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Home / Archive / Featured Article - April 2008

Future Leaders

By Adam Hailstone

Question: When you think of a leader who do you think of? Take a second.

I have asked this question to audiences, young and old, across the nation. The reply, from 90% of people, is heroes like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, or modern icons like George Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and the like. Every so often someone mentions a relative or a religious leader, but for the most part I get a long list of political leaders.

Another question: Can governments, or, in other words, political leadership, solve society's many problems for us? This may seem rhetorical, but go ahead and answer anyway.

If you answered like the 90% on the first question, but answered no to the second, then you may be feeling a slight contradiction. Most people who read this newsletter are not fans of Marx, Lenin, or Mao; most likely you do not believe that a supreme leader or some Vanguard will make everything all right in the world. But when most of us think of “leadership” we think of politicians; as did I when originally asked the same question. But I am not, nor are you, naïve enough to believe that government will solve all the problems we are facing in the world.   

Therefore, we as parents and mentors must not only be preparing a generation of liber-minded political leaders, but also a generation who can be called into the diverse paths needed to face the problems of the 21st century.

Below I have laid out four areas that need statesmanship today: Philosophy, War, Technology, and Art. These are not the only areas, of course, but it is a start.

Philosophy

Among the four areas I am addressing, philosophy tends to take the longest time to have impact. Yet when it does, it arguably has the greatest. Let’s look at a diagram:

Populace Type Masses Intelligencia Elite
Method of Change Elections, Revolution Policy, Business, Media, Academia,  Money/Loans, War, Philosophy
 Goal “Change”. Immediate revolution. Small 3% Changes Generational
 Result Either Anarchy or, more often, more of the same. Slow and steady results Transformational Impact

Of the three general groups who affect change in society, the masses, intelligencia and elite, philosophers usually fall in with the elite.

The masses seek for immediate change, and they do so through election and/or revolution. Yet the result is often either more of the same, or anarchy (look at Kenya right now).

The intelligencia is a bit more patient. They seek their goals through steady 3%-like changes; slowly turning up the heat on the frog, so to speak. This is accomplished through policy, academia, media and so forth. We did not go from the Gold Standard to a floated currency overnight, it took almost 70 years; we did not go from Leave it to Beaver to Sex and the City overnight either. These transformations took slow and steady changes.

The elite are not only patient like the intelligencia, but very effective. They seek for generational change, meaning they try to shape the thinking and values of the time. Consider the philosophers that are having some of the greatest impact today, Charles Pierce, William James, John Dewey, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, John Maynard Keynes, to name just a few. All of these produced the core of their body of work 50 to 150 years ago. Their works are now considered masterpieces. They have not only changed the debate; they have framed it.

Take for example Charles Pierce’s pragmatism, which asserts that truth is to be determined by "what works". Case in point: the current debate on torture. One side says that torture does not work because all you do is create enemies; an enemy in the tortured person, enemies in their family and enemies in their communities. The other side of the debate says that we sometimes collect information that saves lives; they assert that people are alive in London and Washington because of torture. Both sides are correct, I might add; but no one asks if torture is right or wrong. Pragmatism is becoming the epistemology of our time, created by a man almost 150 years ago.

Furthermore many of the very problems we are facing in the 21st century, and possibly centuries onward, stem from the ideas of the philosophers I mentioned earlier. From Keynes’ economic systems, to Dewey’s educational agendas, to Nietzsche’s beyond good and evil; we desperately need a new generation of liber-minded philosophers.

Yet, like philosophers before them it will take at least 50 to 150 years, if not longer, for their ideas to take hold. But without a new generation of philosophers the impact of those I named above may continue for some time; like Aristotle’s view of the universe did, all the way until Galileo more than 1,900 years later. Aristotle was wrong, but his assertions were considered gospel truth for nearly two millennia.

War

There were 165 major wars during the 20th Century (to be considered “major” combat has to total at least 6,000 casualties). That is war breaking out on average every 7 months and 6 days. Sad isn’t it. Five of these wars claimed not just a few thousand, but more than 6 million lives - with World War II claiming more than 20 million men, women and children.

This century there have been 20 wars to date and if that trend continues this century will be even bloodier than the last. Unfortunately war is part of our world and according to these statistics that is not likely to change. We desperately need liber-minded military leadership.

Many of you are, or have youth who are, intrigued by the study of war. Despite our politically correct morés, it is okay to admit it. Remember that many of the world’s greatest heroes and statesmen led in this area.

As we further develop technologically and the ability to kill both in mass and with precision increases, military leadership must understand not only when or when not to go to war, but why and why not to. Defending life and liberty are noble reasons for combat, but fighting for an economic status quo or even ideology simply is not.

We need military leadership who understand and are capable of the following:

1.      Executing wars effectively so we can protect ourselves, and protect our nation.

2.      Knowing when and why not to go to war, when and why not to fight.

3.      Understanding that all life is precious and sacred; war is not a numbers or strategy game.

4.      Understanding constitutional systems and the reason for separation of powers.

5.      Advocating for peace.

Technology

We have had fantastic growth in technology over the past century and I am not just talking about cars and microwaves. We have gone deeper and deeper into space, discovering more and more, and therefore finding more questions. Recently we were able to land an un-manned space craft on an asteroid. We have explored Mars and received satellite imagery from outside our solar system. And this is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

Nanotechnology is taking us to incredible new places. Fabric that feels like cotton can harden and repel a bullet with an electrical current. Nano-machines can build molecule by molecule; eventually being able to rebuild an ear, a heart, an eye to an exact replica of your own.

Yet with all these advances comes Pandora and her box. Consider the following diagram:

The top line represents the increase of technology. Example: In the nomadic period man’s most lethal weaponry was a bow and arrow, which was a great improvement over brandishing a stick or throwing a rock. But as we advance from swords, muskets, machine guns, tanks, atom bombs to who knows what else, our potential damage is almost endless.

The bottom line of the diagram represents morality. If at the same time morality decreases as our technology goes to new levels of danger, then we are in need of leadership in this field more than ever.

We need a new generation of liber-minded people who can do the following: 

  1. Understand technology
  2. Use technology
  3. Improve technology
  4. Put wise limits on technology

The key here is rather ironic. One must lead out in A, B, and C in order to be able to do D—put wise limits on it. In other words the only way a leader can put wise limits on technologies, is by leading out in the field. Some would think that if we just lobby the government to use regulation, then we will be fine. But government cannot keep up; it loses its jurisdiction; and/or is often the producer of it. Either way political leadership, is again, not very effective here. 

There are an endless number of subfields within this topic—each urgently needs leadership.

Art

Art is found everywhere. It is the car we drive and the buildings we walk into, from music to the very food we eat. But the cutting edge of art has swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the philosophy of pragmatism. Art today is measured by what sells and/or what makes you famous, in other words, what works.

In contrast, the Greeks of old looked for beauty in their art. The Romans sought for truth and accuracy. The Hebrews looked to their aesthetics to point them toward God and teach them righteousness. But today we want fame and fortune. Pragmatic art produces safe, cliché, “different” art, or shocking, offensive, grotesque art that creates a stir; making you money or at least making you famous. In the end we are rarely left with the beautiful, inspiring, symbolic art, like that of past ages  - art that took sacrifice and work, beyond what our modern man can imagine.       

We need a new generation of artists who express, not something different for difference’s sake, but different for the sake of truth, beauty and right.

*           *           *           *

One of the tragic lessons of the 20th century is that government, or force, is not effective and capable of solving all the world’s problems.  Others suggest that problems will naturally be solved by the market. Both of these views are simply naïve. Throughout history problems have been solved because people and groups of people have stepped up to solve them. Sometimes they had economic incentive but often they did not. Sometimes government did not get in their way but more often it was against the people trying to solve the problem.

We must rise above this age-old debate between market and government. Both are made up of people. People make choices for better or worse. The question now is: do we have the liber-minded, morally aware, sensitive people to step up to face these problems? Are we looking to get our own—or are we ready for Statesmanship?

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Adam Hailstone is an Associate Mentor at George Wythe College. A gifted speaker, Adam has lectured across the United States and Canada on topics from liberal arts to global politics.

He has served with and led domestic and international organizations including Utah College Republicans, Rotoract International and served as an associate campaign manager for gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns. He is a Masters candidate at George Wythe College in Political Economy with an emphasis in Geopolitics.

He enjoys rock climbing, bungee jumping and reading anything by C.S. Lewis. He is recently married to the former Laura Jensen and they reside in Cedar City, Utah.