Officially naïve creatures such as Obama, bellow that there are leaders, so mighty, they decide of everything. (Obama even believe that “leaders” can lead, “from behind”.) Hitler said he understood the world, and how to better Germany. 12 years after he was voted in, Germany was in ruins, and 10% of Germans dead. And Hitler did not have one idea he could call his own. He was mostly an angry parrot.
That leaders lead is just smoke, disinformation. A clay pot is not made of iron, just because it’s black. Obama does not seem to have had a single significant idea he could call his own. His entire art, was to hide that from those who voted for him, while flaunting to those who financed him, that he got his ideas from the “Financial Times”. Black? Mostly from too much Wall Street’s smoke.
In truth, humanity’s trajectory is rarely inflected by individuals. Obama himself may as well have been a robot programmed by the haves; all he did, as president, was highly predictable, once one has situated him as an excellent Republican president, Reagan with a fresh coat of paint… From the Financial Times.
Instead, Humanity is guided by the logos, ideology, and the institutions it gives rise to. Rather than just by the individuals they inhabit.
Even Christianism understood this, and identified the Logos to God, in the first few lines of the New Testament!
This was not just the price Christianity had to pay, to be taken seriously by the Greeks. It was already an evidence at the time. Now we call the Logos “Apps”. And it is the path to riches.
That ideas truly lead, especially when organized as vast ideologies, is not the usual vision of history. In conventional history “Leaders” of flesh and blood, are supposed to be paramount. But the truth is different.
A famous example? After 10,000 Greek soldiers led by (philosopher) Xenophon succeeded to extricate themselves from the core of the Persian empire, in spite of having the entire Persian army after them (plus the Kurds), the idea became paramount among the Greeks that the Persian empire could be conquered. And the top plutocrat, Philip of Macedonia, prepared the assault. After his assassination, his son Alexander took the reigns of the planned invasion. Clearly Alexander was secondary, and the idea, that Greece could defeat Persia, was primary (all the more remarkable that most Greeks refused to help Alexander!)
If Alexander had never existed, some of other leader would have led a (real) Greek army across the heart of Persia. The idea of democracy had won over that of the empire of plutocracy.
What leads humanity, the real leaders, are ideologies. And thus, those who launched these ideologies (as Muhammad did), are paramount. Secondary are those who deflected existing ideologies. As the Third Caliph did, in the case of Islam (as I mentioned in the past).
Another example: modern science is a hyper-critical ideology which got launched in the Middle-Ages during the Twelfth Century, among the individuals around Abelard. (At least, so I claim.)
Abelard was crucial for erecting, for all to admire, the very way in which hyper-criticism was to overrule everything. Hence Abelard’s fight to death with Saint Bernard. In the fullness of time, Abelard won. Abelard launched, not just an ideology, but a mood of hyper-aggressivity towards the established mental order. In short order, this new attitude brought tremendous advances in science and technology.
Thus individuals can have tremendous influence… As long as they give rise to ideas… Or new attitudes.