Psychological studies demonstrate that mankind is not suited for the concept of political leadership.
I just read an interview in psychologie Magazine nr.1 from 2016 (yes, its old…) with professor of evolutionary psychology at the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) in Amsterdam, Mark van Vugt. In that interview, Van Vugt revealed some conclusions from studies into leadership (both elected and leadership in general). I translated this quote from page 90 of the magazine:
Our brain has been formed in a time that leadership – then physical in nature – was primarily a physical matter. Bodily qualities (muscular strength, tallness, willingness to take risks, courage, et cetera) were important. But in our time, those qualities are demonstrably less important: most leaders work in offices and don’t have to impress or intimidate or directly compete. Instead they must take big decisions for large groups of people in complex environments. Yet, job-interview committees still have a prehistoric way of looking at their candidates and primarily choose tall, strong men that exhibit bravery, while the job really has other requirements.
Question: Did such mistakes not occur in prehistory?
It never happened that a stranger got to be in charge of a group of hunter-gatherers. Everyone knew the person they chose as leader through and through. Not only physical qualities but also his personality, because people continually lived among each other. Meaning that there was no possibility for deception. Nowadays, for lack of other information we still use rater superficial properties, such as tallness, charm and a letter of motivation.
One’s followers chose one to be their leader. Because one displayed good ideas and demonstrable qualities. Leadership arose bottom-up. In primordial times, there was no social inequality, there were no possesions, so not so much competition between people.
Psychology has long been based on a faulty image of man. We should more often ask ourselves: what is the evolutionary origin of our behaviour? What are the purpose and the mechanism behind it?
Elsewhere in the interview, he mentions studies that have demonstrated that greater equality leads to better results than authoritarian leadership. From which I draw the conclusion that political leadership (despotism) is undesirable : it’s better to have a society where millions people are not forced into a subservient role, due to a lack of political power, or political prowess (backstabbing, lying, cheating, deceiving)
That’s not the type of equality that socialists like Bernie Sanders, or Jesse Klaver (leader of GreenLeft, the cryptocommunist watermelons that are responsible for so much environmental damage) talk about, which in fact is the exact opposite.
In random order, I would like to summarise two further proofs of the undesirability of (political) leadership, the two Stans.
The first Stan:
Phil Zimbardo’s “Stanford prison experiment”
This study demonstrated that people can’t handle being in charge of other people, they’ll,end up tormenting their underlings.
This was dreadfully emphasized in Abu Ghraib prison.
The second Stan:
Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority” (“the electrocution study”)
This study demonstrated that people are unsuitable to being lead, being given orders, because they have the unfortunate tendency to follow them, even when the effects on innocent people are horrible: such distress that death is a real risk.