Toxic Triangle and Bad Leaders

“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.”



What gives rise to leaders like Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Fidel Castro? It is the toxic triangle. There are three elements which help in rise of such leaders.

First is the personality of leader himself, they are charismatic and narcissistic. They love themselves and don’t lose any chance to tell world that there is no alternative to them. They believe in ideology of hate ex. Hitler hated Jews, while Mao, Stalin and Castro hated so called “rightists”.


“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”


Second is the quality of followers, they fit into two categories- conformers are passive followers; they don’t oppose injustice, while colluders directly support agenda of leaders. Hitler rise was result of attitude of majority of Germans, most of them kept quiet when Jews were being persecuted, while some actively supported Hitler in eliminating them. Active support resulted in high positions and financial benefits.


“I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.”


Lastly the environment should be conductive for rise of leader. Political and financial instability, perceived threat and ineffective institutions help in rise of leaders. Countries like China, Russia and Germany lacked strong democratic institutions, so instability and hardship following World Wars helped in rise of Nazis and Communists. They created targets for hatred like Jews, Rightists, liberal intellectuals etc.


All three have to come together to give rise to a bad leaders. Donald Trump may have personality of bad leader and sizable number of followers, but he unlikely to become next Hitler, as US has very strong democratic institutions.


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