The Laboratorium (3d ser.)

A blog by James Grimmelmann

Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire afin
d'être violent et original dans vos oeuvres.

I'm Donald Trump, I Am

There’s an interesting – and amusing – parallel between Donald Trump and Henry VIII. From @KngHenryVIII:

There are some feelings that are useful to the true leader. Things like confidence, aggression, and volatility. If you ever even once have felt emotions such as regret, guilt, or embarrassment, that’s God’s sweet and gentle way of letting you know you’re a peasant. Look, if I felt regret could I have married Jane Seymour 10 days after having Anne Boleyn beheaded? Could Donald Trump today ask for the support of black voters after spending months upon months energetically seeking the support of semi-literate racists? Of course not. Let me put it this way, you know that feeling of anxiety and fearful remorse that can steal over you in the darkest hours of the night? I don’t have that. Neither does Trump.

From Tom Slee:

So when I see people saying that Trump understands them (the Canadian government, the technology leaders who paid court), that – in the words of the tech leaders – they will set him straight if he goes off-course, I think: you have no idea how this works. Of course he and his crew will flatter you, tell you how brilliant you are, how much he admires you. Until he doesn’t. Until he decides that you have disappointed him. And then you will hear about it second hand, or maybe through Twitter. You’re out, and the axe will fall, and you’re not so special after all.“

A few quick observations:

  1. History is full of fickle kings, emperors, and tyrants who didn’t have “that feeling of anxiety and fearful remorse.” Henry just happens to be more famous.
  2. Courtiers have always known that their position is precarious and that favor is fleeting.
  3. Courtiers have always also known how to project confidence even when they don’t feel it.
  4. For good or for bad, Henry did an extraordinary amount as king. He fundamentally reoriented English Christianity. Sure, it was mostly so that he could remarry and raise money, but he got a lot done.
  5. Some of the ministers who rose in his favor were remarkably successful at pushing through ambitious administrative agendas before they fell from it. Yes, it ended badly for them, but they were also right about their ability to steer him for a while.
  6. Under Henry, England fought some exceptionally pointless wars.