Definition of hubris – a great, foolish amount of pride and confidence.
History is replete with examples of how that has been so destructive. Examples abound.
After the First World War, U.S. President Wilson refused to accept any amendments for the U.S. accession to the League of Nations. As a result the U.S. never joined the League and it remained weak and impotent.
In 1940, after many triumphs, Adolf Hitler told his generals that he was going to have Germany invade Russia. The generals tried to argue with him but Hitler argued contentiously. What right did the generals have to disagree with him after his successful invasion of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France!
Prime Minister Thatcher of Britain was very successful in turning that country’s economy around. She then proposed a tax on land that would have fallen equally on all income levels, and consequently, she was ousted.
With the stock market hubris ends badly. A rising stock market leads many investors to believe that they are geniuses. They purchase more and more shares and then they cannot maintain them when the inevitable collapse occurs.
This is the situation nowadays.
Most investors are convinced that there is an alternative and regardless of present over-valuations, they think their positions are justified. As philosopher George Santayana has stated, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. That saying seems all but forgotten.
So many contemporary stock market values are based on hope, disregarding the fact that shares are selling way above historic multiples of earnings. How can anyone convince observers that they are guilty of over confidence which always entails a disaster as history has shown time and time again.
Too few know much about history and schools now lump that in with “social studies”. People repeatedly believe that they know better than those quoting the past observers. Why are so few looking at precedents? Lawyers cite precedents all the time and medical doctors base much of their diagnoses on past experience.
Before some earth shattering event takes place, one would have to hope that recognition of over-confidence will lead to more prudence. Recently, President George W. Bush displayed hubris in his invasion of Iraq.
He assumed that the war would be brief with a satisfactory end. He obviously was wrong on both accounts and he displayed a banner of “Mission Accomplished.” which exemplified grand-scale hubris.
With what is currently happening electorally south of the border and the potential impact here, we need to be aware and concerned for fear it could happen to us, that we too would forget the lessons of the past with hubris prevailing in our future.
Great leaders of all time were modest and self effacing, which are more attractive characteristics.