Hollywood Size Fame, Mega-Corporate Size “Success” and Royal Style Elitism : Top-down vs Grassroots : “Leadership” and Governance

Hollywood Size Fame, Mega-Corporate Size “Success” and Royal Style Elitism :Top-down vs Grassroots : “Leadership” and Governance

Dear Readers!

I’m launching sweeping generalities in the next several paragraphs to establish a “conclusion” based on observation I have not researched and verified:

There is a similarity between success in the entertainment world (Hollywood, Media Stardom, Sports Stardom) and Mega-Corporate Sized “success”. Although the scale of wealth accumulated is different, opulent lifestyles of individuals who achieve entertainment world fame and those who gain extreme wealth in the world of Corporatocracy are similar:

These individuals each have least one very grandiose home, (I say one, knowing I sound naive but I’m trying not to exaggerate and don’t really know). Many seem to have private jets (also grandiose) or access to them. I could go on, could bring in more detail, but detail on this is not my purpose with this writing.

Quite a few, but not all, come from at least sufficient wealth by family of origin to have attended “best” schools and to have been exposed to travel and world experience that comes with such wealth during formative years. This biographical ‘truth’ holds up more in child-grooming practices of established wealth than in “groomed child” experience in the world of entertainment. The world of entertainment is amply supplied with individuals from backgrounds of poverty or ‘ordinary middle class’ stature.

Difference in childhood family lifestyle may explain the apparently common difference toward “public service” attitudes.

Conclusion: Those with adult lives inside Corporatocracy “on average” show themselves to be less public service minded. Witness behaviors coming out of Corporatocracy! From high level banking and investment industry, to mining, to oil there is good reason for a stunned public of ‘ordinary people’ to cry out in anger or shake heads in disgust. Those with adult lives built on film, media, or athletic success, “on average” are closer to ‘ordinary experience’ and show themselves as more public service minded. Witness their personal involvement in ‘service” enterprises, from alternative energy, to support of HIV-aids programs, to speaking out for radical improvement in overall well-being, free speech, … the list could go on.

Many exceptions to my conclusion come to mind! Like I said, I use sweeping generalization for a purpose – to establish a “possibly provable” conclusion. I suspect it’s “true enough” in a “sweeping generalization”.

I have not mentioned career politicians, who may come from either origin – “ordinary” or “born into wealth”. But what I am about to say refers to them also.


If readers are in agreement so far, I want to raise a point of “commonality” found in both groups. Both, it seems, want to hold onto what they’ve garnered. To hold onto wealth is highly consistent with overall values demonstrated by those in Corporatocracy. It is less consistent with overall values demonstrated by the “from ordinary to fame and wealth” crowd.

The second group, who may have achieved fame and wealth from ordinary or even impoverished backgrounds, are caught in a contradiction. They can use acquired wealth and power to promote change and improvement, can participate in “public service” initiatives, but they are rightly perceived as practicing “top down” “authority”.

People from both groups lack full credibility when they assert criticism and attempt to lead.  One simply cannot sustain credible authority  to lead “re-form” while sustaining extravagant lifestyle, lifestyle that by its nature separates from “ordinary”  experience.

The ‘ordinary people’ who voice angry criticism at Al Gore for inconsistency between his personal lifestyle and his call for “everyone” to “change behaviors” to address climate change is a prime example. The anger is understandable, and the criticism valid.

Mr. Gore demonstrates “leadership from on-high”, as do many others.  This is not a comment on ‘personal arrogance’ which any individual quite possibly does not have. But  his lifestyle vs his theme in leadership shows significant contradiction. This is true of many of wealth and lavish lifestyle who would lead or promote “service” (or ‘sacrifice’!) initiatives.

The question of whether or not one can lead a group of people out of a corrupt society while maintaining a personal lifestyle linked to the corruption is important. There is no quick and easy answer.


Many years ago I sat with a friend and we argued this very point. Young, neither of us had acquired any measurable wealth, and both of us were interested in lives that included significant service contribution. One argued nothing significant can be done “from the outside”; the other argued it is impossible to get “inside” without becoming entangled in the corruption, without taking on a portion of it.

We each pursued “effectiveness” by the path we argued would be best. Turns out one of us (closer to the inside) is indeed in better position to effect change, but can’t support radical solution even if it’s necessary in a dire time. To do so would mean loss of opportunity to maintain and even gain “wealth and power”. It would mean speaking challenge to networked business and social circles. The other has remained more or less “outside”, and finds time, resources, and opportunity to effect change is greatly limited.

The outcomes experienced by my friend and I may be unavoidable! But if we are to examine ourselves, our society, our policies – both domestic and international – toward a genuinely different and improved experience, we need to be honest about the difficulties.


Analysis and diagnosis reveal complexity. There is no simple solution that would let us reasonably “throw the bums out”. (I do NOT speak here against appropriate retribution for intentional abuse of public trust – some bums should be thrown out!) Shared analytical conversation is called for.

One conversation we need to have is about the nature of “elitism”. To lead anywhere “new and improved”, any conversation on “elitism” needs to include analysis of its subtlety. We need to recognize how elitism ‘sneaks into’ perspectives of those who want to “lead” from positions of “success”. We need to notice that “from on high” leadership – if it relies on its “elevation” as “evidence of authority” is hierarchical in nature.

We need to appreciate what ‘hierarchical leadership’ actually implies. Hierarchical leadership is fundamentally cynical about intelligence and meaningful creative problem solving in the “ordinary” citizen.

I believe in  capacity of each and every individual to contribute to conversation on how to reform our society and our policies. I believe criticism of excess from ‘ordinary people’ is valid and important for those who would “lead” to hear. “Re-form” presumably means what it says: to re-shape, re-model.  Reform does not intend to perpetuate things as they are!


I believe truly effective leadership cannot be “delivered” from “on high”, but must be delivered from “within”. The supervisor who has forgotten or never experienced digging the ditch, needs to pick up a shovel and dig, until the reality is understood at gut as well as intellectual level. Such a leader cannot routinely “purchase” the services of a “substitute digger” and have any sense of the reality. Routine purchase of labor and service, without practicing it oneself, leads to separation from human reality of labor. Over extended time, the imagined supervisor comes to believe the separation is “legitimate” – “elitism” is born.

A genuine leader will not accept “worship” from worshipers! It’s good for any of us to hear appreciation for our contribution, but the moment passes – or at least it should! A person who has achieved fame and allows a crowd to shriek in adulation, who smiles and waves to acknowledge this excess, contributes to loss of individual authority by a whole group of individuals, at least momentarily. If the relationship between worshiped and worshiper becomes a pattern, (as it has in our culture), we lose the wisdom and authority of countless individuals. This means we lose independent analytical capacity and contribution toward problem solving. We shut out a key resource from which might emerge creative and new solution. (I ask you! What do you imagine is the thought process and emotion of someone shrieking in worship of a famed individual? To answer, focus on the actual time of worship – those moments when the behavior is one of shrieking. Certainly, that ‘ordinary’ person’s brain is not engaged in creative solution finding!) This is a second way “elitism” sneaks into how we run our nation. The worshipers momentarily support a “concept of elitism” by worshiping, and ‘royalty’ supports the concept by accepting the worship.

We end with a society in which some ‘non-elites’ are fed-up and angry; some are caught in belief that solution must come from “on high”, some are caught in belief that they, “from on high”, understand what is best for everyone, (and accept the mantle of royalty, unable to notice that ‘royalty’ status, by birth or hard work, is part of the problem.)


What I would like to see developed, and perhaps it will be, is commitment to “consensus” models of solution-finding that make a special point of promoting conversation, and gathering contributory thinking, from real grass-roots level experience. “Ordinary” people are excellent solution finders. In my experience if they lack information that would let them create a better solution, they ask for the information.

Readers may say we already have a version of consensus decision making in our political structure. But they may also agree that our political structure, as it presently operates, is not helpful. It is corrupt. Those in power manipulate any idea they can to maintain power, (again – this is elitist behavior, whether practitioners recognize it in themselves or not.)

Years ago when Pierre Trudeau was newly Prime Minister of Canada, there was an initiative coming out of his office that gave me a glimpse of “intentional use of grass-roots consensus building” toward “community services improvement”. I am not sure how the initiative came to be – where the idea originated. But I spent an entire afternoon with a group of community citizens from many ‘walks of life’. We first gathered in small groups to discuss issues and propose possible solutions. Each small group then reported to the assembly. Solutions were recorded, and with whole assembly input, were revised – until nearly everyone was satisfied the solutions were workable for identified issues. At that time, consensus models included “multi-option” voting. All participants were given 5 (or so) ‘votes’ they could apply in any way they chose to the final list of solutions. All 5 votes could be cast for a single solution, they could be spread equally to 5 solutions, or a few to one and a few to others. From this ‘vote’, solutions with largest confirmation were easily identified, and the list was re-drawn to reflect a ‘short list’. Each participant was next allowed only one vote to support a preferred solution. The top three ‘winners” were again voted on, again by one vote each.

My description is meant only to ‘sketch’ the process. I was especially impressed with how this process validated “citizen driven governance”. The role of government, in this consensus model, was to arrange a meeting place, advertise the event, describe and support (facilitate) the process, and to provide facts, figures, and expert information when citizen thinkers asked. Beyond that, ‘organizers’ (government people) were to “trust the process and avoid directing or manipulating outcome”!

It was not “partisan”; it was not “top down”; it ‘tossed’ the local relatively affluent into the same thinker role as the less affluent.

It was as close to a non-hierarchical exercise in ‘governance’ as I have ever been.

Not sure where that process went! It is still used in groups as means to reach consensus, but I have not found it popularly utilized for “citizen based social problem solving.”

I would like to see both state and federal government initiatives launched immediately to make use of this means of “citizen input” toward solution for our shared issues.

My Best! –MaggieAnn


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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One Response to Hollywood Size Fame, Mega-Corporate Size “Success” and Royal Style Elitism : Top-down vs Grassroots : “Leadership” and Governance

  1. Isadore says:

    There are two quick and easy answers to the question of whether or not one can lead a group of people out of a corrupt society while maintaining a personal lifestyle linked to the corruption, one answer is …..yes!, providing that the group being led follows what the elite leader says and not what the leader does. However if the leaders actions, linked to the corruption, become known to the group being led then the answer becomes …..no!

    My experience with consensus governance is with reference to the Inuit people of the Canadian arctic and it pretty much meshes with your comments on the issue, I might add that even in a society governing itself through consensus, leaders appear and their influence is considerable on the group,keeping in mind that they are part of the group they lead and not external or elite to it.
    That is not to say that leaders coming out of a group are not superior to most others in the group, because they definitely are superior in some very significant ways, in intellect, in ability, in responsibilty to their group etc. this natural superiority is not to be confused with a superior attitude based on a selfish motive and not backed up with real ability and talent. The truly superior person in a group has the responsibility to lead and will look upon their leadership role as their contribution to the well being of the group and not as a priveledge, as our society so often pervertedly does.

    You are correct in stating that truly effective leadership cannot be delivered from on high but must come from within.
    The natural leader invariably comes from its peer group, it is possible for a would be leader to convince a non peer group that she/he is part of the group (identifies with the group) and thus gaining acceptance is able to effectively lead, we see examples of this ploy in animal husbandry ( the Judas goat leading sheep) and politically, (a member of an elite group,Winston Churchill, leading the British common people during the 2nd world war.) Both of these examples have nothing to do with corrupt societies.

    I fear you will never see state or federal governance making use of citizen input as you describe it until our form of government is fundamentally changed from a representative system to a direct system of democracy where the citizens vote on the issues and not just for a representative to do the voting for them.
    Such a drastic fundamental change in the Democratic systems employed by our respective countries ( USA and Cda) is , although possible, highly unlikely in our lifetimes.

    As always I enjoyed reading your blog and although, as you admit, it is based on sweeping generalities neither researched or verified, your conclusions make sense to me.

    E. Pluribus Unum and Ad Mare Usque Ad Mare.

    I appreciate your comment post more than I can say! Your remarks about natural leaders emerging give me feedback – what I want to see come from natural leaders, is that their perspective (contribution to the well being of the group) includes a perpetual inclination to “make room for the contributory wisdom of any group member, and also seeks to draw ideas and wisdom from other members”. Your description implies a level of personal thoughtful modesty in this leader that I have certainly witnessed, but not in “politics” as we know it! — My thoughts on our representative democracy vs direct democracy is that ‘consensus models’ can nevertheless be used by citizen community groups to explore what is needed and wanted by the community, with conclusions and proposals then presented to elected representatives. — As you can imagine, I have more to say on both these, your input has sparked “more thinking”! — As to “when” we will begin to show our more “advanced”, our “more deeply enlightened,” selves to ourselves, I have to agree, not likely in our life-times in such a way that it “drives” larger political business. I confess however, that “imagining” the potential, the possibility, and some of the immediate shifts we could make to head that direction, is – for me – a ‘happy mental place’ to ‘abide’. (So when I am not momentarily annoyed and aggravated by impatience – sometimes deeply so – I “forget” how far we have to go “to get there”, and find some of my “proposals” “perfectly reasonable” — as if giving voice means “tomorrow we are there”, taking “tomorrow” almost literally!) Am keeping your informative and thought-sharing reply in mind, building thoughts, … imagining next posts to come from this, this week practical affairs may get in the way! My Best then, to you, and anyone catching this ‘aside’ exchange! –MA

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