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« The Path: Episode II (and Some Surprises) | Main | Am I Living in a Nightmare? »

January 14, 2012


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Aboc Zed

Ability to learn is needed by everyone, and leaders especially because their actions influence the lives of all.

But I know democracy will not produce learners as leaders. Simply because the voters are not learners, all of us were born in ignorance and most of us remain die ignorant too.


"For example, would it be better to have a wise leader or a crafty leader?"

That's a loaded question: you're playing (perhaps unwittingly) into the camps of those who might advocate the Platonic solution of having society organised as a hierarchy with philosopher kings as natural rulers (the wise leader option) and of those who advocate the Machiavellian crafty leader option in which concepts of ethics mean little except where they can be used to support your stand where you see fit.

But for sure, I would like to see a leader who has a strong sense of ethics and values who is able to stand up to lobby groups with hidden agendas and who can call their bluff. Honesty, personal integrity, acknowledging your faults, ability to choose capable people to serve in your Cabinet, treating the public as if everyone actually had a brain (contrary to what you might think of people generally) and acting as though being a leader is an opportunity to serve your people and doing your best, rather than an opportunity to feather your nest: these are qualities I would like to see in any leader.

Only problem is such leaders are usually more popular after they've been killed.

Robin Datta

Firstly, one has to define what a leader is supposed to be. My ideas about leadership are based in no small part on what I gathered from the uS Army's concept of leadership.

Every individual has his/her own agenda. This is true of the leader as well as of the followers. A successful leader is one who can harness or transmute the followers' agendas to conform to the leader's own agenda. (In the Army, the leader transmutes his/her own agenda to serve the accomplishment of the assigned “mission”.) To effect this transmutation, the leader must first have a deep understanding of the "why" of the leader's own agenda, and then of the "what" and "how". And then the leader must have an understanding of the same "why", "what" and "how" of the followers' agenda(s).

The only "mission" formally assigned to the leader is "to preserve, protect and defend the Constituiton of the united States". In practice, what the "Constitution" means is something that may often depend on a 5 to 4 decision by the Supremes.

In transmuting his/her own agenda to serve this mission, the leader must examine his/her own agenda starting with the "why". Is the objective to secure a spot in Heaven? Or in the pages of history? Or to enhance the well-being of others? Which others? And each of these is again subject to the question "why?". Only then can one honestly proceed to the "what" and "how".

The leader's comprehension must include those aspects of the "why", "what" and "how" of the followers' agenda(s) are susceptible to such transmutation, and the methods by which such transmutation can be effected.

In today's political systems, since the followers' agendas have to be taken into consideration, what is mostly addressed is the "how". As an example, the entitlement programs such as Social Security are sold on the basis of "how" (contributions to the fund during one's productive years), concealing the "what" (a massive Ponzi scheme) with complene disregard of the "why" (a wish for security in one's twilight years). The fact that the funds are diverted to the leaders' other agendas is downplayed. The system is rife with such skullduggery.

Each of these ratiocinations has to be publicly exhibited for examination by the prospective followers.

Robin Datta

George Carlin ~ The American Dream


The US is a militarist-imperialist, rentier-oligarchic corporate-state owned by the top 0.1-0.4% of US households by net wealth and income (nearly 50% of income and 85% of financial wealth is held by the top 10% of US households). The only "democracy" that exists is among the rentier-oligarchic caste and marginally at the local level.

"Leadership" power of Anglo-American empire is hierarchical and highly concentrated, similar to the corporate management structure, which is akin to military command-and-control structure. Corporate and military leaders are not chosen by the workers and the enlisted personnel.

The bottom 90% of the 312 million US population has no power to choose national political, corporate, and military "leaders". "Elections" are mere spectacle intended to legitimate the hierarchical power structure.

Presidents are selected by the rentier-oligarchic banking and insurance, war profiteering, energy, and media-entertainment syndicate.

Obama's "selection" as corporate-state CEO and chief marketing executive for Anglo-American empire was perhaps the culmination of mass-media, mass-popular psycho-emotional manipulation and corporate-state propaganda. We should expect nothing less than much more of the same hereafter.

To discuss what kind of imperial leadership we would like presupposes, quite naively, that we among the bottom 90-99%+ have an actual "choice" in selecting those who would "lead" us; we don't.

Durable "change" for the betterment of individuals will occur (should it occur) organically at
the household, community, and local institutional level via uniquely suitable self-organizing "chaos" or "novelty" at self-sustaining scale of population, resources, and consumption.

The larger superstructure of empire is a debilitating cost to local "novelty" and effective self-organization at self-sustainable local scale.

Therefore, voting for national "leaders" is an affirmation of the command-and-control system and a vote to sustain the imperial superstructure and its burdensome costs.


I would add to the above that the so-called "leaders" are demonstrably sociopaths and arguably insane; but they are but reflections of the mass insanity that produces, affirms, and rewards them.

Mass insanity is the normative condition of human ape society. One cannot be well adjusted to mass insanity without being likewise insane.

What other than insane outcomes would one expect?

Thus, which insane "leader" should we "choose" this time?

Quotes about insanity:

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
Marcus Aurelius

"We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal."
Carl Bernstein, U.S. journalist. Guardian (London, June 3, 1992)

"All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher."
Ambrose Bierce

"Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage."
Ray Bradbury

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it's you."
Rita Mae Brown

"If we weren't all crazy, we would go insane."
Jimmy Buffett, entertainer, lyrics in "Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes"

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
Sir Winston Churchill

" ... we're living in a Machiavellian world, whether we like it or we don't."
Bob Dylan, songwriter, 'Rolling Stone' magazine, 22 Nov 2001, page 63, Dylan was not being cynical, he was praising Machiavelli

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
Albert Einstein

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
Albert Einstein

"Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe."
Johann von Goethe

"When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane."
Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)

"What luck for rulers that men do not think."
Adolf Hitler

"Maybe this world is another planet's Hell."
Aldous Huxley

"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you."
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), founder of analytical psychology

"A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free."
Nikos Kazantzakis

"In a mad world, only the mad are sane."
Akiro Kurosawa

"Insanity -- a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world."
R. D. Lang

"What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?"
Ursula K. LeGuin (b. 1929), US author, "The Princess"

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.... I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends ... and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it."
John Lennon, Interview BBC-TV (June 22, 1968)

"Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped."
Sam Levenson

"Years ago, it meant something to be crazy. Now everyone's crazy."
Charles Manson

"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among those who are."
H.L. Mencken

"Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage."
H.L. Mencken

"In America, the criminally insane rule and the rest of us, or the vast majority of the rest of us, either do not care, do not know, or are distracted and properly brainwashed into acquiescence."
Kurt Nimmo

"Stop the world. I want to get off."
Anthony Newly

"In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."
Friedrich Nietzsche

"I must have ended up on the wrong planet. Everything here is so strange."
Sigbjørn Obstfelder, Norwegian poet

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity!"
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49), American poet

"America is an insane asylum run by the inmates."
Lester Roloff (1914-1982)

"When the world goes mad, one must accept madness as sanity; since sanity is, in the last analysis, nothing but the madness on which the whole world happens to agree."
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish-born British playwright

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up."
Lily Tomlin (1939 - ), Actress

"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."
Lily Tomlin (1939 - ), Actress

"Beam me up Scotty."
Star Trek

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."
Mark Twain

"Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simplify many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now."
Mark Twain, What Is Man?, Ed. Paul Baender (1973). Christian Science, bk. 1, ch. 5 (1907)

"Earth is an insane asylum, to which the other planets deport their lunatics."
Voltaire, in Memnon the Philosopher

"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."

"A time will come when the whole world will go mad. And to anyone who is not mad they will say: 'You are mad, for you are not like us.'"
St. Anthony the Great (attributed to)

"The world is tragic to those who feel and comic to those who think."
Robert Walpole

"Sometimes I think that the greatest sign that there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe is that it hasn't tried to contact us yet."
Bill Watterson, "Calvin and Hobbes"

"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
Frank Zappa

Aboc Zed


Your below from the past is the piece of wisdom I am going to keep for myself as an example of clear thinking and precise wording.

If one is not sufficiently socialized, i.e., "educated", socioeconomically connected and secure, and then permitted the luxury of time and resources to self-actualize individual and select group sapience or super-sapience, the inescapable conclusion is that one (and one's progeny) is (are) then simply subject to the thermodynamic determinism of mass die-off with little or no recourse than to accept it or rage in utter futility against the results of overshoot and too many non-sapient human apes.

I'd like to connect. If you do not mind sent me how you can be contacted at letters dh underscore letters er numbers eight four at sign letters yahoo dot letters com


I would un-ask that question.

We get what we get depending upon our method of getting. I already know the kinds of crap I expect to get when we pick our "leaders" the way we currently do.

It is time to get us a new way of getting. :)

The future will be crowd-sourced; assuming we've got enough energy to keep this global brain awake and functioning.


I realise George is posting this blog tongue-in-cheek but really, the question is slightly ludicrious...:-)

'We' as in thinking feeling living beings dont need 'leaders' We recognise that any desire to lead (or control, manipulate, exploit; no essential difference)is sympamatic of a warped, inadequate personality. Our experiences of leaders, bosses, managers, headteachers, CEOs' presidents, prime ministers, dictators from our work places right up to the global level is one of drowning in an ocean of incompetence corruption, neurosis and nepotism. These hideous specimens are a symptom of the root insanity at the heart of this civilisation and culture.
No social organisation above the level of a small village can operate by consensus (monkeysphere, dunbar etc) therfore any social organisation larger than that is doomed to corruption and exploitation.
Do ecosystems need leaders? does the human body need a leader to co-ordinate the billions of mindless unco-operative cells?
If the leaders were changed the same thing would eventually happen with others because its the system thats the problem more than the individuals within the system.

Aboc Zed

does the human body need a leader to co-ordinate the billions of mindless unco-
operative cells?

i think calling cells of the body unco-operative is a poor analogy

i'd say cells are very cooperative
and i think brain as a "leader" is a very good analogy of solution to the problem at hand

uneducated, unprepared and unexperienced brain may give rise to an "ego" that "directs" the whole body to substance abuse and other behaviours that are thought to "shorten" the life of the whole organism (all cellls of the body)

on the other hand well trained brain, sophisticated brain , experienced in self-control brain would be expected to give rise to an ego that is capable of "directing" the whole body in such a way that can "maximize" duration of the organism-whole

i agree with the statement that the system is the problem, not the people


how the system needs to change?

what is the correct direction of the change?

what can we think of the "final" attractor state of that change?

how those of us who can discuss the required change and agree on what needs to be done may actually go about getting together and _beginning_ something that will eventually (1 - 2 genrations from now) bring about required chamge to the system?


Like Aboc Zed and Gary A, I also believe the system we have is the problem. How does the system need to change? We need to identify what we think is the problem in the system?

There is a great deal of centralisation in the system we have whether it is political / economic / social / cultural centralisation. Diversity of opinion is not encouraged. There is tremendous pressure on us all to conform to invisible expectations. This pressure increases with larger social networks. So I agree with Gary A that communities shouldn't be larger than village level provided that they can be linked through information and trade networks because small communities can also be very insular and impose their conformity as demonstrated by various religious cults centred around gurus.

Kibbutzim in Israel are a good example of small self-sufficient communities but they have had problems with sexual oppression of women in the past (gang rape was common) and some of these problems related to the way children were brought up in the 1950s and 1960s: separated from parents as babies, brought up by a revolving network of caregivers, they were unable to form close relationships and transferred their loyalties to the State. Some of the most efficient killing machines in the Israeli Defense Forces were kibbutz-raised people.

We also need to rethink our relationship with technology. Many people including experts, politicians and others who should know better put too much trust in technology to solve our problems like poverty, feeding people, climatic change without realising that technology and technological systems might incorporate values hostile to decentralised systems and ways of thinking. So much technology these days is about gathering information about us and keeping it all in one database for governments, intelligence agencies, corporations and others to use and abuse.

These are just some suggestions that merit discussion.

step back

The best "leadership" can only come from the bottom up. The voting public has to be its own leadership and has to tell a figure head leader what the informed voters want. No one human being can know it all.

George Mobus

To All,

We have a doozy of a snow storm in the Pacific NW today so I have some time to catch up on several things, including answering comments.

Based on my interpretation of several comments I wonder if I should have made the title look like this:

Mental Capacities of Leaders - What Should We Expect?

I think most of us understand how the 'system' is currently corrupt. My query leans toward the prescriptive rather than the norm. Contrary to step back's assertion regarding "crowd sourcing" leadership, I take as a given that on every scale of size and complexity there is a natural tendency in humans to segregate into leaders and followers, with few doing the leading and many doing the following.

Leading can mean many things to many people. For me the notion of a sapient leader involves a certain mental capability (i.e. wisdom), a strong moral compass, selflessness, and an ability to influence the thinking and choices of the followers. The latter need not be blind. In a very general sense a follower is content to let someone else make the strategic decisions.

I have given up on our 'system', political, economic, education, even the moral capacities of our so-called religions. As a nation and as a world we are too far gone to even contemplate changing for the better. Rather, this kind of question regards the situation after the current system crashes and the survivors need to carry on. Always, the future is the concern.

More later.


step back

"after the current system crashes and the survivors need to carry on."

This notion of a rare few of us surviving like Noah and going on to repopulate the Earth with a better breed of humans harkens back to your earlier post about religions.

My thesis is that no one human being can be that smart (like the fictitious Biblical King Solomon) to know everything and to govern wisely as if he (or she) were the ultimate philosopher king.

The leader you seek never did, and never will exist.

Instead we need to come up with a system where the so-called wisdoms of the crowd percolate up towards the top of government while the madnesses of the mobs (and the deceits of devious) are somehow suppressed.

What that system is, I don't know. Maybe others here have some thoughts on how such a governance system could be systematically constructed?

Nathan Chattaway

I think we need to look at the liklihood of imminent localisation. Our globablisation push was totally dependant on cheap energy which is all but gone. Humans don't organise well at the modern nation level. We do best in small village living arrangements, where leaders are selected for their experience, wisdom and values. Village leaders don't run for office, they earn it gradually and with overwhelming civic support and due acknowledgement of the responsibility that comes with any kind of power. Thank you Spider-Man, for that pearl of 1960s silver age wisdom.
"Uncle Ben Parker" can be the leader of my village any day!

George Mobus


Consider the irony of making a claim that would require significant intelligence and insight into the human condition when that claim states that no one could be "that smart".

Your first statement makes quite a few assumptions about what my thoughts have meant. Claiming an analogy with the story of Noah weights my story down unnecessarily, don't you think?

Finally, how do you arrive at the idea that a few people reading this blog might be able to construct a better governance system? It seems to me you must be assuming that somebody MUST be smart enough to do this.

You start with an unwarranted assumption about whether there might be someone (or group of people) who are NOT smart enough or wise enough to govern. But then end up concluding that there are some people who are so smart that they can engineer a better system of governance. In my view this is inconsistent. But maybe I am assuming too much about the meaning of your statement!



With several of your commenters, i too agree that the societal system we've developed over the centuries has become warped and corrupted with influence via money from the top classes and that the entire voting process now renders our "choice" a mere habitual process with no actual effect. As the leader is chosen mysteriously by some group other than the populace (as well as all the "representatives" - who now no longer actually represent the common citizen) we are, in effect, a captive nation. Elections are complete charades now - mindless mass experience in which many now choose not to participate due to its ineffectiveness at changing anything for the better for the ordinary voter.

step back

Dear George,

Yes you are reading way too much into the between-the-lines of what I'm trying to say.

What I'm trying to say is that you are highly unlikely to find a single human being who knows and understands all there is to grok about:

Advanced physics,
Dynamic systems,
Foreign affairs,
Ytterbium compounds,
Zygapophysial joints

Well you get the picture.

Some readers here become aghast & apoplectic over the notion that President Obama doesn't seem to "get it" about Peak Oil, Population overshoot, Scientific realities, Computer science, Economics, etc. and instead he appears to be in bed with the Harvard School of "Man made Laws" that brung him to the party room in which he sits today.

But if we were realists rather than irrational worshipers of the notion of 'One-ring to wisely rule them all', we would realize that the one Savior (the super, uber leader) is not going to come to save us. And if by chance we ever do get a feeling that we have actually found the one "Uber" leader, we are then all in big big trouble because we know where past fanatic belief in such an Uber leader has led people to before.

Therefore, by simple logic, we must conclude that salvation will very unlikely come by way of an Uber leader and, if it comes at all, it must come from some other form of governance. More in the form of a bottom up governance rather than a top down dictatorship.

step back

p.s. By the way, great topic.

Thanks for raising it!


@step back,

I'm pretty sure George gave up on finding any kind of "Uber" leader a long time ago. Besides, we don't need an "uber" leader, just somebody wise enough to know what's going down with nuts big enough to be honest about it. I personally think Obama knows quite a bit about how bad it is going to get here. He is a politician being a politician. Maybe he doesn't want to start a panic; the truth is scary as fuck. That leader will never come though, at least, won't be "elected."

You're right about crowd-sourcing governance. Iceland is crowd-sourcing its constitution which is a step in the right direction but gets nowhere near what humanity will require.

The system will emerge more than be "systematically" constructed. (Read: The system is already emerging.) It will be about as "systematic" as (r)evolution.

There are already systems out there that supress the madness of the mob and lift the wisdom of the crowds. The best examples are: and Both work as a distillery for human opinion.

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