It’s not news that personal experience shapes powerful leaders, not news that it shapes each of us! In this post, I do not emphasize that personal experience shapes the power, although that too, is easily understood. (For writings on personal experience shaping each of us, beyond the political emphasis here, enter Adler in this Blogsite’s search box.)
What I mean by ‘Personal Experience Shapes Powerful Leaders” is that someone in a position of power, for whatever reasons, (is born into power, grows into power), can be drawn to deeply biased conclusions based on personal experience.
In turn, these biased, not fully rational, conclusions (of the person in a position power) can have huge impact on populations served by that person (those persons) wielding power.
With regards to all the high-powered, highly placed, brains that whir and click on our behalf, especially in matters of economics:
Stunning insight on “where these guys (mostly guys) are coming from” is found in the BBC documentary “The Trap“, 3 1-hr episodes.
Cold war “Game Theory” ‘escaped’ from ‘security concerns’ into domestic policies. It bled into theorizing supplied by the founder of Austrian economics, which was based in fear of communism, (with highly charged, personal, emotional, content – understandable, but not necessarily good for clear thinking).
The combination, boosted by additional psychology theorizing of R. D. Laing (theorizing which also ‘spilled beyond intended bounds’), caused an entire set of elite western leaders to believe they (our leaders) knew exactly what needed doing throughout the latter half of the 20th Century. From Thatcher, to her counterparts this side of the pond, the appeal of what was dubbed “trickle down economics” grew, in large part, from these influences.
The stunner revealed in the documentary is that ALL THREE key theorists developed their thinking from dramatic personal experience – well-rooted and powerful personal issues! What the theorists offered might certainly have had merit, but policy drawn from the blended “truths” was blind to accompanying “highly personalized world view” of theorists. Each of the three, quite frankly, significantly based his theories on incomplete, irrational, personal views of “truth of all humanity”.
Policy leaders of the time placed great faith (and, being human, likely biased) in the blend of theories. Doubtless other beliefs also fed into the mind-sets. We see the results in social and economic policies.
I do not try here to lay out details that would properly share with you what is learned in viewing the 3 episodes of “The Trap“. If I did, my post would run many pages. My goal is to spark your curiosity enough that you’ll view the set.
I’ve tried over time to fathom President Obama’s inconsistencies. I believe he genuinely wants to improve human experience. I suspect President Obama was at exactly the right age, of the right era, moved in the right circles, to be exposed to the ‘power and success’ of the mindset that developed. He’s not the only one of his era schooled in such beliefs by the same means.
All of us, not only Obama, now have (and live within) strong cultural flavors that include mis-trust and ‘cold’ calculations of how to manage human affairs. “The Trap” lays out historical sources of where this comes from.
Powerful leaders of our time have no special reason to be aware of the psychological power of “personalized world views” of post Cold-war theorists. Human culture has not yet brought “psychological literacy” into play as a tool to greater self-understanding (of human strengths and frailties.)
As far as awareness of psychology and social/economic policy goes, we remain at “blind leading blind” levels.
With subsequent bubbles, (‘success’ phases, before each popped), populations generally became less critical and more willing to believe these powerful “money managers” knew what they were doing. Experience biased general populations against asking necessary, critical, questions in similar ways that it biased our money managers, (although goals and aims might have differed).
Kool-aid for everyone!
We’re in a new place from ever before because of our unavoidable global needs and realities. One traditional voice much weakened is that of labor. Unions developed out of crying need – a need that certainly seems returning. This isn’t unique to the US. Our counterparts in every ‘industrialized nation’, and in China, India, and elsewhere, face similar need to gain voice in working conditions.
But, in our never-before world condition, we’ve got never-before factors. Hi-tech production compounds the problem – globally. (Not the same conditions as earlier times of industrial machine development – a major difference is that this time, there’s no raw land to move to, no ‘geographical frontier’ to absorb displaced peoples.)
We need to become informed on many fronts. We need to better realize how powerful personal experience shapes individual world view, and how world view shapes beliefs and expectation. Not for the sake of a “game” in which we “play analyist” on one another. Not so we can “score points” against one another. (One would need to ask – “Where does that come from!”) Not so we can find new reasons to fear one another!
We need to accept human psychological motivations as operative in each of us, including the most powerful among us. Consider it a “new enlightenment”, a new field of study, available to us.
The overall goal is an increasingly human world. It’s a time for vision – fed by questions and propositions from all of us. It’s time to ask: What does a humane world look like?
It’s time to do: those practices that will get us there.
Our vision of a humane world, and follow-up to accomplish,
may be our most promising ‘new frontier’.
My Best! –MaggieAnn