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Posts tagged elites

Andy:
from "A Public-Service Game Changer," by D. Michael Lindsay, On Leadership, WashingtonPost.com, 2 October 2009

Because the White House Fellowship draws younger leaders from many different fields—including business, the military, nonprofits, law, and academia, it provides one of the few professional settings where leaders from very different fields regularly work together and build collegial relations. This cross-pollination of leaders makes a huge difference over the long term. For instance, consider the program’s impact on fellows’ attitudes toward parts of the federal government.

We see that fellows with no military experience express significantly greater confidence in the military after spending a year with a classmate who has a military background, and for each additional class member with a military background, the non-military fellow’s level of confidence rises. Levels of support for the military can rise from 54% to 81% among fellows, depending on how many classmates with military backgrounds were in a class. Most significant, that positive attitude toward the military remains over the course of the leader’s life, whether that Fellowship contact happened last year or four decades ago.

Nate:

Gekko’s character was written to create an engaging, charming, but deceitful and brutal being. I have nevertheless run into quite a number of younger people, who upon discovering that I co-wrote the film, wax rhapsodic about it . . . but often for the wrong reasons.

A typical example would be a business executive or a younger studio development person spouting something that goes like this: “The movie changed my life. Once I saw it I knew that I wanted to get into such and such business. I wanted to be like Gordon Gekko.”

The flattery is disarming and ego-stoking, but then neurons fire and alarm bells go off. “You have succeeded with this movie, but you’ve also failed. You gave these people hope to become greater asses than they may already be.”

Andy:

The sense of success and inclusion is harder to resist than the wrath of the state. Carrots are more corrupting than sticks. This phenomenon is powerfully described in Vasily Grossman’s novel “Life and Fate” (1960). One of its central characters is Viktor, a talented physicist who stoically defends his science in the face of likely arrest, but becomes weak and submissive when Stalin calls him to wish him success. “Viktor had found the strength to renounce life itself—but now he seemed unable to refuse candies and cookies.” . . .

Russia today is much freer than it was for most of the Soviet era. However undemocratic it may be, it is not a totalitarian state. The room for honest speaking is far greater than Russian intellectuals make use of. As Marietta Chudakova, a historian of Russian literature and courageous public figure, puts it, “Nobody has been commanded to lie down—and everyone is already on the ground.” The media is suffocated by self-censorship more than by the Kremlin’s pressure. Nikolai Svanidze, a Russian journalist who works for a state TV channel, admits: “There is no person who tells [me] what you can and what you can’t do. It is in the air. If you know what is permitted and what is not, you’re in the right place. If you don’t, you are not.”