Hubris syndrome and technologies of delegitimation of power

Hubris syndrome and technologies of delegitimation of power

Moskalenko O.A.,

Institute of Social Sciences and Foreign Relations, Sevastopol State University, Russia,

elibrary_id: 245715 | ORCID: 0000-0002-4162-3162 | RESEARCHER_ID: F-2699-2016

Irkhin A.A.,

Institute of Social Sciences and Foreign Relations, Sevastopol State University, Russia,

elibrary_id: 866175 | ORCID: 0000-0001-7895-550X | RESEARCHER_ID: A-4781-2019

Article received: 2022.05.26. Accepted: 2023.04.05

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2024.01.04

For citation:

Moskalenko O.A., Irkhin A.A. Hubris syndrome and technologies of delegitimation of power. – Polis. Political Studies. 2024. No. 1. P. 36-51. (In Russ.). EDN: RPWOKU


 The authors refer to the concept of hubris syndrome, introduced into political lexicon in the 2010s by D. Owen, and understood as a specific disease of “people of power.” The hypothesis of the study is that the attribution of hubris syndrome to a leader by the media and within expert discourse is not based on objective criteria, but is manipulative in nature and is determined by the degree of “perverseness of the political course” in terms of its compliance or non-compliance with universal democratic values. The article reveals the mechanisms of delegitimization of power through the assignment of a number of characteristics to it within the framework of hubris syndrome. As the analysis shows, hubris syndrome is an exclusively political construction, which is broadcast to the general public as a medical concept. Arguments about hubris syndrome are always built on the basis of the oppositional pair “democracy – authoritarianism / tyranny”, as it is understood that democratic regimes themselves, due to their immanent properties (multi-stage institutions of control, change of power, openness, etc.), usually prevent the development of hubris. Reversely, authoritarian and tyrannical regimes automatically turn out to be hubristic ones, which allows democratic regimes, by the right of moral superiority, to correct them in different ways that may even lead to intervention and interference. This scheme finds a historical analogy to the application of the concept of civilizational peoples and states in the civilization/barbarism dichotomy in the 18th-19th centuries, which played a similar function for the West, as described by S. Huntington. The discrepancy between the formal definition of hubris syndrome and the use of the concept in politics is obvious. A highly manipulative construct embodies the tactics of de-legitimization of a political leader if he/ she ceases to comply with the norms of a certain cultural and historical chronotope. The authors draw attention to the specific linguistic markers of hubris syndrome in political communication and the ways in which any politician whose speech contains these units can be declared suffering from hubris syndrome.

hubris syndrome, pathocracy, manipulation, media, universal values, delegitimation, power.


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Content No. 1, 2024

See also:

Pastukhov V.B.,
The Balkan Syndrome: Case History. – Polis. Political Studies. 1999. No2

Sosnovsky A. A.,
The Developing Societies Syndrome. – Polis. Political Studies. 1991. No5

Bernays E.L.,
Engineering of consent. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No4

Mironyuk M.G., Timofeev I.N., Vaslavsky Ya.I.,
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Democracy: Universal Values and Diversity of the Historical Experience (Materials of the Round Table of the Philosophy Institute of RAS, «Polis» and “Political Class” Journals). – Polis. Political Studies. 2008. No5



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