Political Leadership Theory. Classical Historical 2 Summary Two types of scholars - ‘ Classical Conceptions ’ and ‘ Historical Causation ’ Classical Conceptions

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  • Political Leadership Theory

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    Historical

    * SummaryTwo types of scholars - Classical Conceptions and Historical CausationClassical Conceptions consider views from classical Greek to mediaeval timesHistorical Causation considers views from scholars taking a view of leadership and its relation to history

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    * Classical Conceptions

    3 key theorists:AristotleMachiavelliShakespeare (Henry V)

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    * AristotleMen need State and rule of lawBuilt on idea of passionless reasonRule of the golden mean = balance between oligarchy (rule of the few) and democracy (rule of the many)Platos concept of philosopher-kingsThese are the men who should rule - they are wise, educated and benevolent

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    * AristotleCitizens, collectively, surpassed the quality of the best statesmen, therefore citizens should make decisions about what they want and statesmen required to provide means to achieve the endsThis view of leadership has been considered idealistic since it is unlikely to be achieved in reality

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    * MachiavelliItalian political philosopher (1469-1527)No virtuous statesmen like Aristotle (Aristotles statesmen had moral purpose, Machiavellis appeared to have this but in reality driven by power politics)Leaders work to make public perceive them as moral and trying to lead towards common good, but in reality they just want power!This theory has been described as being realist

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    * Shakespeares Henry VBritish poet and playwright (1564-1616)Despite not being political/historical theorist, the characterisation of leaders in his plays gives an insight into what he thought of leadersSynthesis between Aristotles search for idealism and Machiavellis dark realism (power politics)Politicians are good, but necessarily work within the political realm of power politics

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    * Shakespeares Henry VHis work has been described as displaying leaders as authenticHe also includes psychological factors in his assessment, such as the importance of loss of a parent for his leadersFreudian view of psychology (people display certain characteristics because of the way their mother/father brought them up). It should be viewed with caution because of this, but regardless of the accuracy of his psychological assessment it demonstrates his inclusion of a variety of factors in determining how leaders react to certain situations

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    * Classical Conceptions summaryThe relationship of these three theorists can be summarised (be aware this is a simplification) by looking at this scale:

    Aristotle and Machiavelli form the extremes (idealism and realism), while Shakespeare uses a synthesis of their theories

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    * Historical Causation4 key theorists:Thomas CarlyleLeo TolstoyFred GreensteinJon Johansson

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    * Thomas Carlyle

    Scottish essayist and historian (1795-1881)Wrote Heroes and Hero-WorshipGreat Man theory history is the result of great men shaping the forces of history

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    * Thomas CarlyleHis great men had two characteristics:Original insight (perception similar to Aristotles philosopher-kings who had wisdom)SincerityHis view is somewhat idealistic (how many leaders in history display these characteristics?) but forms a coherent theoretical framework from which to analyse historical situations

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    * Leo TolstoyRussian novelist and philosopher (1828-1910)Wrote War and PeaceConcept of man riding on the wave of historyNo matter who the leaders were, history was a result of all the acts of individuals, which together created an outcomeDeterministic believed in fate and that man could not alter history (this is related to his belief in God if interested you could do some research on his religious beliefs, dubbed Christian Anarchism)

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    * Fred GreensteinEmeritus Professor of Politics at Princeton University (1930-present)Asks the question:What are the circumstances under which the actions of single individuals are likely to have greater or lesser effect on the course of events?Gives three interrelated points to consider in assessment of leaders, and uses the analogy of a billiard/pool table to clarify this

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    * Fred GreensteinWhat is the situation/context like? E.g., maybe so many factors involved that removing one or two of them (including the leader) will still result in the same outcomeLeaders strategic position importantLeaders impact dependent on strengths and weaknesses of the leader (i.e. how talented, intelligent etc. is the leader? Is s/he able to manipulate the outcome to suit them?)Can you think of real examples for each of these scenarios?

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    * Fred GreensteinComparing this to a billiard/pool table:The situation is the set up of the balls on the table. Nothing can be done to change the initial placement of the ballsThe leaders position is compared to the cue ball (the white ball). If the leader is in a good position his/her ability to control the balls on the table is strengthened, if the leader is not then the opposite is trueThe leaders strengths and weaknesses are compared to that of the person hitting the balls. If the person is talented they are able to sink more balls, if not then, no matter how good the situation and position they are unable to utilise it effectively

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    * Jon JohanssonPolitical Science lecturer at Victoria UniversityHis ideas are similar to Greensteins that a number of factors need to be considered when assessing the importance of a leader in a specific situation

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    * Historical Causation summarySimilar to the classical theorists, the relationship of these four theorists can be summarised by looking at this scale:

    Carlyle and Tolstoy form the extremes, while Greenstein and Johansson provide the synthesis (which is more complex than either of the extremes)

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