Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The Fallacies By Which We Live
There is an identifiable need in humans to find a role within the group dynamic that fulfills the person’s requirement for self-identity and a clear understanding of hir place within that group. Using technology levels as a comparison point, anthropologists have shown that this need has been expressed according to the current level of survival skills present for the group. Hunter-gatherers have well-defined roles for each person. Agriculture-centric groups have well-defined roles. As groups evolve into more complex models, specialization becomes increasingly important, and one category begins to develop into a self-sustaining role: the leader.
Speculating freely on the evidence: a hunter-leader is the person who demonstrates the most success in hunting; a farm-leader demonstrates the most accurate knowledge and decisions concerning crops and weather. In a complex culture, though, competence begins to lose its importance due to two factors: the difficulty in developing an objective method for determining who leads, and a person’s ability to take the leadership role by force and without having any objective qualification for that role. Modern cultures have shown that any objective method is increasingly eclipsed by the use of force.
Force is not just the use of violence. It can be any medium that facilitates the acquisition of the leadership role. It can span the spectrum from outright coercion to subtle persuasion. In modern terms, there are broad categories: violence, economics, religion and nationalism.
Regardless of which category hir actions fall within, the putative leader’s competence to lead is always secondary. In cases of subtle persuasion, the leader’s competence is at issue but there need not be any accurate connection between hir actual competence and hir appearance of competence. All that counts is the leader’s ability to successfully manipulate the process by which sie becomes the leader.
An important premise is the observation that human personalities fall within one of two groupings: followers and leaders. This is independent of a person’s desire to be in either grouping. It foms the basis for a fundamental cause of group strife when an individual refuses to accept hir appropriate place in one of the groupings or, as a consequence of manipulations, becomes convinced that they obtain some negative connotation to belonging to that grouping.
In earlier cultures, followers accepted leaders readily because they had objective proof that the leaders deserved to be leaders, proof which was often continuously provided. In later cultures, epitomized by modern cultures, proof is formalized and institutionalized, allowing any objectivity to be avoided or suppressed.
For your consideration...
The Aristocratic Fallacy: the leader is qualified to lead on the basis of birth or other arbitrary entry into the role.
The Democratic Fallacy: the leader is chosen by the followers using an arbitrary and, most often, subjective decision process.
The Egalitarian Fallacy: anyone can be a leader.
In my experience, such people are generally just kind of worked around, like the big rock that necessitates a bend in the highway because it is simply too much time and trouble to get it moved or destroyed...
I used to think I was something like you describe, but I realized early on that I have the compulsion to do. I like leading, but my ego isn't so large that I can't be a follower if the leader can convince me of hir integrity, honor, and commitment to the cause. Thus, I allow my cynicism to color my writing, and I focus on the fallacies.
I used to think I was a follower, and then I thought I was a leader. Over time, as I learned more about my family throughout history (both mother's and father's side) and my own decisions and motivations, I realized that I am one of the subset I mentioned. I can fit into a group pretty well so long as I avoid getting too involved in the leadership aspect or too far into the rank-and-file. I usually find myself carving out my own spot and sitting there.