Years ago, political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote about the End of History. We all are converging to ‘the end’: liberal democracy, give or take. It would be inevitable.
Timothy Snyder , Professor of History at Yale, in his little and fabulous book ‘On Tyranny’, describes what he calls the politics of inevitability. Translation, paraphrasing here, all will settle at the end. Bumps on the road, yes, but the road to that kind of equalized democratic ground is fixed. Inevitable. And he warns us against that wishful thinking. The disruptions we see and the disruptors who govern, or try to, do not give us any comfort for that ‘all will be OK at the end’. In fact, he says that the Politics of Inevitability constitutes a fantastic alibi to do nothing and wait.
The Mar-O-Lago School of Deconstruction is so atrocious that surely all we have to do is to wait until the dust settles, perhaps somebody is impeached and the nightmare of crafted historical regression will end. It is inevitable. Well, Snyder would warn, don’t fool yourself and, please act as if it was actually evitable.
The spectacle of an entire country thinking that it gains control whilst giving away that control, has baffled many of us (other emotions not quoted here). Yes, Brexit is going, going, going.
Frankly, many days look like the description that Hungarian Marxist Gyorgy Lukacs made about the neo-Marxist School of Frankfurt: ‘they live in Grand Hotel Abyss, a retreat equipped with every comfort, on the edge of an abyss, of nothingness, of absurdity’. That was 1924, and the Hotel is still open and used by dignitaries who want their country either great again or simply ‘back’. However, I am told, the views from the cafeteria are tremendous.
Leadership 2017 version must fight those ‘politics of inevitability’, whether in the socio-political arena, or micro social of the organization. Leadership’s motto must be ‘everything is evitable’ so, we are agents of our future and we have an obligation to craft it. OK, death is the only thing on the way, but some people are working on that little problem.
But, otherwise, don’t sit down and wait for the inevitable settlement to sanity, common sense, solidarity and the rest. Sitting and waiting, being a bystander, is not on. Whether in the crafting of the future of a country, or in the steering of a future of a company, or the making of a community, nothing is inevitable. You’ll get what you make of it. Big or small.
Perhaps the key leadership lesson for the days ahead is that the old fashion sociological concept of Agency, our capacity to act, craft and shape destiny, needs to have a big upgrade. Start with education, carry on when in the payroll.