World-Wide Quest for new Leaders

27/10/2011 16:14 | Updated 27 December 2011

It's surprising to see how the social unrest born in Spain has spread throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting, demanding from their leaders more social rights and trying to convince them to give less power to market forces. Governments are unsure how to react against such protests. Both sides, protesters and governments, need leadership. And for both sides, the task is a difficult one.

These social movements, or 'occupations' as they are becoming known, are driven by passionate emotion and repressed energy, but they lack the rational leadership necessary to be converted into long-term reality. Zygmunt Bauman, the Polish philosopher and sociologist, addresses such a transient state in his concept of liquid modernity whereby he describes the fragility of human emotion. Bauman points out that "emotion is an unstable and inappropriate means of forming something coherent and enduring." In fact, the 'modern liquidity' subscribed to by the protesters is characteristically transient. "The protests are sporadic and prone to hibernation," concludes Bauman.

It is clear that recent protesters are overflowing with passion, but what is their reasoning? Without a clear rationale behind the 'occupation', their fire will die out and never fuel meaningful change. On the other hand, if they can manage to express a cohesive vision, they will become credible, and their cohesive and solidified vision will last and possibly lead to a tangible resolution of their grievances. The protesters appear to be convinced of their mission; however, their demonstrations are purely ideological at this point, and without clear leadership.

Much is being said and written about these recent movements with their diverse aims, and, in the face of these events that are taking place in cities across the world, governments and political parties regularly have adopted conflicting stances. While the Left looks on with a complacent air, the Right seeks to eradicate such protests. Debate over the possible 'solidification' of these 'social entrepreneurs' has inundated the media over the last few months. Such debate, in fact without any solid basis, cannot lead anywhere in terms of decisive action.

The quest for leadership is much simpler than analysis would suggest, however, because business entrepreneurs, with their targeted experience, could help show the protesters, who are so enraged by voracious and extreme capitalism run amok, the way to rational and effective denouement. Even a slightly experienced entrepreneur knows that a business project that is governed only by emotion has a very limited lifespan; the project lasts only as long as the passion for it. Furthermore, if guided by passion alone, the possibility of failure is great, even at the first hurdle that is faced. The need of a leader becomes crucial.

I wonder why there is so much concern over eradicating these movements, and why aren't the protesters trying to take a more professional stance to drive home their message? Lack of leadership is seen not only on the side of the protesters, but the governments also lack effective leaders who can address and react to the protesters' concerns. In actual fact, the protesters and the governments seem to be two sides of the same coin where neither side, due to lack of strong leadership, knows what it wants, and knows even less how to achieve it.