Followership Skills

I saw a discussion recently in a London law newsletter. Someone wanted to know why, in the British army, officers invariably were upper class / posh. Why were there not more working class officers? Some bloke unwisely ventured to suggest that that was because (in essence) “posh blokes were better at leadership“. You can imagine the ensuing pile-on in the comments section, as said bloke was trampled underfoot by a stampede of very high, and very woke, horses …

Remember that leaked Eton College entrance exam (aimed at 12 year olds) a few years back:

One of the questions therein read as follows:

The year is 2040. There have been riots in the streets of London after Britain has run out of petrol because of an oil crisis in the Middle East. Protesters have attacked public buildings. Several policemen have died. Consequently, the Government has deployed the Army to curb the protests. After two days the protests have been stopped but twenty-five protesters have been killed by the Army. You are the Prime Minister. Write the script for a speech to be broadcast to the nation in which you explain why employing the Army against violent protesters was the only option available to you and one which was both necessary and moral.

Cue much PC indignation from the social and tabloid media peanut galleries re the above question, but I was impressed by it. Obviously, I’d much prefer if all schools had access to comparable amounts of funding, but I couldn’t see much wrong with the exam paper per se. Requiring young people to think about leadership and ethical choices from an early age? Not providing neat, simple, patronising answers? What’s not to like? And, of course, making it appear natural that they could in fact be the PM …

It goes without saying that most working class people will never encounter a learning culture which is capable of respecting their potential to the extent demonstrated in that question.

Many kids in British state schools are seen as problems to be managed. The culture is sit down and shut up and suck it up. It produces, at best, narrowly competent bourgeois drones. Bit much to expect leadership qualities to appear by magic in someone who, from their earliest days, effectively has been trained merely in followership.

Nowadays of course, the rise in group-think / cancel culture means that people are ground down, not just by their education system, but also by their woke peer groups. Before you open your mouth, you need to check if your opinions are approved by the zealots.

Re the young zealots, Brooke Allen is a 60-something American academic. Writing in The Hudson Review, she noted the deleterious effects of the rise of woke group-think on young people in education:

Then I took a job teaching literature at a small liberal arts college. When I arrived there in early 2011 the place was wonderfully refreshing after Columbia. Instead of earnest pedants imbibing and regurgitating rigid doctrines, I found a campus full of open, intellectually curious, enthusiastic, charming young people. Everyone participated in class discussions; they all studied what they loved.

By 2015, it had completely changed. Students were restless, easily offended, whiny. They were also passive and helpless. Everyone, for reasons I couldn’t understand, was always accusing everyone else of being racist. (Some faculty members indulged in this activity too.) People became unreasonably prickly if you called them by the wrong gender pronoun. It seemed that every single one of the female students was a survivor of rape or sexual assault (very loosely defined). Many students claimed to suffer from PTSD, though so far as I knew, no one had been on a battlefield. Plenty of others complained of anxiety and seemed to think this was a sufficient reason to skip classes and written assignments.

The article is <here> – it’s worth reading. She joins the cultural dots between the likes of Foucault, Derrida and Lacan and today’s woke warriors – how the fashion for absolute ethical relativism facilitated, ironically, the new intolerance, and how it ushered in:

“... a left-wing moral community, rather than a purely academic one: an intellectual organ more interested in advocating a particular ought than attempting a detached assessment of is—an attitude we usually associate with churches, rather than universities.

Obviously, posh people are every bit as likely to be as crap at leadership as anybody else. However, and this is the key difference, from an early age, a posh bloke will have been imbued with the confidence to at least give it a good go. By contrast, someone ground down in a state school to “know his or her place” is far more likely to stay passive, and peevish.

This confluence of 2 disastrous influences – pedagogical didacticism and woke religiosity – creates a culture which is inimical to leadership and to rationality. Hence the continuing dominance of the upper classes, not only in the officer class, but throughout society in general.

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