The news is quite static this morning, so I thought I might spend some time musing about more abstract but potentially more important ideas. If you’re easily bored by such things, I recommend surfing over to Sunny Skyz. That would spend your next fifteen minutes more productively than reading my drivel.
A great deal of hand-wringing has occurred over a question that currently bedevils the Right: If it has become our duty to rebel, who is to lead us?
That glosses over the question of what sort of rebellion our time demands. Nevertheless, it’s a common theme in all discussions of how to “take our country back” from the Usurper Regime and the various agents of destruction who’ve leagued with them. Many are willing to follow, but few are willing to take the lead. Fewer still would be deemed qualified. If the reasons are “obvious,” that does not reduce the urgency of the question.
Leadership is generally conceived as a singular attribute. That is: a given group looks to “the leader” rather than “a leader.” But there are alternative approaches. Armies have used one of them for centuries.
Hierarchically structured organizations have a great deal of similarity to one another. There’s a Maximum Leader a.k.a. the Big Boss or the Man at the Top. Below him are a small number of first-echelon sub-leaders who report to him, a larger group of second-echelon sub-sub-leaders who report to the guys in the first echelon, and so forth down the pyramid until we reach “Walt.” Walt, of course, is the guy at the bottom of the pyramid where the actual work gets done. He and his fellows actually tote the guns, produce the widgets, flip the burgers, administer the sacraments, or what have you. The unspoken premise behind such a structure is that Big Decisions – the ones that most characterize the direction of the organization – originate from the Maximum Leader. Lesser leaders produce directives of lesser scope that affect fewer persons.
But what happens if we remove Walt?
Suddenly the picture changes. All those persons clothed with varying levels of authority look a little silly. Their status meetings, their weekly and monthly reports, their spreadsheets and PERT charts, are revealed as vacuities. No one’s shooting at the enemy, or making widgets, or flipping burgers, and so on. The organization’s raison d’etre has vanished.
Walt and his coworkers are revealed as the genuinely important members of the organization. The men in jeans matter more than the men in suits. Sometimes it takes a mass walkout to jar those so-called leaders back to reality.
We in the Right should ponder that truth for a while. While we lament the lack of a leader, we should give some thought to its implications.
There’s a quote from a little-known thinker, George Herron, that I particularly like:
The possession of power over others is inherently destructive both to the possessor of power and to those over whom it is exercised. And the great man of the future, in distinction from the great man of the past, is he who will seek to create power in people, and not gain power over them. The great man of the future is he who will refuse to be great at all, in the historic sense; he is the man who will literally lose himself, who will altogether diffuse himself in the life of humanity.
The “great man of the past” was almost invariably a Maximum Leader figure. He didn’t tote a gun, produce widgets, et cetera. He commanded others who went forth to do as he bid them. Herron’s “great man of the future” would not command but empower. He would convey to others what they need to become as great as is he. In other words, he would negate the historic sense of the leader and of leadership.
Imagine that our grunt worker Walt takes young colleague Stan under his wing and teaches him how to do what Walt himself does. In doing so he would exemplify Herron’s great man of the future. That kind of tutoring might not be what Walt does all the time – Walt has widgets of his own to produce, after all – but ultimately it would be of greater impact. For productivity, it would surely eclipse Walt’s manager’s spreadsheets and status reports.
Perhaps the pro-freedom Right should be thinking along these lines. Rather than moaning for a leader who’d lead us like a Roman legion, why not promote freedom by helping others to become personally freer? It requires some thought:
- What activities promote personal freedom?
- Who is pursuing those activities?
- What do they need to become [more] effective, whether in freeing themselves or in helping others?
Harry Browne had something to say about this:
If you’re not free now, it might be because you’ve been preoccupied with people or institutions that have restrained your freedom.
Perhaps we can do better.
The small group is the best medium for discussing such things and germinating ideas. However, there are traps here. Success can breed failure. Individuals and small groups that become apostles for freedom can also become condensation nuclei for much larger groups. Not only do large groups tend to develop diffuse agendas and get much less done per capita — remember the 80/20 rule — they attract the power-hungry.
Along with that, groups tend to produce leaders of the old type even if they have no such agenda. There are always stronger and weaker voices, more and less forceful personalities. If what matters is individual empowerment, the emergence of a recognized leader is a sign of regression. So also is a focus on government and government policies.
That’s about as far as I can take this in a single morning, with so many other things clamoring for my attention. If it strikes you as more froth than useful…well, no one hits a homer every time he comes to the plate. And I did suggest the alternative of Sunny Skyz. Those folks who detach eels from the nostrils of young Hawaiian seals might have some better ideas.