The hubris syndrome, intoxication of power, majoritarianism
On October 28, 2016, Zoher Abdoolcarim was the speaker at the Taipei Salon, a seminar sponsored by the Long Ying Tai Cultural Foundation. He talked about the “Crisis of Democracy”.
The Economist in its article “What’s gone wrong with democracy” talked about “majoritarianism”, defining it as the tendency of an electoral win by a political party and its majority government to feel entitled to do whatever they please.
Recently, some Taiwanese political commentators mentioned “communitarianism” by Michael Sandel, and David Owen’s “In Sickness and In Power”. However, they did not fully explain nor make any full connection between these philosophies and theories with the actual happenings on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party won the January 16, 2016, general election and their series of debacles, policy reversals against public opinion and campaign promises, and the many peaceful protests and more recently, violent protests by workers of almost all professions, including airline stewardesses of China Airlines, tourism industry workers, laborers, residents forcibly evicted, veterans, retired teachers and retired government workers.
[Master Chen Says]
Recent protests on Taiwan are very good illustrations of what I describe as brawling majoritarianism in legislature, debilitating majoritarianism in the way revisions to the labor law were forced through without due process of debate and discussion, and the way the minority legislators were shut out and denied their right to legislative procedure, and what David Owen calls the “hubris syndrome” and the “intoxication of power”.
The protests by those who have been forcibly evicted from their homes have all been against the Democratic Progressive Party mayors of Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan, mayors who have suddenly turned tough in carrying out forced evictions, dismissing the people’s request for a public hearing before enforcement of the eviction orders. Workers’ unions have vowed to go on strike again and the next time, they have vowed to protest more violently and more forcefully if the new government fails again to meet their demands, which to many, are not radical but quite rational and reasonable.
For those political science students interested in studying “majoritarianism”, Michael Sandel’s “communitarianism” and David Owen’s “In Sickness and In Power”, there are three examples worthy of in depth study: President Park Geun-hye and her scandal, President Rodrigo Duterte and his economic and military “separation” from the United States, and the “hubris syndrome” and “intoxication of power” or “intoxication with power” of President Tsai Ing-wen and her new DPP government, their gross dismissal of public opinion and the people’s petitions for reform, and the “roughness” with which the majority DPP legislators pass revised laws that has included physical violence against minority legislators. A female minority Kuomintang legislator was sexually molested and another male minority Kuomintang legislator was sent to the hospital after being physically attacked and chocked by a majority DPP legislator.
To me, it is not so much a personal physical or mental illness that affects bad policy decisions, nor the cause of the “hubris syndrome” per se, but rather, it is the “majoritarianism” described in the Economist article “What’s gone wrong with democracy” that has brought about the “hubris syndrome” and the “intoxication with power” of the new leader and new government officials. Nor do I think that the “hubris syndrome” and the “intoxication with power” are mental illnesses. I regard them as personal psychological and psychosocial “syndromes” that are the direct manifestation of “majoritarianism”. The election win, especially a near landslide electoral win, intoxicates the newly elected politicians and newly appointed government officials inebriated by their new position in power and in authority, giving them a sense of entitlement to do whatever they please without regard to public opinion and public wishes, a psychological and mental turnaround resulting from a change in psychosocial mentality and psychological attitude from appeasement towards voters with unrealistic campaign promises to a psychological hubristic attitude. To me, it is a change in personal psychological attitude resulting from the changes in perceived psychosocial circumstance. It is a shift in psychological disposition. To me, it is not a mental illness, but rather, it is the shift in psychosocial attitude, a shift from rationality to a state of mental inebriation by coming into authority and power. As described by David Owen, the longer the politicians are in power, the worse their “hubris syndrome” becomes. He also illustrates this by pointing out the “hubris syndrome” in business. To me, it is not that the new boss becomes “mentally ill”. It is a shift in psychological disposition resulting from having acquired the position of power.
Alcoholism, depression and suicidal tendencies are some good illustrations of this type of “mental inebriation” that I have mentioned above. The alcoholic believes intoxication eases mental anguish. Depressive thoughts gradually worsen depression. Suicidal tendencies become more intense the more one thinks there is no way out of a particular situation. These are negative psychosocial attitudes. They become a clinically diseased mental state that we now label as “mental illness”. The “hubris syndrome” and the “intoxication with power” are reinforced by the newly acquired sense of “omnipotence” when one is in power and in authority. They are not “clinical mental illnesses”. They end when personal political power and authority end.
On Taiwan, the police handle many drunk drivers and drunk motorcyclists and individuals who go a rampage, destroying shop fronts, parked motorcycles and private property, and hit and run drivers who turn out to be amphetamine and recreational drug users and dealers. The apprehended drunk drivers and drunk individuals almost always argue that their destructive behavior is justified because they are drunk, they do not feel well so they go on a destructive rampage. Alcoholic inebriation and alcoholic intoxication are used to justify their destructive behavior. Their argument is: “I am drunk, so I destroy.” “I destroy, because I am drunk.” And in the case of the fat female mayor of Kaohsiung who is now psychologically inebriated by power and intoxicated with power derived from her political party’s majoritarianism: “I am the mayor and my party, the DPP, is in government. I say taking pictures is illegal. So it is illegal.”
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) mayor of Kaohsiung, Chen Chu, threatened a baker for taking two pictures with his cell phone camera of the supposedly physically dysfunctional former president Chen Shui-bian strolling in a public park, walking with only a cane. The argument on behalf of the baker is that he has every right to take pictures of scenes in a public park, that former president Chen Shui-bian is still a public figure and does not have any privacy rights in public. Yet, the rotund female mayor of Kaohsiung, Chen Chu, known to be humble before the January 16, 2016, election win, is now threatening the baker for “illegally” taking pictures! The baker has also received many threats against his life and that of his family for taking the pictures of a disgraced former president of the DPP. Former president Chen Shui-bian was the first DPP president (2000-2008). He was convicted of embezzlement and has been incarcerated for 7 years. He is now on temporary release from prison for health reasons. The Kuomintang won the election in 2008 and Ma Ying-jeou became president (2008-2016). Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP won the January 16, 2016, election and her DPP won the majority in the legislature and is now in government.
The “hubris syndrome” and the “intoxication with power” as mental illness
A Taiwanese commentary on November 2, 2016, headlined the question: “Is the brain of Chen Chu or is it the brain of the Democratic Progressive Party kaput?”
Chen Chu is the fat lady mayor of Kaohsiung city. She acted swiftly to exact political vendetta against a local baker who happened to take a picture of disgraced former president Chen Shui-bian walking briskly in a public park, thus exposing the fake claim by the disgraced president Chen that he is physically incapacitated. A day after the poor baker took two pictures of the former president walking through the park, the central government’s tax and business affairs agencies were immediately called in to investigate the baker.
“Is the brain of Chen Chu or is it the brain of the Democratic Progressive Party kaput?”
This is a very good example illustrating David Owen’s claim in his “In Sickness and In Power” that the “hubris syndrome” and “intoxication with power” may indeed be mental illnesses.
This is also a very good example of majoritarianism induced “hubris syndrome” of a politician and “intoxication with power” resulting from “majoritarianism”. She, the rotund mayor of Kaohsiung, is not “mentally ill”, but her humble psychological disposition before the election and during the DPP campaign has shifted to political vindictiveness and psychosocial vendetta after her political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, won the general election and is now in government only 5 months in office.
Is it an illustration of a majoritarianism induced mental disease called the “hubris syndrome”? Is it an illustration of a majoritarianism induced diseased mental state of “intoxication with power” and “inebriation with power”? Is it an illustration of a majoritarianism induced psychotic state of neurosis and psychosis indicated by he manifestation of the “hubris syndrome” and a psychotic state of psychosomatic neurosis of an inebriated mental state from “mental intoxication with power” such as alcoholism?