... Chris Pratt's the one who'll have to be cloned!
Monday, 3 August 2015
Saturday, 1 August 2015
Flanagan believes Harper is prone to depression. “He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia,” he wrote in 2014, “at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.”
This interests me.
There's no shame in suffering from depression - some pretty impressive leaders have done so. Churchill referred to his as the "black dog" and would similarly go into funks that would last for days or more. Abraham Lincoln also dealt with issues of depression.
I think there's more to the story than just this, but there is definitely a great deal about Harper that becomes clear through the lens of his sense of social estrangement and the persona/beliefs that have formed in response to it.
He has never successfully cultivated the social skill of pretending to connect. He has difficulty feigning interest. His associates talk of him sometimes simply turning his back and walking away from them while they are in mid-sentence.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Stephen Harper would gain a great deal as a leader if he were to face his own cognitive reality head-on. Depending on what else is in his mix (but assuming he's not beyond empathy, given his reaction to the Ashley Smith detention tapes), making peace with himself could serve as a catalyst for Harper the Mental Health champion - something he's already flirted with in minor keys over his time in Ottawa.
Imagine a Prime Minister not fixated on defeating those who may challenge him and make his world uncomfortable, but a leader determined to empower and effectively emancipate individuals who struggle with mental illness or alternative cognitive abilities, like autism.
A leader who can look back on a successful career and say "these things define me, but they didn't suppress me, either - they aren't weakness and they can be a strength."
Harper still has an opportunity to define himself as a leader worthy of remembrance, rather than a footnote.
I'd love to see him make the right choice - I'd be supportive if he did.
But then I've no interested in tearing down others or wresting wins. I want everyone to do well.
But whatever was going through his mind in the months leading up to his decision to quit, the fact remains that in his first encounter with the Upper Canadian elite – the young men and women who would go on to run the businesses, lead the political parties, manage the bureaucracies, and shape the arts and academies of English Central Canada – Stephen Harper decided he wanted none of it, or them. He could have tried to fit in to this new world, which was closed but less impermeable than in the past, but instead he fled from it. His decision to reject that world, and his sense of exclusion from it, would shape his life and his politics. It marked him.
And his encyclopedic memory includes not only the history of maritime border disputes, or who starred in what film; it also includes every act by every person who has slighted, offended, or betrayed him.
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
For all its flaws, the Internet has an awful lot of pluses.
Crash du Halifax - type B III - s/n LV987 ZL-K 08-06-1944
"I called off the experiment not because of the horror I saw out there in the prison yard," he explained in the technical write up of the experiment, "but because of the horror of realizing that I could have easily traded places with the most brutal guard or become the weakest prisoner full of hatred at being so powerless that I could not eat, sleep, or go to the toilet without permission of authorities."
"What happened at Abu Ghraib was inexcusable, but it was not inexplicable. I cannot repeat this caveat enough: to explain something is not to excuse it."
I've written about this sort of thing at length - limbic drives, the dehumanization process, why psychopaths get ahead (and shape work cultures), etc.
Fact is, our increasingly-competitive mainstream culture is in many ways exacerbating the wrong kinds of attitudes and behaviours. In competition, success is determined not by having the better product, but by beating (or beating down) the other guy. Doing that effectively, especially with short timelines at play, involves the dehumanization of that Other (unless they already aren't human in your eyes).
At the same time, mind you, the exact reverse is happening, at a smaller scale; a rise of altruism, an emphasis on supportive cultures, etc. No surprise this sort of trend is more prominent in social innovation, creative industry and other related spaces.
The two trends can and will exist in tandem, but there's a big shift coming, as big as the Industrial Revolution. Culture will change entirely as a result.
It's happening already. And the transition won't be entirely smooth.
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
This tactical flexibility is one reason Harper has been prime minister for nearly a decade. Anything is on the table, provided it makes life easier for his team and harder for the other teams. It’s a useful quality in a politician. In a statesman? Not so much. The effect of Harper’s shifting Senate policy so far has been to preserve the worst of all possible worlds: The institution carries on as it always has, while Senate appointments only serve the political whims of the prime minister, and no other purpose. We can see the results.
Harper is a tactician; that's why he wins. We hear that all the time.
Strategy, however, isn't so much his forte. He hasn't managed to make the CPC the natural governing party of Canada - instead, it's been a constant tactical game from his team, with tactics increasing in severity and questionable nature as time goes on.
Culture? Forget culture. Harper's culture is "my way or the highway", under the assumption that there's no real such thing as culture at all.
As a result, Harper's approach has resulted in policy misfires, avoidable battles and added significantly to Canada's structural deficit.
Nothing he has done is permanent; we've already seen that a lot of his shrink-government initiatives are being ignored by lower tiers that are simply filling in the gap.
Harper set out to re-engineer Canada to fit his ideology. It hasn't happened. If anything, Harper has only served to pour gas on citizen-led collaboration and institutional disruption.
Which just goes to show you - tactics and even strategy in the absence of culture is low-hanging fruit-picking on a withering tree.
It's not about winning battles; it's about conversion.