THE PEOPLE’S FOOL
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
“Truly, a fine catch of fish has Zarathustra made to-day! It is not a man he has caught, but a corpse. Uncanny is human existence and as yet without meaning: a buffoon can become a man’s fate and fatality.” (1)
The late United States of America was gradually recovering from the Great Recession brought on by the pandering of its regressive administrations to the principle of freedom rooted in unmitigated greed, evaluating individuals solely in material terms, when the people got so bored again with the progressive swing to an equalitarian global order that they wanted to make America great again.
Yes, the American people, who had not suffered much lately, had been saved from an economic disaster, and they had grown exceedingly bored again, mostly for want of political entertainments such as revolution and war. So the fools found a “fool,” a ‘bag of wind’ or ‘bellows,’ a “buffoon” or entertainer who ‘puffs out his cheeks,’ among their own worst enemies, and declared him king.
The king was a natural fool whose crudeness and guileless infatuation with his monumental ego appealed to the vanity of millions upon millions of sycophants who were as blind to his defects as to their own faults. His critics including members of his own court called him a fool a moron, a clown, or even worse, yet he was still deemed to be closer to the ultimate truth of everyone, that everyone is inherently a fool no matter what is said, and this fool is so foolish that he is closest to the god in each and everyone one of them.
The people are king in a democracy, and this king was their fool, their political jester and jouster, their Anglo-Saxon Till Eulenspiegel. He turned America into a travelling carnival or political affair, changing his tune daily and mocking politicians and public figures along the way. The jester’s hat on his head emitted a golden aura, a charismatic light that enchanted roughly thirty percent of the population subjected to him, like it or not. Americans, you see, were insane, un-whole, and he was the divisive mirror of their time.
It was said that the King of America was stupid. Mind you, however, that he was wise enough to play the fool. His first great triumph for his criminal court was convincing the masses that they were being enriched while being robbed. It was for fear of losing even more that his dear ones wanted to erect a wall on the southern border of his castle. And he stacked his court with fools.
Fools all, but never mind, for there is wisdom in stupidity. As the fool praised by Erasmus said, “The more foolish anything is, the more tis admired, the greater number being ever tickled at the worst things, because most men are so subject to folly. And If the more foolish a man is, the more he pleases himself and is admired by others, to what purpose should he beat his brains about true knowledge, which first will cost him dear, and next render him the more troublesome and less confident, and lastly, please only a few?”
No, the King of America was not the first egotistical fool to head a great state nor shall he be the last. Erasmus once remarked on the proverb, that one may lawfully praise himself that lives far from neighbors. Now democracy permits all to flatter their own selves to no end, undaunted Self-love or Philautia is enshrined. Wherefore worship this American Fool, for Folly provides the greatest wealth, namely, unbounded self-love.
It was foolishly said that Folly readily and indifferently bestows benefits on all.
“I do not care to be entreated,” sayeth Folly, “nor am I subject to take offense, and I require an expiatory sacrifice if some ceremony be omitted. For why should I require incense, wafers, a goat, or sow when all men pay me that worship everywhere?” And Folly promises riches to all. “I am, as you see, that true and only giver of wealth whom the Greeks call Moria, the Latin Stultitia, and our plain English Folly.”
Unfortunately for the late King of America, he was merely a fool, a great fool, indeed, but not Folly herself. He over-reached and insulted too many influential people, and was duly dethroned. Still many aspire to his greatness. His book, full of crude jokes about his opponents, has been a best seller for some time.
Secular charisma, as Weber knew very well from his own circumstances in Germany, is indifferent to ethical, aesthetic, and moral considerations. It is perceived as divinely-originating “gift,” and the leader is seen as infallible. Action against him will be seen as a crime against the state. A cult of personality is developed. He is irrational, a narcissist, violating protocol and traditional norms. He displays an extraordinary amount of energy and is unhindered by anxieties and guilt.
The most that can be said of the fool is that he is no hypocrite if he loves himself alone. Alas for the leading fool, however, because his charisma wanes as greedy fools gorge themselves on ill-gotten gains, and then egomaniacal foolishness finally is exposed. High hopes are unrealized, and great expectations are dashed by pestilence, depression, war, and death. The King of America was abandoned soon enough to make America great again.
(1) Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche