Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Leaders"

This is a subject that's been on my mind a lot recently. It's unavoidable, really. Whether it's the legions of Obamanoids drunk on the latest kool-aid and hypnotically mouthing the new presidential pledge ... or otherwise sane people freaking out and throwing around accusations of being a paid disinfo merchant when someone has the temerity to talk trash about one of their pet foreign leaders ... what is it about people that makes them want to believe in their leaders, oh, so badly?

Look, here's the thing. I'm not some kind of anarchist. Really, I'm not. I've done my time in the army. I've taken orders (though I admit, it's not my strong suit.) I'm mature enough to recognize when I should listen to someone who's older, or more experienced, wiser in the ways of ... whatever it is I happen to be doing at the moment. That's really the only sort of leadership I recognize, the sort that grows organically out of experience and wisdom. If you know more about what we're doing than I, well all right then, consider yourself in charge. By the same token, if neither of us is any more knowledgeable about the task at hand, let's just agree to cooperate ... and if you still feel the need to give orders ("Hey, someone's got to be in charge around here!"), please shut the fuck up and go your own way, 'cause brother, I don't play that game.

Well, that's my attitude. But it seems there's a lot of people - an easy majority - who have this pathological need to suspend their own judgement, handing over their will to self-proclaimed messiah figures who promise to deliver them from ... well, from whatever they need delivering from. From the enemy? Sure. From the economy? Why not. From themselves? Even better. You can promise anything you want when you don't have any intention of following through.

I wouldn't mind this dynamic so much if it weren't for the fact that once people get it into their heads to follow whatever leader comes around, sooner or later dead bodies start piling up. Read your history (I know, I know. Read something!? So much to ask. To paraphrase Xerxes in 300, your masters ask only that you kneel before them; I demand that you stand on your own two feet.) And if you think it's going to be any different this time around, if you think the end result of Obamamania's going to differ in any way from the Cultural Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution or Year Zero or ... well, you get the idea.

Actually, it will be different this time around. There's gonna be a lot more dead bodies.

Don't believe me on that? Well, that's your prerogative, naturally. But you might want to ask yourselves what's up with the FEMA camps ... why the laws preventing martial law were quietly dismantled during the 43rd presidency ... and how, precisely, a bankrupt government proposes to pay the entitlements for a whole generation of baby boomers....

It's not that the people following the leaders are bad, though some of them inevitably are. It's that those leaders are almost invariably psychopaths, in the clinical sense of the term: they are masters of dissimulation and manipulation, they have no conscience, and they are not so much playing you like a violin as conducting a whole symphony of lies. Of course you don't believe me, and they count on this, that once you've made the investment of self in whatever brand of salvation they've gotten you hooked on, you won't want to hear different from anyone. In fact, you won't want to hear different so badly that you'll look the other way when the camps start filling up ... you'll plug your ears when the screams start coming through the fence ... hell, you might even beat the shit out of anyone who questions whether whatever you're doing is right.

Sure, you're not a bad person.

But if you keep drinking that kool-aid, you will be.

Now, maybe a few people reading this - a few who haven't already been nodding along with me, a few who don't belong to the choir I'm preaching to - maybe a few of you are getting tired of the kool-aid. The artificial sweeteners aren't doing such a great job of hiding that chemical aftertaste ... maybe you're starting to feel the gut-rot ... maybe you want some real food. Well, I can't feed you. But I can promise you this: you can feed yourself, if you really want to.

And in the final analysis, that's what it comes down to. See, they've got the whole world convinced that, one way or another, we need to be led. Even the most cynical amongst us find it hard to accept that there aren't some leaders - Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Putin, take your pick - who aren't merely self-obsessed narcissistic pathocrats. Surely somewhere there must be someone in power who's a basically decent person, right?

Right?

Bullshit. The only way anyone gets power in this world is if they seek it. And if they seek it, five'll get you ten you're dealing with a psychopath, because ordinary people simply aren't interested in telling other people what to do (and when I say 'ordinary people', I don't just mean the man on the street. I mean the 96% of us who have a conscience.) Ever heard of ponerology? Chances are you haven't, and that's not just because you don't like to read.



Listen. By their fruits ye shall know them. Look beyond the press releases, the speeches, the shiny new endowments and charities and social programs, and look at the state of the world. Anyone who's ever observed any organization knows that you can learn a lot about the man in charge simply by observing the state of his fiefdom. Get a bad person in power and the rot will inevitably spread downwards. So: can you point me to a country (any country) where the indicators have been unequivocally positive, recently? Even in Venezuela, that bastion of the progressive New Left, has seen an explosion in violent crime and corruption over the past decade. You want to tell me that Chavez hasn't had anything to do with that?

So how's that fruit taste?

What it comes down to is this: you cannot trust anyone who wants to be your leader. Real leaders are elected by the people by a sort of natural democracy, and I'm not talking primaries and parliaments here. The position comes to them, not the other way around. They're the only ones you can trust, but they're few and far between these days so first, you have to learn to lead yourself and follow your own heart. The sooner you realize that - the sooner you get it through your head that regardless of country, party or cause, self-appointed leaders will lead you nowhere but towards your own destruction - the sooner we can all stop breaking each others heads and get on with the business of making a world that doesn't need leaders.

Or you can take another bite of that fruit.

3 comments:

psychegram said...

The zeitgeist in action: the thought for the day at What Really Happened echoes my thoughts today precisely (and yes, I know it's pulled randomly from the database. That doesn't take away from the synchronicity at all):

" It is the very nature of power that it attracts the very sort of people who should not have it. The United States, as the world's last superpower, is a prize that attracts men and women willing to do anything to win that power, and hence are willing to do anything with it once they have it. It is racist to assume that tyrants appear only in other nations and that somehow America is immune simply because we're Americans. America has escaped the clutches of a dictatorship only through the efforts of those citizens who, unlike the Germans and Russians of the 1930s, have the moral courage to stand up and point out where the government is lying to the people."-- Michael Rivero

susana said...

Leaders are a bit like individuals i relationship before marriage.
There is equality and empathy but once that ring is slipped on the finger and the vows exchanged, the situation has to become different to what it was before.
Because now there is a template, that has to be squeezed into.
So let us say Joe Black, before leadership is a genuine altruist, striving to improve the world. After election he has to fit into that box, and it is a tight fit, you can't take your aspirations and your morality, so guess which one gets left behind?
Move beyond a need for leadership - I second that.

psychegram said...

A lot of people fall for exactly that trap, compromising themselves for power. In the literature they're called secondary psychopaths, because they aren't born that way, and they're still capable of relatively normal human feeling under the right circumstances (home alone with the family, for instance.)

It's the primary psychopaths that need watching out for. Ultimately, the evil flows from them.