The herding instinct

The herding instinct in chronically anxious America has the . . . effect of furthering adaptation to the least mature, to those who are most unwilling to take responsibility for their own emotional being and destiny. Its influence on leaders is several-fold. It discourages them from expressing “politically incorrect” opinions and encourages them to play it safe generally; it undermines excellence by encouraging society to organize around its most dysfunctional elements; it forces leaders to engage in countless arguments that are dilatory; and it makes it more difficult for leaders to be clear, much less decisive. Leaders in chronically anxious America today – whether they are black or white, Jewish or Christian, liberal or conservative, young or old, male or female – tend to support or adapt to the most incessantly demanding members of their following.

The effects show up in language usage, in the administration of justice, in education and welfare policy, in divorce settlements, in the emphasis those who specialize in conflict resolution put on compromise, in the conduct of public meetings, and even in the world of sports. And in some institutions the togetherness forces put such a premium on inclusivity that those who do not agree with making it the overriding principle of the organization are isolated or rejected, thus creating Orwellian “Animal Farms” in which diversity is eliminated in the name of diversity.

(Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p. 70)

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