Obama 2008
Governmentality and the materiality of governance

Tyranny and trust

Last night,  Mohammed and I went to see The Last King of Scotland, a biopic about Idi Amin. Forest Whitiker's performance as Idi Amin was extraordinary in making the former dictator seem very human in spite of his inhuman treatment of people. As I look around at contemporary tyranny, two things that are common among all dictators are (1) the inability to trust the people around them and (2) the recourse to murder to establish a base of trust.  According to  Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound, "For somehow this is tyranny's disease, to trust no friends."

Googling on the topic, I came across Stephen M.R. Covey's "The Speed of Trust" and the 13 behaviors of high trust leaders. He lists 5 character behaviors, 5 competence behaviors, and 3 both character and competence behaviors:

Character behaviors

  1. talk straight
  2. demonstrate respect
  3. create transparency
  4. right wrongs
  5. show loyalty

Competence behaviors

  1. deliver results
  2. get better
  3. contront reality
  4. clarify expectations
  5. practice accountability

Both character and competence behaviors

  1. listen first
  2. keep commitments
  3. extend trust

If based on the movie we did an analysis of Idi Amin, he was deficient in many areas of trust.  So perhaps instead of looking at people's congressional records or testing them for topical knowledge, we should give perspective leaders the trust test to avoid tyranny.


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