Recently in Leadership and Entrepreneurship Category

Pierre Omidyar

Good news. Pierre made BusinessWeek's list of Entrepreneurs for the Ages. Congrats Pierre! And... they used my photo of him. Yay!

Bad news. They didn't give me attribution. It's the ONLY thing I ask people do with my photos since they're Creative Commons Attribution licensed. It doesn't cost them anything... and they're crediting the photos by Getty Images.

/me shakes fist at BusinessWeek

The original Flickr image is here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/498701092/

I suppose they might have found it on Pierre's Wikipedia article. But... clicking on the photo shows the license.

UPDATE: I wrote them a letter and they sent me an apology and fixed article. Thanks BusinessWeek!

Great Wired article by John Seely Brown about World of Warcraft and what you learn when you play it.

And that's exactly what Gillett is doing. He accepted Yahoo!'s offer and now works there as senior director of engineering operations. "I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done," he says. "Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise, I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task." His story - translating experience in the virtual world into success in the real one - is bound to become more common as the gaming audience explodes and gameplay becomes more sophisticated. The day may not be far off when companies receive résumés that include a line reading "level 60 tauren shaman in World of Warcraft."

The savviest employers will get the message.

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After spending several days in the Paris suburbs and filing stories non-stop all day today, a few things struck me.

I have written about the first incident that sparked the riots and today's latest news (more violence already starting tonight and plans by French government to use curfew.)

The underlying feeling I got from the young people in Clichy-sous-Bois - where the troubles began - is total despair with no way out.

Seems there must be CK Prahalad opportunities for these young people to make a fortune - or at least a living - if they are given half a chance.

What ideas for businesses or projects that can bring hope to despairing young people in a high rise ghetto?

Are there successful models of what can be done?

One of the great things about going to OSCON was getting to know some of the interesting people involved in the various open source projects. The OSI team and Mitchell Baker, the Chief Lizard Wrangler of the Mozilla Foundation introduced me to a lot of people in the context of having joined both of their boards recently.

One meeting that Mitchell set up was with Allison Randal - the president of the Perl Foundation, Zak Greant - the former MySQL AB Community Advocate, and Cliff Schmidt who until recently managed standards and open source strategy for BEA's WebLogic Workshop product. Since we are going through various changes right now at the Mozilla Foundation, Mitchell has been talking to various people to try to get thoughts on how successful open source projects are managed. She's trying to get as much input as possible to as the Mozilla Foundation grows and transforms. I've recently been invited into the conversation and it is fascinating.

This particular meeting, which reflected some of the wonder I felt during all of OSCON, was an eye opener. Mitchell asked everyone to introduced themselves and explain their roles and what was required in their roles. Allison was first and Mitchell recalls on her blog that it went something like this:

mitchell's blog
So, for example, what does it take to guide a foundation, as Allison does? Well, it takes a sense of people, and good intuition for what sorts of seemingly simple topics are likely to generate giant tensions if not handled delicately. It takes knowing when to let an issue fade away and when to make sure it is completely resolved. It takes an ability to find a common ground, and enough presence (or trust, or reputation, or *something*) to get people to consider that common ground.
It turns out that everyone had job descriptions and skills that were quite similar.

This reminds me of the Leader-Follower essay by Dee Hock - the founder of VISA. (You should read the whole thing.)

Leader-Follower
True leaders are those who epitomize the general sense of the community — who symbolize, legitimize, and strengthen behavior in accordance with the sense of the community — who enable its conscious, shared values and beliefs to emerge, expand, and be transmitted from generation to generation-who enable that which is trying to happen to come into being. The true leader's behavior is induced by the behavior of every individual who chooses where they will be led.
His notion of leadership is bottom-up, community and coordination oriented and not focused on the exercise of authority.

What I saw in the leaders of open source projects and in the communities in general was a very strong sense of this kind of leadership. Open source projects have their share of politics and petty problems and clearly leaders of other types of organization do and should exhibit these sorts of leadership traits. However, I definitely saw something special in these open source leaders which reminded me of the leaders that Dee Hock described. They had strong ethics, were humble, were extremely sensitive of the needs of their community and lead more through coordination and management of processes than through exercise of authority. This was in stark contract to some of the conversations I have had at various CEO forums where people talked about "human resources" as if they were cogs and seemed to feel that the CEO had some divine right to more money and more power. Again, I would add that there are a great number of exceptions in both groups, but generally speaking, the conversations with the open source leaders made me feel like I was seeing the future of organizations compared to my experience with CEOs of normal for-profit companies.

I think that the Mozilla Foundation and the success of open source is a test and will be an example of a new kind of organizational management style which I believe will have lessons applicable to all kinds of organizations. (Note: DBA tag.) Enlightened leaders in other areas are also developing methods that involve treating their staff, customers and other stakeholders as a communities, but this still appears to be the exception, not the norm.

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Devgatelogo
The Development Gateway Award is a prestigious award given to excellence in propagating ICT access, especially in the developing world. They've extended their deadline and are seeking additional nominations. I think $100K can go a long way, particularly in the developing world. If you know of anyone working on a suitable project, please pass this on.

From the press release:

Deadline Extended in $100,000 Development Gateway Award

Global Competition to Recognize Information Technology’s Role in Development

February 15, 2005 – The Development Gateway Foundation is extending the deadline in its global competition to reward outstanding achievement in using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve people’s lives in developing countries. The new deadline for this year’s $100,000 Development Gateway Award is March 15.

“This competition is a global search for excellence, and we are taking every measure to find the highest-impact application of ICT to win this award,” said Development Gateway Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Rossi. “Then in June, we will profile the winner and runners-up to demonstrate for all to see the results that can be achieved using ICT to improve people’s lives.”

This year, as the number of Internet users worldwide surpasses the 1 billion mark, about half of those users will be in developing countries. “I strongly believe that access to ICT can change the lives of the poor dramatically, if we can ensure access to ICT for the poor,” said Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2004 award.

Grameen Bank-Village Phone was chosen from over 200 nominees for the 2004 Development Gateway Award, then known as the Petersberg Prize. The award recognized Grameen’s innovation in combining microfinance and mobile telephone service to help create a new class of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh who raised themselves from poverty while providing rural villages with essential communication services.

For the 2005 competition, please go to www.developmentgateway.org/award for more information and nomination forms. Nominations already submitted can continue to be updated at this site.

I was just on a panel with Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. We've been talking the last few days about communities and it turns out the #wikipedia IRC channel is about the same size as #joiito. (approx 100 people online. Wikipedia has many other sub channels though so in aggregate they are much bigger...) Anyway, Jimmy noticed that I didn't have a Wikipedia article and he decided to go to his community and see if he could get an article written while we were on the channel.

#wikipedia
-- Jimbo has joined #wikipedia
Jimbo: Just a fun experiment...
Jimbo: Joichi Ito is here at this conference, on the same panel with me.
Jimbo: But we apparently have no article about him.
Jimbo: A challenge: in the next hour, how good of an article can we create?
Member1: '''Joichi Ito''' is a [[person]]. {{bio-stub}}
Jimbo: Yes, he uses wikipedia too. But he's famous and important and we need a bio.
Jimbo: I have to go, because our panel is about to start again...
Jimob: But please, remind people as they wander in here, and let's see what happens.
Member2: who the fuck is Joichi Ito
Member3: Member2: write an article and find out
Member2: Jimbo can write the article if it's so important
Member3: someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today
Member1: The easy way out would be to grab an article from another page, cross out the name and write 'Joichi Ito' over it in crayon
It's the same on my channel, but leadership/foundership has nothing to do with authority. In fact, trying to exercise authority often has exactly the opposite effect. The article did end up getting written though. ;-)

The Agency Costs of Overvalued Equity - Michael C. Jensen

Here are my notes. They are rough notes and may be a bit inaccurate or unclear.

Any time two or more people try to engage in cooperative activities, there is a cost because they never have the same preferences.

Stock options should be adjusted to dividends and cost of capital or their incentives are not aligned with shareholders.

If you as a manager find yourself in a situation where your stock is overvalued. It sets up pressures that cause people to destroy value. When an executive commits fraud to deliver market expectation, they know it's overvalued. 70bn peak but was worth 30bn for Enron. They had a choice of defending the 70bn or confess that it's really only worth 30bn. The board and the investors won't feel that it is value reseting, but rather value destruction and would fire the CEO and look for someone who could perform. No easy way to correct. Probably prevent from getting there. If you're there, you've probably lost your job.

Enron could have stopped the run-up, but they didn't see the downside of the run-up. "Charlie and I get just as uneasy when a company is selling for more than the intrinsic value than when it is trading at less." - Warren Buffet.

Overvaluation is managerial heroin. Feels good at the beginning, but turns out really bad at the end. The pressures of the market cause messing with the gray area of accounting. People raise money to buy companies and destroy more value. Funding of risky investment.

For every $1 in the purchase price, $2.31 is lost in the value of the firm for Nortel when investors realized that the acquisitions were not adding value. Companies destroy value with acquisitions. They con the market into believing that they can add value so it postpones the day of reckoning, but it eventually comes and comes bigger. Bad acquisitions were overwhelmingly with stock. Auctions with multiple irrational people increasing irrationality.

Throwing stock options in is like throwing gasoline on the fire. The solution is in the governance system. Can't solve all problems with incentive systems. You need honest and intelligent people who are monitoring. Unwinding constraints. Lockups after vesting.

Why did the shorts shut down shop at the beginning of the turn-around and didn't correct the problems.

95% of waste from stock options went to people lower than the top five officers. Some people think it is costless to issue options, but this isn't true.

DON'T LET YOUR STOCK GET OVERVALUED. If your stock is overvalued, YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE.

Solution for not having stock overvalued. Communicate your strategy. Don't forecast earnings in value. Publish audit-able metrics for strategy. Stop producing short term earnings forecasts. Would not even do rolling 12 month earnings forecast. Managers should not be in business of forecasting.

Loic Le Meur at the World Economic Forum
Loic's rant at the European WEF meeting.
With his French accent, Loic criticizes France and is our designated agitator at the Warsaw meeting. Wish I had been there to heckle him. ;-)

Interesting talk. Loic's soliciting comments on his blog.

I've always had a hard time describing what I do. Recently, depending on the context, I've started calling myself a social entrepreneur. I first heard it in the context of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Here is a Stanford Business School definition of Social Entrepreneurship.

via CommonMe

My goal this year is to have fun in Davos. This will be my fourth World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and the third time that I will be attending it in Davos, Switzerland. (One year, it was in New York.) This year's meeting will be January 21-25. The meetings are always very interesting and I meet lots of people, but I don't usually have much of what I would call "fun". I don't know enough people and I get a little tired of meeting important person after important person who says, "so, what do you do?" It's very humbling to go to a conference where just about everyone is more important than you and has NO IDEA who you are, but it's tiring. The other problem is that for some reason, there is always a screw-up in my invitation and I end up registering the very last minute. There are never enough hotel rooms to go around so I always get stuck with the most inconvenient hotel room and find myself stomping through blizzards in a suit. This year is the same. At least I didn't end up in "hotel igloo" which is where people who end up not getting a room go.

I usually have fun at conferences by picking a few "conference buddies" to hang out with and share notes with. I'm hoping that this year a few of my GLT and Social Entrepreneur friends will be there who I can hang out with.

I will be speaking at two sessions. I will be participating in a discussion with the Club of Media Leaders -- a community of 30 editors in chief from leading global news outlets and topic will be "Rethinking the Net -- Internet Media Strategy, Wireless, Bloggers and Others" from 10.45 to 12.00 on the 21st of January. On Thursday the 22nd of January I will be on a panel titled Will Mainstream Media Co-opt Blogs and the Internet? which will be open to the general audience. If you're planning on coming to either of these, let me know so I can feel like at least someone else there knows what I'm talking about.

In any event, if you're going to be in Davos for the meeting and can/want to hang out, please drop me an email or post a comment here.

Now if only Google will direct people searching for "Fun in Davos" to this entry, we'll be all set. :-p

UPDATE: PLEASE stop sending me 419 Fraud mail. (I set up the email address above just for this entry and it is getting spammed by 419 Fraud email.)

Loic, a French entrepreneur blogger writes about his experience starting companies. Good stuff. I totally agree with the importance of execution over ideas. That's why, although I find my "competition" reads my blog, it's better if people know what I'm doing as long as I'm moving fast enough. ;-)

Lou Marinoff, who I first met at Davos did the session on Wisdom. Lou is the one who convinced me to learn more about the Soka Gakkai and someone who I've grown to respect a great deal. This was the first organized session with Lou that I'd ever attended and it was truly great.


Here is the outline of the workshop:

  1. The ABSs of Virtue: Aristotle, Budha and Confucius
    • The cardinal virtues: Courage, Temperance, Justice, Wisdom
    • The pace of virtue in the global village
  2. Linkage with Richard Olivier's and Miha Pogacnik's workshops
    • Courage is implicated in leadership
    • Temperance is implicated in creativity
  3. Focus on Justice and Wisdom
    • Justice: doing the right thing at the right time
    • Wisdom: understanding what is right
  4. Eleven ways of being right
    • Main strengths and weaknesses of contending ethical systems

He started out the session by telling us that Plato thought a lot about the definition of what is Good and couldn't answer it. The idea was that if you could figure out what was Good you could determine what was Right. After you could judge what was Right, Justice could be rendered.

Aristotle said that Virtue is the Golden Mean between two extremes. It was all about balance. "Rational" comes from "ratio". The idea was to triangulate from two extremes of vice. For example, Courage is the mean between cowardice and rashness.

Buddha said that Virtue is the practice of the Middle Way. Temperance means neither Abstention nor over-indulgence but rather, moderation.

Confucius said that Virtue is the application of the Tao (the Way), striving for balance and harmony.

Hegel talked about transcendence which means to simultaneously negate and preserve. For instance, someone who is courageous becomes independent of his/her nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc. while at the same time allowing the person not to renounce his/her nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc. This is true of all virtues.

The main philosophical task confronting inhabitants of the global village in the 21st century is to transcend their most lethal, destructive and counter-productive differences. The inculcation of virtues conducive to this end requires global education reform. Such reform is much less costly, and much more longer-lasting than every form of coercion. Neither sovereign governments, nor organized religions, nor academic institutions, are able to bear sufficient responsibility for supporting or implementing global educational reform. this responsibility falls to global business interests, to the WEF, and to the philosophical practitioners on the ground.

Then came the Eleven Way of Being Right.
  1. deontology - rules tell us what is right and wrong
  2. teleology - The end justifies (or sanctifies) the means
  3. virtue ethics - goodness comes from virtues, which are like habits
  4. humanistic existentialism - what we choose to do determines what we value
  5. nihilistic existentialism - "God is dead." And we killed him. So all moral bets are off.
  6. analytic ethics - "Goodness" cannot be defined or analyzed
  7. correlative ethics - every right entails an obligation, and vice-versa
  8. sociobiology - ideas of "right" and "wrong" are motivated by our genes
  9. feminist ethics - women have different moral priorities: e.g. ethics of caring
  10. legal moralism - if it's legal, it's ethical
  11. meta-ethical relativism - each situation has its own unique ethical dimension

  12. We discussed the relative merits and weaknesses of each of these ethical systems. Lou also pointed out that there were MANY more, but these eleven were a good place to start. The idea was to try to get to justice. Justice being defined as doing the right thing at the right time. Lou also pointed out that many people like the notion of doing the greatest good for the greatest number. Turing and other pointed out that this utilitarian method was inherently flawed because one can not maximize a problem for two variables. You could strive to cause the greatest good or strive to affect the greatest number, but not both. Interesting perspective...

    After we had these eleven ways of being right in our heads, we were told to identify a moral dilemma. We broke off into small groups and using these ethical models we tried to argue both for and against our solution to the problem and tried to justify the solution. It was a really interesting exercise and I found that the ability to discuss moral dilemmas with this framework made them MUCH easier to understand.

    If my classes in college had been like this, I wouldn't have dropped out.

Photo copyright 2003 Jason Levine
The last time I saw Ben and Mena, I showed them the "the cork trick". It's a trick I learned from a teenager in Belgium. Basically, you take two corks, hold them vertically with your thumbs, grab the ends of the cork in the other hand with your forefinger and thumb with both hands and remove the corks. (impossible to explain without a demo or photos.) It's much hard than it looks and also very difficult by the time you have two corks. It's a great way to impress people.

It took me quite a while to be able to repeat it consistently, but apparently Mena, my cork prodigy, is much more talented than me. Anil sent me a link to Mena doing the cork trick at SXSW on Jason Levine's site.

Gave a talk on March 19 at the MIT Enterprise Forum in Tokyo hosted at the Nikkei BP office. I tried to tie a bunch of things together. I started out by saying that at a macro level, I was very depressed, but that at a micro level, I was extremely excited. I talked first about the lack of entrepreneurs in Japan, the problem with the economy and democracy in Japan. Then I talked about the nature of risk and why risk/return is broken in Japan. Then I talked about weblogs and about how excited I was about the political, media, social, communications and tool building aspects of weblogs. I closed by talking about open standards and the impact that open standards could have on consumer electronics. I promised to upload the slides so here they are in a 16.2mb pdf file and a1.2mb QT file. I don't have any notes on the slides, so by themselves, they're pretty useless, but...I promised. I used keynote, which was a true pleasure. I also fixed up some of the slides so the images are newer than the presentation date.

Generally good response. Blogging seemed to be new to people so the blow-by-blow of how a blog works seemed to be useful. The democracy issue was very interesting to some, irrelevant to others. ;-)


Shirai-san sent me a nice image of our panel discussion yesterday. Thanks!

Since I was the chair of the Forum planning committee this year, I had to give the opening speech. (not really a speech, but an announcement) I had been dreading this for a whole year, but it's finally over. I was visibly nervous, but I got through it OK.

The panel later with Oki Matsumoto, CEO of Monex, Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, and Professor Takeuchi from the Hitotsubashi Business School was a lot more relaxed and fun. There were about 1200 people in the audience... Takeuchi-san is like a talk show host and it was a lot of fun. He always hosts the Japan dinner at Davos and knows the three of us well...

Right now, I'm listening to Professor Kurokawa's panel on medical ventures. It's very interesting. Japan has quite a bit of technology in Universities, but does not have the infrastructure to convert this technology into products. I'm a big fan of Kurokawa-san and he is probably the most controversial and influential MD in Japan right now and he's really going for it right now pointing out many of the problems with Japanese system...

When I first told Jun that "neoteny" meant the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood, he told me he thought it meant giant tadpoles. Iwrote an entry earlier about the meaning of Neoteny.

Since then, the business press has been using the word to discuss leadership. There is a great piece from Harvard Business School about it. I'm glad I have www.neoteny.com. ;-)

HBS Working Knowledge
Are Business Schools Really Important "Crucibles of Leadership?"
HBSWK Pub. Date: Sep 30, 2002

by Jim Heskett

The new book Geeks and Geezers by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas, argues that all the leaders they studied, whether "geeks" (under thirty) or "geezers" (over seventy), have the ability to engage others in shared meaning; a distinctive and compelling voice; a sense of integrity; and "neoteny," a trait that makes them "addicted to life" and able to recruit protectors, nurturers, and believers through a long and productive leadership career.

We will be announcing later today the establishment of Neoteny Venture Development Co., Ltd. which will be lead by Hidehiro Matsumoto as its CEO. Neoteny Venture Development is a spin-out of the consulting business of Neoteny Co., Ltd. which has been in development for a year. Neoteny Venture Development Co., Ltd. will be a subsidiary of Neoteny Co., Ltd. The team has delivered five consulting engagements to large Japanese companies. NVD will focus on corporate venture consulting, entrepreneurship support and corporate spin-out consulting. Neoteny Co., Ltd. will focus on venture investing in information technology businesses. Neoteny will update its web page tonight. (It will be a blog ;-) )

I will of course continue to be CEO of Neoteny and current am focused on investing in personal communications technologies and networked consumer electronics and enabling technologies and services...

Many people ask my what Neoteny (my company's name) means. It means the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood. I first heard it from Timothy Leary when we were working on a book together. (It was called "The New Breed" about the techno youth culture. We never finished it, but I still have a pile of notes. Maybe I should get around to publishing some of it someday...) Tim loved the word. He used it to mean all of the great things that you often lose in adulthood such as curiosity, playfulness, imagination, joy, humor, wonder, etc. It is a biology term that the people in evolutionary theory use to when discussing traits that we retain in adulthood like lack of body hair, etc. There is a good web site about Neoteny at www.neoteny.org.

Adulthood in the past meant that you finished learning most of what you needed to learn and you switched to production mode and started focusing on repeating tasks and narrowing your focus. I think that with the amount of change in the world today, it is impossible to "grow up" and finish your learning. I think Neoteny will become more and more of a survival trait in the future.

On the other hand, Neoteny means some strange things as well. It is sometimes used in the context of sexual preferences, stunted growth and other problems. When Jun was joining Neoteny and he asked a high school student whether they knew what Neoteny was and the student said, "Giant tadpoles". So, there are pros and cons.

When I say Neoteny on the phone, it is often mistaken for New Otani. There was a company callled Neonagy (ne is roots, onaji means "same" so they meant "our roots are all the same" in Japanese.) and many people make mistakes and call us Neotony. But, I think that as the world starts to focus on biotech, I'm glad I picked this name instead of e-blahblahblah, i-blahblahblah, Netblahblahblah, blahblahblah.com or blahblahblah incubator. ;-)

NEOTENY, AND THE FUTURE OF HOMO SAPIENS A short contribution from Victor Serebriakoff

Neoteny describes the fact of evolution, that the new species emerge from the form of the young of the evolving species. The hominids arose from the Bonono or chimpanzee stage because their young stayed young longer, they remained experimental, playful whimsical longer and longer. There is, with homo sapiens, a developmental pause at the age of three which continues until the sudden changes of puberty. Homo has the longest period of immaturity of any creature on Earth. It is almost two decades from the stage of an almost helpless, senseless and completely dependent baby until the fully developed adult.

And this tendency appears to continue. We may notice that while most of humanity stop play and begin to work most of the daytime in their early twenties and play only in their spare time, there is a significant minority who continue to play all the time. They are usually the most gifted and talented, they become scholars, students and artists and occupy themselves with tasks for which their is no immediate substantial gain for themselves, intellectual tasks in fact. This is a continuation of childish behaviour and that minority contains all the intelligentsia. With the development of automation, the increase of prosperity and the availability of unlimited energy - see later contribution - the proportion of the neotenous minority will increase until it become a majority, I believe.
Victor Serebriakoff.

An article called "Awakening genius in the classroom"

I had lunch with John Vasconcellos and we had an excellent discussion about trustworthiness, self esteem and leadership.

Lunch with John Vasconcellos

February 20, 1999

I had lunch with John Vasconcellos and we had an excellent discussion about trustworthiness, self esteem and leadership.

John is working on a paper called "For a New American Politics of Trust" and his thinking connects very well with my current thoughts on the importance of trust. I have re-written the article I am working on for the keizaidoyukai to incorporate some of these ideas.

John talks about self esteem as a very important human feeling. There are to contrary visions of human nature according to John. "We humans are evil monsters needing to be tamed," and that of Carl Rogers' "we humans are innately inclinded towards becoming constructive, life-affirming, responsible, and trustworthy." John says, "Both republicans' laissez faire and Democrats' command and control no longer fit us human, who we are, our way of being. Only collaboration fits, works."

About leadership, John says "The true leader is that person who, by the character of their presence, inspires other pesons to recognize, and to realize their innate capacity for becoming their own leaders." In particular, I was very interested in his notion of leadership in the context of ego, power, etc. John's definition, I believe is an excellent one. It works very well with my current position in Japanese society and works very well with my version of Timothy Leary's famous quote, "Question Authority, Think For Yourself and Act."

Yamagishi and Yamagishi intentionally did not talk about trustworthiness and rather talked about trust. After talking to John, I believe that trustworthiness and the believe that one is trustworthy is as important as trust and is much more difficult to manage and develop.

Finally, John's notions on self esteem helped me think about the crime. I am thinking quite a bit about crime in the context of computer crime law for the NPA. One's belief or non-belief in the basic nature of human beings changes completely the direction that one takes policy on crime. Shame and guilt driving obedience or self esteem driving trustworthiness.

On gun control, obviously John was anti-gun, but he was open to pro-gun arguments and believed that it was a very complex issue.

An old favorite quote from Alexis de 's "Democracy in America" written in 1835. I found this in college, but now it seems more and more relevant...

An old favorite from Alexis de 's "Democracy in America" written in 1835. I found this in college, but now it seems more and more relevant...

From time to time, indeed, enterprising and ambitious men will arise in democratic communities whose unbounded aspirations cannot be contented by following the beaten track. Such men like revolutions and hail their approach; but they have great difficulty in bringing them about unless extraordinary events come to their assistance. No man can struggle with advantage against the spirit of his age and country; and however powerful he may be supposed to be, he will find it difficult to make his contemporaries share in feelings and opinions that are repugnant to all their feelings and desires.

It is a mistake to believe that, when once equality of condition has become the old and uncontested state of society and has imparted its characteristics to the manners of a nation, men will easily allow themselves to be thrust into perilous risks by an imprudent leader or bold innovator. Not indeed that they will resist him openly, by well-contrived schemes, or even by a premeditated plan of resistance. They will not struggle energetically against him, sometimes they will even applaud him; but they do not follow him. To his vehemence they secretly oppose their inertia, to his revolutionary tendencies their conservative interests, their homely tastes to his adventurous passions, their good sense to the flights of his genius, to his poetry their prose. With immense exertion he raises them for an instant, but they speedily escape from him and fall back, as it were, by their own weight. He strains himself to rouse the indifferent and distracted multitude and finds at last that he is reduced to impotence, not because he is conquered, but because he is alone.

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