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Humanity’s Pickle: A Penchant for Undeserving Leaders


Humanity’s Pickle: A Penchant for Undeserving Leaders

Tom Valovic

Nothing has highlighted the fact that nations and governments often do a poor job of choosing leaders over the long arc of history than seeing Donald Trump and Putin holding court in a spectacle that could only be described as theater of the absurd.


i hope those that voted for crybaby go to a plumber for their next colonoscophy(?)


I guess one positive note from our present situation is we don’t have to worry about organized book burnings, Trumps crowd can barely read.


The author writes: ‘The ascension of Donald Trump as an American president and “influential” world leader has underscored the fact that the human condition remains subject to the forces of irrationality…’

How did it come about that we seem to be hard-wired towards irrationality? Unavoidably, the answer comes from science, the only path to truths. One day soon, genetic archaeology may well identify a ‘follow the leader’ gene, just as the ‘violence’ gene recently discovered. It seems reasonable that evolutionary selection would favor blind and immediate obedience to a leader of a prehistoric hunting party, or to a diviner of success or failure of the hunt. It is no accident that historically, the two are often concatenated.

Hundreds of thousands of years later, those propensities in our nature have not disappeared. In time, some of us evolved opposing traits - that of empathy and cooperation, and they predominate in a portion of humanity today. They wrote the Magna Carter, and the Constitution, and more In others, ‘follow the leader/religion’ predominates. They are the Hitler and Trump supporters of late. To risk being uncharitable, they are less evolved. But then, they don’t believe in evolution.


America has apparently always had large numbers of people who opposed democracy in favor of autocracy. One survey found that one in six Americans many years ago agreed with Hitler. A more recent survey found about 9% of Americans agree with the views of the neo-Nazis. It is important to understand the Russia is actively trying to destroy democracy. They played a role in getting support for Trump through social media, hacking servers, etc. They are also actively trying to divide the Democratic Party. They are sowing divisions between the wings of the party and in the 2016 election tried to get supporters of Bernie Sanders not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Sanders of course realized democracy was a stake and urged his supporters to vote for Clinton but undoubtedly the Russians had some success in keeping Sander’s supporters from voting for Clinton by using trolls and bots on social media. They also organized protests for and against certain issues to further divide Americans. Their goal seems to be to get Americans to hate each other so they don’t unite to fight back against Russia. This strategy seems to be working well so far. The upcoming election should be a test of how well Russia is doing as the election to a large extent will be referendum on whether Americans want democracy or follow Trump and have an autocracy,


It is also a matter of the kind of personality that seeks to become a “leader” to begin with, and what kind succeeds at it.
There is a reason you find psychopaths and sociopaths at the top of almost every major corporation or government. It is the same reason the worlds wealth is concentrated in the hands of 1% of the worlds population (4% of the total global population are estimated to be psychopaths).
Contrary popular belief, it is typically not the smartest or most qualified that ends up in a position of power, but the most ruthless and driven (obsessed). There is nothing more ruthless or driven than a human incapable of empathy.
The closest thing such a creature comes to experiencing joy is by feeding their greed and their ego, both of which are best served by acquiring wealth and power, which typically becomes the crux of their existence.
More over, “good people” rarely wants to spend their lives telling others what to do, at least not to the extent that they will dedicate their every waking moment to that pursuit, as their competitors would.
This has been going on for so long that psychopathic traits are now often conflated with leadership qualities.
Humanity’s failing is in looking for leaders to begin with, as well as accepting the rule of monsters.


Great article, but he didn’t come right out and say it; authoritarianism is conservatism with a nicer name.

“Strongmen and other unworthy leaders who have historically risen to power have done so largely by becoming masters of manipulating fear.”

Fear and Anxiety Drive Conservatives’ Political Attitudes

Authoritarian organizations like the military, law enforcement and theocracies are factories of conservatism. The oligarchy spends the lion’s share of our money on them, knowing that its only defense against the liberal and progressive majority is more reactionary, violent and fear driven conservatives.

And why Trump worships conservatives, conservative organizations and governments. His orange ass depends on them to keep it safe.


Correction: Previous post should read “Conservatism is authoritarianism with a nicer name.”


Apologies for shameless self-promotion

It may be small but for over a hundred years the Socialist Party of Great Britain has been leader-free that even many anarchists admire its structure. In keeping with the tenet that working class emancipation necessarily excludes the role of political leadership, its executive committee is solely for administrative duties and cannot determine policy or even submit resolutions to conference. All conference decisions have to be ratified by a referendum of the whole membership. The general secretary has no position of power or authority over any other member, and despite some very charismatic writers and speakers in the past, no personality has held undue influence over the SPGB. The longevity of the SPGB as a political organisation based on agreed goals, methods and organisational principles which has produced without interruption a monthly magazine for over a hundred years through two world wars is an achievement that most Left organisations can only aspire towards.

It reinforces Eugene Debs statement
“I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, someone else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition; as it is now the capitalists use your heads and your hands.”

Debs also said:
“I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis-representatives of the masses — you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.”

Valuable work may be done by individual and inspired educators, writers, and speakers but it is not to individuals that the working class must look. The movement for freedom must be a working-class movement. It must depend upon the working class vitality and intelligence and strength. Until the knowledge and experience of the working-class are equal to the task of the revolution there can be no emancipation for them. The SPGB and its American companion party World Socialist Party of the US are organizations of equals.


Okay, save the silly claim that a penchant for irrationality amounts to a critique of “enlightenment thought.”


As you said, most people do not sit around all day and think of ways to dominate others, or to acquire inordinate wealth, much beyond what they need, which leaves those who do with an advantage. Their single mindedness and consuming need cannot help but propel some of them to reach positions of leadership or influence.

What to do? In recent centuries, a rare few have paved the way for us, by speaking and writing movingly for a system of government that is bottom up, that protects the least of us. As each pendulum cycle swings perilously to the extreme, their words and actions awake something in us. We march, we vote, we enlist in a Great War. And the pendulum swings back, back to rationality, to humanity. I am afraid it is that time again, to awake from complacency, from indolence, to join the good fight.