The historical aspects
of social and political leadership
A theoretical approach*
Dr Kostas Lampos
The conceptual approach of the term ‘Leadership’, arraigns directly to its’ synonyms: Chiefdom, Commandment, Power, Hegemony and it indicates the relationship between the holder of Leadership, the Leader and his subjects, the followers. The means that establish, serve and support this relationship are Force, ‘Charisma’, Charm, Knowledge, Guile, Violence and Wealth –from the side of the ‘Leader’ and Necessity, Fear, Faith and Hope from the side of the ‘Followers’. This relationship is expressed as an informal ‘Contract’ based on the ‘Vision’ or the ‘Plan’ of any Leader, that, in one or another way, in a higher or lesser degree, has been ‘adopted’ by the followers with the expectation of improving their position or even the expectation of some form of ‘salvation’.
The development of the relationship between the Leader and the followers has taken place in parallel with the development of societies and civilizations and has changed forms during time and space via the effect of any given Leader, as he was being formed by the historical circumstances.
The social Leadership has a bidirectional relationship with any class divided and hierarchically structured, authoritative –hence manipulative- society and is being judged accordingly to its capacity to compose and lead the contradictive parts of society in a combined, positive way that can be referred as ‘progress’ in a sense of promoting the ‘public welfare’ and advancing the position of the vast majority of citizens.
Nowadays, in the times of post-capitalism, Leadership is facing a serious crisis. This crisis rises from the fact that the capitalistic system, having already exhausted its historical cycle as a leading power of society -as a result of the decreasing propensity of the average percentage of profit, is taking cover in a fruitless ‘economism’, thus being incapable of and hence necessarily denying the role of the social Leader, confining itself only to the narrow role of class master-exploiter of Labour.
This situation worsens day by day and that is depicted in modern Neo-liberal globalization. The outcome of this is the diminishing of any sort of social characteristics of mature capitalism and the abolishment of national societies and Leaders, by subjugating them to the one and only Leadership of the global Leader, as a last resort for the salvation of capitalism.
Therefore, we are experiencing the crisis of the end of traditional social Leadership. The local and national societies have no longer their own leadership because it has been abolished by the Leader and substituted by his representatives who act as Leadership substitutes.
But this raises the question once again; what kind of a society do we want and what kind of a society are we able to build on the ruins of the one that has failed, along with its various models of Leadership?
The answer that Humanity will give to this question will define what kind of Leadership we need for the New Vision for Humanity, or even if we need any kind of Leadership at all...
* A Contribution to the 3d Pan-Hellenic conference of Political Psychology, Rethymno, May 2006, Published by MONTHLY REVIEW, 33/09.2007, Pages 70-81.( Greek Edition)