The narcissist is a term, coined for a person who is self-centrist, selfish, self-view, and always considers himself absolute. Unfortunately, like a common people, today we have a bunch of leaders possessing the narcissistic attributes: Donald Trump in the US, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. The great emergence of narcissist leaders is surely a threat to neoliberal politics, whereby extreme nationalism and polarization are glorified. However, the narcissist, demagogue, and rabble-rouser, types of leaders are not the new concept of the current era.
Human history is filled with such leaders: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, & Mao Zedong all prevailed on authority and exploited their absolute power brutally. Hitler almost killed 55 million in Holocaust, Stalin and Mao Zedong murdered 20 million and 40 million masses, respectively. You will marvel that their barbarity was not limited to soldiers but including innocent people and children. Today, we are confronted with the same kinds of leaders, and it is extremely necessary to lift the curtain, so we could have a deep insight into them.
How a Narcissist becomes people’s choice?
These kinds of leaders create an artificial and extrapolated reality wherein their roles are no less than Heroic. A post-modernist theorist Jean Baudrillard extended the concept of copied reality which he termed “Simulacrum.” His concept of Simulacrum if applied to the populist leader, we can infer that just as in film a hero is a savior of truth who defeats a bad and blatant villain, the self-centrist leader pronounces himself as the hero of the nation, fighting against the corrupt and malevolent politicians. Although the true reality much differs from the “Leader’s Simulacrum,” people start considering him as Messiah who has been sent by God after their long struggles and strives. Moreover, narcissist leaders make their followers feel pride for supporting them as though they are standing for a great cause.
Narcissist leaders take the support of pre-occupied nationalist sentiments; on which, first they capitalize themselves, and then amplify the Nationalism to culmination. For example, after the Great War, there were resentment and anger in the Germans toward their leaders because of the defeat and surrender in the form of the “Treaty of Versailles.” Adolf Hitler used those emotions as a tool to fuel nationalism – he condemned erstwhile leaders as though they had committed sin – and finally convinced people that he is a savior and upholder of ultimate Germanic glory.
A demagogue channelizes the sense of deprivation of people into his love. Donald Trump, for example, raised the slogan “Great America Again” as a political gimmick that he caught amidst the economic trouble and when the rhetoric of the US in the global arena was being attenuated. Later, the sense was transformed into extreme love – that first time the capitol Hill was attacked by the mod after the Trump alleged rigged election.
The primary mean of propagating narrative is the low-media such as Social media, Television, and radio, which are generally consumed by the majority but less intellect. The high media such as print and other conscience-based are not the weapon of the narcissist leaders. The main reason for using low media is to show charisma and charm so that the appeal to emotion could be accomplished. As Neil Postman said, “It is not what you give, but what you give off on television that matters.” Their speeches are circumscribed by lashing other politicians, blaming out for shortcomings, and glorification of oneself. Therefore, most the people are propelled into the cage of extrapolated fake reality by populist propaganda.
The immediate actions – when a narcissist gets power:
For narcissist leaders, power and the throne are everything. Their ultimate end is to attain a powerful position in a political tier, and when they get succeed in that, the next phase is to maintain their absolutism – which is also referred to as authoritarianism or dictatorship. But the question is what do they do with their power?
The first ambition of any narcissist leader is to secure his regime at any cost. For that, he could hamper constitutional supremacy, violate rules & regulations, and inflict democratic norms. For example, Hitler undemocratically passed the “Enabling Act” after which he could pass any law in Germany. However, well-established democratic norms, today, thwart any person to gain so much absolute power; therefore, most of the time narcissist blames democracy for the reason behind all ills and ailments. Secondly, he keeps attempting to curb opposition and dissidents by using fake allegations. Because the major threat emerges from the critics, black media regulatory laws can also be shaped so that no confrontation could occur and reality remains hidden.
Which kind of voters are their prime target?
Usually, there are four kinds of voters in any democratic system: blind-faith loyalists, resisters, moderators, and dropouts. Making blind-faith supporters are the utmost priority of any populist leader. Blind faith people are attracted by the leader’s charisma, humor, heroic ambitions, and emotional appeal. Once a narcissist succeeds to congregate blind-faith voters, the half-work is done because now whatever the leaders will do, loyalist voters will not sway, and will always tend to follow until any major shock. Resisters are the opposite of blind faith – their confrontation triggers when they see the massive love for the narcissist. Subsequently, they criticize the policies and acts of the leader. The third one is the moderate voter who seeks a middle ground in the war between blind faith and resisters. Lastly, the dropout voters who keep themselves aside from the politics, even many times they refrain from the voting as well. Among all, blind faith supporters are the main targets of a narcissist.
History is occupied with the leaders who just for their power used to exploit people. Not just people’s rights are taken away, but also their emotions, trust, and sentiments, are used to consolidate power and maintain hegemony. A narcissist person can only think about his existence – people’s choices and goals are trashed into the garbage. Some might argue that Stalin and Mao Zedong, even though were dictators, established a better system and economy. However, I would argue that they accomplished the so-called socio-economic goals on the corpse of millions of people. For me, every life is precious and every person’s will matters. Living in a poverty is better than putting a head down in slavery. Democracy, where each person’s choice is counted, is the best system of all. We have a bunch of examples of prosperous democracies such as Finland, Sweden, Germany, and France. Therefore, it is not a prudent act to embrace any authoritarian regime. People must have to pursue accountability of their leaders if they find any narcissists, they must refrain from their fake sweet lies and propaganda.