Restoring the Sacred

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fouad Ajami (RIP) on Charismatic Leaders

Fouadi Ajami, who died this past week, was the subject of a well-earned panegyric written by Bret Stephens in today's Wall Street Journal.

Stephens asserts, in his piece about Ajami: "His genius lay in the breath of his scholarship and the quality of his human understanding."

That "human understanding" is especially manifest in Ajami's treatment of the charismatic leader, which comes through clearly in today's quote, which, according to Stephens, was made by Ajami in a piece he had written last November.

Here's the quote:
We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama's policies - and, more significantly, in the man himself.  Charisma is like that.  Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer.  The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts - a year, an era - the redeemer is above and beyond judgment.