Changing the minds of leaders
The 28th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker

Amsterdam, September 26 2002

Dear reader, 

When the mentality of leaders is not changed, they will continue to take wrong decisions even when activists block one or two decisions. Only long-term activities can change the mind of leaders. 
On the Earth Summit in Johannesburg is decided that hunger must be halved in the coming fifteen years. That is silly, it should totally disappear in 15 years because there is enough food for everyone. You can wonder about the mentality of leaders that let the interests of not-hungry people prevail over the life of hungry people.

How can the minds of leaders be changed in such a way that they take better decisions? Now elitist people determine for the greater part the minds of leaders. The masses do not have much influence. Leaders will take different decisions when the masses penetrate in their private living sphere. Then their mind will change in such a way that they take the needs of the masses more into account.

For detailed actions that penetrate the mind of leaders see my book "The Power of the Autonomous Human". 

Direct actions against Dutch leaders are not common but an avalanche of direct actions after the murder of populist politician Pim Fortuyn on the sixth of May 2002 proved that something happened in the minds of some leaders even though actions lasted only a short time. Many thousands of threatening messages were sent by snail mail (including letters that contained bullets), e-mail, telephone, slogans on walls, occasional damage to private houses of leaders, etceteras. Nobody was bodily harmed.
Political leaders responsible for the unsatisfactory situation in Holland first increased their police protection. But the uniformed guards constantly reminded them that they were not only surrounded by friends and peers but that somewhere else people lived who did not agree with them. After some months the number of threatening actions diminished drastically and the situation went ‘back to normal’. The private life of leaders is again hardly violated and most protective measures have been removed.

Several politicians left politics because of these intruding actions. Other politicians acknowledged that threats influenced their freedom of expression. Former Labour leader Melkert accepted a (higher-paid) post with the World Bank also because he could not cope with threats against him and his family, saying “threats had turned his world upside-down”. Leftist leader Rosenmöller did not walk around alone since the murder of Fortuyn. His colleagues said that probably he lost contact with reality. Liberal minister Jorritsma confessed that a letter containing a bullet was reason to reconsider her place in politics. Another politician expressed her astonishment over the attackers: “they were not hooligans but common citizens!” Still another one said “politics is a hobby, when I am threatened I choose for my family”. A hobby? Politics should not even be a profession for which the politician is paid by the elite but a vocation to make the world better! But most politicians see politics as part of a career to higher functions.

Threatening attacks occurred also before the murder of Fortuyn. A leftist ex-MP was threatened by phone, her car damaged and her house shot at when she proposed that psychiatric patients should sometimes be forced to enter a mental institution. The police did not give much attention to these incidents – because they were not attacked themselves?
Before the murder of Fortuyn politicians thought that an occasionally pie in the face ‘belonged to the profession as MP’ but now they think they are restricted in their freedom of speech. Other politicians think that threats became more violent. Maybe the masses realise the truth of the thesis of Professor Paul ‘t Hart that violence pays. A research in the housing policy in the eighties proved that the intimidating attitude of the Squatters Movement resulted in a housing policy that more corresponded with the wishes of the Movement.

It is certain that direct actions against leaders change their attitude. What we now have seen in Holland is only the effect of a relatively short action period. When these actions become more varied and lasting effects will be more profound. But actions must never have the intention to force politicians to take other decisions, they must only change the mind of politicians so that they stop taking decisions that in the first place preserve the position of the already rich and mighty elite. With a different view on the world they will take decisions that take into account the well being of all people. 

In my next Letter I will elaborate further about what happens in the mind of leaders when they experience a prolonged pressure by direct mass attacks in their private living sphere.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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29. How to change the mind of a leader
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