Mandela: A Leader in the Indigenous Anarchist Tradition
Leadership comes in two very different flavours and in remembering/celebrating Nelson Mandela, it would be doing him and ourselves a disservice to NOT distinguish the type of leader that he was.
Common leadership is ‘one-to-many’ in the sense that the leader is a director of the collective. It is ‘reason-driven leadership’ that animates a collective with a reason-based vision, mission, and objectives and a rational plan for achieving an end goal.
Mandela’s uncommon leadership is ‘many-to-one’ in the sense that the leader inspires by removing the yoke of reason-driven obligations and opening things up so that ‘rising to the occasion’ is the primary animating influence. Mandela’s orchestrating influence puts opening things up [many-to-one] where people can ‘rise to the occasion’ in its natural precedence over ‘getting on top of things’ [one-to-many].
As in the aboriginal anarchist tradition, and as in the Taoist tradition, leadership is understood in ‘knowing the male but being ravine to the empire’. Taiaiake Alfred describes the two types of leadership in ‘Peace, power and righteousness’, exposing the colonial model of leadership as a ‘degenerate case’ where ‘one-to-many’ influence is put into an unnatural precedence over ‘many-to-one’ and the wheel turns backwards instead of forwards.
The colonial leader looks at the powerful hurricane in the relational space of the atmosphere and imagines that the source of the power lies in the hurricane and is the ‘power of making things happen’, ... the source of ‘one-to-many’ ordering/organization. The indigenous anarchist leader understands the relational space of the collective as the leader of the dance; i.e. as the true animating source, ... from whence the one-to-many leader draws power. The relational spatial flow of the atmosphere is the source of the storm-cells’ power, it does not jumpstart from their interior.
The relational power of the populace was the source of Mandela becoming a powerful leader. That is, he ‘came to power’ the natural way, as the pivot point or nexus of previously disorganized aspirations within the collective. He did NOT ‘come to power’ as most ‘political’ leaders do, by a mad scramble with other competitors aiming to ‘come to power’ by winning a competition for incumbency in a ‘seat of overall central authority’ backed by police and military, a mad scramble constituted by political campaigning and the spending of inordinate amounts of money on political advertising.
Mandela ‘came to power’ on the many-to-one ticket before he ‘came to power’ on the ‘one-to-many’ ticket. In other words, he came to power in the manner of the indigenous anarchist tradition, where ‘many-to-one’ is always the leader in the dance with ‘one-to-many’ the follower. This is the dance of relational transformation that is the inherent topology of change in the physical reality of our sensory experience, as affirmed by modern physics. The mechanistic pseudo-reality of Newtonian science which sees change in terms of ‘what independently-existing things-in-themselves do in a notional absolute space and absolute time ‘operating theatre’ is just that, a reduced and simplified PSEUDO-REALITY captured particularly well in noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar.
Mandela’s leadership does not ‘live’ in this pseudo-reality that political leadership ‘lives in’ where ‘leadership power’ is associated with ‘position’ [Whatever happened to McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis who, we say, came so close to ‘coming to power’].
The difference is that in the Colonizer culture [Western civilization], the power of leadership is measured in the quantitative terms of ‘one-to-many’ cause-and-result authorship, as invested in ‘positions of status and authority’. In a mechanistic pseudo-reality, this is all that people see; i.e. leadership and organization are understood in the reductionist terms of ‘what things do’, and people and organizations are understood in terms of ‘independent reason-driven systems’.
In the indigenous anarchism of stateless tribes, the animating source of the river is understood as ‘the valley’ or ‘terrain’ which organizes the flow, and gathers it into powerful confluence. This ‘organizing’ is ‘relational’ which means that it is ‘non-local’, non-visible and non-material. It derives from ‘need’ or ‘deficiency’ which orchestrates
individual and collective behaviour. It is the type of ‘topless’ organizing influence that orchestrates the community in building a new home for newlyweds or for a family whose house has burned down. This is the full physical reality, and this ‘negative causality’ [many-to-one influence] is ‘dropped out’ in mainstream [newtonian] science, but has never been abandoned in the indigenous anarchism of stateless tribes. It can be seen as ‘the natural flow of life’ [the ‘tao’] in which relational need is always the invisible leader of the dance while the visible/manifest material dynamics ‘follow’.
“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name”
- – – Lao Tzu
The non-visibility of one-to-many orchestrating influence which ‘takes the lead’ in natural organising, and which comes into play in leadership is not ‘mysticism’ but physical reality. The orchestrating influence of a concave terrain, in gathering runoff water into rivulets and rivulets into streams and streams into rivers is physical reality that is ‘hidden’ by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar, which artificially isolates the one-to-many manifest aspect as in ‘the river flows’. As Nietzsche and Whorf and others have noted, this reduction of yin/yang physical dynamics [dynamics in which many-to-one influence is the leader of the dance and one-to-many manifest material dynamics is the follower] to one-sided ‘one-to-many’ only ‘material dynamics’ or ‘what notional independently-existing things do’ dynamics framed in absolute space and absolute time, is fabricated by language-and-grammar based dual, complementary errors.
“Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531
Similarly, to posit the riverflow once as an activity and second time as subject, allows us to impute authorship to the fabricated subject and make it into the notional jumpstart author of some powerful result, such as ‘creating a canyon’. Such a view implies that the terrain is passively plied by the river when the terrain is the leader of the dance. This amounts to imposing an abstract absolute space and absolute time reference framing in our interpreting of the dynamic, to isolate the manifest material dynamics aspect [yang].
In the indigenous aboriginal languages which are ‘flow-based’, the same dynamic would be captured by ‘the terrain is rivering’, retaining the actual, physical topology of the dynamic.
Where people aspire to ‘leadership’ by way of ‘positions of one-to-many power’, they are similarly ignoring/demeaning the many-to-one power coming from the relational dynamics of the collective which is the non-visible ‘leader of the dance’.
Mandela did not ‘come to power’ through attaining incumbency in a ‘position of power’. It was after he had ‘come to power’ in a ‘many-to-one’ sense that became ‘head of state’, a position that itself held power in a ‘one-to-many-sense’.
When we talk about ‘leader-power’ in noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar, which reduces dynamics to the one-sided ‘yang’ [one-to-many] dynamics of notional ‘independent reason-driven systems’, all we can talk about is ‘what things do’. Therefore, as far as our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar based conversations, discussions and debates, we blind ourselves to the full physical dynamic reality of our experience. When it comes to ‘leadership’, there is only ONE CATEGORY, and it is the ‘yang’ view of leadership. Therefore, Mandela is grouped in with the colonial state leaders who aspired to leader-power that associates with ‘position’ at the top of a one-to-many directing organization [an ‘independent reason-driven system’] backed up by police and military.
As Taiaiake Alfred writes in ‘Peace, Power and Righteousness’, the power of a leader in an indigenous anarchist community, is nothing like the power of a leader in the Western colonizing, statist civilization. He is, in his language, reiterating the above described distinction, of a degenerative type of leadership which goes directly in search of power in a one-to-many top-down organizing sense.
Ordinary English is thus used to ‘hijack’ the remembrance of Nelson Mandela by confusing leadership with the leadership of colonizers and political pimps. The value of his leadership contribution is thus being exploited, by grouping him in with an entirely different category of leadership, to boost the image of that other category.
Will any of the heads of state who are given celebrity treatment at his remembrance ceremony openly concede that they are not in the same category of leadership as Mandela. Will any of them acknowledge the different definition of leadership as in ‘indigenous anarchism’? And will any of them renounce the practice of creating leaders through their incumbency in ‘positions of power’?
Mandela deserves to be remembered as the type of leader he actually was, which in no way falls into the category of leadership of positions-of-power-seeking politicians.