Meet the Demogorgon

von Maximilian Steinbeis

Dear Friends of Verfassungsblog,

If you watch Netflix, you may have come across a very popular show called Stranger Things. It is about four boys in a small American town in the 80s who like to play Dungeons & Dragons in the basement until one of them, Will Byers, suddenly gets sucked into a foul counter-world which mirrors exactly the real one but is covered with blackish cobwebby slime and devoid of all people, light, colour and hope.

The show is, for the most part, a pile of bollocks and rather stupid, but this mirroring counter-world, together with the horror evoked by its sheer existence, looks like a metaphor for a whole bunch of phenomena of our political present. The reality of a dreadful, sense- and hopeless mock version of reality is so terrible because it makes both indistinguishable: what is real and what is not, what is real and what is illusion, what is being awake and what a nightmare, what is one and what is its opposite.

In fact, the mock version of a US president in the White House is every bit as real as the flickering madness he exudes over all his surroundings. The promise of the US Constitution and presidential democracy in general to install a heroic leader at the top of the state while a democratic republican constitution excludes the possibility of a madman and/or criminal ascending the throne (something imagined in another highly successful TV show) has already suffered many strains and cracks under Nixon and Bush II and seems to have fully broken apart by the reality of President Trump. Will there ever be an awakening from this nightmare? What if there won’t?

The fact that the institutions of the liberal democratic constitutional state turn into mock versions of themselves, into constitutionalist zombies that devour what bore them, is something that can be observed all over the world: in Latin America, India, Poland, Hungary, Turkey and Russia ...

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