Saturday, April 15, 2006

Reluctant Leadership Rules!

Just read another article talking about how there seems to be a groundswell of support for a Gore presidency, now that he's not interested in running. This reminds me of something very interesting that I learned while researching hunter/gatherer politics: those who want to be leaders rarely are. Describing !Kung leaders, an anthropologist who lived with them for several years writes that,

"None is arrogant, overbearing, boastful, or aloof. In !Kung terms these traits absolutely disqualify a person as a leader and may engender even stronger forms of ostracism. Another trait emphatically not found among traditional camp leaders is a desire for wealth or acquisitiveness. Their accumulation of material goods is never more, and is often much less, than the average accumulation of the other households in their camp."

This isn't the place for a long diatribe about hunter/gatherer power structures, but it is worth noting that coercive political power is a relatively recent development in human history. In a sharing-based economic system like that followed by hunter/gatherers (which means our ancestors for 98% of our existence), it's very difficult to accumulate the sort of power that would allow you to MAKE anyone do anything. Walking away is always an option for everyone. When the source of food and shelter is open to all, how does one go about becoming important? By being a good hunter perhaps and sharing the meat. Hoarding would get you ostracized.

Anyway, the point is that we go about choosing our leaders in such a way that we end up with those who are psychologically least qualified -- those with a NEED TO LEAD! "Fire in the belly" might be great for fans of Mexican food, but it leads to smoke in the brain for potential leaders. Better to draft a reluctant leader who has matured beyond the burning desire to be called "Mr. President."


Shaquille Davis said...

reluctant leadership is complete bull!! we have evolved from the hunter-gather lifestyle. that ancient shit wont work now. only those that have plans that want to lead should be allowed to lead not those who don't you fucking idiot!!!

Shaquille Davis said...

you leftist are so full of shit!