Of Leaders and Followers

Just as our world presents a primordial order of sky above and earth below, so do all groups present a similarly primordial order of leaders and followers. Consider: if the world were all sky or all earth, there would be no way for us to live in it, so this fundamental polarity is a self-existing symbiosis permeating all aspects of reality including human societies wherein we always find leaders and followers.

Another norm is that leaders are the few – indeed often being only one – whilst followers are the many, be they in small tribes or huge nations. Perhaps this has something to do with how decisions are made: two or more people can rarely agree on anything entirely, let alone do so at the same time. That moment of decision on behalf of the larger group is much easier to arrive at when taken by a designated individual or committee than by thousands or millions scattered about in place and time.

Another twist: every community has plenty of leaders such as strong mothers, business owners providing employment, government officials, teachers or doctors who provide needed leadership to those within their particular spheres of influence. However, nearly all such strong local leaders find themselves veritable sheep in any vaster, national context. The masses can never come together to organize as well as the much smaller leadership groups because they are in so many different places and situations at any given time. This is why even strong local leaders find themselves part of an all-too-easily manipulated flock in far larger, non-local contexts.

Then there is the no less primordial ‘it takes two to tango’ law: there can be no leaders without followers nor any followers without leaders, for each mutually creates the other and is an equal partner in that dance. Essentially therefore, followers are not merely those who are passively ‘being led,’ they actively choose to follow their leader – referred to in constitutional contexts as ‘the consent of the governed.’ Indeed, such consent is what empowers any leader to serve them in that capacity.

Now it stops being a dance when leaders seek to impose their notion of order on followers without such consent. That said, no tyrants can last for long as such without the consent of their followers. Although such consent may have initially been granted out of fear or from having been hoodwinked, ultimately people as a whole know what’s what and at some point will refuse to cooperate if what is being demanded goes against their bedrock nature.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. If leaders try to impose a gulag archipelago reality which goes against our basic nature and needs, ultimately they will fail, like all Saurons and Sarumans, just as ultimately all such totalitarian nightmares – vast and frightful as they may seem – can be brought down by noble-hearted individuals remaining indomitably true to their hobbit-like human spirit.

So during times of encroaching totalitarianism and ‘techno-feudalism,’ we must not lose faith in our underlying basic nature, spirit and fundamental decency. Indeed, the more we reflect such things in our actions, speech and mind, the less likely it is that the perverted spells of those who believe themselves our upper echelon masters will succeed in fooling or cowing us into offering them our consent in the fifst place.

In short: let us not all dance in lockstep to their evil, deceitful tunes!

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