Mar 30 2018

Two Quotations on the Language of Leadership

London - Georgian Apartments

Two Quotations on the Language of Leadership

Just two quotations today, two to compare and comport and contrast within everything else that has been read and seen and consumed online. The first is from Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951):

Charlatanism of some degree is indispensable to effective leadership. There can be no mass movement without some deliberate misrepresentation of facts. No solid, tangible advantage can hold a following and make it zealous and loyal unto death. The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist. [1]

But compare the “shrewd realism” of George Woodcock (1912-1995)’s Mohandas Gandhi (1971):

Most Indians (whatever their caste or religious background) agree on Gandhi’s shrewd realism….

As Gandhi once remarked, in this life the ideal is never achieved. And those who seek to realize the ideal die either in the loneliness of unfulfillment or in the solitude of having betrayed the ideal of grand illusion of fulfillment. The latter fate was Lenin’s and Nehru’s; it awaits Mao Tsetung and Castro. The other fate, of dying alone, unfulfilled but essentially uncorrupted, was that of Kropotkin and Che Guevara and Zapata; it was also, despite all this triumphs, that of Gandhi. His successes were immense if one judges them by the goals of the majority of men; judged by his aspirations, he failed, yet his failure was a sign of the magnitude of his vision.[2]



[1] Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), (New York: Harper & Row, 1966) §91, p. 107.

[2] George Woodcock, Mohandas Gandhi, (New York: Viking, 1971) 9, 49.