade the obligation that flows from a thousand clapping hands: the production of clapping must multiply.
All this continues until the applause turns into a whistle. Then the beating takes place again, but in the opposite direction, since very few people resist the power of the crowd, which now roars with fury: disappointed, the same crowd that exalted the leader, insults him: from the altar passes ridicule. This is because, as attributed to Lincoln, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
I sincerely hope that popular wisdom will make possible the fate of President López Obrador, who used the support of the masses to the last drop to defame, insult, slander, threaten and threaten those of us who do not worship them. Rightly so, like Chief Salinas: that he’s doing well and that he’s enjoying his life.
Mauricio Merino | Researcher at the University of Guadalajara
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