Towards A Good Samaritan World

Friday, July 07, 2006

IDEALISTS IN POWER

The new president of Liberia writes:

Academic studies on the evolution of leadership in Africa take note of the fact that the liberation leaders of the continent were nationalistic, selfless and visionary — leaders who put the interest of the state over and above parochial considerations. The immediate post-colonial, and indeed post-apartheid, period bear testimony to this.

Notwithstanding capacity limitations, several of these leaders — notably Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba and Gamal Abdul Nasser — inspired their people and exuded a high sense of nationalism and patriotism in most of their activities.


Kwame Nkrumah, Nyerere, Lumumba, and Nasser may have been idealistic and charismatic, but they were also misguided and to varying degrees brought their countries to disaster. The coercive apparatus of the state is a very corrupting habitat for idealists. A deep, persistent skepticism about the justice and efficacy of coercion is an essential asset for all good rulers.

I wish President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf the best of luck in "mak[ing] Liberia a truly democratic, participatory and just political order."

1 Comments:

  • Lumumba brought his country to disaster? No, I think that was his successor, faithfully installed by our good buddies up in Langley.

    By Anonymous Andrew, at 9:03 PM  

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