If Trump is removed soon, as by rights he should be, he’ll earn eternal glory in some quarters as a martyr, and attract a regiment of followers even after his death. The same fate will probably befall Farage, Johnson and all our own (UK) loonies if Brexit doesn’t go through. The familiar myths about great dead rulers who are merely sleeping in their caves waiting to lead their peoples back to glory when the Call comes will re-emerge: Frederick II, King Arthur, Owen Glendwyr, Margaret Thatcher in her mountain fastness outside Grantham, and of course Jesus. Trump’s refuge, I imagine, will be his ‘Tower’.
That’s the danger in killing off popular heroes. Their failures and even deaths are no bar to their spiritual potency thereafter, especially if it’s reckoned that they were cut off in their primes, perhaps through treachery: the post-World War I ‘stab in the back’, or Geoffrey Howe’s turning on Thatcher, or Judas Iscariot. The effect on politics can be poisonous. So perhaps we should wait a little while before getting rid of Trump and the others, until they’ve thoroughly disgraced themselves. Though how much more it would take to discredit the Donald is difficult to imagine. Perhaps putting children into cages might finally do it?
I’m off back to our Swedish island tomorrow, and for most of the summer. Years ago if you went abroad you could cut yourself off from all the nonsense back home. (I remember saying to friends on a flight back from Austria in the late 1960s that Britain could have had a revolution while we were away. It turned out she had. Martin Peters had been transferred from West Ham to Spurs.) Today there’s no chance of that, with the internet and smartphones, and Swedish TV employing a special London correspondent to mock our imbecilities. There’s no escape. But there should be plenty of sun, sea, a relatively sane and polite politics, and meatballs; which might take my mind off Trump and Brexit for a while.
A cursory glance at Sweden’s history reveals no shortage of Sturm und Drang – or its equivalent in Swedish – up to 1814 at least. Possessing a relatively tiny and underdeveloped civil society prior to the twentieth century, as a result of the nation’s largely agricultural economy, would seem to be a plausible cause of its failure to produce a literary genius.
I suppose the same argument could be used to explain why Norway was similarly infertile, and yet Ibsen did emerge from that potential wasteland. Nevertheless, he had to leave Norway to write his greatest works and achieve European recognition.
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It’s interesting to contrast your enthusiasm for Sweden Bernard with the ennui the country seemed to induce in some young Swedes I knew and taught in the 70’s. They couldn’t not wait to go south for the sun, colour and culture of the Med or to the US, and had a kind of world weary cynicism with the ‘Swedish way of life.’ Maybe it was a pose, but however infuriating Britain can be it’s no longer a such a boring predictable, but perhaps best observed from afar like that enthusiastic Brexiteer Nigel Lawson who has chateau in France and has just applied for residency rights there (Farage’s children also getting German citizenship)
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There’s a reason. I’ll comment later…
My brief reply is that the ideal Swedish lifestyle is a rather middle-aged one, which is why it bores the more adventurous young to death. I used to think that’s why Sweden has never produced a Shakespeare or a Beethoven. You need tyranny and violence to be really creative. ‘May you live in interesting times.’ – On your other point, although I’d like to paint Lawson as a hypocrite for living in France, it doesn’t really follow. Admiring another country doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be part of or even linked to it.