Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action

By Alvin W. Gouldner | Go to book overview

Contexts: Some Pointed Problems of Leadership

THE PRECEDING articles were devoted principally to ways of coping with authoritarian leaders and of fostering democratic leadership. In this section, instead of conceiving of the leaders as constituting a problem, our major emphasis will be on the problems which leaders face and to which they have to find solutions.


APATHY

The success or failure of democratic action depends often on the degree and extent of participation which can be evoked on its behalf. For this reason, the problem of apathy--whether we define it behaviorally or attitudinally--is a practical problem. Insofar, also, as democratic principles insist that men are both sovereigns and subjects, having both the right and the responsibility of participating in the decisions which affect their lives, the existence of apathy becomes a challenge to this principle, and implies that men have abdicated their decision--making prerogatives and duties. These, once forfeited, are easily pocketed as "proxies" by self-appointed oligarchs. Apathy is thereby a further problem for democrats, insofar as it sets the scene for manipulation by oligarchs. Finally, apathy is a problem because it keeps apart individuals who have similar frustrations or interests which could otherwise be coöperatively solved or examined. Separated from each other, individuals cannot contribute to the solution of their common difficulties and are thrown back upon necessarily limited individual resources.

The two articles which explore this subject approach it from contrasting perspectives and with differing emphases. The first, "Participation and Mass Apathy in Associations,"

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