Friday, March 11, 2011

Leaders vs. Power Mongers

There is a difference between willingness to lead and its counterfeit: hunger to wield power.

A leader inspires followers to be better people, to live civilized lives. A leader respects the God-given rights of all people, even those who choose not to follow. A leader doesn’t coerce, but rather persuades, informs, and leads by example. A leader is selfless, thinking of the good of others. A leader can function at any level from family to international while remaining in the freedom and civilization zones. (See Spherical Model.)

A power monger is the polar opposite of a leader. He/she uses coercion as a basic tool. A power monger uses deception to gain power, not trusting honest persuasion to get people to give it to him/her. A power monger doesn’t recognize God-given rights, but only the privileges he/she decides to grant, usually to those most likely to return political favors (money, votes, support). A power monger can coerce at any level from family to international, but those with an appetite for power generally seek it over a larger and larger circle of minions.

A power monger sees him/herself as elite and superior over the other lower beings, as opposed to seeing him/herself among fellow citizens as a leader would do. A power monger doesn’t avoid chaos, but rather uses it (sometimes even creates it purposefully) as an opportunity to cause more people to succumb to the desire for protection, which he/she offers. A power monger is selfish, doing good for others only if it will increase his/her personal power.

Power hunger is savage. Civilized people recognize it as a nastier side of their nature, like lust or greed, and work to overcome such urges. Power mongers don’t regard it as evil and make no attempt to stem the urge to control others. Power hunger always resides below the freedom/civilization zone and sinks toward tyranny/savagery.

Tyranny has been the typical human form of governance through most of human history, and through much of the world today. The freedom experiment that is the US Constitution is an anomaly, and only likely to survive the onslaught of tyranny by constant vigilance.

We have not been vigilant enough.

We want to believe that our elected officials are leaders rather than power mongers. And it may be that many (most?) of those who run for office are a mixture of the two. We’re left with trying to choose the best we can, and then follow up on their job performance. But I think we’ve been too trusting, for too long. And now we’re in a mess we need to climb out of.

This blog is mainly philosophical. I talk about the theories and ideologies of the political world, interrelating with economic and social worlds, rather than talking about current partisan politics. The purpose is to educate about principles, to give the reader tools when judging things political. But I do have a section of "The Political World Is Round" where I identify where the parties reside on the Spherical Model, and in that section I include this description:

The Democrats are a symbiotic mix of people demanding that government provide for their needs—health care, education, housing, redistribution of wealth, regulating use of resources, even making jobs: the demanding needy, we could call them—along with the elites who are willing to pander to the demanding needy in order to increase their personal power: the would-be dictators.

I have friends who are essentially well meaning Democrats, who aren’t aware that they are would-be dictators; they just don’t understand the principles. In my circle of acquaintances I only occasionally come across the demanding needy, but they’re pretty visible in society. I’m not trying to disparage a group of Americans based on party. But I think they do not know what I know either about their party or about our miraculous Constitution. So maybe this is a warning you can share with them.

There has always been a creeping assault on the Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees by limiting government. Every administration from George Washington on has had to deal with it. But things got significantly worse starting about a century ago. Particularly damaging was Woodrow Wilson, and the “progressive” philosophy—particularly ill-named because progress must be northward on the Spherical Model, and progressivism is decidedly south moving. You can’t make progress toward the freedom/civilization zone by moving southward toward the tyranny/savagery zone. Progressivism is simply a code word for power mongers to usurp authority over the populace. We can use synonyms, the most encompassing being socialism. We have had socialists gaining a foothold in our government for a hundred years. We’ve been deceived by definitions.

As Stanley Kurtz says near the beginning of Radical in Chief, “Socialism can be defined strictly (as total government control of an essentially redistributive economy) or loosely (as any governmentally imposed compromise of pure capitalist principles on behalf of economic equality)” [p.6]. By the loose definition, Democrats generally, and many Republicans, are socialists (what I would place well below the Freedom Zone). But the situation is much more dire than this.

The full discussion is going to require a Part II post tomorrow. Then, those of you who are strategists (I am not one), those who read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, who win regularly at chess, you need to be thinking of ways we can win in the battle to retain our freedoms against the power mongers who work to take them away from us.

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