It produces leaders who were taught from birth to lead

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

The Guardian takes a curious look at the Americans who think a monarchy would solve their political problems:

Sean wasn’t always a monarchist. The history graduate student, who’s in his early 20s, grew up Catholic in central Massachusetts in what he described as “a pretty staunch Republican household”. But in college, a love of history, particularly the Roman Empire, ultimately drew him to monarchism and away from what he described as the “rah-rah American republicanism” of his childhood.

“Most people tend to get more liberal in college,” he told me. While earning his undergraduate degree at a Catholic liberal arts school close to where he grew up, he explained: “I ended up looking into medieval political theory and getting more conservative. The monarchies I find most interesting and think we should replicate go back to the late Middle Ages.”

Sean’s views shifted not only thanks to his medieval studies, but also after learning more about US foreign policy.

“Having a background in history, I naturally gravitated toward monarchism because I felt that my national government wasn’t looking at issues of public welfare or national coherence or national unity,” he said. “Our political system has been irrevocably poisoned by political partisanship.”

[...]

For an American monarchist like Sean, his preferred system of government “is some manner of elective monarchy modeled to a degree after what you saw in the Holy Roman Empire”, he told me. “The individual governor of each of the 50 states could vote amongst themselves on a new monarch in the event of an emperor stepping down … One of the reasons that I, and many others, favor monarchy, has to do with the benefits that a single individual can have when it comes to matters of foreign policy, international relations, international trade, et cetera.”

Others were drawn to monarchy more explicitly because of Trump. One self-identified American semi-constitutionalist explained: “I always had some monarchist sympathies, but I went full turncoat when I saw how moronically people were treating politics after 2016 and realized that our current system was breeding a bunch of nutjobs. After that I became convinced that a monarch or something is needed to keep politicians and the like in check.”

[...]

In 2018, the New York Times cited a study conducted by a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which discovered “‘robust and quantitatively meaningful evidence’ that monarchies outperform other forms of government”, and provide nations with “stability that often translates into economic gains”.

[...]

“When I was younger I thought monarchy was stupid and made no sense, like most children who were raised on republican (not the American political party) propaganda,” one Reddit user explained to me. “I can’t remember a specific moment when I thought for the first time, ‘monarchy is the best form of government,’ it was just a gradual change. Why am I a monarchist? I’m a monarchist because I believe that monarchy produces a stable government and unites a people, it produces leaders who were taught from birth to lead.”

Comments

  1. Kirk says:

    Two words:

    Poland.

    Hapsburgs.

  2. Graham says:

    Mileage varies.

    In the grand scheme of things, the Habsburgs are a success story. I like them for traditionalist reasons, but many a pre or post nationalist liberal, including some who lived under them and after them, thought fondly of them for holding together what we might now, tendentiously, call a “diverse, multi-ethnic multicultural mosaic”, which is the less romantic or admirable post modern way of saying a dynastic union of provinces and communities.

    The work of Joseph Roth and Stefan Zweig clearly missed the empire. The movie Grand Budapest Hotel can be seen easily as a paean to its lost glories.

    I don’t say I’m sympathetic, it depends on my mood. Ethnonationalism and liberal democracy call to me more strongly. But if the monarchy were an old one like that, I’d sympathize. If it was just a new, made up one to meet the angst of modern progressives troubled by the most trifling deviation from the program, then no.

    Either way, the Habsburgs lasted longer than most polities ever do or will.

    Poland is a better case, but then Poland’s problems stemmed from being an elective monarchy that allowed foreign candidates, and having an overpowerful, too large, too jealous landed class that acted like a bourgeoisie. Not for nothing the Founding Fathers of the US had their example well in mind.

    Interestingly, in their early dynastic days they also disintegrated when they practiced partible inheritance. Paid a huge price. Didn’t get Silesia back for 800 years. When they figured out how to do hereditary monarchy properly, they flourished, so well that even the first 80 or so years of the subsequent elective crown they still dominated the region. Nearly crushed Muscovite Russia in its cradle, the deep reason Russia has been trying to extinguish them ever since.

  3. Graham says:

    That gave me a chance to use the lesser known of my two little known Twitter accounts to send about 40 tweets on this theme with plenty of embedded hashtags and @s.

    There’s always the chance to cheese off someone on Twitter even with almost no actual followers. Plus, always fun to show the Guardian twitter team I’m thinking of them. Hope they don’t think I read them regularly.

  4. Kirk says:

    I was thinking more of the Spanish branch of the family…

    The entire premise is flawed. Monarchy is no more stable than a democracy or a republic. The root issue is human nature, and our inability to transmit virtue between generations. One generation has the ideal ruler, a benevolent tyrant who does the best job possible. The next one, or the one after…? That old homily about going from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations didn’t come out of nowhere.

    The only way out of this madness is to cease putting all that power into a centralized social structure that becomes a sink for all the sociopathic bastards society can throw up. If there’s no power, there’s no problem–So, the question is, how to create a social structure that is at one and the same time capable of responding to crisis and then returning to the pre-crisis levels of diffuse power.

    In the end, the tyrant only prospers so long as all the “little people” beneath him play the game. When they opt out…? There’s no power, and thus, no abuse.

    We keep building these social reef systems of governance, when what we should be doing is pulling power away from these structures such that there’s no power nexus to attract the sociopathic pricks who inevitably wind up taking over everything from the Boy Scout troop to the FBI. It’s a cultural problem we badly need to address and overcome, and I suspect that a good deal of it is built into our biology to some degree.

    You don’t want the CIA and the FBI meddling in your elections…? Don’t have a CIA or FBI as part of your society. Centralized power inevitably self-corrupts; you examine the history of the FBI, and it’s one corrupt thing after another. The Bureau wasn’t even established properly–They put it together while Congress was recessed, and presented it as a fait accompli to the next Congress. Hoover had a lot to do with setting that up, and during the first post-WWI Red Scare, he used it to build up a tremendous set of files that many believe were used for blackmail all through the 1920s, until they put him in charge of the FBI. Which was when the whole thing got institutionalized–The FBI has always, always been corrupt. And, mostly incompetent–The immature assholes running the counter-intelligence effort never picked up on actual Communist infiltration into the FDR administration and the entire war effort. Post-WWII, they continued the same fine tradition of incompetence and thuggery, right up until the present day. Kennedy and LBJ did the exact same thing that Nixon did, only the FBI got all butt-hurt when Nixon chose an outsider to run the agency after Hoover’s death, and they conducted a soft coup on him.

    You don’t want corrupt government agencies, don’t have the agencies.

  5. L. C. Rees says:

    The original Bureau of Investigation was set up under the auspices of Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte. Bonaparte was the Corsican Ogre’s grandnephew.

    Some have suggested that the hypothetical pretensions of the then 5-year old Jerome Napoleon “Bo” Bonaparte, future father of Charles J. and then son of Buonaparte’s younger brother Jerome and American heiress Elizabeth Patterson, that led to the “Titles of Nobility Amendment” in 1810:

    If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.

    The amendment has yet to be ratified by the required number of States.

  6. Felix says:

    Most of us are bred to feel monarchies are the *natural* way of doing things.

    Every girl wants to be a princess. Every boy wants to be a prince.

    Monarchists are following their instincts. Look in to your own self. Do you not truly believe that enlightened statesmen will always be among us?

  7. Graham says:

    I hear the appeal of republicanism when the classical ideal is being described, or when it is invoked in the context of enlightenment republicanism such as the early US, and whether of the federalist or jeffersonian kind. I still hear it when put in more 20th century, albeit conservative wing, idioms. I don’t quite hear it as powerfully as Davy Crockett [as played by John Wayne] gives it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLQ7klqYE_4 but I see why the scene has some power.

    On the other hand, I see where Felix is coming from and then some.

    The similarly emblematic scene for me is in Boorman’s Excalibur. Can’t find it. Young Arthur has drawn the sword and run off. In the meantime the knights splinter into factions. Leondegrance of Camelyard proclaims loyalty to Arthur. When Arthur returns, his father tells him that the others are laying siege to Leondegrance. Arthur rallies, and cries out, “any one of you who would be a knight, would follow a king, follow me.”

    I figure the Anglo-Saxon mindset actually runs to both, in varying mixed forms. Both sides in the Civil War were quintessentially English [and Scottish, for the northern parallel wars].

    ultimately, and for me, the defining force that drives legitimacy is history and continuity, unless given better reason than these times require. I don’t necessarily concede the ultimate sovereignty of the people, presuming I recognize the contours of the people being so claimed, at least not to overthrow everything and start fresh. I think I follow Burke on this point, not Jefferson, presuming Jefferson allowed the people to not merely overthrown particular rulers, but everything in sight.

    I suppose I do concede that the people ultimately have the power to do this, and by doing so they can establish a new order, and that is its own law in the end. I just wouldn’t always agree with the legitimacy of it, nor that this power extends into legitimate sovereignty at all times.

    Burke’s attitude was that the unborn and the dead of the people have a say, too.

    Again, it would depend on how much I identify with said people in the present, or with their dead or their posterity.

    on the other hand, I like to think if I’d been a Roman I’d have been a republican in the crunch. But then at an earlier time I might have stood with the king, and at a later time with the idea of the principate against the reforms of Diocletian or the rapine of military emperors.

    Or, being a peasant, I probably would have followed the coins. I would have had little stake in the republic by the end. Where you stand depends on where you sit, then or now.

  8. Graham says:

    A more interesting question to me is exactly that speculative fiction had always made room for monarchies.

    This has changed a bit with technology- there’s more room for libertarian ideas mediated by technological capabilities, for collective forms whether borg-like or other forms of mental unities, and for hybrids that involve ever changing formations and mechanisms for action or exercising power or persuasion on others. More scope for some the ideas Kirk offered in this vein in the past.

    Still, I’m not entirely convinced that such a high-tech age cannot produce a single ruler system, or even a hereditary one, for good or ill.

    The Singularity may make it impossible, should that happen, or not. It might be just another toolkit.

    Of note, I once read a story called The Thirteenth Station of the Cross, which IIRC looked like the second coming in which Christ’s kingdom is enabled by his command of technology to be everywhere and jdge everything at once, and he’s pretty worn by the end. Still, given genetic or tech enhancements, one could find onself a hive-king. or Queen.

    Even The pre-history of Dune, in which the Titans rule through AI. Just don’t get dependent on it.

    Or perhaps we will not quite get technology that enables these things. Perhaps we will have societies that look more like jumbled analogs of past ones. An interstellar civilization of planets tied together by a ruling class of tech- or-genetically modified people. Feudalism, in essence.

    I might even go so far as to suggest that under the right conditions feudalism actually is a system adapted to localism, local solutions, small scale, and adaptability.

    I do think we are a people that has already explored quite a lot of options in how we relate to each other and our environments, and I’m not sure we won’t keep going back to the well.

  9. Graham says:

    Although I don’t automatically assume that a monarchy or the sort of system the article suggests will always produce ‘enlightened statesmen’. I’m the sort who would stick to the old flag, much of the time, even when it did not. SO it goes.

  10. Graham says:

    Also one of my faves:

    https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Napoleon%27s_March

    Napoleon’s march on Paris as reported via newspaper headlines (1831)
    As published in The Museum of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume XVIII
    The French newspapers which, in 1815, were subject to the censor, announced the departure of Bonaparte from Elba, his progress through France, and his entry into Paris in the following ingenious manner:

    — 9th March, the Anthropophagus has quitted his den

    — 10th, the Corsican Ogre has landed at Cape Juan

    — 11th, the Tiger has arrived at Gap

    — 12th, the Monster slept at Grenoble

    — 13th, the Tyrant has passed through Lyons

    — 14th, the Usurper is directing his steps towards Dijon, but the brave and loyal Burgundians have risen en masse and surrounded him on all sides

    — 18th, Bonaparte is only sixty leagues from the capital; he has been fortunate enough to escape the hands of his pursuers

    — 19th, Bonaparte is advancing with rapid steps, but he will never enter Paris

    — 20th, Napoleon will, tomorrow, be under our ramparts

    — 21st, the Emperor is at Fontainbleau

    — 22nd, His Imperial and Royal Majesty, yesterday evening, arrived at the Tuileries, amidst the joyful acclamations of his devoted and faithful subjects.

  11. Wang Wei Lin says:

    This Sean fellow should love Trump who, according to liberals like himself, rules like a monarch.

  12. L. C. Rees says:

    Speaking in the House of Commons in 1626, Dudley Carleton, after decades abroad as representative of England in European outposts like Venice or the Dutch Republic, tried to quiet opposition to Charles I’s favorite George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, by sharing his experience of recent European politics. “When monarchs began to know their own strength and saw the turbulent spirit of their Parliaments they had overthrown them in all Europe except here only with us…if you know the subjects in foreign countries as well as myself, to see them look, not like our nation with store of flesh on their backs, but like so many ghosts, and not men, being nothing but skin and bones with some thin cover to their nakedness, and wearing only wooden shoes on their feet, so that they cannot eat meat, or wear good clothes, but they must pay the King for it; this is a misery beyond expression and that which we are yet free from.”

    Listening to this podcast on early Stuart England (and friends) by some other Canadian reminds me of a novelty absolutism was even on the European continent where Carleton served. Monarchs from the late Middle Ages onward, even with the coming of increased centralization after 1450, were often beholden to an institutionalized body representing those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.

    The early 17C was the critical period for the absolutist revolution. Representative institutions on the continent were eliminated or reduced to ceremonial roles in most of the continent by the middle of the 1600s. In France, the last meeting of the Estates General was in 1614 (wait until 1789). During the 30 Years’ War, the German principalities exploited fluctuations in the fortunes of war to geld their local estates.

    On the periphery, the process took longer. Absolutism took until 1716 to take hold in Spain, for example, when the rights of the last regional cortes were suppressed.

    Yet reactionaries held out. The Rikdag of Sweden managed to hang on and even claw back powers from the king. The Dutch drove out the Habsburgs after an 80 Years’ War. nobles of the the Polish-Lithuanian Republic outlasted their native dynasts. First the Scottish and then the English Parliaments fought back and put their king in a box, though the English res publica (translated as Commonwealth) foundered on the premature death of Cromwell.

    The Dutch Conquest of 1689 decisively stamped out absolutist pretensions within the British Isles and deposed the evil Stuarts. This opened the way for the Financial Revolution, the critical development that opened the way to the final emergence of Western power. Key to it was concentration of power in the hands of those who controlled both the wealth and the violent power of the Kingdom of Great Britain (with Ireland).

    The key figure in the emergence of the system that made absolutism, an Oriental import, obsolete was Robert Walpole. Until you grasp Walpole, you can’t grasp today’s system, its strengths, and its discontents.

  13. Chedolf says:

    Kirk, I stumbled across this article after reading your comment about centralization. I haven’t thought it through well enough to form an opinion, but you might find it interesting. Excerpt:

    “What Acton found compelling was Calhoun’s idea that in the modern age the distinctions between monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy are less significant than the distinction between centralized regimes, which stifle communities and individuals, and decentralized regimes, which accord considerable agency to various quasi-sovereign actors.”

  14. Kirk says:

    We (humanity…) keep coming up with new and improved “systems”, thinking that if we can just get it right, then we’ll usher in an age of enlightenment and everything will be just fine.

    The problem with that general idea is that there are no “perfect systems” that will endure, because they’re staffed and serving human beings, who are capable of suborning even the most angelic of designs.

    The basic problem isn’t the various systems of governance; the real problem is the idea that we have to keep investing all this social power in them, or we’ll perish. Every system tried so far inevitably corrupts itself and devolves into tyranny and social stratification. It’s an unavoidable factor–If you go back and look at the progression of ancient Rome, you can see it, just as you can see it in the early feudal era. Nothing lasts, because what is fair and reasonable in the first generation inevitably gets warped further and further out of whack by the succeeding generations, as more and more sociopathic self-interested types wedge their way into the system you’ve foolishly established.

    As well, there’s the loss of transmitted values. Those who fought in the American Revolution would be horrified at the way things have wound up, here in the America of their descendants. We failed to comprehend that the true repository of that which we call “civilization” is not in the institutions or the written laws, it’s in the hearts and minds of the men who live under those things. You cannot maintain a coherent civilization so long as there are men and women who do not have the internalized values and mores of that civilization–Once you lose enough of those, then the whole thing is running on borrowed time, and will inevitably collapse.

    The edifices and institutions of civilization are not the important things; what is truly important is the good will, decency, and shared values of the polity. We do not pay enough attention to those things, and allow them to decay such that nothing can withstand the erosion of time and sociopathy.

    You could make a monarchy work, but the problem is, again, you’ve invested too much power in the structure to create and support that institution. It will attract malfeasance like carrion attracts crows and vultures, and will inevitably unwind into a morass of Nero- and Caligula-like leaders.

    You can’t mandate virtue. It has to arise from within.

  15. Alistair says:

    Any absolute power will corrupt absolutely; especially an unassailable (hah) throne. There would be no incentive for the king not to plunder the Capital stock and immiserate the peasantry for the next set of dancing girls. See the Ottomans and North Korea.You will soon be shooting off the end of the Laffer curve into both Tyranny and poverty.

    The early Monarchies we are romanticising here were limited in 2 ways: limited power for the King, and limited power for the King + Nobility in system. They worked, after a fashion, but that was an accident of their practical limits and not a feature. They were held in check by each other and a rising merchant class

  16. Kirk says:

    Chedolf,

    Acton’s ideas resonate; I’ve read them before, and while I won’t say they’re where I get my own ideas, they do serve to reinforce my belief that I’m on the right track.

    I disagree with his romanticized view of the CSA, however–I don’t think they were men of any particular virtue, and I rather feel about most of them as I do when regarding German soldiers of the Second World War–Men of quality in service of a bad institution.

    Which kind of obviates that whole concept of “quality”, does it not? Slavery is an abomination, not least for the effect it has on the slaveholder. The vices that unrestrained power over others encourages are things of unrestrained horror, especially when you’re looking back at yourself through the eyes of those you’ve enslaved to your will.

    So, on that regard, Acton is not someone I can take seriously as an adviser–But, like anyone, there’s some things he got right. The evils of centralization are inarguable, just as the parallel track of concentrating power in those centralized institutions inevitably results in folly on a grand scale.

    Micro-scale or macro-scale, concentration of power and authority is dangerously inflexible, and a temptation to abuse. I don’t think it’s so much that Acton got it right with his construct that’s so often quoted–“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”, but that the creation of those stores of power serve as so much catnip for the human sociopath. No mere human has the virtue to withstand the temptations of absolute, decisive power, not when we frame it the way we do.

    It’s mostly an attitude thing–Power is sexy. Power is what gets you laid–It’s access to women, mates, all the things our reptilian hindbrain tells us to seek out. And, we invest so much prestige and status in power that everyone agrees that power is a net good, one we should seek out like moths to a flame.

    This is an inimical attitude when it comes to the actual responsible wielding of that power–The wrong people are attracted to it, and once one of them gets into a position to control the accession of more sociopaths, that inevitably follows.

    Frankly, the deification of power is where much of our problem lies–If power were socially pitied, instead of worshiped? What would the effects be?

    Compare/contrast the necessities of leadership; in a power-positive culture, being the guy in charge of a military unit is an attractive thing–You want it because of the prestige, the high social status associated with it. You get laid a lot. You earn money, fame, and are acclaimed by one and all.

    In what we might propose as an alternative, a “power-negative” culture, the leader is pitied, looked at as an unfortunate: He is the one who has to decide when and how his friends and family die around him, in combat. Instead of a status-fuck, he’s a pity-fuck–People feel sorry for him, because he can’t lead a normal life–He has the gift of command, a knack for winning. End of a war, instead of a grand estate, he retires to obscurity, much like Cincinnatus.

    We’ve invested way too much into the power structure, and those who climb it. I think that it’s time for us to grow up, and recognize that those sorts of people are not necessarily virtuous or worthy of emulation; they have particular sets of skills and abilities that we need in society, but they’re sure as hell not worthy of the near-deification we grant them by making them kings and presidents.

  17. Alistair says:

    Kirk,

    Fully agreed.

    Much of what you relate is echoed by economics / public choice 101; the more you centralise power, the more attractive power will be, and the more resources will be squandered simply in fighting to control that power. It also attracts, as you say, exactly the wrong sort of person in disproportionate numbers, and leads to a tyranny trap of runaway centralising power.

    Less power everywhere, please. And what there is should be lowered in status or assigned by sortation, or at the very least restricting the franchise to people with skin in the game.

  18. Alistair says:

    Sortition, not sortation, (random ballot)

  19. Kirk says:

    Hell, we’d do better by making things a lottery–You’re a registered voter? Instead of voting on who represents the district, your name goes into the hat, and if you los…, err… Win, yeah, win the lottery, you’re the local representative. With all that entails.

    Couldn’t be worse than the current “Let’s pick a sociopathic narcissistic prick to run things…” system.

    When you look around, and realize that things are set up to cater to the exact people you don’t want running the government, and to discourage decent men with good judgment from ever getting involved…? Yeah, that’s a sign you’re doing it wrong. And, that’s precisely the way things wind up working, once enough time goes by, in any system.

    Frankly, it’s like I told the last guy who came around canvassing for election to the County government: I flat-out told him that I considered the fact that he was out there bugging me with his wife and kids on a weekend as prima facie evidence that he was not fit for the office. You want the job…? Something is wrong with you. Deeply, irretrievably wrong. If the idea of telling people what to do appeals to something deep in your soul, you’re a broken human being, and need to be kept far from ANY levers of power.

    In any intelligently run system of governance, you’d hold elections only to weed out those who will never be given power, because the ego BS that drives you to even enter one of those popularity contests pretty much tells me you’re unfit to do much more than sell used cars and squeeze the asses of pretty girls.

    I don’t know if it’s cultural, or biologically hard-wired into our behavioral genes, but the human tendency to elevate the despicable to power based on their “charm” is one thing I find really disturbing. Most people who wind up in charge of things aren’t there because they’re competent or have good judgment; they’re there because a bunch of other people like them, which is not how you run a railroad. Or, much of anything…

  20. Adar says:

    This one web site titled Mad Monarchist is apparently not active now. They were for monarchy and made a point I generally agree with. Results and level of government between a monarchy and a republican form of government will be roughly about the same.

    It is just that you can remove the leaders of a republic the next election cycle and you cannot do so with an emperor or king.

    Other than that degree of governance about the same.

  21. CVLR says:

    As others have said, though not so pithily, unless you intend to be the monarch, affinity for monarchy et al. is basically an exotic form of escapism. It shares that with NRx, and probably also most other ideological phenomena. Yes, we can all see that our structures have grown pathological, maybe even to the threshold of colossal internecine violence. No, let’s not wish to sweep away the whole edifice in exchange for an idealized clean-sheet design, a recipe for sure disaster.

    Besides, it’s putting the cart before the horse. The principal driver of these things is the technology — and its parent organizations, if any (esp. “high” technology). So, for instance, Silicon Valley inadvertently put Donald Trump in the White House, and every indication is that they won’t be making the same mistake twice.

    To have a leadership taught from birth to lead, build libraries.

  22. Harry Jones says:

    The trouble with a monarchy is deciding who gets to be monarch. There are two main methods: heredity and bloodshed.

    Heredity guarantees us inbred, sheltered morons on the throne. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a regency.

    Bloodshed guarantees us tough and smart rulers who may or may not have our best interests at heart. It also guarantees us plenty of freshly minted widows and orphans.

    I’m with Kirk: keep government small and we won’t have to worry so much about how to select our leaders, because our leaders won’t matter so much.

  23. Kirk says:

    The real problem we have is this childish and apparently irredeemable need we have for these “leaders”. Why are they necessary? What role do they serve, in the end? Do we do better, or worse, with them running things?

    Doesn’t really matter about the means used to select them; it all ends in the same sh*thole. Leaders as we’ve conceived them are generally horrible at the jobs we set them. Look at Alexander, for an example: D’ya think that the Macedonians were really all that set on being spear-fodder across Central Asia? Do you think that the guys who weren’t his glorious generals felt a little screwed, when it was all over? What did your typical Macedonian trooper get out of all that? Was it worth having Alexander live in the Persian palaces, and putting a Greek general in charge from India to Egypt?

    Final analysis comes, and for the average person in Macedonia, what the hell did all that accomplish? Same with all the rest of the “great leaders”: What real good did Napoleon do for the French? Aside from killing off an entire generation of French men, that is…

    No, I think the entire construct of “leader” which we have is fundamentally flawed. Leaders are necessary things, but the flaw with our thinking is that we believe that a guy who is an excellent leader in some aspect of things is automatically a holder of an all-encompassing “leadership virtue” quality, and that is simply not the case. The static nature of how we arrange these things is, quite frankly, insanely inflexible. Say, Bob works his way up the ladder, and proves himself an able leader at some aspect of the mission. Generally, the way we arrange things, that means that Bob has a permanent place in the leadership chain, even though conditions may have changed. If Bob is a flexible and forward-thinking person, he may do well as conditions change for the organization–But, if he does not, the system does not recognize that fact or relieve him of his authority. Which keeps him there in the hierarchy as a permanent piece of gummed-up machinery.

    The inflexibility and static nature of how we do these things is where the problems really lie. Historical examples abound, at the macro-level. How many of the “Great Captains” we think of, who crashed and burned, really should have been called on their BS and removed, making room for men who had a better idea of how to proceed? Rommel is a guy who I think of, who should have never been given the level of authority he was given at the end–He simply did not have the knack for it. Peter Principle, and all of that.

    It’s not that the idea of a “leader” is a bad thing; it’s that the way we implement it is too damn all-encompassing. Nobody is good at everything, but we have this idea that a leader is necessarily going to be the right person to manage things in all situations. That simply isn’t so.

  24. CVLR says:

    I mean, we have leadership-principles because we’re taller, smarter, hairless chimps raised from chimpdom by a few hundred thousand years of group-selection-powered organized warfare. If it were pointless, we wouldn’t be doing it. Clearly there was a fitness payoff. (Fill in the blank, lol.)

    That said, it’s profoundly unnatural and probably unprecedented to have a leadership class composed entirely of septuagenarians. I made the mistake of watching a few minutes of the Alphabet Media, and one of the bobble heads actually called Elizabeth Warren, 70, youthful!

    The time has come to implement FROG: Forcefully Retire Old Grannies.

  25. Kirk says:

    CVLR, you can see the results of our “group selection” all around us.

    Root problem here is that there isn’t anyone performing quality control or a cull of the “leaders”. We leave that to fate and circumstance. Which ain’t doing the job…

    No leader is infallible. No leader is “good at everything”, yet we persist in making the war chief the guy who runs the exchequer in peacetime. Horses for courses, say I, and the fewer courses we run with them, the better.

    I am suspicious of charisma, and the “natural leader”. I’ve seen that go south, way too many times, in the military. The guy who’s a natural at the job doesn’t stop to think about what he’s doing; it’s what he’s always done, all through his life. He’s been the one that whatever group coalesces around him looks to, instinctively. It’s a knack, and usually an innate and entirely unlearned skill that some people just have. They know the buttons to push, the levers to pull, and they do it. Some become conscious of their effect on others, and strive to use those things for the good of the group. Such men are rare; most take their charisma and use it to get laid and exert power over others.

    You look at men like Alexander, and then you look at men like Xenophon or Cincinnatus. Which ones are remembered? The fact that Alexander’s name springs to mind, when he was the wrecker of ancient civilization is a thing we must look at and consider as a mark of our essential immaturity. We remember the charismatics like Alexander or Leonidas for their glory, while forgetting the mindless destruction or outright slavery they fought for–And, men like Epaminondas who fought the good fight against tyranny remain footnotes.

    One of these days, we’ll grow up. And, in that growing up, we’ll leave this bullsh*t behind, becoming responsible actors in our own right, choosing leaders for their skills, and not deifying them as living gods. Which is a tendency we have today–You would not believe the BS that flag-rank officer under the US military system gets, in terms of sycophancy and kowtow. It’s no wonder they become egotistical freaks–The system is set up to make them that way.

  26. CVLR says:

    The fruits of the group selection I’m talking about are big brains, fair skin, and technological capability, its mechanism of action being the back-and-forth Red Queen rape and pillage of the neighboring hominid tribe.

    Look, I’m fully aware that the military has degenerated into a profoundly pathological institution, which is why I turned down a gold-plated opportunity to get on the flag-officer career track.

    Why? Because I can extrapolate: you spend your youth sucking up, and then you spend your fifties sucked off, and then you retire and you think, fuck, that’s it?

  27. Kirk says:

    CVLR, it’s even worse than you think. At the end of the day, since we’ve been selecting for the wrong things, mostly sycophancy and groupthink, the idjit flag ranks can’t even come up with the right answers to our problems.

    Been over this ground before, but the fact that we were “blindsided” by the issues in the rear areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly the IED campaign? Oh, sweet meteor of doom… Those friggin’ idjits were TOLD, by multiple people on multiple occasions in multiple ways, that such a thing was a likely outcome. Did they do anything, anything at all, to get off the “X”? F**k no.

    By any objective test or standard, the vast majority of our “leadership”, civilian and military? They need to be taken out in back of the offices, shot in the head, and their blood kin sterilized so as to prevent the spread of their inferior genes in the population. Most of these people are only good at politics, kissing ass, and sucking up the perqs of their offices. Not a damn thing they’ve done over the last many generations has worked out to anyone’s benefit, but their own. They’re parasites, pure and simple.

    How much better off would we be, had men like Jimmy Carter never attained high office? Just ask yourself that, and think on how many deaths that perverted bastard has on him. Hell, the number of dead Iranians alone has to be in the millions…

  28. CVLR says:

    What makes you think that the distinguished vanguard of the five-sided wind tunnel is trying to solve the problems it purports to be trying to solve?

    They said that Bin Laden bombed the Triplet Towers, and in response they invaded Afghanistan.

    I don’t know who was behind the peanut farmer, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t powering himself.

    Why did Clinton crush Libya?

    Who was ISIS?

    What happened in Russia?

  29. CVLR says:

    BTW, L. C. Rees, thanks for the interesting links.

    Some people, especially a certain subset of computer nerds, don’t seem to fully appreciate the profound historical novelty of, as you say, that Oriental import,

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