Empire cycles & leadership: the Ugly & the Great Part II: The Great

During the positive phases of an empire leaders serve the people they lead, which is in sharp contrast to the negative self-centred leadership values demonstrated in the declining phase of empire.

The recent film “The Darkest Hour” is firstly an absolutely brilliant and engaging drama. Secondly, like all successful films, its’ underlying theme resonates with the state of the underlying society from which it originates.

In Britain, post the Brexit vote (which BTCH described as the first peaceful regional civil war in a western society) Britain is expanding and moving towards a second global model of trade and interaction with the world. Thus it is not a coincidence that at a time when its’ real life leaders are ‘apples that have fallen far from the tree’ of great leadership (especially May and Hammond), that this film is designed to remind Britain and the Western world how great a leader Winston Churchill was. Without Churchill Britain would have sought terms with Hitler, allowing Hitler to invade Russia earlier in the summer and giving him more time to press east before the winter set in and all probability take all the key Russian cities. After which he would have inevitably turned back on Britain, with the result that in all probability Europe and Russia would have been under his control.

“The Darkest Hour” portrays both Churchill’s strength and inner demons, and his relationship with the people he served. Sadly by 1940 the upper classes had been denuded of their very best genes by the brutal culling of the First World War on the western front. Notably the upper classes were the sector of society that Churchill had to overcome to allow the desire of the people to resist Hitler to become a reality. It was also notable how important Clemy, Churchill’s wife was throughout his career and without whom he would never have manifested his greatness. Lastly the sacrifices his family went through having a father that was dedicated to his nation above his family needs. The lesson being is that leaders also need support from great life partners and their family.

It is also fascinating to see America’s response to the film, despite its thoroughly British story. The answer as to why “The Darkest Hour” has resonated so strongly is obvious as it shows both Obama’s and Trump’s narcissistic leadership style in stark contrast to Winston’s sense of service to his people. One can only hope that this is the start of a new education in Britain and America as to what true leadership should really be, and how desperately we need new leaders with this energy and belief to rise to the fore.

If one takes a step back it is obvious that good inspirational leadership is a key theme for the British and American people. The popularity of “Game of Thrones” highlights this with a main theme being the rise of John Snow amongst the majority of other Kings and Queens who lead for their own ends. Then there is “The Crown”, which is essentially a study of leadership in post war Britain, where the concept of service echoes through every series. The American series, “Designated Survivors” stars Kiefer Sutherland as an unexpected President trying to follow his moral compass through the morass of DC power shadows. Then there is the plethora of superhero films, which echo the dark days of the depression years in America. All have one thing in common….they remind us what great iconic leadership should look like. At the same time they are a cry for help from the western world, but especially America and Britain. We need strong, inspirational, altruistic leaders to save us from the decline and impeding threats to our way of life that we all know are looming large on the horizon.