Heroic leadership

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  1. By Imtiaz Ahmad 2.  Political life if ever has been marked by a tendency towards one-man rule.  This tendency has experiencedsetbacks also, and one is by no…
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  • 1. By Imtiaz Ahmad
  • 2.  Political life if ever has been marked by a tendency towards one-man rule.  This tendency has experiencedsetbacks also, and one is by no means justified in concluding an irresistible drive towards Caesarism.  Nonethelessthe resort to heroic leader has become a sufficiently common phenomenon to deserve thoughtful consideration.  Suchresort has taken place in the new and old nations as discussed in succeeding paras.
  • 3.  In new nations where dynamic leadership has enforced the following: ◦ Thrust towards modernization has often seemed to require. ◦ National discipline of a best sort. ◦ Enforced by a powerful personality.
  • 4.  In older nations where strong personal leadership is seen to be the only way needs following: ◦ To suspend divisive conflicts ◦ To avert social disintegration.
  • 5.  The question inevitably arises of the implications for a democracy due to this reliance on heroic individualwith the following reservations: ◦ How far is heroic leadership necessary and under what conditions? ◦ How far is it legitimate? ◦ Is it compatible with democracy? ◦ These are the problems that are troubling the minds of the people.
  • 6.  Most of the democratic theories have been derived from the writings of Locke under the following considerations: ◦ According to him, the people assert their rightful control over the state through a process essentially ofspontaneous radical movement. ◦ The Lockian assumption was that the people were endowed with sufficient purpose and intelligence toproduce initiatives, out of themselves. ◦ Successful revolution and effective government thereafter.
  • 7.  Conventional democratic theory accepted the Lockian bias on this matter ever after. If one defines democracy as under: ◦ A system in which the majority under constitutional procedures freely chooses among competingpersons. ◦ Limited term control of the state, then the inescapable shift of democratic theory is against investing too much significance in any particular competitor.
  • 8.  Thus democratic theory has resisted emphasis on leadership, because this emphasis seems to imply that some should lead and others should follow a proposition which clashes with the traditional democratic commitment to equality and to majoritarianism.  Moreover, it overlooks the democratic conviction that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • 9.  Most ideologists of leadership have invoked the supposed ignorance and instability of the crowd as a chiefreason for according special respect to leaders.  Historically, the idea of leadership has been associated with elitistphilosophies; leadership theory has been a weapon employed by reactionaries of all hues against Lockiandemocracy.  The Fuhrer Prin-zip, the cult of personality, has too often led to the suppression of freedom, and the destruction of democracy.
  • 10.  Democracy, of course, does not mean weak executive, because a feeble executive means a feeble running of the government.  Both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson stood for the strong executive by strengthening the residual of the people against the executive.
  • 11.  Democracy does not underrate the importance of great individuals who make history.  These men of historyare men of character, proven ability and sense of dedication.  An adventurer, a demagogue, a spellbinder can alsowhip up false faith; history is full of instances to of lost leaders and misplaced trust.
  • 12.  Unable to explain this phenomenon rationally, some political scientists have fashioned the theory ofcharisma.  In its original Greek sense, the word meant no more than personal magic.  Later, in Christian canonical lore,it meant the gift or grace which faith gave the believer.  Max Weber has clothed it with the habiliment of politicalconcept.
  • 13.  European philosophers were hard pressed to explain how a highly educated nation like Germany couldaccept Hitler, how the Italians accepted Mussolini.  They fell back on the theory of Charisma. They maintained thatuncertain times called forth dominant and reassuring figures.  They carried charisma.  All great men are blessed withcharisma under the following two principles: ◦ A charismatic leader does not say the time is out of joint: O cursed spite ◦ That ever I was born to set it right
  • 14.  A charismatic leader would praise Providence for setting the time out of joint so that he could set itright.  Quaid-e-Azam was one such leader.  He wore the English dress, spoke the English language but millionslistened to him in pin drop silence.  A listener was asked whether he understood what Quaid was saying “No, I don’tknow English, but I know he is saying what we all believe in,” he answered.  We all believe in democracy, butdemocracy works marvelously if we have leaders of absolute commitment and dedication to the cause of the people
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