Days after another horrific terror attack in England, the world continues to seem as if it is a place in significant flux and awaiting strong and conclusive leadership. The question is exactly what does strong and conclusive leadership look like and what are the inputs necessary to get it.
The first thing that good leadership demands is direction. In order to lead anybody to a destination, that destination must be clearly defined and there should be some type of plan of how to affect the journey. Although the conditions may change along the route and indeed sometimes, the route itself, there should always be a sense of constancy to ensure that the individuals taking the journey do not lose hope or begin to feel as though the leadership is inept.
This quality of leadership seeming assured and coordinated is another fundamental pillar of functional leadership. Oft times, however, instead of building this image by explanation and fostering willing buy-in, leaders resort to using the power and control which comes with their office.
The downside of this is that power and control imposed on individuals without their willingness to conform creates conflicts which eventually lead to the reordering of those with power and control and those under power and control. A fundamental component of mapping a direction in which to lead people is a philosophical underpinning to facilitate the journey to be taken.
By the time you read today’s offering, the general election in England will be freshly completed. It is no surprise that terrorism and Theresa May’s plans to curb the attacks on England featured high as a campaign issue in the just concluded exercise. Indeed, the issue of immigration and security also underpins the very reason May called an election in the first place – to get a mandate for the Brexit vote.
The Brexit vote result was highly fuelled by the issues of security and immigration. In other words, May is still facing the same question she and England faced pre-Brexit and one which will become even more in need of answer at the conclusion of Brexit. That question, simply put, is what model of governance and society will effectively move England forward in the next century?
The question, to my mind, has arisen because capitalist-based globalization has failed in its ability both to deliver life changing results for the majority of the world’s population generally and more specifically it has failed to deliver an overarching philosophical direction for effective leadership.
After spending time to dismantle the culture and domination of Empire, the far flung former subjects seem to be too close to its unsavoury memory to simply be overpowered by the condition of big country over “small” again. This cling to nationalism and nationalistic ideals has been a perpetual bugbear for the philosophy of capitalist globalization.
So those in the political elite of England must now present a clear path for where they are trying to lead the English. Even as Brexit is negotiated and the heavy hand is applied to terrorist cells, if this question does not find an answer, the displays of violence will not be obliterated.
In the case of England, the violence being exhibited when put in a historical context can be seen as a type of “Holy War” just as the Christians would have fought for their right to freely express themselves and occupy certain land spaces over the centuries. Of course, this new “Holy War” has elements of world politics embedded and a new type of rhetoric which seeks to divide it, forms its proper historical contextualization.
I concede that there is perhaps an unprecedented level of radicalization in play as well. We know that there are other types of unrest across international land spaces. Diasporic Americans are battling the fall out of Trump’s pro-white policies. The humanitarian crisis caused by the Syrian civil war is far from resolved and closer to home, several people still live affected lives in the Venezuelan impasse.
Interestingly, this impasse has also been obscured in language. It has not been given any kind of name or assignment and this keeps the vision of it blurred. This is what happens generally when people desire a realignment in the relationship between the governed and governors. Innocent people are hurt and there is disquiet and unrest.
The Caribbean cannot feel itself insulated from the general world current. Certainly, we face the same absence of a philosophical mooring because we too are a part of the capitalist globalized model. Brian Meeks wrote an interesting treatise which examines how Caribbean people have interfaced with the notion of agitating for the realignment of power between the governed and the governors.
The book, Narratives of Resistance, provides a historical analysis to some of the events in Caribbean history, such as the Grenada revolution and the rise of Rastafarianism, and their symbolism in the readjustment of political and cultural power. It also links the events into their wider international actions and occurrences which were ongoing. It paints too an analysis of the ways in which Caribbean people traditionally organize themselves.
No amount of “big stick” action in itself is enough to stop fragmentations and realignments in a society once people feel that leadership is absent. The only way to keep a people coalesced and moving in a singular direction is with a sound philosophical base that is then manifested at the level of leadership.
(Marsha Hinds Layne is a full-time mummy and part-time lecturer in communications at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)