Gandhi, Mao, Mandela, and Gorbachev: Studies in Personality, Power, and Politics

Gandhi, Mao, Mandela, and Gorbachev: Studies in Personality, Power, and Politics

Gandhi, Mao, Mandela, and Gorbachev: Studies in Personality, Power, and Politics

Gandhi, Mao, Mandela, and Gorbachev: Studies in Personality, Power, and Politics

Synopsis

An examination of four charismatic personalities who shaped much of the political debate in the latter half of the 20th century, this study reveals how Gandhi, Mandela, Mao, and Gorbachev led movements that remade the world through their own selfless inspiration, dynamic political leadership, and genuine moral courage. DeLuca analyzes the relationship between politics, culture and society by focusing upon the personalities of these four figures and the ways in which they addressed issues of social change and political upheaval. Though different in terms of time and location, the problems they faced were similar, be it in their attempts to overthrow a repressive political regime or to promote economic and institutional reform within an existing system.

Excerpt

In preparing a study on prominent political figures and historical personalities of the twentieth century, I have sought, as I did in my earlier book on Napoleon, Bismarck, Lenin, and Hitler, to emphasize the relationship between the individual personality and the expectations, opportunities, and challenges of the historical setting. Since the case of each of these individuals was strongly influenced by the theme of war and revolution, their responses to the forces of colonialism, racism, and totalitarianism have figured prominently in my account. The political debate concerning the extended role of nationalism as a feature of global development also produced a struggle within these figures, who had to wrestle with the attraction of nativism and westernization, the development of a political identity, and the formation of a new political consciousness. With the exception of Mikhail Gorbachev, who tried to reform the system from within, the others -- Mahatma Gandhi, Mao Zedong, and Nelson Mandela -- came from outside the system and sought to wrest power and authority from the political establishment.

From the perspective of Mahatma Gandhi's political odyssey, the anti- Imperial struggle against Great Britain represented the only path to achieve Indian independence, although the attraction of European culture remained strong among members of India's anglophile elite. Gandhi is an example of someone who was drawn to English culture in London and South Africa where he trained and practiced as a lawyer, but who also experienced a profound internal transformation upon his return to India and discovery of the mystique of India's native soul and culture. His life then became a living testimony to how to use the ingredients of Indian culture to establish a popular movement and achieve freedom and independence from British rule. In the eyes of the world his heroic, yet peaceful, victory and emphasis on religious commitment, nonviolence, and compassion provided a new definition . . .

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