PoliticsPolitics, Democracy and The Icarus Complex

Politics, Democracy and The Icarus Complex


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The greek mythological tale of Icarus depicts the fall of a man who flew too close to the sun. It is less of a “pride comes before the fall” tale and relates more to the damages that overambitious decisions can cause – a complex that both the UK and US are all too familiar with.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the Brexit deals and negotiations turn to mush, whilst the European Union constantly checks it’s watch, and the US government completely shutting down for the longest period of time in history to date. The question I’d like to ask is, for once, not to the politicians, but to us, the people – the “everyday Joe’s” – is the state of our government our fault? 

Does our over-ambition cause the issues that we see in our governments today? The most common answer would most likely be a resounding no. This response would be based on the belief that those in government are in fact the overambitious ‘Icaruses’. Let’s look at America. There wasn’t a referendum or poll advocating the border “wall” that Trump so fervently lusts after, yet it has caused a sharp divide between the congressional members and select members of the executive.


 According to the hill.com, Michigan representative, Justin Amash, hammered the thought of President Trump “declaring a national emergency to direct construction of a border wall”, further stating that Trump “can’t claim emergency powers” in order to get his way when Congress doesn’t comply. 

CNN reports that “a bid by Trump to short circuit Congress by using executive power to build the wall could cause a constitutional firestorm”. 
This is one of many other examples where political elites have become overambitious, ignored the opinion of those that there are entrusted to represent and cause more damage than good with their pursuit of fulfilling these policies.

Shifting our gaze onto the smoke and flames coming from Westminster, one could argue the contrary – that the UK citizens are guilty of arson due to our overambition. According to the Guardian, last September, French President Macron stated that “Brexit was a choice pushed by those who predicted easy solutions”, before adding salt to the wound by calling them “liars”. 

As a result of this, the petition for a second referendum has become laughable. Many outside spectators and dissatisfied remain advocates believe that the UK deserve what’s coming to them. Though the possibility of a second referendum is highly unlikely, there are worries that there would be continuous demands for yet another referendum – “best of three”. Or that if the UK voted to remain in the EU after that second referendum, it would be regarded as a highly unstable member. In other words, the UK have very limited options – we made our overambitious bed and now we must lie in it. 

Herein lies a lesson for both ordinary citizens and political elites, making overambitious political decisions is likely to have longer lasting repercussions than positive effects – a concept that one would expect the politically respected to be aware of but the current state of both the UK and US exemplifies the contrary. 

Fleur Boya
Fleur Boya
Fleur is an expressionist artist and global politics enthusiast, as well as both a cinephile and a bibliophile. She is a University of Leeds alumni with a degree in International Relations. As a political journalist for the TCS Network, Fleur hopes to educate a large number of millennials that have a depleting or non-existing interest in politics. However, above her insatiable interest in the international political climate and exploring the context of unstable relationships between state ‘superpowers’, she is a follower of Jesus and believes that love cures and conquers all things.

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