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Comparative Political Leadership Research Paper

Introduction

The problem of political leadership and leadership in a whole has been a subject matter for many years, that’s why it has a long history. As long ago as the ancient world era a leader was considered to be an individual, who was able to create history. Certain political and social situations needed their own leader, and during every historical period there were theories explaining definite characteristic features and objectives that a leader should posses. Among the most famous theories about political leaders are the theories of Italian philosopher N. Machiavelli, German scientist Friedrich Nietzsche and German philosopher Carl Marx.

Generally speaking a leader is someone who has the ability to rule over large mass of people, who is able to convince people and make them believe in his/her ideas. It also takes strength of character, diplomatic skills and a set of steadfast principles to amount to good leadership. Anyone who is a leader – a team leader, a business leader, a political leader – will inevitably face the same task, that of exercising leadership in the face of adversity with a cool, calm smile. Hence, great leaders and great teams are driven by a vision – a true sense of mission and purpose. [6] Purpose, is the essential tool of any leader no matter if he works in the sphere of economy, policy, culture or religion. However, it is obvious that political leaders of different countries tend to have different traits that are usually similar to the previous leaders that used to rule in those countries. That’s why it is possible to state that political culture together with moral and cultural values very much influence the behaviour of a political leader, as well as a political leader influences them. A political leader may be identified as any occupant of an established political position or as any person, in or out of such a position, whose political activity has more influence upon a group’s behavior than has the activity of the average member [2].

Being a leader a person should perform certain functions including such, as searching and reaching optimal political decisions, protecting people from lawlessness and bureaucracy, uniting people according to their common goals and interests, establishing system of constant political communication with people, and etc.

So, the main point of this essay to discuss the major qualities and skills a political leader should have, and compare China’s political leaders and government with those of Great Britain, and also discuss future possible leaders of both countries.

1. Historical Political Development

It is well known that people create their own destinies as well as political leaders create certain political culture in the country. Being a leader a political official influences the minds of people making them prefer some forms of political leadership, and thus creating certain political regime in the country. Comparing the political development of China and Great Britain, it is necessary to mention that these two countries are very different in terms of policy being implemented inside of them, and these differences will be discussed while speaking about the historical political development of both of them.

Speaking about British political history it is necessary to analyse the development of liberal concepts in this country. The appearance of the term “liberalism” dates back to the age of Enlightenment, and is closely associated with the Whig party in Great Britain. However, the famous British philosopher John Locke (1632 – 17040) is considered to be a founder of liberal concepts. In his work “Two Treatises on Government” he established two basic ideas of liberalism: 1) economic liberty, by which he meant that all people had the right to own property and use it at their own discretion; 2) intellectual liberty, meaning freedom of thoughts, conscience, and choice, which he widely describe in his work “A Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689). Locke was the first one to develop the idea that every person is provided with so-called “natural rights”, including the right to life, liberty and property, and no one has the right to infringe upon them. However, Locke discommended democracy and supported bourgeois monarchy. Further development of liberal political thought goes back to the English Civil War, and to the confrontation of the Whigs and the Tories. Broadly speaking, the Tories were defenders of the Crown and the established Anglican Church, while the Whigs drew their inspiration from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which established the supremacy of parliament over the monarchy [3]. Indeed, the Liberal Party was formed on the 6th June 1859 with the leader William Gladstone, who was Prime Minister for four times. In 1872, the Liberals established the secret ballot, but lost 1874 elections. Presently, the Liberal Democrats occupy 62 seats in the House of Commons of Great Britain, because it won 22% of votes during the elections [14].

In contrast to the Great Britain China has experienced a completely different political development, which is represented by the development of communist concepts and ideas. The early history of Communism in China often reads as the triumphal march of Marx-Leninism into Chinese radical thinking [3]. The origins of communist thoughts in China go back to the October Revolution in Russia in 1917; however these ideas were brought to life only when the Communists took power in China on October 1, 1949. The main founder of Chinese Communist Party is Mao Zedong, who later became the leader of People’s Republic of China, and remained in this position until his death in 1976. The main goal of the Communist Party in China was to establish order in China and to restore Chinese economy. China had been disrupted by more than ten years of war, first against the Japanese and then civil war, and in the years 1950-53 China was involved in the Korean War [8]. Communism in China was a version of Marxist communism. It used Marx’s concepts of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the whole country rather than just to certain social classes. The leader of the Communist Party Mao Zedong believed that such “proletarian” countries as China were being exploited by “bourgeois” countries such as the United States. The world communist revolution would come when the proletarian countries surrounded the bourgeois countries and cut off their supplies of cheap labour and raw materials [8].

Nowadays, China still remains a communistic state with the leading party – CCP, however it is more open now, at least in economical aspects.

As it has been spoken about Liberalism in Great Britain and Communism in China it is possible to make a conclusion that these two countries have opposite political cultures. Liberalism and Communism explain the meaning and role of “person” in a very different way. According to liberal concepts a person with his/her rights and needs should be the top priority for the political power, while communist concepts bring community and state to the forefront, and move personal needs to the background. Chinese Communist Party is still supported by a great number of people in China. The CCP now has 696 million members, making it the largest political party in the world. Among the population, 2.4 million members joined the CCP not long ago. As for liberalism, this political movement is now popular not only in Great Britain, but also in many other countries of the world.

2. Political Leadership

a. History of Britain’s Greatest Leadership
History showed that China and Great Britain have been developing under the influence of very different political leaders, though every one of the chosen countries has usually had and continues to have political leaders with strong personal leadership qualities.

The greatest British political leaders are considered to be Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. Margaret Thatcher was born in 1925 to be a very industrious girl. Her fascination with politics led her into Parliament at age 34, when she argued her way into one of the best Tory seats in the country, Finchley in north London [10]. In 1979 she became the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and held this position until 1990. Thatcher had no difficulty identifying what she was against: state interference with individual freedom; high levels of taxation; the propensity of both organised labour and entrenched professional interests to distort market forces. In one sense, being ‘against’ all of these implies that their obvious antitheses will guide policy: individual rights; private enterprise within a free market; firm, perhaps authoritarian, leadership; low levels of personal taxation; union and vested interest bashing; simple patriotism [5]. Margaret Thatcher was always very determined in her actions and never compromised or turned back. However, she became an important figure in Great Britain and in the whole world not just because of her successful politics. She combined a flamboyant willpower with evident femininity. It attracted universal attention, especially after she led Britain to a spectacular military victory over Argentina in 1982. She understood that politicians had to give military people clear orders about ends, and then leave them to get on with the means. Still, she could not bear to lose men, ships or planes. Fidelity, like courage, loyalty and perseverance, were cardinal virtues to her, which she possessed in the highest degree. People from all over the world began to look at her methods and achievements closely, and to seek to imitate them [10].
World history and history of Great Britain in particular cannot be written without such a prominent politician as Winston Churchill. Being born in 1874 by the age of 26 he enters Parliament and joins the Liberals. After reaching much success in Parliament he became Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in 1940, and remained in his seat until 1945. Then in 1951 he won the elections and became a Prime Minister again, though resigned in 1955. His dominant qualities were courage and imagination. Less obvious to the public, but no less important, was his powerful, original, and fertile intellect. He had intense loyalty, marked magnanimity and generosity, and an affectionate nature with a puckish humour [12]. Churchill played an essential role for the outcome of the World War II. His name had been made, and he stood unchallengeable, as the greatest of all Britain’s war leaders. It was not only his own country, though, that owed him a debt. So too did the world of free men and women to whom he had made a constant and inclusive appeal in his magnificent speeches from embattled Britain in 1940 and 1941[7].

b. History of Strongest Chinese Leadership
Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the establisher of the Chinese Communist Party and the inspirer of communistic movements in other countries, was born in 1893. In 1921 he became a member of CCP. Mao and other members of the Communistic Party were encouraging USSR support in order to won the competition for the domination of China. To do that Mao organized the Red Army and was elected to be a chairman of the Chinese Soviet Republic, which was formed in 1931. In 1949 Mao Zedong was able to reach success and proclaimed China as the People’s Republic of China and accepted election as chairman. Though, the success of Mao cost thousands of people’s lives. Being a political leader Mao never hesitated to use his army to put down any opposition within China, and during his tenure his military killed far more Chinese than external enemies [9]. Of course Mao Zedong had a tremendous influence on China, but nowadays his influence on the country as a former political leader has fallen. His military reputation has diminished to that of just another ruthless former totalitarian head of state [9].

The second political leader who influenced the development of China is Deng Xiaoping. He used to be member of CCP for many years, and his major impact on the country was that he was able to direct the country to the development of socialist modernization. He was born in 1904, and joined the CCP in his early youth. He was able to settle the problems with Taiwan, Hong and Macao, and to reunite China by means of his concept “one country, two systems”. This concept is considered to be an important part of building socialism in China; it had influence not only on China but also on other countries. This is one example of Deng’s application of the principle of seeking truth from facts to the solution of complicated practical problems [4]. As a political leader Xiaoping had a broad vision on many political issues, and he devoted a lot of time to foreign relations. Deng Xiaoping as a political figure still plays a great role in making major policy decisions of the Communist Party and the state. Through a lifetime of service to the people, Deng Xiaoping has earned the respect and affection of millions of his compatriots [4]. Speaking about his personal qualities, he proved to be far-sighted and persevering, a man of quick understanding and decisive action [4].

3. Current political situation

a. China: Current Political Culture and Policy Changes on the Horizon
Remaining a communistic state at present China was able to reach a major success in the world market. Goods produced by Chinese manufacturers are in great demand due to the high quality and relatively low prices. Nowadays China is the leading producer of a great variety of electronic gadgets, computers, cars and other widely consumed goods. In January 2006 China reported that its economy grew 9.9 percent in 2005, marking the third consecutive year of nearly 10 percent growth. China’s national economic output of $2.26 trillion made it the world’s fourth largest economy, after the United States, Japan, and Germany. Though Communistic party is still the leading party, some positive aspects of this situation can be found. Communists develop one centralized program for the development of the whole country, and thus China works like one single organism. Chinese government strongly supports the purchase of new progressive technologies, which positively influences the development of its economy. The government implements active policy against corruption; and many local political officials are being severely punished for being involved in corruption.
Speaking about the kind of political leader that China needs, it is possible to say that the leader should be decisive, with the ability to see the future development of the country; he should be progressive enough to foresee what new stages of development China might experience in future.

b. Great Britain: Current Political Culture and Policy Changes on the Horizon
We all know about close relations of the United States of America and Great Britain. These two countries cooperate with each other almost in all spheres of life: economy, politics and culture. They both develop strategies concerning the strife against terrorism. Being the Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair strongly supports the development of “special relationship” with the USA After 9/11, Prime Minister Blair’s proactive role in the war against terrorism and his strong, supportive line on Iraq brought new vigour to the Anglo-American partnership. On a visit to Britain in May 2003, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, not a notable Anglophile, exclaimed, “The special relationship between the US and the UK is stronger than ever, and Americans are the better for it.” [11]. However, this kind of relations does not necessarily mean that American culture will influence greatly British culture. It is well-known that British people are very conservative, so they will not easily change their cultural views, even under major influence of the USA. Tony Blair is the leader of the Labour Party, however, it is possible for the Conservatives to win the elections, and the Conservative leader might become a Prime Minister. According to the elections in 2005, the Labour Party received 35.2% of votes, while the Conservatives got 32.3% [14].Obviously, the two parties are almost equal according to the number of votes they got, so everything can change and the Conservative Party may win the elections. This may happen in case Tony Blair makes some glaring error and loses a part of his electorate.

Conclusion

Political views of citizens of all countries are very much influenced by the political leaders that operated in the past. Having spoken about such different from the political point of view countries as China and Great Britain, it is necessary to emphasize that despite of all differences both countries had equally strong and very influential political leaders.

No matter what political ideas a leader wants to implement, he should posses certain qualities and skills, and political leaders of these two countries are good examples of strong political leadership. Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Tony Blair- all of them were political leaders not only inside their countries (China and Great Britain), but also outside the countries. All of them brought something new into the minds of people all over the world, and influenced the political development of other countries. For example, liberal concepts are very popular nowadays. As for communism, it is not so popular at present, however such countries as Cuba, Korea and of course China still remain communistic, and political leaders of China influenced them greatly.

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