Respect for the top job?

Many of my scifi ebooks look at the question, how do people respond to the group, i.e. following fashion, or responding to conditions imposed by governments, or worse still, by religions? In the first novel of my “First Contact” trilogy, a party of five had found that aliens expected humanity to behave better before it thought about going to other star systems. In my second novel, Dreams Defiled, four of them set out to accomplish difficult tasks. The objective of two was to make things fairer for all citizens, of one to manage the greatest engineering feat of mankind, and of one to try to make the settlements on Mars more achievable. The fifth had only one dream: to be important, by any means possible.

The trilogy is really about for most the desire to comply with the group, for a few, the desire to be different, and for some, the desire to take advantage of everything they can, at the expense of all if necessary. The background is one of economic stagnation, where almost everyone works in a corporation because there are very few resources available for the general population, and because it is the political fashion to do so. There are those who do not, and the majority react badly to them. The story revolves about people who have great ability, but who will be subverted by lesser people, and also of how corruption and lack of attention to maintaining solid moral and ethical values amplifies the evil in weak people. Part of the story involves the tendency of the group of people to pick on those who are not part of the group fashion, and those who would betray anyone for money. Also, the story required the most evil person I could manage to create for the third book in the trilogy.

When I published this, it was with a little tongue in cheek. The mindlessness could not happen. If people stepped too far out of line, public opinion would bring them back into line. There is nothing wrong with opposing government actions, and indeed countries following the British parliamentary system have what is called “the loyal opposition”. The idea is, those who lost the last election have the task of keeping the winners honest, and producing arguments to show the flaws in the policies of the winners. It may not always end up quite so “pure”, but in general, that is supposedly what they do. But surely deliberate subversion is out? We may not agree with the top men (or women) but surely we accept they are there.

Unfortunately, it seems to happen, albeit on a much smaller scale. Recall the birthing issue with President Obama? Let us suppose this was truly an issue, what is the correct way to go about dealing with it? In my opinion, simply provide evidence that there was a problem. Fair enough to raise the issue, but without evidence, it cannot go further. And surely, there would be many others who had looked at this first. Then look at President Obama’s record, including what seems to be referred to as Obamacare. This was a policy announced as a candidate, so when he won the election, surely he was required to carry out such a policy. The people had voted for him, hence they voted for his announced policy. Is that not what the electoral system is supposed to mean? Should not those who lose accept it, at least until the next election?

The real question may be, why does the man at the top polarize opinion so much? Is it because we place too much emphasis on the person at the top? In business, do you really think the man at the top actually does what makes the business work? Or is it all the underlings? While there is the occasional great person at the top, most of the leaders I have met are depressingly ordinary, and have got there largely because they have one big ability: the ability to gest to the top.

The theme, if you like, is the place of the individual with respect to the greater group. Everyone cannot be President, which raises the question, why is doing the best you can be a lesser role? Perhaps one of the most admirable examples was that of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Without Agrippa, Augustus would have been nothing, because Agrippa was the man who won his battles, and he was the person who got things done. When another aqueduct was needed, Agrippa arranged for its construction. And Agrippa was always in the background, leaving Augustus to take the credit. The point is, this did not matter to Agrippa. Governments need more people like this.

Why raise this now? Dreams Defiled will be on an Amazon countdown discount as from September 11, so now seemed to be the time ☺

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3 thoughts on “Respect for the top job?

  1. Some have said Agrippa’s repute was artificially built by a later historian who had a vested interest in doing so. The “representative democracy” we now have is neither “representative”, nor a “democracy”. It is just plutocracy, and Oblabla care is just that: when that great middleman will leave the stage, health care cost, already up 4.7% last year, will boom up. .

    • I agree we don’t have democracy; my view is we have the “Republic” form of government, where every one gets placed into a group and then exercises one vote. Unfortunately, they have to waste it on a politician. The reason you have a plutocracy is that so much money is spent by the politicians on getting elected, and that money has to come from somewhere. Guess where, and guess who benefits.

      However, I stand by may assessment of Agrippa. It is true we have to rely to some extent on records, but note the record of where Augustus was at Actium (immobilised!) and not the number of constructions with Agrippa’s name still etched in stone. He could never have done that unless it was warranted by what he did. My view, anyway.

      • Please have a look at my essay on (quantum) reality, a few days ago… BTW, “Res Publica” does not have the connotation usually given (I studied Latin as second language).

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