culture history politics


People want to be led (just as they want to be deceived). It is a herding instinct and we all surrender to it at times. Even leaders are led – not by others, necessarily, but by the constraints and active self-surveillance that an awareness of the fragility of their tenure as leaders entails. To be a thought leader is a subtle affair; how easily and rapidly one becomes ensnared by the expectations of an audience and then – just as with type-casting in actors who find they are only ever offered the same kinds of roles – can not lead but must only follow the trailing expectations of those they intended to successfully shepherd but now (paradoxically) no longer can. History is full of this.

An effective leader brings a vision that, if clever enough and most intricately articulate in psychological and linguistic attention to nuance and detail, becomes the abstract and autonomously self-propagating vision of their followers, freeing the (thought) leader to forge forwards, unburdened by obligations to follow the expectations of their own followers. A way to do this is not to assert ownership, but to let the ideas own themselves. Good ideas will quite naturally self-propagate, it is only the bad ideas that need to be brute-forced; as for the tendency that stupid ideas (also) have to rapidly reproduce – this is as much a property of the people that believe them as of the ideas but we must as a matter of conscience bring everyone along on this journey that is civilisation.

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