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Leaders and followers
Are Iranians undeserving of decent leadership?


February 27, 2007

Studing tyranny, its causes or consequences, is not easy, but perceiving tyranny and why God bestowed us with such a beast is another matter. Social sciences have long reached some important conclusions about the reasons behind tyranny and I am not very much of an academic expert on this. But I can express my own opinion about how I have recently thought about this subject. And I'd like to put on a very simple example to show how we probably deserve tyranny when we have it and what can be done about it.

Let's assume you belong to a small tribe (a few hundred members, so that we can understand the community better and more easily) where there is a brutal tribal leader. He is the ruler of the tribe. That is a fact that cannot be disputed, either as a reality in general or as a fact within the tribe. Disputing, challenging or probaby disrespecting the tribal leader may lead to explusion, execution, imprisonment or torture, depending on the gravity or the circumstances of your action.

However one thing is clear, the tribal leader is a brutal man. But why is he a brutal man while another tribal leader from the vecinity is said to be a kind and just man whose fame has gone beyound all the surrounding tribes? There are always circumstances by which one man or another becomes a tribal leader. He can create his own tribe, he can inherit his father's or another relative's tribe, he can take over a tribe from the previous leader, or he can be chosen as the tribal leader, either by the tribal wise or by the whole adult population of the tribe. These are at least the main choices I can think about regarding possible tribal customs.

So, it is extremely important how one becomes the tribal leader. We are all individuals, different individuals and the most important thing for a tribe is to have a decent, clean and wise leader. How can one expect a tribal leader who has killed the previous leader and all his family and relatives to be a good and decent tribal leader? He will most likely be a brutal and ruthless tribal leader. So, our example of the tribe is one of the unlucky ones that has got a brutal leader. We don't know the exact reasons why he has turned out so brutal. What we know is that he is brutal.

What can you, who belong to the tribe, do? You are yourself either a brutal and ruthless man yourself, or you are a kind and decent man. In case you are a brutal and ruthless man (and a smart and ambitious one) then you will try to take over the tribe one way or another, or at least go as high within the corrupt ranks of the tribe as you possibly can. And in case you assassinate the tribal leader and become the tribal leader yourself then you will most likely be no different than the previous leader.

However if you are a decent and kind man (again, assuming that you are an ambitous and smart man too) then you will most likely have the choices of either leaving the tribe and finding a new tribe where the conditions are more acceptable according to your values, or trying to awaken the people of the tribe to the wrongs and brutalities of the tribal leader, or possibly the clique. In case you choose the second option then you take the risk of trying to re-create a tribe according to your values, which is much riskier than leaving the tribe and finding another tribe which has relatively similar values to yours.

However, depending on your level of education, intelligence and personal values (and many other factors) it is possible for you to leave the tribe and never find any tribe that would fit your high standards. So, you may actually have no choice but to take on the system (the tribal leader or possibly the corrupt clique) and to do so you will need to find adherents and fight and overthrow, or at least change, the system. This is about risking your freedom, your life, your dignity, your sanity and so forth. It is nevertheless a huge risk. And let's not forget that you may have charm, courage, intelligence, merit and also decency and humanity aplenty but be unable to find enough followers in order to be able to take on the system.

And this is actually the real problem many societies, tribes and countries have faced throughout history. Decent leaders have often not been able to find enough following to make changes possible. So they have either perished, or left. We cannot argue that decent leaders have been extremely rare. How many decent leaders for instance have Iran had throughout history? If any, they have been short-lived and accidental. Why? Are Iranians undeserving of decent leadership? I don't necessarily believe so. It would a harsh and undeserving condemnation of a whole nation to say so. There are many implications within and many of them are related to the historical circumstances that have often turned out differently than what the people of Iran (r any hypothetical country or tribe) had hoped for. These historical circumstances have left wounds within the psychy of the people.

The issue is that any country, like any tribe, needs to wake up to reality. When the waking up happens the leaders, or the leader, will be there to drive the awakened. This awakening may again lead to another dissapointment, as have many others in the past, especially in a country like Iran. Nonetheless the modern-day means of transmition and communication have facilitated the awakening process of individuals. The Internet has probably been the most important of these modern means. And changes will apear sooner or later (but hopefully and very probably not very late). Whether the awakened will choose the right, or the wrong leader, is another matter.

Let's hope that extremism, nationalism, racism or other forms of agressive behaviour will give way to tolerance and the desire for freedom. And the fact of the matter is that very often it is much easier, and more practical, to leave rather than fight, at least on an individual basis. America is the clear example of the unhappy leaving tyranny and injustice behind in order to find what they hoped for. The countries that have been built by migrants tend to be much more liberal and prosperous than the countries built by peoples who have tended not to move at all for thousands of years (these are often countried, not necessarily peoples, who boast of very old history and traditions in the land). Comment


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