Nemesis: An Occupational Hazard for Hubrists?

November 13, 2020

Boris Johnson’s special adviser, Dominic Cummings, faced accusations of hubris in the press in May this year over breaking lockdown restrictions.  Six months on, it’s Friday the 13th of November and it seems that Cummings is quitting Downing Street.  President Trump, a leader considered by many to be the embodiment of hubris, will be leaving the White House soon.  Hubris is an occupational hazard for leaders, and nemesis is an occupational hazard for hubrists.  Nemesis, the goddess of indignation, takes her time but catches-up eventually.  The philosopher Mary Midgely captured it concisely in The Myths We Live By: hubrists get what they were asking for precisely because, “hubris calls for nemesis, and in one form or another it’s going to get it, not as a punishment from outside but as the completion of a pattern already started”.  Hubrists beware, it isn’t over till it’s over.

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