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Oscar Avatare

Its the truth Im after, and the truth never harmed anyone. - Marcus Aurelius
Dwelling on the words of Marcus Aurelius and applying them to the propositions we
examined in class raises the question of how a consensus is created out of the disparate truths
we all hold. It seems that there is much more that divides us than unifies us, but leadership is the
process of bringing people together to resolve our issues instead of driving us apart to solve them
on our own. Examining the propositions, there is an underlying current to them that asks what
the role of facts is in all of them. It seems impossible to me to reflect upon these propositions and
answer them if we do not at least attempt to ascertain the legitimacy of the information that
drives our decisions, both as leaders and as a public. Therefore, my answer to these propositions
is that I buy that they are all necessary for good leadership, but that it is becoming more difficult
to be a good leader due to the myriad of information and disinformation that exists in our world.
Furthermore, the fact that the propositions all support democracy is an important fact as well that
must be analyzed. The role of schools in all these propositions is also a crucial one as well
because it is the petri dish where a thoughtful public can be formed through the guidance of the
educational system. Therefore, I will analyze Propositions 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 to see if I agree with
them and believe that they are necessary for good leadership. Overall, there is much to examine,
and the first and most important proposition is an ideal place to begin to examine the dynamics
of the persuaded audience versus the more thoughtful public.
In regards to the first part of the first proposition, I agree with it and I think that
leadership involves at its base the creation of a persuaded audience. Yet before we can begin to
discuss the differences between a persuaded audience and a more thoughtful public, we must
define the two to have a conceptual understanding of what each means and the context that it can
exist in. A more thoughtful public is characterized by individual analysis, a knowledge of its
opposition, a habit of respectful disagreement, the desire to seek out alternative information, and
aware of their rights and responsibilities. Because of its courage and accountability in nurturing a
civil society, it is impossible for a thoughtful public to exist in a despotic culture. If it did, it
would either mean the end of the state or a brutal crackdown. A persuaded audience is a more
elastic concept and can exist in both democratic civil cultures and despotic authoritarian cultures.
The hallmarks of a persuaded audience are that there is no outward skepticism towards
information, group analysis is rampant, and there is either propaganda or outright brainwashing.
Ultimately, an echo chamber is the natural result of a persuaded audience, either due to losing the
desire to be free or fear of reprisals for thinking independently. In both cases, there is the
possibility that either could turn into the other. A persuaded audience can become a more
thoughtful public, or vice versa. Yet there are limits to the transformations that can occur due to
the lack of a civil society present or the militarization of a society. To see how a persuaded
audience can be created, we can examine George Orwells essay Politics and the English
Language.
Throughout the essay, Orwell tries to demonstrate how both democracies and autocracies
use the same rhetorical flourishes to bamboozle their public into submission as a persuaded
audience. This is meant to simultaneously create a rhetorical veil between it and the actions that
it has undertaken and what has actually occurred. The division of speech and language from facts

is precisely what allows government to stay in power even when the people know what is going
on. It is a prerequisite of a persuaded audience to act in this manner. The manner through which
the leader does this is through euphemisms, jargon, and abstraction. Through in class
discussions, we came to the conclusion that the role of euphemisms is to hide the truth, whereas
the roles of jargon and abstraction create a barrier between the common man and politics to
either give him an enemy to hate or simple concepts wrapped in difficult words. This separation
of man from the parties and policies that lead him allow the rulers to better consolidate power
and take action. It also leads to a cycle of deterioration of language until it means nothing, at
which point anything can be done by the state. Of course, this is more likely in an authoritarian
country, but there is nothing to stop this from happening in a democracy. The Asian model
espoused by China and Singapore of course call to us, especially when examining the messiness
and inefficiency of democracy. In many ways, these autocratic societies actually exemplify and
implement the arguments made by Stewart Brand in the Clock of the Long Now. After all, most
of the time we are too shortsighted to carry out policy with any regard for actually analyzing its
effect in the long run. A modern example is Obamacare, and as was said in class, if you want to
ensure a project will look bad, push for the shortest possible time frame to evaluate it. Overall,
Orwells main point is that an indoctrinated, subservient person is the only one useful to the state
and that the very existence of the state depends upon this fact. The implications of this both in
civil and despotic culture are staggering as they suggest that for all our rhetoric, if we continue to
operate as a persuaded audience not that much separates us from being mindless slaves to the
state, if we arent already.
A more dystopian view of the persuaded audience can be seen through the argument that
the Grand Inquisitor creates in the Brothers Karamazov. He says that people cannot be trusted
with anything, and thus must be treated as slaves to a singularity of truth to promote societal
harmony and utilitarianism. Essentially, the argument he is making is that our world is one
gigantic tragedy of the commons, and that it is more efficient and easier to allow a small ruling
class to deal with difficult decisions than all of us. This is the perfect example of a persuaded
audience, enslaved by their ignorance and groomed to be subservient to the state. Yet in the same
manner, a leader can emerge to use the persuaded audience to easily come to power, just as the
Grand Inquisitor enslaves them to maintain power. This is seen in Julius Caesar, when Mark
Anthony whips up the crowd into a frenzy against those who assassinated Caesar. The creation of
drama, combined the manipulation of information and planting the idea to the crowd is what
makes it a striking example of the power of rhetoric and populism. But it is also a classic case of
a persuaded audience, where they worship the last man who appeals to them without analyzing
what was actually said.
The implication of all this is that a leader must have a persuaded audience behind him to
gain power or accomplish anything. In some cases a persuaded audience is a necessary evil to
enact a greater good, and in some cases it is a crime. However, in our quest towards a thoughtful
public, it is a necessary first step from both the viewpoint of societal development and social
contract theory. Yet undoubtedly a vanguard of the persuaded audience must be the ones that lead
the general persuaded audience forward towards being a thoughtful public. These must be the
leaders of society who take it upon themselves to cultivate a more thoughtful public. It is often
said we get the leaders we deserve, and the existence of a thoughtful public is a symbiotic
relationship between the leader and their followers.

The next part of the first proposition we must examine is the claim that leadership
involves creating and sustaining a more thoughtful public, a public capable of rising above
itself. Personally, I believe this as well and think that the crucial words that must be focused on
and identified are creating, sustaining, and rising. We have ascertained that a persuaded
audience is the necessity that underlies any leaders power, but to determine how they transform
into a thoughtful public is a more difficult matter. The readings about Enlightenment views on
education are the beginnings of a thoughtful public and how it begins to emerge. But the crucial
point here is that people must be taught more than knowledge. They must be taught how to think
critically, and this is a trait that the educational system of the 18th century and the 21st century
lack. Previously for nefarious reasons and now for economical purposes, we have much more
concern with imparting knowledge than wisdom. In fact, much of what constitutes a thoughtful
public must have a large part to do with the public itself. The Intellectual Life of the British
Working Classes is a perfect example of this, and is a quintessential example of a persuaded
audience taking the opportunity provided to transform into a more thoughtful public. Therefore,
using this as the template for a persuaded audience becoming a more thoughtful public, we can
analyze the effects of the creation, sustaining, and rising of a thoughtful public.
The way in which a thoughtful public is created is ultimately through the desire of the
public itself. We can force the masses to be persuaded, but we cannot force them to be
thoughtful. This is one of the main ways in which a civic culture and a despotic culture differ.
The civic culture has the underlying factors needed for a thoughtful public, whereas a despotic
culture only allows for a persuaded audience. Regardless, the creation of a thoughtful public is
by the desire of the public itself to be thoughtful. This is sustained through a school system and
people getting educated on their own to ensure that they can develop their own perspective on
art, culture, and literature. The intellectual in the ivory tower will sneer down upon the masses,
but the crucial point is that while a vanguard of the persuaded audience will lead the general
persuaded audience towards being a thoughtful public, it must be the public itself that creates this
environment and sustains it. The thoughtful public must also demand a level of rigor and
seriousness from its leaders. It must also be accompanied by a love of the press and the
institutions that make a nation a civic culture. You cannot have a thoughtful public while a leader
simultaneously undermines the very institutions that allow the public to be enlightened. This is
exactly the kind of half measure taken by Enlightenment rulers to educate their people instead of
enlighten them. In a civic culture, the press constitutes the frontline on which the thoughtful
public can make a stand against ignorance and corruption. There is a reason that the press is
considered to be the Fourth Estate, and beyond voting it is the best place where people can make
their voice heard. However even this carries a certain danger, as too many viewpoints can
become an issue when counterfactual beliefs are held as the justification for certain viewpoints.
While this is a danger, in a free society we must accept this risk, as it is the price we pay for
creating the conditions for a public capable of rising above itself.
Ultimately, all these musings lead back to the issue of who educates whom. We have
gotten past the Enlightenment, where knowledge is a scarce and valuable resource, but we still
suffer from the same problem of being told from above how to think. Ultimately, in a more
thoughtful public the people must educate the leader instead of the leader educating the people.
When the leader is the source of the truth, we are a persuaded audience and risk slipping into a
less enlightened form of governance. Overall, the main difference between the persuaded

audience and the thoughtful public is that the persuaded audience has the freedom from
whereas the thoughtful public has the freedom to. This crucial distinction is what separates the
despotic culture from the civic culture. Freedom from in this case is giving up civic duties and
letting someone else do them, to the point where you have material abundance, but no freedom.
This is exactly what Tocqueville warned of when he referred to soft despotism in the United
States. Freedom to is the state in which a public takes on more responsibility in terms of
involvement in their society and community, at the expense of their own time and money, but
creates a better society by doing so. It requires a sacrifice by all, a kind of shared withdrawal
from the tragedy of the commons, to realize we are all in this together and should strive to make
the best of it. While not all persuaded audiences have the freedom from, all thoughtful publics
have the freedom to.
Overall, the cultivation of a more thoughtful public out of a persuaded audience is the
hallmark of a good leader, and is something we should demand of all of our leaders. However,
this is becoming more and more difficult as our world evolves. What was once the difficulty of
enlightening the population has now become the difficulty of convincing people that certain
things are indisputable. There is the difficulty of creating a thoughtful public where there are so
many conflicting sources of information. This proliferation and balkanization of media
essentially allows any viewpoint to be reaffirmed, regardless of how ludicrous or factually
incorrect it is. This doesnt even begin to take into consideration how our enemies use our free
press against us. Russian hacking, along with the fake news they put out and the web brigades
they sponsor have become an existential threat to our democracy and create conditions in which
the public doesnt know if certain news is real or not anymore. This undermining of our
democracy is dangerous and the fact that it is perpetuated through the press is an example of how
the spread of media isnt necessarily the ideal thing in a civic culture. There is also the direct
correlation of declining trust in media and increased polarization in our political system. This
should be no surprise, considering that the most politically engaged are ideological extremists,
and thus most likely to be involved in the primary process in politics. This absolutely destroys
cooperation in government, as this can easily lead a centrist to be defeated in a primary, and
destroys any incentives to compromise in government. The increasing distrust in media also
leads to absurd claims that cant be disproved by the media, because people dont trust them. It is
exactly the vicious cycle that Orwell warned about in his essay, and all this leads to a lack of
trust in the news, and more fatally for a more thoughtful public, a lack of engagement with
people from different viewpoints to discuss the news.
The implications of this are to call for an enlightened aristocracy that knows best, and
thus will make the most utilitarian and thoughtful decisions for us. However, people cannot be
told what is best for them. While the Platonic idea of a golden philosopher king is a nice image,
in a democracy, the arrogance of the establishment can easily lead to a populist backlash like we
are facing now. Populism lives on a persuaded audience, which is why facts and the truth are so
important. We can combat this issue by having schools implement Orwells ideas of saying what
you actually mean to fight the decay of proper English and good writing. The tragedy here is that
platitudes have substituted themselves in the place of actual writing and thinking. Also, in the
United States we do not push children enough in school, and then we wonder why we dont do
well compared educationally to other countries. We think that blindly marching along and
throwing money at our education system will solve a problem that is better characterized by our

anti-intellectualism, our indifference to knowledge, and the idea that my ignorance is as good as
your knowledge. Ultimately, as we said in class, education can solve a lack of knowledge, but
there is next to nothing that can be done about a genuine lack of will. Within the media, there is
the issue that our news has devolved to the level of entertainment. Policy is overshadowed by
personally, and people do not have the interest to actually vet their ironclad views that they hold
so dearly. Interestingly enough, this is measurable in the level of sophistication of the rhetoric
used at Presidential debates. In the 1960 debate between Kennedy and Nixon, the rhetoric used
was at a high school level, whereas in the 2016 debates it was at a grade school level. We often
like to say that we are different from our political leaders, yet like it or not they reflect us. We are
playing down to the lowest common denominator instead of raising ourselves up, which is the
definition of being in a persuaded audience instead of a more thoughtful public.
The next proposition I will examine is the third one, which claims that distinctions must
be made in the leadership functions of initiating, sustaining, and recovering and reconstituting. I
buy this proposition as well, and that is especially important for a leader to understand the stage
he is in to tailor his leadership to suit it. The leadership function of initiating is distinct from
sustaining or recovering and reconstituting because it emphasizes the beginning of something. At
its core, it is the process of creating the conditions necessary to create an environment or an
attitude. For the purposes of this course, this is the 12 conditions necessary to have a democracy.
Yet out of all of these, one stands out as being the bedrock upon which all the other conditions
exist upon. This is trust, and I believe that to initiate a civic society, a leader must build up trust
in both themselves and the institutions they are trying to build up. The other conditions like
exchange and respect are a natural outgrowth from trust and represent its power. While these are
all good and necessary to create a civic society, a different kind of initiation must take place
when one is about to embark on a crusade to change society. A good example of this is in
Revolutions Revisited, when Lincolns efforts against popular sovereignty were highlighted.
Even before Lincoln got started, he had to define what his objectives and strategies would be,
and how he would persuade others to buy into his program to convince his audience that the
spread of slavery was fundamentally wrong. The argument from definition made by Lincoln was
that he tied the anti-slavery movement to the morals of our Founding Fathers. Through this,
Lincoln was able to portray opposition to slavery through the morals and mythology that we
created around the Founding Fathers, allowing him to take the impetus off his own actions. By
claiming to be the heir to their legacy, he lessened his trouble of initiating easily since he was
able to piggyback off much of them. This also allowed Lincoln to initiate change as a
conservative action, which allowed him to rhetorically downplay the enormity of what he was
doing. What he was doing was dishonest and historical revisionism in many cases, but greater
good had to outweigh these considerations in his mind.
No matter how noble a goal is when it is initiated, it must be sustained for it to have any
long term impact. Arguably, this is where the Republican Party failed in Reconstruction, because
they werent able to sustain what Lincoln had started. What this also means is that Lincoln
wasnt able to create a thoughtful public that had fully embraced his philosophy as their own.
Thus, we have the classic example of the leader teaching the public, revealing a persuaded
audience. Therefore, we must look to ways and explains where we can sustain. One simple short
term way to sustain is simply through brute force and repression. We see this in Orwells
Shooting an Elephant tale, where the British police are the vanguard of the empire. Through

Orwells actions, he is able to sustain the faade of the regime, but simultaneously his actions
shows how hollow it is. A more thorough example of sustaining can be seen in the Clock of the
Long Now. Brand lays out several concepts, all of which pertain to sustaining, especially in the
long run. He advocates thinking on a ten thousand year scale, along with taking the long view in
terms of time by looking at it in a shared manner. He also emphasizes the relative importance of
the building blocks of our world and how we cannot begin to confuse them. Finally, he talks
about our lack of overarching knowledge and an inability to connect the dots. However, in terms
of sustaining, I thought the best concept he explained was the idea of the infinite game. He says
it has malleable rules for the purpose of continuing the game, while a finite game is played for
the purpose of winning and has fixed rules. Ultimately, finite games focus on how they end,
whereas infinite games focus on how they continue. This mindset is essential for sustaining and
it differs from initiating, because our emphasis here is on the future, not on the past. It is also
different from initiating because it calls for the status quo, whereas initiating wants to change the
status quo. Both of these concepts are difficult to do, but pale in comparison to the difficulties
posed by recovery and reconstitution.
With all these templates for initiating and sustaining, it must be easy to think that we will
never have to. In fact, it is human nature to not address pressing issues until they are a necessity
to solve. However, it is an inevitability that we will have to recover and reconstitute when the
organization or regime falls apart. This means that we will have this occurring between
individuals, groups, and individuals within groups. There will be a different dynamic between
each of these entities, but ultimately recovering and reconstituting represents multiple levels of
an idea. The idea is to repair what was once there or at least achieve a deal where a functional
relationship exists for the good of both parties. To me, an ideal path would be where to recover
would be to solve the issue, to reconcile would be to forgive, and to reconstitute would be to
reestablish what once was in a better state. The conditions for this to occur are different
depending on the size of the recover and reconstitution that is undertaken. Yet no matter what,
the first step must be to apologize, which is where the ability to form a relationship anew begins,
and where any path to reconciliation begins. This creates the situation where people must
simultaneously acknowledge the past while not getting bogged down in it, whilst allowing
people to honor the past while transcending it for the greater good. For individuals, this requires
the awareness of an issue along with an openness to actually resolve it. This is what brings
people together to actually solve the issue at hand. In addition, we must create conditions in
which we refuse to lie to ourselves, see the world in a big picture, insist on seeking the truth, and
put resources towards actually solving the issue. These are the bare minimum that must be
achieved between individuals, and is since all groups are made of individuals, is also what is
necessary in groups. For groups, some good examples of recovery and reconstitution are
provided in The Language of Leadership where nonlethal coexistence and democratic reciprocity
are examined. Nonlethal coexistence is reconciliation that occurs when basic rights are upheld
and killing is stopped. Democratic reciprocity is where all voices have a say in the future of the
country. While these arrangements require all the bare minimums for individuals that is
necessary for recovery and reconstitution, they also require an understanding of the past, unity,
the reestablishment of a functional relationship, public deliberation within an open forum, and
perceived equality. Also, for groups it requires the allocation of resources and sustainable
solutions since the purpose of the recovery and reconstitution is to revive a function, and not
necessarily a relationship. Ultimately, looking back on whatever has occurred, the breakdown of

trust is always the hardest to rebuild. Yet this is where we can appreciate the power of a free
society where rebuilding trust is even possible. It is impossible to imagine in Stalinist Russia or
modern day North Korea for any sort of any sort of reconciliation to occur, and the people there
suffer even more due to it, being unable to achieve any form of catharsis. Therefore, if we
understand that civil society is what allows for recovery and reconstitution, then we must
understand that as leaders in a civil society we have a greater obligation to pursue reconciliation
and reconstitution because we have a greater ability to do so. While a civil society inherently
mitigates negative aspects of human nature which authoritarian societies use for control, that
doesnt mean we are absolved of the duty to recovery and reconstitute as efficiently as possible.
Within all of this, we must also grapple with the issue of the issue of forgiveness and in
what circumstances is it necessary. Since forgiveness lies with the victim, it is separate from
recovery and reconstitution, because it is individual. Additionally, it goes beyond a settlement, as
it is emotional, and has nothing to do with the framework that is created to resolve the problem at
hand. While forgiveness is individual, it and its counterpart guilt can occur on a national level,
perpetuating itself through society for decades like with German collective guilt. With this in
mind, we must consider how we ourselves here reconcile ourselves with the past in school. I
always remember learning about the Civil Rights movement as a grade schooler and I realize
now how important that was in giving me understanding of the issue, and the importance of
sustaining the progress we have made. Pedagogically, I feel that this was a great accomplishment
and we should strive to do the same with other events from our shared history that do not reflect
the way in which we act out our values nowadays.
The next proposition I will examine is the fourth one, which states that good leadership
involves ethical and effective information seeking. On this point I have to disagree, purely
because of the fact that I do not think the information has to be gathered in an ethical way. It is
preferable to gather information in an ethical manner, but if there isnt another effective means to
do so, then I think it is acceptable to abandon it in certain situations. In these kinds of
circumstances, the greater good is what matters, and that the ways of gathering information
provided by Machiavelli and Lord Chesterfield are certainly effective, but wildly unethical. I
think this is a case where we can diverge from the Philoctetes example of initially being immoral
to later be moral because these are entirely different circumstances. The Philoctetes example is
one where an immoral action must be the prerequisite to a moral action, whereas here I am
claiming that information can be gathered immorally to lead to a moral action. The difference is
in the degree of the action being carried out. Machiavelli and Chesterfield both advise to create a
persona around oneself when gathering information, and that while this is unethical, it ultimately
successful. If we look at this from the perspective of how an argument is made, then it is simply
a matter of persuasion how the information is acquired. Unethical shouldnt be taken to mean by
force or blackmail here, but simply a means of acquiring information that one wouldnt be able
to get without some skullduggery. Besides, a leader must be realistic about what goes on around
him. Most others will probably be operating in a duplicitous manner, and if they arent, your
gains from doing so only increase. While Machiavelli and Chesterfield both advocate for
underhanded ways of gaining knowledge, they do so in a way that allows for nuance and
applicability in a range of circumstances. Chesterfields advice is for the ambitious man in a den
of lions, who must strive to always create a perception of ignorance, while simultaneously
always fishing for information that he can use against his competition. In this case, the

assumption is that one is operating in the same social level, and that any information gained
gives the person an upper hand as either blackmail or a trading chip for more information. It
allows for the person to avoid being a target in this kind of environment, and allows him to
operate in a path with less resistance. Machiavellis advice is tailored towards the man in power
and essentially gives a manual on paranoia and fear. It says to trust no one outside of a small
circle of advisors and to rule through fear. Machiavellis biggest fear is that with too much
information, the leader will be paralyzed and subject to indecisiveness and timidity. Beyond
acting unethically, there is another cost to gathering information, which is becoming path
dependent or drawn into a social exchange of information. What this means is that with a
relationship based on exchanging information, you are tying yourself to the information you
provide or are provided. Becoming path dependent is the issue that is it leads to further
information and actions that cannot be undone. This is seen in Shooting an Elephant and is also
seen in Philoctetes, where an initial action is the catalyst that will lead to further actions. Overall,
no matter how and why you gather your information and even what you end up doing, it will be
irrelevant if you are unable to persuade others to do what you want.
Now that the leader has gotten information, they must be able to convey to those around
them the necessity of acting upon that information. This constitutes knowledge of what it takes to
persuade others of what must be done, ideally creating a more thoughtful public through this, and
knowledge of how an audience will respond. I absolutely buy this as being vital to leadership,
and it involves an understanding of what rhetoric to use where and how to actually persuade
others. This ties in with charisma, which is one of the most important traits that a leader can
have. Yet before a leader can persuade, he must understand his audience. This understanding of
the audience will prelude the type of argument that the leader will make to the people. These
include arguments from definition, consequence, circumstance, and similitude. An argument is to
be made to a thoughtful public, who understand the inviolable nature of something that isnt to
be altered. An argument from similitude is to be made to an audience striving to be greater,
comparing themselves to an ideal that they havent yet reached. Finally, arguments from
consequence and circumstance are to be made to a persuaded audience, who will react to the
claims made with deference and a lack of skepticism. Naturally, the type of argument will also
define the facts, issues, or innuendo that will be used to make the argument. Then there is the
issue of how these things will actually be talked about. This boils down to the four main
elements of terminology, syntax, euphemisms, and tone and delivery. The main difference in how
these elements are used depends upon the public that is being spoken to. I cannot imagine that a
more thoughtful public would enjoy rhetoric devoid of any terminology pertinent to the situation
and meant to inflame tensions instead of fix problems. However, this is the work of populism,
which lives on a persuaded audience carrying Caesar to power on their shoulders backed by
shoddy and irreverent rhetoric. A more thoughtful public would never accept rhetoric with no
substance behind it, and in a democracy would eliminate the danger immediately. Next, there are
the elements of syntax and euphemisms. These as well prey upon the persuaded audience, with
both of them simultaneously serving a crucial purpose. The syntax of a sentence allows the
audience to be bamboozled by jargon, and then a euphemism will serve as their cue to take
action. It plants the idea in the audiences mind of what must be done, too awful to proclaim
officially and too incriminating to the regime in plain language. Finally, there is tone and
delivery, which differ wildly depending on the group being spoken to. There is a time for
righteous indignation, for solemn sorrow, and for rallying the loyal forces. However, while all

these sentiments must be expressed by leaders in both a persuaded audience and a more
thoughtful public, the extremes of this will show when the audience is a persuaded one. It will
serve as the way that they can finally make their voice heard, roaring along with the leader as
platitude after platitude is spewed at them.
The knowledge of how people will respond to this simply depends upon the people being
spoken to, and if they are a persuaded audience or a more thoughtful public. There of course
must be other preparations taken before speaking to an audience, but this is the most important
one. To attempt to create a thoughtful public through the bully pulpit of leadership is a noble one,
and can most easily be done by encouraging people to have their own opinion on issues relevant
to them. If you are being persuaded, explain how you differ in viewpoints. If you are the
persuaded, offer some respite to people by explaining you understand their concerns and then
providing counterarguments against them. While this may be the right thing to do, it presents a
conundrum, especially when the alternative represents taking no action at all on your said views.
An example of this would be if the proponents of the Great Society under Lyndon Johnson had
honestly said how difficult making even a slight change would be, it probably wouldnt have
passed. However, if the alternative is no welfare state, then it forces us to consider the necessity
in certain cases of having an audience that understands the implications of exactly what is going
on around it. Again, this is an extreme case, but it is important to understand that in certain
circumstances, the greater good may outweigh the ethical considerations. Going back to how a
leader can create a thoughtful public, I believe it is a nice fantasy, but that in our modern world,
it is extremely difficult due to the degradation of the formal rules of civility that once governed
our public discourse. With the repealing or abolishment of the Fairness Doctrine, equal time rule,
and personal attack rule by the Federal Communications Commission, a media environment has
emerged where ad hominem attacks and innuendo have taken the place of the enlightened debate
that should take place in a thoughtful public. The Fairness Doctrine was meant to present
controversial issues in a fair and balanced manner, the equal time rule was meant to give US
media stations equal amounts of time to an opposing political candidate who requested it, and
personal attack rule mandated response time for an individual or group attacked within an issue
of public importance. These rules in place would do a great deal of good nowadays and would
allow for at least a semblance of debate to occur, instead of the one-sided echo chambers
dominating our news, leading to even more polarization and anger.
The fifth proposition focuses on leadership always having a political context, which
differs depending upon the regime, and the sixth proposition focuses on how leadership always
involves assumptions about human nature. I decided to combine my analysis and response of the
two propositions because I felt they were nigh inseparable and constituted two sides of the same
coin. Additionally, I agree with both the propositions in their entirely, and I feel that
acknowledging these truisms is necessary to truly understand how politics operates. Leadership
always does have a political context, because ultimately all organizations or groups have politics
involved. It is naive to assume that because there is no formal leader or organization that politics
simply disappears. In many ways, it becomes more nefarious, since there is an unspoken
agreement to avoid saying out loud that politics here even exists. In formal politics, there is at
least mechanisms for stopping some especially egregious violations done by someone, whereas
in personal politics, it can be a truly scorched earth battle. In a more formal manner, leadership
does always have a political nature, especially in our hyperpartisan world where everything is

immediately politicized. Yet depending upon the regime, there are stark differences in how the
political context differs.
In a civil society, there are norms that our determined based on the fundamental rights of
man. It means that we obey our laws because we understand that they wont violate our
fundamental rights and that we had an indirect part in making them. It also means that we are the
ones that educate our leader because we are a thoughtful public. This means that decisions are
made in accordance with a balance of interests and that improvements can be made because
people can express themselves politically and society can reform itself through open expression
and free elections. Additionally, a civic culture allows for the conditions for reconciliation and
the tensions of a free society to exist. These tensions are who educates whom, education versus
schooling, order versus freedom, restrains versus free will, and authoritarian versus the leader
accepting all public opinion. A civic culture takes the middle ground in all these issues, and thus
it must teeter between authoritarian and anarchy. However, for all the good a civic culture
represents, it can be undermined by delusion or materialistic irrelevance. Two classic novels
represent this perfectly, with delusion being represented in It Cant Happen Here and soft
despotism through materialistic irrelevance being represented in Tocquevilles Democracy in
America. Both represent the eloquently and darkly stated idea by John Adams that there never
was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
In a despotic culture, norms are created through fear and obedience. This provides the
basis of the why laws are obeyed and the fact that the leader educates the people. A despotic
culture dictates that decision making by one man or a junta, and that the population is merely a
passive element. This is compounded by any lack of tensions or conditions for reconciliation. In
a despotic culture, the leader educates, there is only schooling and no education, there is no
freedom but plenty of order, restrains are put upon all free will, and the leader accepts no public
opinion. This is all held in place by fear. Fear of 9 grams in the back of your skull, fear of
disappearing in the middle of the night, and fear of having to sign a confession of being a foreign
agent. Yet there is a certain mystique to this as shown by the Grand Inquisitor. The freedom from
making decisions and obeying mindlessly is a tempting one, but must be unequivocally rejected
as it represents a fundamental decay of what it means to be a human being.
These juxtapositions reveal the main differences between a civil culture and a despotic
culture. These are passive acceptance versus outward skepticism, silence versus outspoken
criticism, and compliance versus consent. Also in despotism, legitimacy and the freedom of
information doesnt need to exist due to force, whereas a civic society depends on these to exist.
There is also the quote by Aron which says that for freedom to be authentic, men must have a
certain taste for it. What this means is that to become a more thoughtful public, a persuaded
audience must actually desire to become so. It also warns of the dangers of letting freedom
decay, both from external threats, and more dangerously, from internal threats.
Therefore, having examined all of this, for us to live in a civil culture we must have our
schools be a place where we are taught to think critically, as opposed to teaching people how to
follow rules. The role of schools is that they are places where people can learn their moral and
intellectual responsibilities for creating the conditions to live and work in democracy. They are
the institution in which a more thoughtful public begins to be fostered. The media also has a role

here as well to be free and fair, and also correct in the stories that it propagates. This is a massive
burden to place upon our institutions, but a necessary one if we are to remain a civil culture.
The sixth and final proposition says that to be a leader, one must make assumptions about
human nature. The difficult part here is that human nature means that it is easy to create a
persuaded audience, but difficult to create a more thoughtful public. Therefore, a leader must
make assumptions about human nature ranging from the information they gather to how they
speak. Machiavelli and Chesterfield both teach us that human nature at its core is extremely
selfish and vain, desiring attention and validation at all costs, and above else being grandiosely
ambitious. The Grand Inquisitor teaches us that people do not know what is best for them, and
that they must be told what to do because humanity will ruin even the best situation. However,
we must reject these viewpoints if we are to ever create a more thoughtful public. We must view
humanity in a positive light, looking for the best in everyone and making our institutions the best
possible reflection of us. After all in the end a leader may be the catalyst for a civil society, but
institutions are what will sustain the civil society that the leader has begun to create. But in
diagnosing our inability to reach the stage of being a more thoughtful public, we must be careful
to distinguish between what the root of our problem is. If the root of our problem is ignorance,
we can fix it through education and schooling, whereas if the root of our problem is will, then we
will need to build a myriad of powerful and durable institutions to be able to create and preserve
and civil society. Within schools, we can try to solve this problem by educating our people and
teaching them to take the long view on issues. While it is a small change in perspective, it has a
massive payoff by encouraging people to look beyond themselves in creating a better planet.
Within the media, we must demand the same, with a rigorous examination of issues on their long
term merit, not their short term marketability.
In the end, as a democratic society, we get the leaders and the leadership we deserve. We
have the awesome power of deciding exactly how thorough we will be in examining our leaders
and our institutions. We can decide if want to create a more thoughtful public or be a persuaded
audience. We have the choice within our power, and that is what gives me hope for the future. All
six of the propositions examined provide the basis for the creation for a more thoughtful public,
and they are all within our reach if we simply made the decision to achieve them. Ultimately,
there is no final victory, there are no final answers, yet we can and must strive to find a common
moral and political ground to create a better world. Schools are the best place we can do this,
with them serving as the temple of democracy to create generations of people that respect, love,
and cherish our freedom, while doing the utmost to improve society by being a more thoughtful
public. Since expanded knowledge means increased responsibility and decreased certainty we
must be more willing to question ourselves and to ultimately be wrong. We must humble
ourselves to the viewpoints of others so we can truly understand them from a point of empathy
instead of a point of arrogance. Above all, we must believe in one another and have faith in
humanity. My favorite idea from this course was from the Epilogue of Romances with Schools.
In the section about The Difference between Possible and Probable, you explained that we
should temper our expectations to achieve what is probable instead of possible. I agree with this
and I believe that we must do what is probable, but always dream in what is possible, striving for
the better society that will eventually come to fruition.
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