The ideas contrary to Athena do not spring full grown directly from the head of Zeus. Even the swashbuckling act of the virgin — the goddess of wisdom, of military victory, and the patron of the city of Athens — was no untimely coincidence. Athens, prior to Athena’s arrival, was not a city of dimwits but probably lacked the necessary rationalization for a society in search of colonies. Beside wisdom, her armory was adorned with a spear, a symbol adored universally by the Praetorian guards and the guardian of the world, who through NATO and Pentagon keep their vigilant eyes on the globe. True to the spirit of a warrior, Athena did not offer an olive branch instead preferred olive trees which were exalted by Athenians since they brought them economic success. Economic necessity midwifed the ideas. Under desperate economic conditions, when concrete solutions are seemingly a mirage, leaders akin to Athena crop up apparently out of the blue. However, history is familiar with the dynamics of such a phenomenon. It never fails to remind us, its old edict of causality insisting that everything requires certain preconditions to develop. Even when ghosts of the past are recalled to refresh the nostalgia of the haunting glory of the bygone days, of lost and eclipsed economic freedoms, the attempt is not in vain. The revival heralds the onset of some kind of change, be it for better or worse. The cherished memories of ghosts and symbols help society to reproduce its control on human mind, acting simultaneously on conscious and unconscious. Recalled fantasies are the non-coercive instruments of the ruling class- through which they successfully impose their hegemony, their politics and economic order on their subjects, sinisterly and covertly. Toying with the past is exclusive to every populist leadership. By weaving myths, knitted by the fiber of fantasy and interwoven by the thread of illusion around reality, space for populist leadership is made. Lacking in will to change, they offer a farcical remedy to the disillusioned masses. The proverbial ‘state of Medina’ is one such myth recalled to life by the fuzzy politicians of Pakistan. The act is loaded with the burden of Sartre’s mauvaise foi -bad conscience or Freudian guilt- it is no one’s concern least of all of those who have interred it from the grave. The red herring is meant for public consumption, its real purpose is to preserve a system that has lost its credibility. The masses under a populist regime carry all the colour elements of the proverbial ‘primal horde’ of Freud. The members of the ‘horde’ that cannot develop their own ‘ego’ and ‘ego idealists’ look towards their leader as a substitute father for command. The libidinal attachment with the leader and the ‘castration fear’ build a relation based on repression. The energy not utilized in ‘eros’ leaves behind enough destructive content which seeks an enemy outside, that is ultimately found within the ‘other’. The followers of a populist leader consider all those who do not share their vision enemies; forging an authentic ‘other’ becomes easy, within the ranks and outside. The masses under a populist regime carry all the color elements of the proverbial Primal Horde of Freud. The members of Horde that cannot develop their own Ego and Ego Ideal look towards their leader as a substitute father for command The leader assumes the role of the ‘primal’ father. However, there is another external power, the all omnipotent civilization, through its discontents control is insidiously taken of the individual’s mind through rationality. The leader does not and cannot counter the market based civilization; in fact he is the product of its anarchy, its archetype. The two fold alienation (from self-ego and from reality), linked with the permanent preparedness of his followers increases the stake for the leader himself. He has to deliver; failing the process of iconoclasm, the identification of the other in him does not take long to set in. To avoid the consequence, tradition and religion are kept alive to be recalled again when the charisma begins to lose its sheen. The destructive character structure of masses is inherently linked to rationality which ‘develops the forces of production according to the principle of productive destruction’ (Marcuse). The large scale production of ammunition, nukes and chemical weapons, the climatic catastrophe, the destruction of nature are all barbaric acts which directly and indirectly affect the human character structure. The destruction has become an integral part of progress, as have hunger, poverty and starvation. In this sense, progress has become totalitarian. Under the wrath of a belligerent society unhappy consciousness is likely to find an escape either in drugs or violence, either phenomena leads to the enhancement of thanatos/the death wish. Yet the unhappy consciousness has its dialectical opposite, it is readily prepared for political mobilization against ‘what it is’. The antagonism between the prevalent dismal conditions and the possibility of human potential and its liberation is so complete, that socialism and the aspiration to inhibit its realization has attained a utopian dimension. The creation of domestic and foreign faceless enemies is a step to keep the people in a state of permanent mobilization. Populist movements are the outcome of this unhappy consciousness lacking any clue of the preconditions and dynamics of real change. They tend to face the gigantic challenges of future by using the ideology of past which happens to be the expression of their objective anxiety. While they appeal to the patriotic impulses of the masses, they do not forget to address the economic needs of their subjects; the methods though can be extremely oppressive. The Nazi slogan of ‘guns before butter’ not only prepared the masses for the imperialist war but provided them the means of living as well. The neurotic crowd following these movements are not ‘people’ with sovereign rationality, capable of building a free society but is a mass, fighting for self -preservation. Today one has to be content with people who are not fully equipped with the weapon of class consciousness yet are aware of the threat of slipping into the ‘Nietzsche an abyss’ of devastation. Any chance of freedom would depend on their power and willingness to oppose the mass opinion, to counter populism and to alter the direction of struggle from survival to living, as living merely for the sake of earning is anything but living. The writer has authored books on socialism and history. He blogs at saulatnagi.wordpress.com and can be reached [email protected] Published in Daily Times, August 26th 2018.