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Who can refute the feminist perception that the men who reach the pinnacle of social hierarchies exhibit three primary compulsions: lust for money, lust for power and lust for sex? If we are to believe the revelations of a penitent king-maker, this model seems appropriate for the patriarchs of modern Mauritian politics. Apparently, one used high office to acquire obscene wealth, another sacrificed all his principles to occupy that office and the third makes Bill Clinton’s office antics appear relatively saintly. It is said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Is this always true?

The two most respected leaders of the last century, Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, had one thing in common: they never cherished power. Both fought for the freedom of their people, but, after achieving victory, Gandhi retired into the background and Mandela retired from the presidency after only one term. Contrast them with the communist revolutionaries of Russia and the anti-colonial liberators of Africa; men who became worse than the monarchies and empires they replaced. Whereas, in every other profession experience makes you better, in the exercise of power, it seems that the transformation of democrat into despot is just a matter of time. Why is this so?

Under pressure

Apart from kings who have convinced their subjects that they have a divine right to rule, at least as long as the high priests support them, most leaders have to dominate others maintain their position. Whether this means asserting their authority or fighting for re-election, they are under constant pressure to perform. Normally stress produces one of three reactions: eustress, distress or the fight-or-flight response.

Eustress is a response of the higher brain that produces euphoria, heightened extra-sensory awareness and unusual creativity. This state is commonly described by athletes and performers as being “in the flow”. It is psychologically addictive and can be artificially induced to varying degrees by drugs such as DMT, amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine. It is often accompanied by the mammalian trait of sexual promiscuity, typical of alpha males, and a lack of self-critical analysis, leading to recklessness and in the extreme, losing touch with reality.

Distress is a response of the mammalian brain that produces depression, lowered extra-sensory awareness and a lack of creativity. It has evolutionary utility in hierarchical social systems because it generates submissive, compliant members who do not challenge the leader, even if he decides to copulate with their partners, and hence maintains the status quo. However, in people it can also induce hyper-self criticism and a profound sense of hopelessness, which may result in suicide. Many people self-medicate such a state with opiates, cigarettes and alcohol, which provide temporary relief but are severely damaging to health.

The fight-or-flight response is characteristic of the reptilian brain, which releases the hormone cortisol, producing heightened sensory awareness and physical preparedness. It either induces anger or fear, depending on the perception of the threat, which boosts physical exertion with an impulse of emotional energy. Remaining in this state leads to anxiety, impairment of the immune system and premature ageing of the brain. Cigarettes and alcohol are also used to self-medicate this condition, along with drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazapines.

All of these responses reduce the ability of leaders to empathise with others leading to a disconnection with the people they once promised to serve. This can be exacerbated by isolation, for example by living in luxury behind high walls and surrounding themselves with yes men. How can politicians feel the frustration of being stuck in traffic when they are whisked through by a police escort in excess of the speed limit? Such privileges encourage them to believe that they are above the law and before long they are flouting it without any sense of guilt. What is the solution?

Pyramids or round tables?

Is the problem a matter of gender or of framework? Matriarchs have arisen when patriarchs have been weak (e.g. Queen Boadicea, Joan of Arc and Maragaret Thatcher), however , they have been just as belligerent – effectively men in female bodies. Feminists today seem more concerned with being promoted to positions of power than promoting feminine perspectives and principles. Consider this poem:

Odette to Mother Nature

Regard the female fight the fight
So that her kind might gain the right
To join the rush for foolish gold
And dominate the Devil’s world

Complicit in the plot to keep
The patriarchal  paradigm
Thus hiding from the mindless sheep
The truth that God is Feminine

Matriarchy supports pyramidal hierarchy, which provokes competition and domination. Polarised debates between genders or political parties result in irreconcilable conflict. Numerical gender parity in governance will not restore social balance, what is required is the total dismantling of the patriarchal system. Pyramids must be replaced with round tables of equal citizens who will deliberate issues until consensus is reached. We need rules not rulers, strategies not strategists and leadership by collective wisdom rather than dim-witted dictators.

It appears that a generation of wannabe matriarchs do not grasp this, as every five years they whine for more tickets from the patriarchal party leaders. Is it not time for a new generation to assert itself? Where are the young men and women who recognise that now is the time for a revival of the feminine principle to balance the yin and yang within themselves and their communities? Let us hope they are ready, because the era of patriarchal politics is coming to a close. Will it retire gracefully or will it try to cling on to power to the bitter end? Will there be reform or revolution?