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The Nature of Political Leadership

LEADERS NEED NOT BE SANE, RATIONAL, OR EVEN MENTALLY COMPETENT TO RULE A COUNTRY. Results reveal high rates of alcoholism, drug use, depression, mania, and paranoia among certain kinds of rulers. Remarkably, over this past century, many rulers even have managed to keep power despite being floridly crazy or demented.
Seekers of power
Seekers of power "remain grounded in their primate heritage"
I am reading a very interesting book titled, KING OF THE MOUNTAIN: The Nature of Political Leadership by Arnold M. Ludwig and recommend it to anyone puzzled re. how seemingly ruthless, inept leaders who turn a deaf ear to their constituency can repeatedly prevail. Don't buy it . . . at $32 it's pretty expensive . . . get it from the library.

Some of the points Ludwig, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Kentucky, makes in his first chapter include:

"NO IDENTIFIABLE FORM OF INTELLIGENCE, TALENT, GENIUS, OR EVEN EXPERIENCE SEEMS NECESSARY FOR RULING A COUNTRY. Would-be rulers do not have to pass qualifying examinations in leadership or demonstrate competence in administration or show skill in diplomacy. They do not need to have good communication skills or even by popular with their subjects. While many leaders are imaginative, wordly, and intelligent, others are pedestrian, narrow-minded, and ignorant, which suggests that demonstrated ability or achievement has little to do with securing the highest office in the land.

"LEADERS NEED NOT BE SANE, RATIONAL, OR EVEN MENTALLY COMPETENT TO RULE A COUNTRY. My results reveal high rates of alcoholism, drug use, depression, mania, and paranoia among certain kinds of rulers. Remarkably, over this past century, many rulers even have managed to keep power despite being floridly crazy or demented.

"ALTHOUGH INTELLECTUAL OR ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS SEEM IRRELEVANT FOR RULING, ONE OF THE TIME-HONORED WAYS INDIVIDUALS ESTABLISH THEIR QUALIFICATIONS FOR LEADERSHIP IS BY SHOWING PHYSICAL PROWESS AND COURAGE IN BATTLE. If a David can slay a Goliath, then he is worthy of being crowned a king. Being a fierce "warrior" is important for being a hero, and being a hero is important for being a ruler. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that in many regions of the world a military career is a prerequisite for becoming aruler and, in those regions where it is not, being a lawyer, who uses words as weapons, is a popular profession.

"MANY LEADERS WHO COME TO POWER FORCIBLY DO NOT SEEM TO LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF PAST RULERS. Nor are most really interested in consulting with their predecessors and potentially benefitting from their advice. This suggests there is something about ruling or the people who become rulers that fosters a kind of personal grandiosity that blinds them to political reality and lets them believe they will be able to accomplish in the future what ex-rulers were unable to do in the past.

"IN MANY INSTANCES, WOULD-BE RULERS RISK THEIR LIVES TO GAIN ULTIMATE POWER AND, ONCE THEY HAVE IT, RISK THEIR LIVES TO KEEP IT. Sometimes they cling to power so tenaciously that they even ignore warnings about their imminent death. These are not occasional happenings. As my results reveal, the mortality rate among all rulers worldwide due to assassination, execution, and suicide is astounding, making ruling the most dangerous professional activity known.

"THROUGHOUT HISTORY, RULERS WHO ATTAIN LEGENDARY STATUS OFTEN TEND TO BE THOSE WHO HAVE CONQUERED OTHER NATIONS, WON MAJOR WARS, EXPANDED THEIR COUNTRY'S BOUNDARIES, FOUNDED NEW NATIONS, FORCIBLY TRANSFORMED THEIR SOCIETIES, AND IMPOSED THEIR OWN BELIEFS ON THEIR SUBJECTS. In short, they have killed, plundered, oppressed, and destroyed. Rarely do rulers achieve greatness who have been ambassadors for peace, kept the status quo, defended free speech, promoted independent thinking, and avoided wars at all costs. "

Forewarned is forearmed. No always a pleasant read, but it will open your eyes.
KING OF THE MOUNTAIN 29.Oct.2003 12:14

good book

All you out there that want a good read, this book is. It is quite disturbing in places, yet is a real giggle for most part. Do your brains a favor and get this book. The library has it...a number of copies I understand. Enjoy!