October 12, 2008

Creating a Void, or Filling a Vacancy?

Justin Katz

I just caught a few moments of Beyond the Politics with Bill Bennett, and on a question pertaining to the government's tendency to usurp the powers of civil institutions, black leftist academic Cornel West argued that the two could enhance each other, "if its done right." What's needed to make the difference, according to West, is strong leadership.

The obvious conservative response is to note that definitions of strength and leadership are subjective. However, even those who believe that their own views will be reflected in the applied force of a pervasive government ought to pause for reflection and consider process. How does one implement a system that places just the right leadership in just the right position to conduct the government-society cooperative? Given human nature, I'd suggest that it can't be done.

One approach would be to give those currently in power the authority to reach deep into the culture to shape its progression and then push better leaders into position. Clearly, though, the more strength granted to incumbents, the more difficult it is to give that strength to somebody else.

Another approach would be to find the Great Leaders, bring them to power, and then unleash their fabulosity. The problem here is that the momentum of the intention would attract charlatans and invite corruption, tainting the future government from the start. Moreover, mortality and the gravity of concentrated power being what they are, the Golden Honeymoon will necessarily be temporary, leaving a pool of power available for the claiming.