Context: A spotted rhinoceros in front of the White House

Helmut Shebein recently explained in these columns that rather than individual personalities, concepts, systems, and contexts have shaped the course of history today. This is why the old saying: “Great men make history” is so outdated. Should the term “Putin’s war” be reconsidered, as opposed to the widely used form of speech?

Instead, this text attempts to show that even in team sports such as coin management or social engineering, it is still individuals who determine the course of events with their decisions and shape the style of discussion. Elections are decided by the presidents – the fruits of the legislature want in hand to follow the other in the fold of ambitious political programmes. Especially when swarm intelligence is immortalized in opinion polls in democracies, committees carry out democratic decision-making and economically stable statistics determine many working conditions, the individual is asked to give the decisive factor which is more than tipping the scales.

However, the hooligan writer, amateur mythologist, and narcissist sees force (the masculine plural) emerge instead of the “cautious decision-makers” who helped Hegelian constructs achieve a breakthrough. Certainly there are precursors to this genre, and above all Nero, exceptional melodramatic talent. Then George III. Or the sleepwalker Ludwig II of Bavaria, who turned night into day as the “King of the Moon” and ate so many sweets that a toothache was often the center of his life.

Satire, which was ambitious in terms of cultural history, entered the political arena with Hitler. At the same time, under Stalin’s rule in Siberia, even cynical laughter was dying from the bitter cold. Then it was dark for a moment about what would be satirical in politics. Out of respect for the victims? Probably because you were busy with reconstruction.

A respite was followed by post-colonial massacre: Idi Amin’s hunting companions, “Papa Doc” Duvalier armed their flocks with machetes. Emperor Bokassa had flaying enemies and believed that he was the thirteenth messenger of Jesus. Mobutu Sese Seku hired American boxers to celebrate the Afro-centre in leopard and Mercedes hats. Pictures of Imelda Marcos’ shoes have traveled around the world.

In addition to passionate executioners such as Pinochet and Pol Pot, the natural resource tycoons Mobutu and Mugabe were pure thieves. They kept working with Nizam, and they continued the effort until their last breath. From today’s perspective, others seem confused and excited at their violence. They fought for bloodshed for inner balance. Idi Amin, for example, a popular subject to retold, seemed to vacillate between fantasies of persecution and paranoia, while the elusive sexual anarchist Bokassa saw something like Artaud intoxication in domination: a large gynole on the edge of a mass grave.

The Cold War, in turn, produced cold, stubborn employees with partisan credentials: the colorless Erich Honecker and Ceausescu’s iron-clad husband; cowboy rider Reagan; basement fetish Enver Hoxha; The Iron Lady, with her fondness for market brutality; Then they mistook the Soviet name dementia, who the world was baffling at whether they were mummies or talking wax figures. Thus arose the concrete metaphor of the mentality of the rulers. It was hard to see anything but Russian mortars behind that gray forehead.

The hour of involuntary political humor did not strike again until July 2002, when George W. Bush was said to have told Tony Blair that the problem with the French was that they had no word entrepreneur It was. The prank is not supported, as it was later retracted by Blair Communications staff. But even if fictional, it represents an approach taken by the 43rd president: If you sit high enough, you can get through it with eloquent words. There are consultants and analysts for more in-depth knowledge. High-level bullshit has been a part of the repertoire ever since.

This was followed by a few years of transition, until Kim Jong Un inherited his father in 2010 and provided a glimpse of what was to come. Before things really went with the big fun in the government seats of the world, he was already shining as a diabolical solo artist. North Korea, bewildered by the Western world through binoculars, has become an opera dictatorship – not without starvation in the orchestra pit. What would Hugo Ball, Amy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, and Hans Arp say if they saw how their aesthetics overcame the many wolves of the digital age? And we? When can we hope again for politics that seeks fact-based incentives to act?


Nero was probably an art-loving emperor with a penchant for extravagance, sensitivity, and imagination that also included unusual methods of killing. He had a ship built specifically for his mother’s sinking. It sank as planned, but Agrippina swam ashore. Poison took care of the basics there. Caligula planned his favorite horse agitation for appointing him consul, thus insulting the Senate. George III was simply the victim of a hitherto unknown disease, which made him speak at times without interruption for forty hours, until the proverbial foam came out of his mouth. Sociophobic, Ludwig II led his government’s coffers to ruin due to his addiction to building and eventually escaped to secluded cottages in the Bavarian Alps. However, Donald Trump became the first czar of digital government Dadaism: he suggested in front of the camera drinking antiseptic against Corona. By claiming he could shoot someone in Times Square with impunity, he scored points with gun enthusiasts who thought civil justice was the way to go. While visiting a medical laboratory, he imagined himself as a world-class doctor in a flirtatious condition. He’s commented on climate change by noting that he likes to go to Florida on the weekends because it’s much warmer there than in Washington—consult as a rhetorical principle. But eventually when he spoke from start to finish in a speech at the party convention with a mosquito hovering over him, slapstick was chosen as an element of a new political style.

Machiavelli’s nightmare or Crazy man-strategy? Boris Johnson followed Trump when he laughed and announced that the European Union was an anti-banana alliance – a calendar league. With the goal of making politics a magnet by combining strength and change, the Prime Minister was one walking pain To all the staff who had to sort through the rubble behind the verbal wrecking ball. Finally, Austrian Colonel Kurz, a footnote in this context, headed the first SMS-based nepotism government.

And so it continued unabated: the variance quotient in world politics rose inversely to the IQ of mostly male preachers. Creating stories that discredit political opponents has become a political tool. The short memory of social media helped smooth out any rebound.

Wer das Versailler Treiben um Louis XIV. kennt, weiss, das Spinnen von Intrigen ist so alt wie die Menschheit selbst. Doch der aggressive Nonsense hat daraus etwas Neues gemacht: die offene Verhöhnung jeder Evidenz, in letzter Konsequenz die Verhöhnung derer, die zur Urne. This trend is now reaching its climax in the murderous Dadaism of the Kremlin. The dictator, surrounded by flags, tells absurd legends: he declares the discredit of a reasonably pluralistic country and speaks of attacks by the Ukrainian “regime” on his own people. It is also suspected of having nuclear weapons in a country whose warheads have been officially dismantled. All this was presented by a very angry man who could only speak frankly about politics with his houseplant.

Government Dadaism today, this means to everyone who bears responsibility or seeks to achieve it: falsify your doctoral thesis, and if you are called plagiarism, claim that it is not you, but those who wrote for you, who have committed intellectual theft. Anyone who refuses to donate to the party will face a lawsuit for tax irregularities. If you want to hide something from posterity, explain that leaves disappeared when moved, burned, rotted, stolen … Learn to live happily with internal contradictions. Be an ordinary man, even when the elites support you. Deal with terms that maintain a relationship of deep ignorance with them. Be cheerful, turbulent and unexpected. All the power of imagination! May he conquer reality in his stubbornness! Because what most consider to be true is true. It’s true that the spotted rhino passed your house yesterday when it ate its last slice just before midnight. If you believe in it deeply and tell the story adequately, the majority will believe it, too.

Interests of the author related to the topic

number. Michael Mettler, born in 1966, is a freelance writer and editor, interested in the history of the present, and the use of words and narratives written by subtext. Recently, he co-edited the volume DUNKELKAMMERN (Suhrkamp 2020).
A group of outside authors, currently Sylvia Henk, Matthias Knauer, Michael Mettler and Felix Schneider, write under Context.
Opinions expressed in articles on Infosperber correspond to the author’s subjective assessments.

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