Why did the “image” and not the moral values become global power?

After all, politics can be much simpler than we think. Russia’s presidential election is less than a month away, and a rejuvenated Putin is doing what he knows best: a display of physical prowess and all manner of abilities, combined with a sense of grandeur and promises of a bright future, with himself as “big daddy” leading the way. ” his people.

Of course, “drives” is not metaphorical, but literal, as a week ago the President of Russia drove (or at least held the controls during a short flight), a supersonic bomber Tu-160, during his visit to their production plant in Kazan. And then he drove, normally this time, a new Kamaz truck, with a co-passenger with whom he also joked.


Similar achievements of Putin in the past are numerous. “I drive a truck to the future” he had done in 2018, thus inaugurating the Crimean bridge. The “flying Tu-160 bomber” was done again in 2005 (hence the central photo). In between he has ridden horses, fished naked, hunted, scuba dived, driven a motorcycle, scuba dived, played hockey, tennis, badminton, participated in judo competitions (with years of training there), flew ultralight aircraft and Su-27 , has branded polar bears as well as Siberian tigers (!) for ecological reasons, without the list ending here.

The message in all these virtual hyperreality (as there is methodical direction and preparation behind them), is so obvious that you wonder to whom the ignorant are addressed: “I am superman, trust me for the future and of course for the constant war”.

But why not? The general public, not only in Russia but internationally, welcomes such events that construct a leadership image, at the same time that political stigma and ideology recede or become equally simplistic and Manichean. “Us and them”, “black and white”, “we stand against all our enemies”, “right is our interest”, “to defeat the Nazis, the communists, the fascists, the terrorists, the illegal immigrants, the infidels , the sinners, the invaders, the dark, the white, the yellow” (we put a variety of options, since the same are said everywhere, so each of us can choose a camp).

Furthermore, the messenger Putin in the directness of this display of physical/spiritual power, touches on historical archetypes, from the “soldier Russian prince Rurik” (of the mythical founders of the Russian nation), to Mussolini’s displays of struggle with all the stages in between, remaining thus in constant connection with the mythology of the “almighty leader”.

And clearly this image, which is carefully constructed, already packaged for social media, is done as a confrontation with the “degenerate” of Western leaders. Where e.g. in the USA we have a contest of old people, with the obsessive to stay in power Biden dragging his feet and falling and making slips of the tongue, often looking lost if there is no one beside him to guide him. Opposed to Trump, with dyed blonde hair and orange make-up, unable to speak for more than 30 seconds on the same topic without his tongue twisting, and with the arguments of a five-year-old whining about being spoiled by his mom. Who is also on the campaign trail running for the presidency of the USA (the biggest responsibility in the world…) and promoting gold kitsch sneakers that are sold as part of his campaign!

When exactly did politics become so ridiculous? When did actors take over?

  • When did the mutation happen and we didn’t realize it?
  • When did the narcissism of power gain so many viewers?
  • When did Boris Johnson’s unruly scalp take center stage?
  • When did the comedian Zelensky emerge as a short-bodied commando of Ukraine?
  • When did the puppet Lukashenko become the leader of Belarus?
  • When did the far-right populist Meloni, the rich besebezz Sunak, the baby face but that’s it Trudeau, the sleazy Miley with the chainsaw, the “I want to be Sultan” Erdogan and the “break the chains” Lula took over our lives?

The above questions are wrong because they focus exactly on the surface. One that can be decently managed by any decent public image mechanism. Exactly where the outrageous of the image, the obvious of the pose and the vanity and the provocative of the construction, is created to awaken the mass. Which remains disembodied, either by the sea of stimuli (so the politician must stand out, even at the sacrifice of seriousness), or by the impasse of the problems, so the politician must present himself almost metaphysically and unrealistically. Because, of course, it has no practical answers, only a slogan of escape towards some dreamy “future”.

Thus, neither Putin in his resourceful bluster is so paradoxical, nor the American geronts of power completely ignorant, nor the fancy Macron stupid in beating up social movements, nor the domestic tik-tokers ignorant. On the contrary, they are managers of a suffering social subject who, faced with impasses, swings the pendulum between fanaticism and ideological aphasia. That is, between raw recruitment on the one hand and immersion in the last 30 seconds of a video with a rant they saw on social media, on the other.

The main loss

The main loss after all is that of the ideas and the continuity of the institutions of control and democratic functioning, and not only in the guise of power. Which always had populism as its ally and always made images. Because if we think that the “oldest” ones were better, we are very wrong. The main difference (as long as it existed) was that they combined more seriousness with the essence of politics, while they were partly limited by strict criticism and research.

Where both are gradually disappearing, seriousness because in an image age is merely boring, while criticism has ceased to be “serious” as it presupposes strict listeners and not followers. With the protest to the above followed by simplifications and cries of anguish, since no one can bear further analysis, let alone the pseudo protesting signatory.

So the image is not as dominant as we think. Dominant – or about to become dominant – is the feeling of a social automatism towards the descent of values and expectations, the certainty in a large part of global society that “tomorrow” will be either worse or more insecure. So the possessors practice the extreme spectacle and the penitent ride boats and cross seas to an unknown that seems better than the worst they are already experiencing.

So what else will Putin do to win popular approval, vote, stay in power? Beyond a nationalist war, the war economy and the promise of imperial revival? What else will Biden, Trump, Scholz, Shunak, Meloni, Zelensky, Modi, Macron, Orbán, Sisi, Erdogan respectively do, each in their own frame of reference of myths, fantasies and promises ; They will also swallow swords if that brings the biggest applause. So much so that our hands will bleed…

About the author

The Liberal Globe is an independent online magazine that provides carefully selected varieties of stories. Our authoritative insight opinions, analyses, researches are reflected in the sections which are both thematic and geographical. We do not attach ourselves to any political party. Our political agenda is liberal in the classical sense. We continue to advocate bold policies in favour of individual freedoms, even if that means we must oppose the will and the majority view, even if these positions that we express may be unpleasant and unbearable for the majority.

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