Where does the need to become a leader come from? Is it an animal instinct and humans as social animals need an alpha male figure to lead the mob? Are individuals who eager for power dangerous for democracy? Do leaders seek immortality in history or just to be "somebody"? Is it counter-productive to elect somebody who seeks personal "ego" to represent a nation? Have we getting Narcissistic leadership in our time? Aren't we giving too much power to just one individual or few individuals? Would it be possible to create a government system without leaders or presidents and just use pure democracy? Are leaders just actor-puppets (because power&money go hand in hand) who are giving us the illusion of democracy? If so why do we need leaders for? Can new formulas of government be tried or we should accept the world as it is?

I'm looking for authors (recent if possible) who ponder on this topics.

"All USA presidents are puppets" Vladimir Putin

"Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" Lord Acton

  • 1
    Nietzsche has a passage about "the great criminal." I think this is in Will to Power.
    – Gordon
    Nov 8, 2018 at 13:29
  • It's a subject that has so many aspects that it's hard not to see it addressed wherever you look. Books on coaching, books on management, "Gangs of New York" by Martin Scorsese, books on politics, books on presidents, history books, etc. Nov 8, 2018 at 16:15
  • Can you narrow down your search somewhat? Are you looking for scholars in philosophy? Scholars in 20th century politics / history? Memoirs of the leaders themselves? Nov 8, 2018 at 16:16
  • There Machivellis The Prince. Also Hannah Arendts Truth & Politics. Platos The Statesman... Nov 8, 2018 at 23:17

1 Answer 1


Prof Robert Sapolsky and Jung write about social hierarchy quite a bit.

His books all touch on what it is you're looking to read about. In addition, you may specifically be interested in reading about Sapolsky's study of a baboon colony which lost its alpha males in an outbreak of disease related to a fight over a nearby trash pile.
His course in behavioural bio was truly enlightening and covered some of these topics. Later in the course he actually speaks about epigenetics and specifically addresses your question of whether or not we may be able to develop strategies to exist without leaders. The lectures have been put on YouTube if you're interested in listening as well as reading. Sapolsky is also more recent than Jung.

Jung speaks about how times of great distress make fertile ground for dangerous leaders, about how groups are formed and whether or not they are dangerous or useful to the individual etc.

Tim Roughgarden
I may be wrong so take this with a grain of salt, but if I remember correctly, in his course on algorithmic game theory (the lectures for which are also now on YouTube), he discussed scenarios that touch on the spirit of what it is your talking about. It may be useful, I walked away from the course feeling like I had a better understanding of human systems in general, and it may at the least help you tackle these questions from a fresh angle.

Not so recent: Marcus Aurelius and Aristotle
Meditations and Nicomachean Ethics, respectively. These works touch on ethics and leadership roles, I think they may apply here, if only to give some reasonable angle to analyze what a good leader should probably look like, which allows us to look to see if leaders generally are this way or just appear to be.

Read books about historical conflict.
I.e. Battle of Saratoga, the attempts to expel Hannibal from Italy, etc. As they often go into great detail about the countless lives lost to tragic errors that are attributed to personal ego, and I've found that many of them take time to talk about the abstract elements present as much as they do the details of the conflict.
I'm sure there are others but none come to mind at the moment. I will edit accordingly if anything does.

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