Lead Us Not Into Perdition

Lead Us Not Into Perdition by Robert Gore – Straight Line Logic

…Besides, the almost beseeching way the men looked at him was irritating. Sometimes they acted as if they would forget how to breathe if he or Gus wasn’t there to show them. They were all resourceful men–he knew that, if they didn’t–and yet at certain times they became like children. All his adult life, he had consented to lead, and yet occasionally, when the men seemed particularly dumbstruck, he wondered why he had done it.

He and Augustus had discussed the question of leadership many times.

“It ain’t complicated,” Augustus maintained. “Most men doubt their own abilities. You don’t. It’s no wonder they want to keep you around. It keeps them from having to worry about failure all the time.”

“They ain’t failures, most of them,” Call pointed out.”They can do perfectly well for themselves.”

Augustus chuckled. “You work too hard,” he said. “It puts most men to shame. They figure out they can’t keep up, and it’s just a step or two from that to feeling that they can’t do nothing much unless you’re around to get them started.”

Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

With these few paragraphs, Larry McMurtry demonstrates more insight into leadership than scads of studies and tomes. There is a fascination with political leaders far disproportionate to their actual importance. Most of what importance they have is of the negative variety: they can and usually do mess things up. McMurtry dissects the psychology of the led, putting his finger on the human frailty behind the cult of leadership. Not bad for a cowboy novel.

Read typical history texts, newspapers and news-oriented websites and you’ll conclude that the only phenomena worthy of notice are the leaders’ personalities, bloviations, and machinations. Part of it is by design of leaders themselves, they’re always circulating their propaganda and versions of events. Part of it, as far as journalism goes, is ideology and temperament among the journalists. Most of them are statist to the core. Covering government and its leaders fits their view of the world and philosophical precepts. Besides, it’s easy. There are all those press releases and leaders makes themselves available to the media.

For historians, the most extensive archives available are usually those of political and military figures. (With the possible exception of writers, who often leave copious quantities of personal journals and letters. It’s why many biographies of writers make good doorstops.) Some of truly important and interesting historical figures leave no record at all, other than their works.

Who has had more effect on the lives of the average American, Presidents Eisenhower through Trump, or the inventors of the birth control pill, the microprocessor, and the internet? Most people will answer the latter. Why then, can they name the presidents but not the inventors? What hugely significant innovations are being birthed right now by obscure innovators while Trump hogs the headlines?

Noise is not usually important and it’s not progress. That’s often a quiet affair, conceived in the minds of innovators and furthered in laboratories and the like. Innovators work hard, think for themselves, and don’t doubt their own abilities. This, according to Augustus, separates them from the mass of people, crying for their leaders. Unfortunately, he’s right.

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Robert Gore

Robert Gore was born in 1958 in Livermore, California. He grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both his parents worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His undergraduate education was at UCLA. He graduated in 1980 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in economics and political science. He completed the JD/MBA program at UC Berkeley in 1984. He held part-time jobs throughout undergraduate and graduate school. He passed the bar exam and is an inactive member of the California Bar Association. Mr. Gore’s career in finance began in 1984 with a bank in San Francisco, trading municipal bonds. In 1985, he went to a Wall Street firm’s west coast municipal bond office in Los Angeles as a bond trader. He developed its block and institutional sales capabilities and after four years was promoted to manager of the region.