Monday, August 21, 2017

The Amoral Leader


What does amoral leadership look like?

It's a pertinent question for anyone in a community.  Or a company.  Or a nation.  Because amorality, in a position of power and influence, does damage.

Morality is about purpose.  It requires an individual or group to be oriented to a particular end, one that exists outside of themselves.

That can be a beautiful thing, when a leader casts out a vision that transforms a community.  That kind of leadership created this nation.  Such visions took us to the moon.  Such dreams began the long, slow process of healing our racial divide.

But morality has a shadow side.

Nazis and Klansmen and Bolsheviks are "moral," in that they have a worldview and a vision.   That vision would move a group towards a particular end.  The dominance of the master race is a purpose.  Brutalized, sanitized conformity is an end.    Those ends are monstrous and demonic, but nonetheless "moral." 

But amoral individuals have no worldview, because they don't really see the world.  They stand in relation to nothing but themselves.  Nothing outside of them matters.   Their "morality" is recursive, solipsistic, and tautological...which is a fancy pants way of saying, simply: it's all about them.

That is not morality.  Morality requires orientation to an external reality.  If a self has nothing towards which it orients itself other than itself, it is a vortex, a collapsed star, in which no action has any meaning towards any end.

The amoral being serves only their own interest.  And having nothing to define their direction outside of that interest, there is nothing to give that self integrity.  They can be anything.  They will do anything.  It doesn't matter if they contradict themselves, because they have nothing that gives them cohesion.  No compass.  No anchor.  No rudder.  Not a single metaphor for coherence applies, because they have no meaningful connection to anything outside of themselves.

Nothing matters, other than sating their hungers and reactively following their impulses, and impressing their will on the subject and objects around them.

Such souls can be wildly self confident, full of bravado.  They can seem strong, because they are willing to do anything and violate any norm.  They can be amusing, because their incongruous actions surprise us, and nothing they do is predictable.  

But put such an individual in leadership, and whatever they are leading will begin to pull apart.  The foundations of stability and mutual trust that give any gathering of humans cohesion will shake.

A family will fray.  A community will be torn by conflict and misdirection.  A ship will founder adrift, whether at sea or traipsing shiny amongst the gorram stars.

And a nation?  What happens to a nation?

We appear to have decided to find out.

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