Tuesday, 6 April 2010

What is "strong" leadership, "strong" government - reflecting on the day the election is announced in my home country

It's not really surprising that I think about a quote from Heinrich Grüber's memoirs as I wander around Berlin this week. Grüber describes in his memoirs how he voted for Hitler - as did many others of his class and background - because he wanted "strong" government and the experience of Weimar democracy had been of weak ever-changing government.
Today the election will be called in Britain to take place in just one month's time. It's quite interesting chatting with our family about their voting intentions - our oldest nephew is (shock horror) probably going to vote Tory - but we've also been having discussions about voting systems, whether it's better for democracies to have change after a decade and the place for conviction in politics. It's fascinating to see how approaches to democracy and voting systems are very culturally determined. Do I want strong government or good government?
At a personal level I've also been thinking about "strong" leadership and our need to embue these words which tend to be seen as male virtues with value. Is the only way of describing leadership positively to be seen in macho language? Of course women are also strong and it is very much a female virtue as well. But surely goodness, integrity, mid-wifery, artistry, brick-laying, sculpting and many other things may offer us more useful images for the sort of government and society we want rather than this steroid obsession with strength.
Grüber learnt the strength of saying he was wrong to vote for Hitler and took up resistance to teh regime he had voted in very quickly. There is strength in recognising when we have been wrong, it's called humility and it's not a bad virtue for politicians and leaders to learn.


Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Jane, this sounds like a really fascinating lead... did you have in mind a particular quote from Grüber, or just his comment on why he had voted for Hitler?

Jane said...

Alan finding the actual quote may take a while as it is in our garage but I quoted him in my undergraduate thesis on teh confessing church and anti semitism - I'll try and dig it out and send it to you. It's in his Errinerungen I think