The Art of Listening in the Age of BLM
I’m not a protestor. I’ve never even found great use in the art of protesting. Yet this year something changed, and everyone around me simultaneously became protestors, outside my house on the streets and inside my house, across social media. The cries of Black Lives Matter became more powerful as each new voice joined in and black people were killed across the country. I can recognize injustice when I see it, and soon images and stories of injustice flooded my life. One particular case, that of Ahmaud Arbery, was so chilling to me I was possessed to do a sketch of Mr. Arbery that, despite my lack of drawing prowess, I hoped could honor him in some way.
Within this mountain of justified activism and anger, there I was: a white, confused, and frustrated kid living in the small Californian town of Redwood City. I was assaulted on all sides by ideals, messages, and rage that had no unifying voice or plan. In other words, I was directionless, in some ways like the movement itself. So, what did I do?
I went to the police.
The police have gone from a glorified, justice-providing organization that we see in cop shows to a persona of the evil doers, racists preying on those below them. This change in the way the police are perceived made me wonder what they thought of all this, and what they thought (if anything) they had to change. I had heard the protestors, I had heard the politicians, but I had never heard from the villains of 2020.
Please don’t misunderstand. You may find the current state of the police to be at best an imperfect system, and at worst racked with racism and responsible for unwarranted deaths. Yet no matter where your beliefs lie, I still believe we should value discourse. Even if you don’t like the police, the police still have a valuable perspective on what can be improved. After all, how can an organization be improved if you don’t want to hear what that organization’s mindset is, or even if that organization has one unified mindset?
So, seeking out the Police perspective, I managed to organize an interview with the Redwood City Chief of Police Dan Mulholland. We had a long conversation, and though I wish I could share it all, I will have to summarize what I feel are the most interesting parts. First of all, I asked Chief Mulholland what he believed the role of Police was?
He believed that the Police’s role is to enforce laws while operating within certain parameters, to support communities, and to serve the state. In terms of community trust, Mulholland said it best: “If we don’t do that in a professional way, if we don’t do that in an appropriate way, if we don’t do that in an equal way, we do so at our own peril.” Chief Mulholland admits that many of the challenges police face are in many ways, as he said, “brought about by ourselves.” As Chief Mulholland puts it, it’s “Okay to question what we do.”
One thing that bothered me was the lack of national standards. While Chief Mulholland explained the long list of training and vetting processes that go into being a police officer in Redwood City, as well as in California, there is a lack of this nationwide. Some people aren’t given enough training to be successful police officers, while others simply shouldn’t be police officers and due to poor vetting practices were allowed onto the force. Chief Mulholland seemed to suggest that some stations, like the one in Redwood City, are being smeared due to other station’s organizational culture, lack of training, recruiting protocol and vetting process. Chief Mulholland believes that Police, despite the anger against them, are for the most part living up to their role.
When asked about reforms, Chief Mulholland believes that police should listen to their community to learn what they can do to reform policies and to continually assess their stations. Nevertheless, there are some things Chief Mulholland believes the police can work on before even going to the community, such as de-escalation training. Chief Mulholland said that his officers are now focusing on slowing down dangerous situations in order to create time and response space. Sometimes it’s not always possible if the other person won’t work with police to slow down the encounter. The process of de-escalation is a tactic that is constantly improved upon, and Chief Mulholland suggested that his station continues to seek out ways to make de-escalation more effective.
Chief Mulholland also notes that personality comes into play in stressful and dangerous encounters. Perhaps the officer has an animated personality, they’re loud, or they’re alarmed easily, but regardless it can actually have the unintended effect of escalating a dangerous situation. The police are now taught in training what traits are valuable for de-escalation. A calm personality in particular has the best chance of achieving the desired results. It should be noted that while Chief Mulholland talked about the effectiveness of de-escalation, he also pointed out that it doesn’t always work, nor is it always applied. For example, it’s becoming acceptable for police to simply leave a situation if their presence is escalating it and there is no immediate danger to civilians. Chief Mulholland mentioned the police are looking towards other options and resources to improve their de-escalation tactics, and hopefully this will lead to a more peaceful way of approaching dangerous situations.
He also focused on the people within his police station being representative of the community they serve, saying that 82% to 86% of the people he has promoted to the rank of sergeant were either women, POC, LGBTQ, or a combination of those three. He stressed good leadership, paired with training, fair policy, and consequences for not meeting standards are all important in fostering an environment for Police to do their jobs justly.
The final thing that was mentioned was the implementation of body cameras. The Redwood City Police Department have been working on a system for body cameras, and they’ve already achieved written policy and attained federal funding. Apparently, even the Federal Department of Justice looked at the program and thought they had a model policy. The only thing that appears to be left is to actually implement the program. Once the program is implemented, Chief Mulholland hopes that it will win back the community’s trust in the police. When matters are disputed, there will be video evidence available. While Chief Mulholland focused on how civilians may act differently on camera, I also hope that body cameras will serve as a way to ensure that both police and civilians are behaving fairly and ethically.
My discussion with Chief Mulholland proved more interesting than I had ever expected. He had far more to share than I had expected, but I suppose I should have set my expectations higher to begin with. Chief Mulholland has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, who has risen through the ranks to eventually become the Police Chief of an area with about 88,000 residents. Like many, he has a story and viewpoint worth sharing, but his seems forgotten. It’s extremely important to hear from POC voices, and listen to the stories they share. But at the same time, it’s also important to hear from everyone, so you can build a more complete understanding of any situation.
It’s difficult to try to find a voice or a story to share when you’re buried under thousands of others, all telling you what to or what not to believe. I’m a white kid. I haven’t dealt with racism, prejudice, or discrimination directly. But what I can do is find something to say, regardless of what I’ve experienced. Every voice is worth listening to whether you agree with it or not. I hope my fellow teenagers can learn the same thing I’ve learned during this long blur of a year: to find a voice, you have to listen first. We’re young, and at this point it’s almost impossible for us to have a grasp on complex social issues like race in America. The more I learn about anything, the more I realize that I know less and less. There are no easy solutions and there are no simple truths because there is no easy problem. I often hear my friends sharing strong opinions that offer a simplified view. The unfortunate truth is that no one may ever fully understand an issue as complex as police reform, discrimination, and social justice, but at the very least we can try. So where do we start? For me, the first step in understanding was to listen.
Intelligence: A Different Perspective
What’s the definition of intelligence? At first, this seems a pretty simple question; however, you’ll soon find yourself at a loss for words. The definition of intelligence from Merriam-Webster states intelligence is “the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations. The ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria.” This definition is not only vague but unsatisfying to me. The nature of intelligence has remained one of the most hotly debated topics in Psychology. It’s hard to find another word that is so common, yet so poorly understood. However, despite this confusion over intelligence, psychologists do have their own definition.
The definition of intelligence we find in psychology textbooks is the ability to learn, recognize problems, and then solve them (Myers, 2014). However, some Psychologists state that the final step of intelligence is to simply come up with a solution (Kendra, 2019). For now, let’s focus on the definition found in the textbooks: Learning, recognizing, and solving. Learning requires us to take information in and hold it in our memory. Recognizing problems needs us to be able to separate what’s working and not working. Solving problems deals with our ability to fix what we’ve identified to not work.
I tend to differ. I take a more practical view of intelligence. While I don’t disagree learning, recognition, and solving problems are a part of intelligence, I believes there’s other, equally important, sides of intelligence: Flexibility, Analysis and Action.
I’ve always believed that flexibility is a part of intelligence. An ability to remove bias from your own viewpoint and take in different viewpoints is a fundamental part of being intelligent in my mind. As Dr. Christopher Dwyer from Psychology Today points out, humans have many biases: confirmation bias, self-serving bias, and hindsight bias among others. Confirmation bias is where you stick to your own beliefs despite being presented with different evidence. Self-serving bias is where we attribute positive effects as due to our own actions and negative effects as the fault of someone or something else. Hindsight bias is where we evaluate past actions by considering knowledge we know now. Whilst these are far from the full amount of biases we have to deal with, they illustrate my point: an ability to be flexible in our thinking is something we should value more now than ever before.
Why is being flexible so valuable? Because we are confronted with biased language in all forms of media and day-to-day conversation that focuses more on opinions than data. Eliminating bias will help us wade through the opinions and allow us to focus on evaluating the argument. While it’s important to discard bias, that does not mean it’s an easy task. Therefore, I respect the intelligence of anyone who can remove their own bias and be flexible in their viewpoint. However, flexibility isn’t the only part of intelligence I value.
Analytics, like flexibility, seems to be lacking in our discussion of intelligence. An ability to not just consider, but analyze, without any bias, different viewpoints, information, and arguments is critical to being intelligent. You may be able to understand different viewpoints without bias, but can you analyze them? There’s a distinction here. To understand is simply to learn how something works. To analyze is to examine and question how something works. Analysis is much more active than understanding: analysis requires us to evaluate every part of a concept. Sometimes grasping a concept is the hard part. Other times, asking whether a concept works can represent a whole new challenge.
Analysis is also essential when talking about grey areas. People tend to prefer clear-cut answers: “it is good,” “this is bad,” “you can’t do this,” “this is a good decision,” or “it’s the right thing to do.” Sometimes the right answer simply isn’t perfect. More often still, the right answer isn’t clearly right. These often can be found in philosophy, debate, or politics. Should we cut taxes? Is social media bad? Should school uniforms be mandatory? The unfortunate situation is that we have many questions without a clear cut answer. In these classes and in life, we’ll soon be confronted with situations where both sides of an issue are plagued with problems. People can’t agree collectively what the correct choice is, but everyone is convinced that their choice is correct. The problem with consensus is that oftentimes, problems don’t have a “correct” answer. That’s why analytics are so important: it helps you to navigate through the grey.
We sometimes forget flexibility and analytics are core parts of intelligence, but there’s something that I believe we fail to even recognize as a part of intelligence: our actions. We tend to think of thinkers and doers as separate people. Yet I think this undervalues the fact that intelligence requires us to do something [even if to do something means a conscious decision to do nothing]. If we don’t do anything, what’s the point of having intelligence? When it comes to doing something, the definition of intelligence simply suggests the final step of intelligence is to come up with a solution (Cherry, 2019). This is where I differ from the common definition again, because I believe there are other steps beyond simply finding a solution. To do something requires problem solving, realistic goal setting, and focused effort. These are all things that we associate with intelligence. So, why wouldn’t action be considered an important part of intelligence?
We use our intelligence constantly; our abnormally high intelligence is what makes us unique as a species. Yet when it comes to defining intelligence, we seem to stutter. The definition is difficult because intelligence comprises many things. Traditionally, it comprises learning, recognition, and the ability to solve problems. However, I have suggested that in defining intelligence, we have forgotten about the practical ways intelligence shows itself: flexibility, analysis, and action.
Myers, David G. “Myers’ Psychology for AP.” Worth Publishers, 2014.
Choong Ching, Teo, “Types of Cognitive Biases You Need to Be Aware of As a Researcher,” UX Collective, September 27, 2019, https://uxdesign.cc/cognitive-biases-you-need-to-be-familiar-with-as-a-researcher-c482c9ee1d49 Last accessed February 12
Cherry, Kendra, “Theories of Intelligence in Psychology,” Verywell Mind, 8 October, 2019, https://www.verywellmind.com/theories-of-intelligence-2795035 Last accessed February 12
Dwyer, Christopher, “12 Common Biases That Affect How We Make Everyday Decisions,” Psychology Today, September 7, 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/thoughts-thinking/201809/12-common-biases-affect-how-we-make-everyday-decisions Last accessed February 12
“Intelligence,” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligence Last accessed February 12
The Character Types of Politics
By Dylan Norman
Whether we intend to or not, we divide people into categories. The “Us versus Them” mentality is a well-documented phenomena, and it’s been discovered by researchers from Yale and the University of North Carolina that fostering the “Us versus Them” mentality doesn’t require religion, political views, or race.(1) It seems our natural tendency is to divide, but what happens if we divide our leaders into categories, or in this case archetypes? Do the archetypes hold truths about leader’s success, or do these categories fail to predict a leader’s impact? I believe two archetypes in particular do hold predictive power: those of the “Thinker” and the “Revolutionary.” In this essay, I will describe the type of leaders these terms represent, the results, both short and long term, created by these leaders, the role of leadership decisions compared to the role of leadership ideologies, and finally why we should care about leadership styles at all.
SECTION ONE: Defining the “Thinker” and “Revolutionary.”
Firstly, it’s important to know what the “Thinker” and “Ethicist” archetypes refer to. I’ll start by defining the “Thinker” first. The thinker is characterized by their success through nonviolent means and idealogical, ethical appeals. The thinker archetype is exemplified best through two historical figures: Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Starting with Gandhi, it quickly becomes clear why he can be considered a “thinker.” During his earlier years, he dealt with racism and discrimination in South Africa, but rather than resorting to violent means, Gandhi flooded media and legislature with reasoned statements signed by his compatriots. With his rhetoric, Gandhi ensured the government, media, and legislature were always aware of not just his presence, but the broader issue of racism and mistreatment.(2) Through his efforts, Gandhi garnered recognition from British Newspapers such as the “Times of London.” An article from September of 1931 in “The Illustrated London News” helps us realize how large an impact Gandhi had made, since even “The Prime Minister called…for a short conversation with him(3)". With this international attention, when Gandhi led peaceful mass protests, the treatment of his fellow Indians resulted in a negative image of the South African government. Indians sacrificed their freedom by refusing to honor immoral laws, which eventually led to them facing imprisonment, flogging, and even shooting.
Though this ordeal, Gandhi had pioneered a new method of change: The Satyagraha, or “The Devotion to Truth".(2) This was a protest method that works by inviting rather than inflicting wrongs. The Satyagraha wasn’t just successful on moral grounds; it succeeded in legal grounds as well. The South African government was forced to respond, and negotiated a compromise.
Gandhi took the methods of Satyagraha back to India with him, and in the face of British mistreatment, become a major player in Indian politics. Through a drawn out struggle, Gandhi helped bring Independence to India. Notably, this was done from moral, rather than violent, grounds. As Encyclopedia Britannica points out, “His three major campaigns…were well designed to engender that process of self-doubt and questioning that was to undermine the moral defences of his adversaries."(2)
Nelson Mandela shares many traits with Gandhi, in that Mandela found his success when he fought his battles on moral grounds. Mandela’s story is another example of the “thinker” archetype. Nelson Mandela’s story started when he renounced his claim to be the chieftain of a tribe, and instead focused his career on being a lawyer and built support for nonviolent laws. However, he eventually switched to violent means for success after the banning of his political party, the African National Congress. He trained in guerrilla warfare, but he was later arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.(4)
During this period, Mandela was offered deals for freedom, but he refused, arguing that only free men can enter into agreements, and since he was in prison, he was not free. Mandela’s time in prison garnered international attention and criticism of Apartheid, meaning that Mandela’s first major success was through a nonviolent, ethical appeal.
After Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he became President of the African National Congress in 1991. He created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated human rights violations.(4) He also introduced reforms to improve the quality of life for black citizens, and after retirement, Mandela worked through the Nelson Mandela Foundation to be an advocate of peace and social justice. Finally, he also founded the Elders, which according to their website is an “independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice, and human rights.”(5) The Elders have members ranging from a UN Secretary-General, to Nobel Peace Laureates, to former presidents and Prime Ministers of the US, Norway, Ireland,
Finland, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Liberia. This impressive line-up of leaders works with an organisation that offer programmes related to health coverage, access to justice, refugees, climate change, and most importantly, ethical leadership. Mandela’s nonviolent, ethical legacy lives on through South Africa’s more integrated society, as well as the organisations he left behind.
Most important to remember of both Gandhi and Mandela is that these leaders gained success through nonviolent, ethical appeals. While Mandela did pursue violence at one point in his life, he only found major success through nonviolence. Nonviolence and ethics are the two defining characteristics of the “Thinker” archetype, but what about the “Revolutionary?”
The Revolutionary archetype is defined by use of violence as well as popular support, at least before they gained power. To gain a better understanding of what the archetype is, let’s examine two figures that serve as strong examples of revolutionaries: Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin.
Mao Zedong had popular support for his connection with and belief in peasants, and he believed revolutions would be successful if led by the working class.(6) As Patrick H. O’Neil, Karl Fields, and Don Share put it in the book “Essentials of Comparative Politics,” Mao’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “sought to organize the China’s nascent working class.” However, a rival party, known as the Nationalist party or Kuomintang, drove Mao and the CCP to the countryside in an event known as the long March. During the march, Mao and his followers dealt with large amounts of death and suffering. However, as the authors of “Essentials of Comparative Politics” argue, the march was “heroic” as well, and thus garnered peasant support for Mao.(6)
The march wasn’t completely composed of Civilians however. Mao’s PLA, or People’s Liberation Army, also suffered losses among their numbers. As Encyclopedia Britannica states, “Only a fraction of this force survived the Long March in retreat from the nationalists.”(7) However, when Japan launched an invasion of China, the CCP and the PLA successfully fought against the Japanese and were launched into power. As a result, success in wartime as well as popularity among middle and lower classes was what pushed Mao Zedong into power.
When Mao took office, his policies were to stifle critics and authority figures that didn’t share Mao’s beliefs. Mao called those who didn’t align with the Communist Party’s beliefs “imperialistic and domestic reactionaries.”(8) As a side note, my family have known academics who were forced to work in the fields of western China due to their academic position. I mention what Mao did in office because while the Revolutionary is defined by their use of violence and power gained in part due to popularity, it’s also important to be aware of what a Revolutionary might do when they get into power. Mao’s actions are similar to those of another “Revolutionary” archetype, Vladimir Lenin.
Before we move on from defining what a “Revolutionary” is, let’s examine one other case of Lenin. History.com’s article on Vladimir Lenin helps outline how Lenin rose to power. Lenin advocated for Russian revolution, but was exiled to Serbia after engaging in “Marxist” activities. However, when he was finally allowed to return to Russia, the Russian Revolution was already happening. Lenin’s Communist Party fought the White Army for control, and after Lenin gained power, he nationalized industry under economic policies dubbed “War Communism.” Due to nationalization, “industrial and agricultural output plummeted. An estimated 5 million Russians died of famine in 1921 and living standards across Russia plunged into abject poverty” according to History.com’s editors.(9)
This mass unrest was a threat to Lenin’s government, and therefore Lenin enlisted the support of the Cheka. The Cheka was an organization given the duty to “persecute and break-up all acts of counter-revolution and sabotage all over Russia, no matter their origin."(10) Lenin chose Felix Dzerzhinsky to run the Cheka who soon gained the nickname the “Iron Count.” Alpha History, an Australian Based group of worldwide authors, says that the Cheka killed approximately 12,000 people between 1918-20 according to official government figures; however, some historians believe that number was closer to 200,000.(10)
Both Lenin and Mao were key figures in revolutions, and both resorted to violent means. Both also gained some form of public support: Mao gained his from the lower and middle classes, while Lenin gained support from workers. Now that the concepts of “revolutionary” and “thinker” have been established, I will turn to analyzing data to see the effects of each archetype.
SECTION 2: Comparing and Contrasting the Archetypes
Do these archetypes matter? To answer this question, we must first take a look at the economic and social benefits brought by these leaders, and also determine whether these benefits were long or short term.
All of the leader’s mentioned had lasting impacts on their countries. Mao created the CCP and a new regime, and both remain central parts of Chinese politics to this day. Lenin has changed Russia’s regime by helping introduce communism into Russia, as well as “broken not merely the aristocrat and the landlord, but the systems in which their dominance was rooted,” according to the “New Statesman” magazine.(11) Gandhi helped free India from British Rule and bring India independence. Finally, Mandela achieved a multiracial voting system in South Africa and he also dismantled the system of Apartheid. Each of these leaders continue to impact their countries to this day, so this is why I am including statistics from the modern day in each of these countries.
The first data included will be GDP and GDP per capita in 2019. GDP will allow us to track how well a country is doing economically, while GDP per capita allows us to track the economic output and the standard of living of an individual person living in a country. The “*” symbol will refer to the approximate point at which each country lands on the graph below in the year 2019. Note the graph is for comparison purposes as the GDP experiences too much variance in amount between countries to graph accurately, so the exact values provided by the World Bank are listed in the table below the graph.(12)
This current data at first glance seems to suggest that leader’s archetype has no bearing on overall trend, but there are some things worth noting. Firstly, China, which has the highest GDP out of these countries, didn’t experience large economic growth under Mao Zedong. According to a chart provided by VisualCapitalist, China had a relatively low, stable GDP under Mao that only experienced significant growth after Mao’s death.(13) It’s also worth noting that every country here has a relatively low GDP per capita. Even China, with one of the highest GDP in the world, is ranked 79th worldwide for GDP per capita according to worldometers.info.(14) Since GDP per capita also acts as a way to measure standard of living, despite China’s high GDP, the GDP per capita suggests a lower standard of living in China. Even in comparison to Russia, despite the fact that Russia has only 11.85% of China’s GDP, Russia still has a higher GDP per capita.
India is also a difficult case to track using improvement in GDP, since most data on GDP before the year 1990 isn’t available, which means both Lenin and Gandhi’s direct impact on GDP is difficult to track in their countries. However, since Nelson Mandela started his term as the South African President in 1994, we can better track his direct GDP impact. According to the World Bank, both GDP and GDP per capita did experience growth under Mandela, and even shortly after Mandela left office, both these values experienced significant growth as well.
However, each of these leaders are not purely economic figures. As a result, I believe to study the impacts of these figures we must look at the current data relating to their leadership styles directly. Lenin and Mao were known for silencing opposition, Lenin with the Cheka and Mao with policies. These contributed to a short-term lack of freedom, but is this reflected in the long term? In addition, Gandhi and Mandela were known for seeking freedom, Gandhi by helping India gain independence, and Mandela for dismantling Apartheid and allowing black Africans greater political freedom. The question then becomes whether the short term gain in freedom became a long term increase in freedom. To answer these questions, we can look at data from Freedom House, which is a non-governmental organization that receives funding from the US Government to research democracy and freedom worldwide. Freedom House uses methodology “derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948” according to their site.(16) Since Freedom House offers a ranking on freedom in individual countries on a scale of 0 to 100, we can compare the current freedoms in each country that were possibly affected by the leaders.
The countries here that have been heavily influenced by leaders of the “Thinker” archetype are noticeably higher in their Freedom House scores than countries heavily influenced by the “Revolutionary” archetype. Comparing economic and social scores of these countries suggests that while GDP and GDP per capita are less affected in the long term by influential leaders, overall freedom in a country is affected by these archetypes in the long term.
SECTION 4: Why Does This Matter?
We can mentally organize leaders into archetypes based on the policies and ideologies they pursue. However, why does this matter? Why should we care what archetype a leader is? The reason we should care is simple: we want to know who we should support. These archetypes are associated with different long and short term effects, and therefore these archetypes offer a clue as to what to expect from leaders. As a result, for those who are interested in politics, it’s important to know which candidate you should back, or when you should start seeking an alternative candidate to the ones being offered by political parties. If you are aware of the types of leaders that can usher in beneficial, long term change, you may have a keener eye on who to support. When previewing candidates, ask some straightforward questions:
Has this candidate resorted to violence in the past, and would this candidate be likely to resort to violence in office?
What ideological basis does this candidate make their appeal from? Does this candidate have an ethical backing to their arguments?
3. How skilled in the past has this candidate been at navigating the political world? Will this candidate be supported or opposed by those around them while in office?
If the candidate has been focused on nonviolence, has an ethical backing, is skilled at navigating the political world, and finally will be supported in office, they may be deserving of your vote. After all, despite the negative connotation of the “us and them” mentality, when it comes to political candidates, it may end up being a surprisingly good idea to divide people into categories.
Hathaway, Bill. “Basic Recipe for Human Groups Does Not Require Race, Politics or Religion.” YaleNews, 28 Jan. 2014, news.yale.edu/2014/01/28/basic-recipe-human-groups-does-not-require-race-politics-or-religion.
“Mahatma Gandhi.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/biography/Mahatma-Gandhi.
“Article about Gandhi in England in The Illustrated London News.” The British Library, The British Library, 21 June 2017, www.bl.uk/collection-items/article-about-gandhi-arrival-in-england-from-the-illustrated-london-news#.
“Nelson Mandela.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/biography/Nelson-Mandela#ref282994.
“Who We Are.” Who We Are | The Elders, theelders.org/who-we-are.
Essentials of Comparative Politics with Cases, by Patrick H. O'Neil et al., W.W. Norton & Company, 2018, pp. 416–419.
“People's Liberation Army.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Peoples-Liberation-Army-Chinese-army.
“Mao Zedong Outlines the New Chinese Government.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mao-zedong-outlines-the-new-chinese-government.
History.com Editors. “Vladimir Lenin.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/russia/vladimir-lenin.
“The Cheka.” Russian Revolution, 12 Mar. 2020, alphahistory.com/russianrevolution/cheka/.
Lloyd, C M, et al. “1924 - Lenin's Legacy.” New Statesman, 29 Nov. 1999, www.newstatesman.com/node/150321.
“World Bank Group - International Development, Poverty, & Sustainability.” World Bank, www.worldbank.org/en/home.
“GDP per Capita.” Worldometer, www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-per-capita/.
“Russia GDP.” Google Search, World Bank, www.google.com/search?q=Russia%2BGDP&oq=Russia%2BGDP&aqs=chrome.0.69i59l3j0j0i20i263j0i67l2j0j0i67j0.2528j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.
“Freedom in the World Research Methodology.” Freedom House, freedomhouse.org/reports/freedom-world/freedom-world-research-methodology.
Kruse, Kevin. “100 Best Quotes On Leadership.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 18 July 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/10/16/quotes-on-leadership/?sh=17a9057f2feb
“Glasnost.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/glasnost.
Denmark, Abraham. “Analysis | 40 Years Ago, Deng Xiaoping Changed China - and the World.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/12/19/40-years-ago-deng-xiaoping-changed-china-and-the-world/.
Lynch , Allen. “Deng's and Gorbachev's Reform Strategies Compared.” Russia in Global Affairs, eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/dengs-and-gorbachevs-reform-strategies-compared/.
SECTION THREE: A Leader’s Overall Ideology vs. Their Individual Decisions
John Maxwell, an American author and speaker, once said “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”(17) If we think of the leader as being made up of the individual decisions a leader will make during their career, and the vision as that leader’s overall ideology, the question becomes what we should value more in leadership: overall ideology or individual decisions?
Thus far, we have focused on overall ideology, whether that be the Thinker’s nonviolent and ethical appeals, or the Revolutionary’s violent and populist legitimacy. However, it’s also worth considering how important a leader’s individual choices are, and to analyse this we need to look at leaders with similar archetypes. Two strong candidates are Deng Xiaoping and Mikhail Gorbachev, who are often compared for their similarities as well as for the different results they achieved.
The reason both Gorbachev and Xiaoping are often compared is their similar situations and goals: they both hailed from countries with communist ideology and they both sought similar economic reform. While they aren’t purely the “Thinker” or “Revolutionary” archetype, they do lean more towards the thinker archetype, because they haven’t relied heavily on violence to maintain power. In addition, while their policies weren’t purely focused on ethics, Gorbachev’s “Glasnost” policy of promoting, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, the “open discussion of political and social issues,”(18) did lead to greater freedom, and Xiaoping’s “Reform and Opening” policies, according to Abraham Denmark of The Washington Post, “unleashed the creative and entrepreneurial potential of the Chinese people and allowed China to break out of its self-imposed isolation.”(19) Considering Gorbachev and Xiaoping’s similar policies, reforms, and archetypes as leaders, we would expect their impacts to be similar as well.
However, despite the similar situation, the two leader’s results were vastly different. In an essay by Allen Lynch, a Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, Professor Lynch points outs the different results the leaders obtained. “In 1970, Soviet GDP was more than four times larger than Chinese, by the early 1990s China’s GDP had surpassed that of post-Soviet Russia’s and in 2010 Chinese GDP was four times as large as Russia’s. Just as astounding, even Chinese per capita GDP (with a population of 1.3 billion) had made substantial strides towards Russian levels (with a population of 140 million): while in 1990, Chinese GDP per capita stood at just 10 percent of Russia’s, by 2009 it had reached 43 percent of the Russian level. From 1978-2010, China increased its share of world GDP more than sevenfold (from <1 to 7.4 percent), while the USSR/Russia’s share has dropped from approx. 3 to <2 percent” writes Lynch.(20)
What caused this stark divide? Was Gorbachev just a worse leader than Xiaoping? Deng Xiaoping’s son, Deng Zhifang, seems to believe so, as he is quoted as saying “My father thinks Gorbachev is an idiot.”(20) However, there is a more factual answer to what caused the divide outside of a lack of competence on Gorbachev’s part. Professor Lynch offers us one possible reason: “Deng pursued economic reform while strictly limiting political reform while Gorbachev wound up pursuing both at the same time.”(20) This theoretically could have left Gorbachev’s attention split in multiple directions and his resources spread thin. However, what may have been the biggest issue for Gorbachev was that when Gorbachev came into power, much of Russia’s political elite from Stalin’s era were still there, while Deng had successfully created his own winning coalition. This meant Gorbachev’s had to deal with inter-government fighting, and as Professor Lynch argues, when it came to consolidating political authority, “unlike Deng, Gorbachev was unable to do so quickly and never did so decisively.”(20) Perhaps there was genuinely a flaw in Gorbachev’s leadership style that goes beyond being an “idiot.” After studying both Deng Xiaoping and Mikhail Gorbachev, instead of deciding that the concept of archetypes is not important compared to a leader’s capabilities, perhaps we should instead add more to what we search for in leaders. If we gain anything from Xiaoping and Gorbachev, we should learn to look for leaders who not only seek results through nonviolence and ethics, but also leaders who have a clear, singular goal and are capable of controlling the political climate around them.
Dealing With Procrastination: A Student Guide
Procrastination can be a terrible fiend, stealing away precious hours of your time. More importantly, it takes away time from what you need to do. For me, as a student athlete with the need to manage competing priorities, procrastination is something I need to get a handle on. While working late to finish an assignment or occasionally forgetting a deadline might not seem too large an issue, it becomes serious behavior when your efficiency, happiness and self-esteem suffer as a result. Some students might think they have a severe case of procrastination, when they can actually have ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. Procrastination is not to be confused with ADD.
According to Merriam Webster, procrastination is “To put off intentionally, the doing of something that should be done.” It’s kind of strange to hear such a large portion of my life taken down to a single sentence, but at the same time, it’s not just me. According to Doctor Piers Steel, procrastination effects 80 to 95 percent of college students who do coursework. A definition and a percentage might make us feel better, since it helps us realize that we are not alone when we procrastinate. Fellow procrastinators like me know that the general population generally consider procrastination to be something that you can just bypass, but if it were that easy, writing this article would have taken much less time! Procrastination isn’t as simple as just telling yourself to go focus on what you need to do, because it is all too easy just to ignore yourself, or to simply say “I’ll do this tomorrow.” For procrastinators, tomorrow never comes.
When I talk to people about my procrastination, the common response is for them to simply say, “Just do your work first,” or “stay focused and only do things you need to do first, then you can do what you want to do.” Sometimes I try to tell this to myself to, so what is going wrong? Why am I still procrastinating? Is procrastination just an inability to concentrate, a need for immediate gratification, or is it a form of avoidance? Or is it something else entirely? To really work on the problem of procrastination requires one to truly understand what it is. Often times procrastination is confused with laziness.
I heard a quote recently from lifehacker.com, and it summed up my issues with procrastination quite well; “It’s not that you have a problem saying yes to the thing you’re supposed to be doing right now, the problem is you can’t say no to everything else.” This makes a lot of sense, especially when procrastination is not laziness. The definition of laziness is a disinterest in putting in the work. The difference between the two is that procrastination is choosing to do something else. That is, it’s a more active form of avoidance.
In my experience, however, there have been some techniques that have worked better than others. For instance, breaking down a task, called chunking, and then setting a clear deadline for each step to be done is useful. If you have a long-term project, giving yourself a chunk of it to do every day can help. If you plan out your work, you might see how little time you actually have for everything. Regularly reminding yourself about your limited time can help, especially when you have trouble saying no to everything else that invariably comes along during an already packed day. Yet what I find works best for me is setting a timer for a break at the end of a work period. It might sound like the opposite of what you should do if you deal with procrastination, but giving yourself clear breaks can help. Often times, if you procrastinate your breaks are not clearly defined. In other words, you might simply take a break whenever you feel like it. But if you give clear, time restricted breaks set to a timer, and make yourself work solidly for an hour, you might actually get more work done.
I think Psychology Today explained how massive an issue procrastination is. “Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don't pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don't cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.” Procrastination is maladaptive, and it can easily take over your life, but one of the most important things to remember is to not give it more power. In my experience, procrastination becomes an even harder foe to defeat when you start to believe that it has more power, more control, over your actions than you do.
“Procrastinate,” Mirriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/procrastinate. Accessed November 18, 2019
Novotney, Amy, “Procrastination or Intentional Delay,” American Psychological Association, January 2010, Page 14, https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2010/01/procrastination. Accessed November 18, 2019
Ravenscraft, Eric, “You Don’t Have a Procrastination Problem: You Have an Impulsivity Problem,” Lifehacker AU, March 2, 2016, https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2016/03/you-dont-have-a-procrastination-problem-you-have-an-impulsivity-problem/. Accessed November 18, 2019
Estroff Marano, Hara, “Procrastination: Ten Things To Know,” Psychology Today, August 23, 2003, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200308/procrastination-ten-things-know. Accessed November 18, 2019