THE BLOG

The Behaviour of Political Leaders Reflects the Social Norms of Their Culture

05/05/2015 15:32 BST | Updated 04/05/2016 10:12 BST

Our mostly male political contestants are presently locked in a struggle to dominate. In the fight between these figurehead men, full of bluster and bravado, the aim is to become all-powerful. Mention of coalition is dismissed as a sign of weakness. This doesn't make sense, many successful countries have coalition governments. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland to name but a few. Even the UK had a coalition and the country didn't fall apart.

Our empirical past is always lurking near the surface

The fixation on single party victory reflects our bigoted interpretation of the past and an immaturity more than anything else. We seek paradoxically to remain free and unrestricted, and yet at the same time want to conquer others. A more mature culture gets over itself, knows that collaboration is essential for growth and future prosperity. We need to realise we are being left behind because of our fixation on the past, and our reluctance to face the truth.

Our individual behaviour reflects our cultural shortcomings

A fixation on independence and freedom and an abhorrence of boundaries and restriction classically reflects the behaviour of the 'puer aeternus' or 'the eternal boy'. Classified as an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level, this is a perfect description of the UK as a country, but also many of our male political leaders, Boris Johnson, a classic example.

Go it alone

The damage of this fixation on the illusion of eternal youth can be seen all around us. We are falling behind economically and educationally. Our mental health and our lifestyles are damaged too. The impact specifically on men is a graphic illustration of the futility of our 'go it alone' mentality. The classic Jungian interpretation of the 'puer' is in the positive he is an entrepreneur, innovator and pushes the boundaries, in the negative he is a loner, never satisfied and unable to express his emotions.

Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe, particularly for men

The rapid rise of 'anomie' or loneliness in the UK illustrates how these negative aspects are now very conspicuous in our culture. More than a quarter of Londoners say they feel lonely often or all the time according to a poll commissioned by BBC London. Tragically, this is also seen in the suicide figures where men are three times more likely to take their lives than women.

A radical overhaul is needed

We all need to see the plain truths, we are no longer an empire, we no longer hold centre stage. We used to, and we gained such notoriety by oppressing, enslaving and exterminating. If our education system could teach compassion and collaboration; if our work life was based on being of service to others; if our home life was collective and more communal; if we encourage men to express their emotions; if our politicians could behave with respect towards each other and encourage consensus; we might be able to create a new way of living which is more mature, and steps aware from the illusions of the 'puer' and his lonely life.