Books

The Anarchist Within (2009)

Manfred Kets de Vries

The Anarchist Within

This book highlights a number of salient aspects of the culture and character of Russia (now the Commonwealth of Independent States) to facilitate an informed understanding of the way Russians deal with organizations and approach leadership style. The book starts with a number of contextual factors concerning Russia, such as the harsh climate and the psychological impact of the mir—the isolated agricultural communal villages of the past. The inference is made that these contextual factors contribute to stoicism as a character trait and make for a collectivist outlook. Subsequently, the implications of Russian child-rearing and educational practices are discussed. Attention is given to the development of a “false self”—a public self that is split from the true private self—especially during the Soviet era. Other themes explored include the role of women in Russian society, emotional expressiveness, the particularistic outlook toward other people, and Oblomovism—the tendency toward apathy and inertia. The oscillation in Russia between order and disorder is also highlighted. The destructive bureaucracy in Russia is examined as a social defense. The Czar legacy, with its contribution to a paranoid Weltanschauung and an anarchistic streak, is reviewed. The wish for strong leadership (and the existence of paternalistic practices) is analyzed. Russian attitudes toward reality testing and time are looked at. The book ends by making a number of general comments about leadership.

Aquamarine Books, 2009

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