Dirty Hands = Great Leader?
As Uncle Ben from the cartoon Spider-Man once said: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ All leaders must make note of these words of wisdom before asserting power on the population in which he is ‘granted.’ Although these leaders can’t soar through the sky shooting webs, there are important ideas that can be brought from this Marvel comic series.
Consider the shape of a typical spider web. It is roughly circular and through all of the twists and turns of the web, it all meets at the center, where the spider typically lays. Analytically, you can suggest that the thing that is keeping the spider in the middle of it all is all of the things that the web is supported to. That is, from a leader’s perspective, the thing that is keeping him in power is the people around him that support him as the ruler. That would include citizens, military, cabinet, and other foreign leaders. Michael Walzer, author of “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands” identifies how the good of the many is better than the good of the few. In other words, to ensure the best interest of the greater population in which one rules, one must enforce policies that would be more beneficial to the majority than to those that are the minority. This idea is two-fold. One, you want to ensure that the citizens are happy and develop a strong nationalistic feeling about their land. And two, you want to ensure that you continue to stay in power. The following video shows a current problem in our world in which Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faces strong rebellion from his nation’s people.
In this case, Mubarak is in a position where he cannot assert a good majority of his power because the people are not listening to him, or better yet, they are listening to him, but responding with riots and violence and much more.
Now why do I bring this up?
Well it is clear from the footage that Mubarak has gotten his hands dirty. He has a lot of responsibility on his hands and it is up to him how he plans on settling the riots in the country. Should he dethrone himself as president or continue to maintain power using the ideas of Machiavelli? Unlike Walzer, Machiavelli’s “The Prince” lies around the statement that the ends justify the means. In his case, he needs to do whatever he can to maintain power, even by setting morals aside. For example, I’m sure that there are still supporters of Mubarak and if these supporters stick together alongside him, like a web, there is a chance he could overthrow the majority. You could call it reverse Walzerism. And let’s say that he does end up maintaining power, regaining control over the people of Egypt, and settling the riots that have destroyed many buildings, police offices, and homes. Does this constitute him being a great leader?
This topic is open to further interpretation/discussion, what do you think?