LEADERSHIP IS DICTATORSHIP
Whenever a group elects or selects someone to lead them, the expectation is that the person chosen to be on top is responsible for the group. In return, the group confers on the person wide latitude of power and uninterrupted decision making; so wide that it stretches to the point of allowing the leader to dictate almost everything on his followers. And if at all he errs, a collective understanding is instantly expressed.
To the oriental, as distinguished from the westerner, the leader is a dictator. The oriental leader is at the forefront of a struggle while the western leader is at the back charting the strategies of those at the front. Westerners have leaders who are consultative.
The leader from the Orient must be brave enough to die for his cause. The leader from the West on the other hand must be courageous enough to kill for his cause. Hence, heroes in the Orient were mostly the martyr type while in the West, the heroes are the warrior kind.
In the Philippines, debate is still raging as a subject in the academe whether Rizal, the martyr should be upheld at the altar of the national pantheon, or Bonifacio, the warrior.
But what differentiates the Philippines from its oriental leaning is the fact that it is oriented in a western manner. Its historical profile reveals its cultural foundation. Spain occupied its shores for more than 500 years, more or less comprising six generations. Then it was briefly followed by the Americans for almost 50 years. Spain introduced the dominant religion and Americans laid down the educational influence. Both virtually imposed the major social and cultural complexion of the people through faith, education, laws and even traditions. Those alien inputs made the country look Westerners although they are very much Orientals. The people in effect are therefore neither here nor there.
How they would perceive a leader is therefore difficult to ascertain. Filipinos wanted to a have a leader who must act like a dictator but must behave as a tactician. The leader must be aggressive and yet contemplative. He must be seen in full combat readiness but kneeling as in praying. He must be honestly clean yet ready to generously splurge.
Former President Joseph Estrada was the ideal leader in this variation. Notwithstanding the negative spots in his personal life, the electorate, majority of them chose him as the leader. And true enough, he was a picture of machismo, oozing with courage and combat savvy. He was deeply honest even if he was committing technical blunders. He chose the right people to run the business of government and governance was at its height of efficiency during his administration. His leadership was perceived as brave, candid and sincere. As a theatre artist, he wanted to project himself as the protagonist and he never allowed his circle to be infiltrated by villains.
But not for long.
The leader in the definition of this culture is limping if his quality is just one half of what is expected. The leader must not only have an idea of competent friends to help him but also has the competent knowledge from where his bright men should start off. President Estrada was perceived as lacking in this department. He was besieged with technical problems which overwhelmed his decision making process until he could no longer determine the correct solution to his predicament. He folded up and the rest was history.
The Philippines is just a miniature group of islets compared with great land mass of continents in the West but the required leadership standard is almost beyond comprehension. It has been joikingly said that in USA, in one election period several years past, Mickey Mouse garnered majority of votes than those registered vying for the Presidency. Of course, these votes were never formally counted. Ronald Reagan won the election. But the point is, in the West, people can elect anyone they want and their country would just be functioning properly. Their leader is merely a representative, a face, a token symbol of matured administrative machinery. Laws and rules govern the country.
In developing countries, people perceive their leader not only as a brave face but also the embodiment of laws and rules. As a matter of fact, they mistake their leadership as the law itself. Hence, the leader acts as if he is the law and at times, higher and even above the Law! And the people could not even distinguish which is which precisely because leadership for them is plain dictatorship.
It takes a lifetime to understand this basic social complexity. Although given a wise leadership, it can rearrange everything properly to express the proper posture for his country.