Salvator Mundi, Leonardo Da Vinci’s latest free painting from public collections, was auctioned for a record $ 450 million, bringing back to the fore the theme of the man who saves the world.
The same theme characterized the postwar period with American superheroes, reinforcing the idea of the strong man in command, in contrast to the concept of collective intelligence innate in democracy.
The strongman is often used in a schizophrenic way in the media, to denigrate dictatorships but as well to hope for his affirmation in an emergency.
To resolve the issue, the ancient Romans had a state of emergency that lasted only six months. For just this time frame, a dictator was elected with the task of savior of the world.
In some countries this temporary role becomes permanent, citing as a reason that there is no one else able to carry out that task. From the leader who presents himself as a salvator mundi, citizens tend to accept anything, even the most aberrant ones, for the idea that there is no alternative to him.
The idea of Salvator Mundi is derived from the Catholic tradition that a single man is judged as a savior and that the fortune of the community depends on him. In other cultures instead, such as those of Northern Europe, the ruler is the leader who assumes the responsibility of enhancing collective intelligence and conducting the ship according to the needs of the crew. As the word itself says, “to govern” means to keep in order, to lead, not to impose one’s opinion on others.
The figure of the Salvator Mundi in politics always leads to failure, precisely because it reduces the intelligence of the community to a personal factor, as well as projecting supernatural powers onto its function in a shamanistic vision of government.
If we retrace the last few centuries, Western history is the metaphor of the strong man’s loss of power. The evolution of society takes place precisely through the disappearance of the role of the salvator mundi and the rise of collective intelligence.
At a time when the saviors of the world are hoping for the control of information, we remember that the strong man’s flare-ups have always ended tragically.