The confrontation with the problem of North Korea reveals itself to be a perfect example of the public danger Trump seems to embody.
We live in a Western society which believes that the concept of the model of democracy has been settled and perfected. We don’t recognize that what we see today is not full democracy but democracy still in a state of infancy. Probably within a century, democracy will become much more mature and refined and this present stage will be seen as an embarrassing exercise of political archaeology. No, democracy is much more than a frenetic fight for votes cast in a box, a choice among options within a sectarian machinery of interests that lie behind each symbol.
Genuine democracy has to be much deeper, purer and based on citizens who constitute the inalienable base of this concept and of society. Corrupt and mediocre figures proliferate behind the scenes of current “democracy.” (Many are extolled by television news and social media.) Only some countries, such as those in Scandinavia,* have a systemic culture contrary to this deficient experience, which now prevails in the West. In the history of contemporary democracies, there is no lack of various kinds of elected dictators.
Elections and votes in party machines frequently convince those that democracy attributes dictatorial powers to the winners, inducing abuses, perversions and dominating uses of power. For example, many ‘winners’ tend to suppose that they are invested with linear powers of making laws which benefit them, of ‘legalizing’ what is illegitimate and even immoral. It is, de facto, a dictatorial mentality based on votes. Democracy requires a different perception.
Looking at our neighboring country, I see something which, without surprising me, frightens me. Just a few months ago, if I were a Catalan I would have voted in favor of the permanence of that region in Spain, although I have always respected (as totally legitimate) the will of the separatists. But if I were a Catalan today, I would vote, without hesitation, in favor Catalonia’s independence because the inability and the totalitarian comportment of the Spanish central authorities showed, even better than the separatists, that this central power is, in the end, imposing, dominating and almost colonial. We have witnessed governmental behavior which is truly dark and absolutely disastrous. Decreeing by law that democracy and the will of an enormous community is illegal, a perversion of democracy. The West has for decades preached to the world about the value of people’s self-determination, as long as they are other people and not theirs. But in Catalonia, it is, in general, within the European Union, that we see the contrary situation. The anesthetized citizens don’t notice. Collective unconsciousness is an even greater threat to democracies.
For a long time, the United States generated some of the most vibrant and timeless concepts and steps in the formation of the democratic consciousness. Simultaneously, it was transformed into a country which, by succeeding British predominance in the world, became the principle global power following World War II.
Whether we sympathize with it or not, objectively United States society has attained, in many aspects, impressive levels. It has become a nation which, with less than 4 percent of the world’s population, up until today, has gained about 40 percent of awarded Nobel Prizes. It is the font of the largest part of scientific progress and technological creation, which transformed the planet in the last two centuries, as it continues to do. It was here that electricity, telecommunications, the computer and the personal computer, the internet and Google were germinated; it was this nation that led humanity to the moon. It was this country which created the concept of natural parks to preserve enormous untouched areas of nature. This country with a numerically marginal population turned itself into the major economic power of the world, even though it has just been surpassed by China (based on gross domestic product in international dollars or GDP PPP).** A United States citizen is, on average, 45 percent richer than a citizen of the European Union. It became the major military power on the planet and literally the only global power, with more than 800 military bases in more than 70 countries. We can like or dislike this, but the reality of the United States has an extraordinary dimension which is only possible with a courageous, inventive and tenacious people.
And it is these people who changed the world, who, with democratic ballots elected a man like Donald Trump. After Obama, the contrast could not be greater. The formal legitimacy of this election is incontrovertible. As shown to varying degree in a large part of the formally democratic West, votes “legalize” but don’t necessarily legitimize.
Respect for the innovative and fulfilling history of the United States requires some form of repulsion for the way Trump has, in fact, ridiculed, humiliated and destroyed the image of leadership, and of moral points of reference (in spite of glaring mistakes), that this country stood for in the world throughout generations. Trump displays his catchphrase “America First,” but what I see is the posture of “Trump First and America After.”
It is difficult to imagine a president more narcissistic and less responsible. Contrary to what many think, Trump is intelligent and has a quality rare in politicians, the courage to innovate ideas and confront fixed interests in politics. Unfortunately, he uses these qualities in a way whose dysfunctionality would be difficult to exceed.
This circumstance would be merely disquieting if it was not also dangerous. Trump has succeeded in transforming himself into perhaps a more worrisome threat to peace and security in the world than the troublesome North Korean leader. In truth, the confrontation with the problem of North Korea reveals itself to be a perfect example of the public danger Trump seems to embody.
The president does not miss an opportunity to provoke, to stir up, to appear to induce a real military conflict, which would inevitably be Dantesque and nuclear, a generational disaster for these two countries, for all of East Asia and all of the world. It constitutes profound irresponsibility and devastating inability.
Like many politicians of Western “democracies” who were elected by popular vote, Trump also seems to not understand that that which becomes legal under the shadow of votes (power only delegated by virtue of being elected) does not confer legitimacy to arrogance,authoritarianism and personal caprice. Full democracy still requires much perfecting before it can be attained in the future.
*Translator’s note: The author may be referring to what is called the Nordic model of democracy or Nordic social democracy
**Translator’s note: This is true only for the GDP based on PPP (or international dollars) valuation.
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