Empire of Reason Commentary No. 4

To:  The People of the United States, May 25, 2020

Leadership

By Mark Albertson

Leadership is no weaker or no stronger than the person in control of it; nor is it more vincible or more effective than upon a people who have wagered their fortunes upon such leadership. . . Mark Albertson

Leadership comes in two basic forms:  good or bad.  Leadership, too, can be a reflection of the people’s understanding of their structure of government; and more often than not, lends credence to an eternal truth, The masses do not think, individuals do.  The basic premise of leadership, then, is to mold, inspire and move the masses, to get them to act in concert toward an objective.  Yet . . .

. . . leaders, like the people they lead, are captives of history.  This is so because they are products of the people they lead.  Leaders, then, react to their surroundings and events within the era in which they exist.  And since Man is a slave of history, no matter his ability to think, which is supposed to set him apart from the rest of the species in the animal kingdom, Horizontal Determinism showcases with reasonable proficiency, the ability to predict where a government, society, economy, culture, is going.[1]

The study of leadership, then, leads us to two types of equality:  Rights to everyone, rights to no one.  Hence a more realistic understanding of egalitarianism.  This term can be used to describe a society, a culture, an economy or political structure; though it is generally applied to a nation that is considered democratic.  Yet there is also an egalitarian state based upon the Equality of One:  The autocrat, authoritarian or dictator. . .    Examples of egalitarianism based on the Equality of One.  Perhaps not the most popular form of leadership, but one which has been the most prevalent in history.

Yet great leaders cannot exist without the mob.  The Mobocracy, then, can be either a Democracy or Autocracy.  For great leaders know how to control the emotions of the masses, so as to seize the opportunities of their time.  Yet many times men, in the heat of the moment, lose control of their passions, and forget where their best interests lie; to which even Democracy may not prove a prophylactic.  Nor does Democracy assure virtue in government.   Alexander Hamilton referenced same in Federalist No. 1:  “It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important questions, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.”[2]

But to return for a moment, to the aforementioned premise of Man as a species of the animal kingdom, we need to consult, as our Founders did, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu.  “But the intelligent world is far from being so well governed as the physical.  For though the former has also its laws, which of their own nature are invariable, it does not conform to them so exactly as the physical world.  This is because, on the other hand, particular intelligent beings are of a finite nature, and consequently liable to error; and on the other, their nature requires them to be free agents.  Hence they do not steadily conform to their primitive laws; and even those of their own institutions they frequently infringe.”[3]  Hence the American Founders’ desire to construct a political system based on checks and balances to curb the excesses of Man.  And owing to the inadequacies of the Human Condition, the American experiment in Republican government has failed.  For America today is a Corporate State; a reality emblematic with its leadership.

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once observed, “Man’s capacity for justice makes Democracy possible, but Man’s inclination to injustice makes Democracy necessary.”[4]  More often than not, Man’s exercise of the latter inclination has usually been the case, underscoring Montesquieu’s analysis in The Spirit of Laws.  Again Horizontal Determinism reinforces the reality of America as a failed state.

With the advent of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the power of central government to assist the Lords of Capitalism, many of whom were seeking to protect their wealth at the expense of the masses, in an attempt to bring America back from the abyss.  One of the alphabet soup of government programs was the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps.  Many unemployed men were kept busy cleaning and repairing roads, refurbishing bridges and building more, maintaining parks and establishing other national landmarks that have proven beneficial to the Nation.   In command of a company of CCC was Captain William Wallace Ford, United States Army; an artilleryman who, in the upcoming global conflict, would become the first Director of Air Training and lead the formation of the Air Observation Post concept in the Field Artillery, which featured the use of Cub-type light aircraft for the aerial direction of artillery fire.  CCC was an experience that Ford wrote about in the following fashion:

“Of all the government operations I have seen, the CCC was one of the very best.  Here were, in my company, some two hundred young men (mostly of Mexican descent, but nevertheless a fair cross-section of the communities from which they came), who were taken off the street, given healthy outdoor work along with ample recreation and leave time, and afforded the priceless opportunity of working together in common purpose.  It was a character-building and unifying operation of the highest order, and the benefit to the nation, which constantly tends to splinterize itself, was incalculable.  I hope something like it may be revived, as part of a broad national service.[5]

Ford’s analysis is well advised.  For he is writing about a government program that helped immeasurably in stimulating the self-worth of victims of the Depression; while at the same time, creating for the masses that crucial aspect of unification the Nation longed for and rallied round.  In other words, someone in Washington had not forgotten the Common Man.  CCC helped to create that massive community scene that would be a war-winner from December 7, 1941 to September 2, 1945.  Same was the result of leadership that understood that if the privileged class was going to remain so, that it needed to share its wealth with the masses.  Or as Franklin D. Roosevelt later observed, “I saved Capitalism.”

But the America of 2020 is a far cry from the America of 1945.  Today “I saved Capitalism” does not ring with that egalitarian sweetness that motivated the Greatest Generation.  Following, instead the precept outlined by George Kennan in 1948:  “. . . we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population . . . In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment.  Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.  To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.  We should dispense with the aspiration ‘to be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism.  We should stop putting ourselves in the position, of being our brother’s keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice.  We should cease to talk about such vague and . . . unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization.  The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.  The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”[6]  (Italics belong to editor.)

As 1945 fades from memory, Pax Americana continues to supersede what was once the Arsenal of Democracy; and, in so doing, has created a paradigm of leadership that exists for War and, practices War Capitalism, and one that has followed Kennan’s notion of a Big Power with religious fervor.  In essence, this has created an identity to which America has hardly proven to be its brother’s keeper; and as that the champion of human rights and raising other’s living standards, that is at best ersatz; while selling that fiction of democratization that is the most purest of chloroform, one that enables the Big Power to abscond with other nations’ resources and insuring that the dollar remains the globe’s reserve currency.  All of which has left a trail of wreckage round the globe in places such as Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Columbia, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and a half a hundred other places in an effort to perpetuate the American Empire.

The effort in straight power politics has brought an end to the grandest experiment of Republican government ever to emerge from the Age of Reason/Enlightenment and, to become just another entry in a long roster of imperium that has come to mark the epic of Mankind.  The tools of empire manufactured and implemented by the Shining City on the Hill, which is actually a tarnished, unprincipled burg of intrigue, avarice and hypocrisy, has now brought those tools of empire home, to progressively eradicate those vague and unreal objectives such as human rights to its own citizenry; to loot and plunder the economy and set in motion decades of declining living standards; while selling democratization in the form of encroaching authoritarianism.

The decades of militarism and incongruous political machinations disguised as representative government, backed by such criminal enterprises as rapacious finance and irrepressible arms dealers, in addition to malevolent health insurance and pharmaceutical giants, licentious energy, corporate-controlled communications and media, impudent land developers and all unchecked by an inconsequential electorate, have proven too much for the precepts of Republican government.  Quite simply an agenda of War Capitalism is a contradiction to a functioning system of representative government.  With fifty-four cents of every dollar of discretionary spending going for war and related, a concerted and proper response to Mother Nature’s assault on the American population has been sorely lacking.  Such is not to relieve the current occupant of the Oval Office of his culpability for his less than stellar performance in the face of Covid-19.  Such is to be expected from an exercise in buffoonery. 

Yet America’s problems of leadership range beyond an arrogant incompetent from Queens.  He is, as was his opponent from 2016, merely symptoms of a disease.  The problems are systemic.  And only when the American public is willing to return the Nation to a functioning system of representative government, will it get the leadership it deserves.  Otherwise, it deserves the tyranny surely to come, because that is all History will see that it was capable of producing, . . . despotism.          

Endnotes

[1]  Horizontal Determinism is this writer’s study of history, showcasing the premise that a horizontal viewing of history creates a picture of man over a period of years, decades and even centuries, while coming to the inevitable conclusion that man, more often than not, is predictable.

[2]  See page 3, Federalist No 1, by Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

[3]  See page 1, “Book I, Of Laws in General,” The Spirit of Laws, by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu.

[4}  See page 10, “On Leadership,” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Robespierre, by S.L. Carson.

[5]  See page 104, Chapter VI, “More Piping Times,” Wagon Soldier, by William Wallace Ford.

[6]  See page 10, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, General; the United Nations, Volume 1, Part 2:  Report by the Policy Staff, Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy, VII, “Far East.”

Bibliography

Baron de Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, The Spirit of Laws, The University of Chicago, The Great Books, Chicago, ILL., 1952, by Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Twenty-Second Printing, Great Books of the Western World, No. 38, Montesquieu/Rousseau, 1978.

Carson, S.L., Robespierre, Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1988

Ford, William Wallace, Wagon Soldier, Excelsior Printing Company, North Adams, Mass., 1980.

Hamilton, Alexander, Jay, John and Madison, James, The Federalist, edited by Jacob E. Cooke, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Ct., 1961.

Report by the Planning Staff, Review of Current trends, U.S. Foreign Policy, Top Secret, Office of the Historian, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, General; the United Nations, Volume I, Part 2, Washington, February 24, 1948, Department of State, United States of America.

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