IN WHICH I LOSE ANY RESPECT I HAD FOR NICHOLAS SARKOZY – There was a time when I had some time for Sarkozy – nice life story, banging a supermodel, not quite the right I like but not a leftie, and some initial reformist promise – but now the former President goes to the United Arab Emirates not to bury them but to praise them:

The axis of power is shifting from West to East as visionary leadership is surpassing democratic governance as key to stability and prosperity, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy told the Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend forum.

Mr Sarkozy was the final speaker to address the forum hosted by Tamkeen and The Aspen Institute at New York University Abu Dhabi, touching on themes of globalisation, leadership and Brexit.

“Where you see a great leader, there is no populism,” said Mr Sarkozy, who was president of France from 2007 to 2012. “Where is the populism in China? Where is the populism here? Where is the populism in Russia? Where is the populism in Saudi Arabia? If the great leadership leaves the table, the populist leaders come and replace him.”

Modern democracy “destroys” leaderships, he said, noting some of the world’s greatest leaders today come largely from undemocratic governments.

“How could we have a democracy and at the same time accept leadership?” Mr Sarkozy asked the audience. “How can we have a vision that could look into 10, 15, 20 years and at the same time have an election rhythm in the States, for instance, every four years? The great leaders of the world come from countries that are not great democracies.”

Easy there, Napoleon wannabe. Let’s put aside the fact that Russia is in fact nothing but populism, isn’t it great that the former president of one of the oldest democracies goes to the Middle East to run the democracy down in favour of “leadership” exhibited by unelected (with the exception of Putin) and unaccountable despots? A few generations ago, Mussolini “at least made the trains run on time”, and Hitler, well, there was order in Germany and everyone had work. Today, sections of the elites admire the “leadership” of communist China or Wahhabi Arabia because they get things done, and they get things done because they can have zero concern for their own populations, their interests and their wishes. Wouldn’t the Sarkozys of this world love to be in that position. Imagine ruling France without giving shit about the plebs. Imagine the 20-year “vision” one could have without the distraction of elections every few years. Just like the Bourbons! People after all are stupid and an obstacle to progress; the Sarkozys, on the other hand, are so much smarter and more sophisticated than everyone else. They know what’s best for you.

The Sarkozy mentality, shared overtly or covertly by most of the technocratic elites today, is the disease. Populism sweeping the developed world is not the, or a, cure, but it is certainly the symptom of the disease, akin to fever in a human body. The patient will eventually either be cured or will die. Time will tell.

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