For the last eight years, the US treasury has been plundered by the thieves of the Bush Administration, doling out handouts to corporatist friends (and undoing legislation and refusing to enforce what little corporatist regulation remains) in return for campaign contributions, future jobs and other favours. Bush has pursued an unjustifiable private and personal ideological war that has cost a million lives and a trillion dollars. The US is now technically bankrupt, public services have been hollowed out to the point they are dysfunctional to non-existent, and the country’s reputation internationally is in tatters.
This is the legacy of a regime that promised a new form of leadership both before and after 9/11. There could be no better demonstration that relying on self-serving and self-proclaimed ‘leaders’ to do things for you is a ruinous path.
Yet what are Americans rallying around now? Different self-serving and self-proclaimed leaders ambiguously promising ‘change’. How far will the cult of leadership in the US (and it’s spreading worldwide, like a toxic disease) go?
In business, ‘leaders’ are paid obscene sums of money (tens to hundreds of millions of dollars each per year) to offshore jobs, reduce quality and services, close down operations, merge with other organizations with their own self-serving ‘leaders’, and otherwise cripple the US economy in the interests of ‘maximizing shareholder value’ (no accident that these ‘leaders’ are paid mostly in shares, so it’s their value they’re maximizing).
Millions blindly follow religious ‘leaders’ who preach hatred and suppression of basic human rights and freedoms, and the popularity of such ‘charismatic’ despots is growing by leaps and bounds.
Drug addled professional actors, singers and athletes attract groupies and awards and fortunes and the adoration and emulation of millions, as part of the celebrity leadership cult, and this popularity can often be parlayed into political or business ‘leadership’.
And universities charge extravagant sums for ‘executive’ programs that presume to teach ‘leadership and management’, while meanwhile, because of a desperate shortage of entrepreneurial skills, most graduates can look forward to a life of wage slavery working for these ‘executives’, many of whom had their ‘leadership’ positions bought for them by rich parents.
As I reported a couple of years ago, Peter Block, one of the founders of the discipline of Organizational Development, thinks that, in business at least, it’s absurd:
“Leadership” is a well-developed misconception. The dominant belief is that the task of leadership is to set a vision, enroll others in it and hold people accountable through measurements and rewards. It’s a patriarchal system used to create high performance through centralization of power. Most leadership training focuses on how to be a good parent. We teach how to “develop” people, as if they were ours to develop. We do a lot to create the notion that bosses are responsible for their people. All that parenting has the unintended side effect of creating deep entitlement and having employees stay frozen in their own development. Most management techniques are ways of controlling people so they feel good about being controlled.
These are the most common questions I get from my clients. “How do I get people to Ä¶” and you can fill in the blank after that. My favorite is, “How do I get people on board with my ideas/visions/whatever.” My response is, “How do you know youÄôre in the boat?” These are the wrong questions. They’re the questions of a parent about recalcitrant children. As soon as you start the sentence, you’re acting as a sovereign. All of these are components of the patriarchal way of thinking that dominates our culture. Put this in boldface: They are not your children. Once you realize that, real engagement is possible.
We don’t need ‘leadership’ or ‘leaders’. What we need is experimenters.The way to create working models that work better than the dysfunctional ones we have now, in a complex system where no one is in control and no one has the answers, is to try things. A lot of small-scale experiments, bold, different, even wacky. And then compare notes with each other about what works (and why) and what doesn’t (and why not).
That will allow the successful experiments to spread, virally, and be adapted and improved. Eventually, bottom-up, it will allow us to create decentralized community-based self-managed political, economic, educational, and social systems that actually work well, for each community.
Unlike most ‘leaders’, experimenters are:
That’s what we need. We won’t find it in one or a few people. We have to find it within all of us. To do that we have to give up on ‘leaders’ and take charge of our own lives, collaboratively, as peers. Who’s ‘leading’ in government, in business, in religious and educational and social organizations doesn’t matter.
The power is in all of us.
Category: How to Save the World
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
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