The Democratic Vote - School of Nationalism Ruthless Criticism

The Democratic Vote -
School of Nationalism

[Peter Decker, November 10 1994, Goettingen, at a meeting on the 1994 German elections sponsored by Red List].

I assume the opinion prevails here: “Oh well, voting causes little or nothing at all” … however, I want to warn about this. And I would like to choose a different approach to the subject, because I know quite well that the argument “voting causes little or nothing at all” is on the whole a prelude to the search for who among all the bad alternatives one could still give his trust, who somehow constitutes the lesser evil. Therefore, I would like to turn the tables correctly. I would not like to say: “Voting causes little or nothing at all.” I would like to describe what voting is and what it causes.

If one thinks this through to the end and my statement can be redeemed, then one finds: voting causes a lot. It positions the nation on the current needs of the government, on the current ambitions of the state. My statement means: the vote unites the state with the people again and again, and this is necessary because in the four years in between it produces a lot of discontent among the people. The state brings itself together with the people by instigating a procedure for organizing an agreement, namely that the state leaves the decision up to the citizens who should form the government. That one is governed is not up for decision. That the nation and its reasons of state must be pursued is not up for decision. Up for decision is: one candidate or the other. Indirectly, every citizen who chooses one or another candidate also chooses that he must keep his mouth shut for the next four years, no matter whether he becomes governed by the one he voted for or by the one chosen by the majority, but not by him. Obedience is required in either case, whether one picked those who now govern or not. The vote is an act by which the state gets authorization from the people to govern them over and over again, but which in truth it never puts up for decision. Because it is also not the case that, if actually 100 per cent abstained from voting, the state would say: “ok, then we will just resign,” but even with zero or with only 20 per cent or, as in America, only a 40 per cent turnout to elect the president, the president still governs with full power. Power is not diminished if the election turnout is diminished.

One notices: not that the government, the state power, would not exist if the people stayed at home, but that the uniting of the people and the state would not take place from below. In the end, the people merely acquiesce, if anything; in the end, they are passive, they are only the governed – and not at all happily governed – members of the community. This is democratic stability: that those who are governed, those who are subjected to the laws, those who do not get to decide anything about the laws are in favor of the conditions in which they do not get to decide anything. That is the gimmick of a form of rule in which rule over those who are controlled is accepted, welcomed.

This paradox of democracy is wrongly taken up and incorrectly explained by political critics in two different ways. One is the classical left position, which says: the people are victims of manipulation, they are lured with false promises, with dishonest gestures, and they can only be duped if they are ready to give Kohl a mandate again, when he brought about more poverty in Germany than in the whole post-war period, when he militarizes foreign policy, something no well-meaning people could want. They do not believe that it really happens that people are for a rule and a system in which they are the fall guys. They do not believe it, so they say: “This cannot be, this can only have happened through cheating and trickery.” And already they are about to begin manipulating, to countermanipulate and position themselves as the true representative of the people. So, nothing different than basically what all politicians do: every politician declares himself, when running for office, the representative of the honest worker. Who would be against an honest worker, especially if he it does not ask for much?

The opposite point of view to this topic (“how is it that people who do not gain anything from it become supporters of a community that hardly ever gives them any good situations in life at all?”) is expressed at the moment from the periphery, by the editors of Konret [a leftist magazine in Germany – trans.]. They say: in German, we simply have before us incorrigible nationalists. Since Bismarck, since the Emperor, since Adolf Hitler, a German is always a nationalist and a racist, ultimately incorrigible human material for the left with its better intentions. This criticism quickly becomes elitist and complains that the others are assholes.

Those are two ways to be concerned with the paradox, and the paradox is genuine, and one must be concerned with the paradox of democracy: we live in a state in which there is unquestionably rule, in which it is unquestionable that there is an assignment of life options in which some have wealth and others have hardship and a life full of work from which nothing ever results. And they can still talk about being fortunate because in a world where one can live at all only by wage labor, there are lots of others who are not needed, and their numbers are growing. In such a country, the subjects are for being governed – those whose interest is obviously not the guideline of governing.

“Why do people do this?” Well, the answer is clear: of course, it is an error that they make. They do themselves and their interests no good by voting, by becoming excited about debates about Germany and its governance. It is, however, no joke why they do it. It is clear that they make an error. The interesting question is how they arrive at it. And how they arrive at it, I want to explain with the subjects of unemployment and economic growth. It will be an explanation that will make it clear that nationalists are by no means only people who get a baseball bat and strike foreigners dead, but that nationalism is the most general theoretical attitude towards politics, society and economics. And therefore it is also suitable, at any particular moment, when a government might need to escalate it into a lust for mass murder. Another point: politicians, to get approval for themselves and their governing, do not feed illusions to the people about what is in store for them. Look at an election campaign, you will not see this example: “I am the most popular politician, I promise that student financial assistance will rise”; “I am the most popular politician, I promise that maternity leave protection rises”; “I promise that wages rise and that jobs become more secure.” If one looks at an election campaign, exactly the opposite takes place. This happens, for example, with the argument: “One must be honest, sacrifices will not be less, but greater.” It is not the case that during an election the people are lied to about such things as an image of national well being that does not then accord with reality. It is completely open: people are not left unclear about the sacrifices and victims that are waiting for them. And then they are still for it.


At this point, the reproach of a senseless destructiveness is made to the critic; in this case, I am the delegate. Complaining about missing constructive suggestions, how it should be made better in the future, is to a certain extent still a big smash hit in election campaigns.

If, for once, in an election campaign a crazy person would ask: “Where does unemployment actually come from?”, then immediately the counter question arises: “How do you want to eliminate that, how do you want to overcome unemployment?”

Yes, sometime the argument must arise: I do not want to administer this state at all, I want to eliminate this economy in which work is distributed in such a way that some have more than enough of it and others are unemployed. But if I introduce this call, then I must also honestly admit: this does not agree with the profitability of capital, it does not get along with an upswing of the national economy on the world market, it does not get along with the assertion of German high tech products abroad. That is, there must be an entirely different reward, i.e. what people receive from their work. Why is it not possible to distribute the necessary work that is needed to build universities and kindergartens and to nourish people and travel on an adequate railway system? If the principle naturally prevails: “Make as good a bargain as possible and use them for as long as possible,” then unemployed persons are a logical consequence and in truth not even a problem. The first lie of our community is the saying: “the unemployed are a problem.” They are not; they are a success. Unemployed persons are a success of rationalization, a success of the growth of capital. If they become a problem, then they are a problem because they become criminals or are no more in tune with the state and the society because they become radically rightwing. But otherwise they are not a problem. Brutally said: the only problem is that they cannot immediately be sent to hell. That would be good for the nation. To only leave those who are really useful. But we are too human for that; we let them trudge around. And in the meantime unemployment benefits are shortened and unemployment relief is cut because anyone who does not find another job in one and a half years is obviously unfit for the job market.

So in order to say it once again, clearly: I have no contribution to the problem “how do you fight unemployment?” I say that it is a dirty society and a shitty system where work is not a necessary evil, but that work is a blessing, transacted as a privilege that only some enjoy. If work were a necessary evil, it would be distributed accordingly and kept as brief as possible. With us, work is a good in short supply. The demand to be constructive, that one should make suggestions, is one that all democratic parties demand of each other. If anyone dissents, he is immediately struck by the hammer of realism: “Do you have you a contribution to make for how things are run here, to the priorities here, to the objective necessities?” If I get involved in all this, I no longer need to set up an opposition party. They will govern, dead certainly, exactly the same as Kohl. If all the priorities remain the same, all the objective necessities – the distribution of property, the principle of profitability – I cannot do better than Kohl; he can do this nevertheless quite well. I want something else, so I also do not have to state what contribution I would make to make this better.


But back to “election campaigns.” I want to explain how this functions ideal-typically:

In the first step, the politicians declare themselves to be the representatives and contractors of the concerns and hardships of the citizens. In the first step, the needs of the citizens, their real poverty, count. They count in the argument: “Taxes are really too high in our country, quite burdensome,” they count in the argument: “We have a lot of unemployed persons, that is a terrible wrong”, they count in the argument: “We may not resign ourselves to 3.5 million unemployed in the long term.” Why these things happen is not discussed, because campaigners for votes are practical. They declare themselves responsible for the concerns, and then they are concerned with remedies. They are not concerned with why, and everyone in the democratic competition is absolutely censored if he begins with why.

What happens next? Then comes a diagnosis, which is already no diagnosis, but always translates the desired therapy into an explanation. Thus: “Why are there so many unemployed persons?” Answer: “Because the location Germany fell behind in its ability to compete world-wide.” Here one would like to ask: “If that is so, why are there unemployed people in Japan?” Did Japan also fall behind? Did they all fall behind? Where? Behind whom? There are unemployed people everywhere, so that can’t be the truth. Nevertheless: “The location Germany fell behind” – that is the diagnosis. But the diagnosis immediately includes: the location Germany must be bucked up again. What can one do for the unemployed persons who stand here in their misery and lack of hope and shortage of money? – Buck up the location Germany! What can one do for it? – Give the capitalists money! The Social Democrats say: “We need a research offensive”, the Christian Democrats say: “We need new high tech products” (this is one and the same). All together say: “We must lower the tax burden for businesses.” What can one do for the poor in this country? - Give money to the rich! Who else can do something for the poor, if not the rich?! They must have enough so that they invest.

What do the entrepreneurs do with the money gift? The theory is: create jobs. The truth is: the money gift increases their rate of return; they have more income. They become exempt from yesyerday’s expenses and then there is more profit with the same selling price. And what do they do then? It depends on their state of business. And if they actually believe that they should use it for their competitive ability, what do they do then? They rationalize more than ever, buy new machinery and again replace labor by machines. Exactly the means by which one wants to fight unemployment is the means by which it is created. The growth of capital transfers the current replacement of labor, paid wage labor, by machinery. That is the basic means to increase productivity and thus the ability to compete. One now sees the effect. The effect is that the growth of capital does not eliminate unemployment, but creates it.

Fifteen years ago, this was a Marxist argument that was met with disbelief; today, every Secretary of Labor says to you: “Yes, an upturn is taking place, but the elimination of unemployment is a completely different question.” Now everyone says to you: “Yes, yes, there must be an upturn, there must be growth, the location Germany must advance, but the unemployment rate becomes larger from upswing cycle to upswing cycle.” Yes, this is just the old Marxist basic law that the growth of capital creates increasing poverty and not: the more capital grows, the poor become richer too, the workers are more in demand and they are wealthier too.

Now we have the point: what in previous times had been full employment in Germany was simply that they exported unemployment all the time. Ever more of the parts of the world that invest, thus pay for labor, concentrated ever more in Germany and a few other countries. In the meantime they are out to concentrate this further. To get the location Germany going, to increase competitive power, to conquer new markets always has the logic: drive out the other countries’ production, take markets away from them. Thus, “exporting unemployment” is still the entire official program, but since then the growth of capital is so far advanced that it not only exports unemployment, but also makes a great many redundant at home, because the productivity of labor, thus the exploitation of those who work for wages, rises so enormously.

What we have here is an important point about nationalism: why does this make sense to the citizens? They could say: “If the upturn functions so that people will again be laid off, then we don’t want it. Forget the upswing.” Why get involved in it?

They act as if the upswing would be their means too. But it isn’t. So why do they get involved in it? The answer: because they are dependent on it. The core of the thinking behind nationalism is that humans are dependent on an economy. The demand of the entrepreneurs for labor, for their success, thus for their opportunity to sell is really the precondition for the people (under these social conditions) to be able to find their livelihood. But the success of the entrepreneurs does not lead to the fact that people find their livelihood.

This is the beautiful dialectic of the sentence: it is only a negative dependence. It is not true that it acts like a means and purpose. That would still be simple: “Yes, if I want to have a job and earn money, then the entrepreneur must earn money first.” There one could say: “Well, it is a little bit unfair, they are always ahead of the others with success, first comes the success of them, then comes the success of the others.” But it is not like that at all. First comes the success of the entrepreneurs; that is the precondition for the livelihood of everybody in the country. Thus, that comes first. But the success of the entrepreneurs does not at all lead to the success of the others. The business of the entrepreneurs must come first – and if it does, then all have work and a livelihood? No, also not true. The people depend on it, but they depend on something that is not at all their means. A nationalist is anyone who gets involved in this relationship, in the fact that this is just simply his livelihood. Against his interest in wages and spare time, he must be interested in the entrepreneur obtaining success. He really makes a transition from: “I am worker, and no part of the profits of the entrepreneurs belong to me” to “But if they do not employ me, I am even shittier off, so I must hope that he does good business so that I can live from it.”

Next step: then the business of the entrepreneurs is the public demand of the whole nation – and then the question, what do the workers get from it, does not disturb this demand any longer. We have, however, for the moment the situation that this means: economic crisis or upswing, but always a danger to Germany. It must assert itself! How can it assert itself? The first angle was: the state must collect money from the common people and give it to the entrepreneurs for research, etc. Not only this, it also gives a completely different angle, called deregulation. The entrepreneurs have a priority list of all the obligations that they want to be released from that they otherwise have in relation to the state (here I mean such things as zoning procedures, technology approval, environmental protection, industrial safety). The entrepreneurs are released, if possible, from many of the regulations that the state previously imposed on them in the interest of the environment, thus the long-term functioning of the society, in the interest of city planning, etc., in addition to the interest in the long-term usability of the workers. Health and safety protection on the job, working hour regulations… and wage scales generally: at best, all that is abolished. What happens: it is shot full of holes, “liberalized.” The wage scale loses its general validity, no longer is everyone paid according to it.

Now the workers should see that they must become cheaper and must work longer or, depending, more flexible. For what? So that the economy flourishes, because that is the precondition for their livelihood, without the promise still being made to them: “… and if the economy flourishes, then your wages will rise again too.” The fact that wages will rise again ranks among the inconceivabilities of the present. No one says: “This is a period of reduced circumstances.” Earlier crises were discussed differently in Germany. Then it meant: “This is a period of reduced circumstances, now we must all tighten our belts and accept wage sacrifices until the crisis passes again, then we will fetch back everything doubly.” That is over. German wages are too high if one looks at the world. Everything helps nothing, today and tomorrow and in general.

In the meantime, there is a transition to the accusation of unemployed people that they are the reason that there is no work for them. They are not ready to work as cheaply as they have to. Then there would be work. This is not correct at all. What really happens is again just a perforation of the regulatory system, but not in order to bring the alleged work here for those who are not employed because they are not ready to work cheaply enough.


First step: the people are addressed about their troubles. “Unemployment is a tough fate, it is unacceptable that so many people are without means of acquisition.” Second step: the people get the way to their interest pointed out. This means: “People, there is only work if the entrepreneurs employ you! We can only do something for you if we do something for the entrepreneurs. Of course, this must be renumerative for them, so you must make sacrifices for it.” Now the citizen sees: “Well, there must be sacrifices.” He still deceives himself regarding for what. He thinks, however, so that there is work. The greatest nationalist is still mistaken. He regards the community as something that exists for him. He makes sacrifices, but what the purpose of the nation really is, on what the money that is taken from him is really spent, he would never give freely if he knew what it is for. Nobody with clear vision would say: “Yes, the accumulation of capital is promoted, German accumulation is promoted at the expense of foreign accumulation, and it is completely clear that the success of Germany accompanies ever more unemployed people.” Nobody would represent this point of view positively and then say: “Oh good, I must be a victim for this fine thing.” The difficulty is: this is what they make their sacrifice for. And what the sacrifice is about, here they agree, and here they give their “Yes,” and they are not even largely mistaken. Only about what it is for – here they are mistaken.

The first step says: “Your problems.” The next step says: “Your problems we can only bear with the success of Germany, by promoting the success of Germany.” The third step says: “Then position yourself on the point of view of Germany and always look at how you stand there.” At one time it was said: “Yes, now it is about Germany!” By the way, the billboards always say: “Its about Germany!” no matter who says it. “Now that it is about Germany, look at you unemployed people, you only cost money!” Now everything is turned around. Now he should regard himself, as a follower of German success, as a burden on the community. And what is the difference if the Social Democrats say: “Financing unemployment is more expensive than financing work.” In every case, they address the unemployed person as a burden on the nation, a big one or a small one, but anyhow as a burden. And the people should see this too: “It is correct, we are a burden.”

And if they do not see this in themselves, and this is the beauty of democracy, then they always see it in their neighbor. Yes, the unemployed person who talks directly with a politician would like to say: “I am an aggrieved party.” But everyone knows someone who makes himself too comfortable in unemployment for his taste, who despite being unemployed finds some pecuniary resource, a rich woman or something else. And one concedes that unemployment relief should be shortened. One sees in him that he is an unnecessary burden on the community, and so the victims of this system never vote in regard for themselves personally, but always regarding others who they think of as unfair beneficiaries, social parasites. So they vote for measures that are directed as a whole against them.

And they arrive at the point where they are ready to be pleased about the success of the German economy, simply in this way, and no longer ask: “And what do I get from it?”

The nationalism is given by this lesson: “Yes, you belong to our community. Your interest counts, but if your interest counts you must keep to the way that it can be satisfied. Then you must take the view of the German economy. If you take this view, you must regard yourself from the point of view of the German economy, and then you must hold the success of the German economy as the fulfilment of your desires and, because you are for the German economy at all, make no further objections.” Anyone who thinks this way is a nationalist. End of story. And we do nothing for ourselves, everyone thinks. That is nationalism: to cling to the success of the community, or differently expressed: in a state, in which one is not at all a partner of success, to specify oneself as a partner of success, thus also meaning: “Yes, if the success of the nation works out, then nevertheless everything fits,” without then still reckoning: ”… and what then do I have of it," simply because one depends on it.

Nationalists do not have to be content people, in contrast to dissatisfied people who would be critical. Nationalism is a way that one deals with one’s discontent, not a way of bursting with satisfaction. However, they can be simple in their satisfaction so that everything continues to run as before. But nationalists are above all people who explain their own bad situation by not being able to tell the difference between the community and themselves. If the community proves to be a bad basis for them, they hold firmly to it nevertheless. And they do that so much that they believe, if they are badly off, it must be that the country is also badly off. Now the dissatisfied nationalist is the most dangerous. Because he does not let a difference between himself and the nation arise, where one is nevertheless directly present, where he is nevertheless a member of a society in which he is not a partner of success. Then the dissatisfied nationalist believes, when things go badly for him, they also go badly for the nation: “My bad situation is an indication that Germany does not assert itself enough.”

This logic is murderous. It is of the same kind as: the worse off people are, the more German they become. If the people believe: “If it goes badly for me, it goes badly for the nation”, and they exert themselves against the obstacles to its success. Foreigners in the EU must always pay into the pot; the Japanese take markets away from us; the foreigners in our country take housing away from us, they take jobs away from us. Then this “we” creates its enemies, and every discontent with the community becomes a discontent that the community does not do enough to clear away its obstacles, which lie in those who do not belong to it. Only by this logic does a whole people come to finally believe that Jews are their misfortune. And with us: only by this logic one arrives at the point that one says: “Yes, I am a German and unemployed, but there are foreigners running around here!” Only with this logic, with this quick but.


Because I needed it for the logic of nationalism, I used the arguments that are given on tv programs about unemployment, but also in election campaigns -- only: they are not predominant.

Nevertheless, I used them in order to make clear the reversal that is made there. Because otherwise everything is absolutely puzzling. If you enter directly into where they are now, you can ask yourself, you also become a nationalist or you consider them all ready for the lunatic asylum. For example, the chancellor as a person represents the boundless satisfaction that Germany can have with itself. So what is that for an argument? The people with their interests and concerns are also satisfied, for all I care, but why is that an argument? One does not understand it, nevertheless, at all.

The people become preoccupied with, for example, “crime must be fought, there is too much crime.” Yet whose concern is this? The state agitates the people with the fact that it wants to get rid of those who break its laws. The citizens could easily say that they are not concerned anyway. Whether the Russian mafia murders in one or another brothel… they are neither its customers nor its employees so it is not their concern. No, the argument is that crime gets out of control and that one must monitor it. It is still remembered somewhere: the grandma in the subway sometimes fears that she too can be beaten up. Only, “large-scale wire-taps” are no help against this. The state presents a new social benefit: “We suppress all those who might turn into criminals.” And the citizens should note well: “this has long been our interest.”

And then there's the department of foreign policy, and this is finally spun in such a way that there is no longer the appearance of a connection between the interests of the citizens and state concerns. Now it is said: people, it would be a dishonor for Germany if the French and the British and the Belgians stick out their heads and not us. What they should stick their heads out for, what this is to achieve, does not occur at all. Yes, if the UN says: “We go here and there” on military adventures in the third world … if that is done, we must be present because it would be a dishonor for Germany to always have to be defended by others. Politically seen, not true. Of course, they know what they want in doing this. But they do not say it to the people. They directly address their nationalistic honor, and say: “Does it not go against your German honor if the Germans are not always there when the French shoot?!” It is really only the argument: “We cannot avoid our responsibility, we can not stand aside.”

An election campaign is in full contest with such arguments. And here it is noticeable that the nationalist is no longer educated, but demanded. Here it is no longer said: “People, you raise your interests, ultimately you depend on the point of view of German success," but they are directly addressed as: they are Germans who should no longer take the point of view of the German nationalist about a failure, but at least about a calculation, though they should forget that there ever is any calculation, because they aim at it themselves. Thus, someone says: “I am proud to be a German," or politely says, like the ex-Federal President Weizsäcker: “We can get by without being German, we did not ask for it, we can also reject it, but hardly are you abroad, you are a German." He must not say, like a skinhead: “I am proud to be German,” but he means exactly the same thing. They address people as unreserved nationalists who come to nationalism not through an incorrect calculation, but who are already there, and therefore do not know that there ever was a calculation.


In order to come back now to the vote: one could further ask: if nationalism is already so highly internalized as a way of life, or a way of thinking, that the people, including the victims, have as it were a fundamental agreement with the functioning mode of the society, with what this functioning mode means for them, why is it then still necessary to periodically ensure this agreement again and again? Now one could still say: they still want it, anyway? Then one could wipe away this hocuspocus every four years, voting would then actually be redundant in this sense. But obviously it is not. Why this periodic approval again and again, which runs constantly?

This has two reasons. One is quite primitive: it is in the constitution. If you ask the politicians: “Why do you have an election?” they do not know what else to say than: “It is just a fixed date.”

Secondly, however, there is a good reason. And the good reason consists of the fact that the nation for its part does not always remain the same. Nevertheless, it is not so that Germany always needs the same abstract fundamental “yes” from its citizens. But the elections bring up for discussion the categories by which the state wants to be understood by the citizens. And they criticize the old categories that no longer fit. And they set up a beauty competition over the question: who represents the nation best with his ideas and his patterns of interpretation and catch phrases? And the route to nationalism is updated.


Thus, the question, why there are elections again and again. Yes, for the modernization of nationalism, for the adaptation of nationalism to the current needs of the nation. A further point, and an element in election campaigns that is far more important than these material concerns about unemployment and such questions, is the personality cult.

In this regard, democracy has outstripped Stalinism. The personality cult of democracy is a great deal more radical than that of Stalinism. The Russians declared Stalin in his time as the great father of the nation and hung his picture up in every office, and one had to greet him and praise him again and again and so on. But essentially they gave him cheers as a politician, an economist, a strategist. In democracy, the parties make precisely the question “who is the best leader?” a beauty contest.

And this is the difference to Stalinism: Stalinism just put it plainly to the people and gave them some achievements to applaud, but in democracy people are concerned with the question: “Who do you think would be best as the leader? Which leader is more plausible as a leader?” And this is then staged.

For example, this is staged: “He is universally admired by his party, the party stands devotedly behind him.” These are just leaderership qualities over which they mutually compete. There are whole stories: a candidate must be convinced of his attractiveness in order to convince voters. A candidate must be a crazy person who from the beginning, in the middle and right up to election day says: “I am sure that I will win.” If he does not say that, then he does not win. He simply must be convinced of his election victory. And the best argument for it? - That he won an election before!

In this and still a second sense, the personality cult is more radical. The first side was: it is not at all that the authorities create a personality cult that people can either believe in or hold their mouths shut. But the people are included in the leader cult and must choose the most beautiful leader. And second: it leaves aside the question: what is a politician for? One is a family man, the other loves car racing. This really is the keyhole perspective that people had in former times when it was said: “The king eats with a king” and one admired the king because he was the king. This nonsense of sharing in the private lives of the great is introduced for political evaluation. Because it is anyway not about political directions, political arguments, political alternatives, but only about the personal qualities, the personal credibility, the personal assertiveness, the personal heart-warmingness of these office-holders. It is also amusing how the people can be declared to be incompetent. One can say: “You understand nothing of politics, so whether the national debt is too high, too low or just right, you cannot judge anyway; whether the military is sent to Somalia, into Iraq is not for you to judge! But whether this candidate is a human being with heart, here you are competent.”

It is a way in which, because one excludes people from politics, one grants them competence about the traits of the character masks. And then, as a result, the character mask becomes carved again for its part, like one imagines, so that the leader’s image suits the current republic.