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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Intellect and leaders


Tennyson Joseph, [email protected]

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Intellect and leaders

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WHEN DONALD TRUMP first offered himself as a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America, one of the major questions which he faced was the issue of his lack of political experience.

His election, however, coincided with a moment in which the common man’s suspicion towards intellectualism in formal leadership was at its highest.

Thus, Trump’s ignorance was transformed from vice to virtue, and inexperience (not being a Washington insider) was offered as one of his strongest assets.

The underclass suspicion of the “establishment” is currently manifested in the United States in both objective and subjective ways.

The young and educated globetrotting world citizens are seen as beneficiaries of a new world of globalisation, which has left behind the traditional factory worker who is unable to survive within new modes of production.

Such a citizen refuses to accept the death of the post-1945 world in which America was truly great. The liberal media, the left intelligentsia, and those like Obama whose goal was to integrate into, rather than deny this new world, become the enemy.

When an old order collapses, it is often the most marginalised groups who long most for its return. Slaves often express anxiety over their post-slavery world.

This explains why a private jet-owning billionaire can be seen as a poor man’s saviour. The main features that qualified him as being outside the “establishment” were the fact that he had never held public office and his overt intellectual simplicity.

Indeed, while he may qualify as being “tech-savvy” and “modern” given his use of social media, it should be observed that his use of the new technologies does not separate him intellectually from the “uninformed”.

His reliance on Internet fake news, his penchant for arriving at the simplest conclusions, his downplaying of a call from Taiwan as just another phone call when he was the first US President to communicate with a Taiwanese leader since 1979, his inability to show magnanimity to persons who have caused him offence, and his failure to accept that the weight of public office demands a new personality, belie a crude simplicity that is commonplace with the uneducated.

Linked to this is the myth that his business success qualifies him for leadership, and that foreign and domestic policy is a series of business deals. Indeed, millennia ago, Greek philosopher Plato had warned against “producers” aspiring to govern.

It is therefore shockingly unbelievable that uninformed populations, who now have the power of the vote and the Internet, will delude themselves into thinking that lack of political knowledge can qualify one for political leadership.

The fact of the matter is no matter how hostile the “common man” may be towards education, it is simply impossible to govern without it. Indeed, the antics of the president-elect are already showing this to be true.

•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: [email protected]

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