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