And the World Held its Breath

 On March 29th, 1936, the legitimate voters of one democratic nation were to decide the fate of the vast majority of the world’s citizens. I don’t know how many people that did not have a say in those elections held their breath until the result was known. And I don’t know how many of them stopped breathing altogether after it was over.

I do know that today millions of non-Americans held their breath, for once again the voters of one nation were to decide whether the entire world would be safe, at least for another four years.

Thankfully, this time the result allowed us to breathe out and let our blood pressures go down.

Natural leaders, people who have the right personality to lead, are rare and have been rare throughout history. They are certainly rare among monarchs and politicians for the simple reason that those do not get to power because of their leadership skills. They get there either because of an inherited title or because of a popularity contest.

It is even rarer to find a natural leader who is also a desirable leader for the people and for the circumstances at the time.

Plato is often accused of failing in his pursuit of providing proof for his belief in the philosopher-king because the prince he went to tutor did not become the ideal leader. But to me that only proves the theory: this prince was there by right of birth, not because he had the natural talents to rule.

Hitler was a natural leader, but not a desirable leader; Martin Luther King Junior was a natural leader and a desirable leader, but he was not in the position of leading a nation.

Pericles, leader of Athens, and Augustus, first emperor of Rome, were natural leaders and desirable leaders in view of the needs of their nation at that time  – yes, yes, I know Augustus used a certain amount of violence to get the power, but that is because most in his time had been brought up to believe that leaders were chosen and educated to be leaders.

There have been few since, but until four years ago no politician emerged from a democratic country who was actually also capable of leading: A person with the right personality traits to stand up and make decisions without having somebody else prompt him, who could answer questions without having been prepared, who was not afraid to show himself as a human being, who was willing to listen to the advice of those around him and who was not afraid to admit making mistakes.

As explained in my book Concerto for Mankind, I believe that the natural personality type to lead a nation is an ENTJ, for in that type come all the natural gifts that guarantee decisiveness, honesty, the ability to delegate, the ability to communicate, a willingness to prioritize the needs of the larger community, a genuine interest in human needs, a cool head under pressure and boundless energy in meeting people, but most of all, the strategic insight in the long term consequences of every decision made.

I am not saying there have not been other good leaders, but they were not politicians voted in by a majority of voters without such insight; they either came from a privileged background to allow them to be pre-selected or they came to power by other means than democratic elections.

And just for the record: I do not believe that philosophers should be kings, even if I am in agreement with Plato that leaders must be born to lead and not only taught to do so.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Censorship and Independent Writing

In an earlier post I discussed why I have chosen to adopt a penname and to become an independent writer.

My definition was that independent writers won’t choose their topics according to the financial considerations of the big publishing houses, won’t adjust their style to the latest fashion in writing techniques and won’t limit their stance to the visions of political, religious or cultural groups.

 In short, independent writers won’t let social censorship determine how and what they write.

What do you mean “censorship”?

Writers, of course, come in all sorts and write about all kinds of things. But that does not mean that every person is born to become a writer or can write about the same topics.

Each personality type has a preferred topic, so that some writers write about social issues, just like others are born to be science writers. This is not a simple choice people make, but driven by the way they deal with information, which determines their natural talents.

For example, most theoretical physicists (writing about cosmology and particle physics) have a natural gift for mathematics, a gift political and ethical writers do not usually possess.

These gifts apply to all human activities – not just those we think of as the arts – and they don’t only apply to what people are good at doing (like maths), but also to what they observe and experience – their perceptions.

And so there are people who are naturally good at seeing the immediate practicalities of a current event and there are those who are good at seeing the long term consequences of a social situation that prevails today.

But those different talents cannot exist in the same people, since excelling in something means putting all your focus on it, so the other abilities are less developed. This provides humanity as a whole with the variety it needs to build civilization. It is not a question of some people are smart and others dumb; every person is smart in his own preferred area.

Thus, we have natural proofreaders with an excellent eye for detail in the immediate practical now and natural innovators who design the products and ideas we need tomorrow; there are caregivers, inventors, race car drivers, business people, people with a gift for logistics, practical problem solvers like mechanics, theorists of physics and cosmology and theorists who deal with the human world.

All of them may become writers, but each writes only about the topics that they are naturally drawn to – so that the cosmologist may write a science fiction story but probably not a family romance, the race car driver may write an action packed thriller but not a work on politics, and personality types like me write fiction that is intended to address social problems with an emphasis on dialogue, human character and contemplation but very little action adventure.

Suffices to say that people cannot simply become a writer because it is fashionable and neither can people simply stop being a writer – they may stop doing it for a living, but the natural drive remains.

Today, people have the option of going to university and get a degree in creative writing, but what they learn are techniques – the passion for the topic cannot be learned and neither can someone learn the perceptions that don’t come natural to him.

Publishers use market research to select the books they wish to publish – because they have to make a profit – so that they select on the basis of “what people want”; the assumption being that readers want a repeat of old ideas and more of the same.

Book reviewers  consider themselves objective critics of what constitutes good writing and tend to express themselves in objective terms, such as “this is a good book” or “that writer ignores the facts”, which many readers (and publishers), believing that writing is something that anybody can learn at university, accept as true.

None of them considers the influence of their own personality type on this misconception and many people argue that it is right for the market to decide what is good writing – or rather, what is good for people to read – based on the idea that every person has an independent mind and makes his choices objectively without being influenced by others.

But  we know that the vast majority of people believe something to be good because  it is popular or because some critic has said it is – we see this everywhere: in advertising and fashion and with celebrities – and despite using words like “critical thinking” and “creative writing”, most publishers, critics , agents and teachers use comparison to famous names or best sellers to endorse their choices and so they reject what they believe to be unrealistic.

Apart from that, the publishing industry, which originated to assist writers in having their voices heard, is now also struggling to stay alive due to eBooks and the ease of self-publishing, so that it is even more determined to take only that which is already selling well – escapism stories about vampires and super heroes, similar to those that allowed the masses to carry on pretending that all was well and ignore the warnings in the 1920s and 1930s.

The irony is that with it getting more and more easy to self-publish, it has both become possible for those writers who used to be rejected to get published, as well as increasingly difficult to be acknowledged as writers,  because of the avalanche of information and books now flooding the market. And those writers who try to self-publish without the financial means to do so, end up producing manuscripts that lack in proper editing, because the writer is focused on content.

Thus, we live in a society where publishers – who have an inclination to accept the existing order – dictate what writers can write about (if they want to get published by them), while writers are forced to do the editing and marketing the publishers are naturally good at.

Therefore, and unintentionally, the media and publishing industry have become social censors, making it difficult for socially critical writers to get their voices heard. These institutions are looking back (at what exists now), while social writers naturally look forward (at the consequences and what could be possible).

The result of censorship, whether intentionally or not, is that the masses are being kept ignorant of social dangers and dogmatic views prevail.

And it is simply not true that living in an “information age” protects us from that dogma – on the contrary, due to the information avalanche, most people only read the headlines, the gossip and their social networks anymore.

Hypocrisy.

Currently there is a tendency in the western countries to berate others for imprisoning writers who express criticism about their government – writers who due to their inborn nature address social issues.

And although I share the sentiment of organizations like PEN – I do not believe that people should be imprisoned (or worse) for expressing their opinion – I do believe that such judgmental actions from outsiders can only make the situation worse; criticism should come from within a society, from its socially critical writers.

But more than that,  I object to the idea of berating the neighbours for the state of their garden, while ignoring one’s own weeds. Western weeds are hidden censorship that is covered with slogans about freedom of speech, democracy, and free market opportunity.

In conclusion, I do not criticize the social media or the ‘information age’ for the danger that dogmatic thinking is causing in today’s western society. I think that the information avalanche does give those willing to put in the effort a much better chance of getting uncensored information, due to the willingness of so many people to write for free – to step out of the money-motivated media market. I certainly don’t think that the social media have caused us to become more selfish – on the contrary, through blogs and newsletters there is more and more free advice available.

But nevertheless, we need to be aware that the masses remain uninformed about the global issues and about the natural personalities that cause different people to be able to see what others cannot, so that those in a position of power may once again dismiss the dangers until it is too late.