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Join the Dance!

dance11,432 words

Russian translation here [1]

A TOQ comment [2] drew my attention to a 3-minute Internet video entitled “Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy [3]” [YouTube clip] by Derek Sivers [4]. There are some brilliant lessons packed into its short compass, culminating in this counterintuitive bit of advice:

The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow. When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

Sivers is not pro-white, and presumably not even conservative (statistical odds). He is a musician and music entrepreneur with more than a dash of idealism—although his video isn’t about that.

In 1997 he founded an online music store called CD Baby to sell his own CD. But he invited other independent musicians to sell through his website as well. His utopianism, or idealism, can be seen in the ground rules he set for his new company, which he ran from his bedroom in Woodstock, New York: “The musician will be paid every week. The musician will get the full name and address of everyone who purchases their music. The musician will never be removed from the system for not selling enough. The site will never accept advertising or paid-placement.”

Sivers’ idealism manifested itself again when he sold his company for $22 million in 2008. He first transferred ownership of the firm to a charitable trust for music education. The trust, rather than Sivers, then actually sold the business. He did this because “I already have enough” (“Why I gave away my company to charity [5],” Dec. 4, 2009).

The Dancing Man and His First Followers

“Leadership Lessons” is a poorly-shot, out-of-focus home video containing no sound other than Sivers’ narration. It shows a shirtless young white man dancing on the edge of a crowd of twentysomethings on a hillside at what appears to be a music fest. First one young man joins in, then another, and very quickly the whole crowd rushes forward.

But it is Sivers’ narration that is the eye-opener. He brilliantly distills the essential dynamic of the scene as he perceives it. Among his observations are the following:

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous.

The first followerNow comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore—it’s about them, plural.

This first follower is seen on tape signaling others, encouraging them to join: “It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.”

The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers—not the leader. Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!

Finally, Sivers makes an extremely important point. “As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.”

Listen to Sivers’s excellent narration, and closely observe the behavior of the dancers and crowd in the video that accompanies it.

The Crowd

Let’s think about this a minute. The validity of Sivers’s observations is readily apparent. But qualifications are also necessary.

dance3What sort of group are we dealing with? To borrow Kevin MacDonald’s term, it’s a “face-to-face [6]” group. It is not an impersonal, atomized television or newspaper or Internet audience, for example. So there are dynamics specific to that fact.

The group is larger than a “small group” (a jury, say, or the 6-8 participants in one of Jewish psychologist Solomon Asch’s conformity experiments [7]), but smaller than a mass audience, like attendees at the Super Bowl. It qualifies as a “crowd [8]” in the terminology of French psychologist Gustave Le Bon (1841–1931), who examined group behavior. Different psychological and behavioral dynamics apply to each of these distinct categories of face-to-face groups.

What about race and gender? The portion of the crowd we see appears to be white by a large margin. The dancer (in Sivers’s terminology, the “leader”) is also white—and male. But, interestingly, the all-important first and second followers—also males—appear to be non-white (though not black) as far as we can tell. Why two minority members in an overwhelmingly white crowd should be the first to step forward is unclear. On the other hand, it does not seem wholly irrelevant either. The very important third and fourth joiners are white males. The “3 more” that immediately jump in include the first females, also white.

The Thug

There is no “Thug” in the video, as there is in our real world movement. A Thug is anyone, anything, or any set of rules that effectively erects a barrier between the “lone nut”/leader (which could also be small, marginalized groups or “sets of individuals”) and potential followers.

The Thug possesses the all-important capability of shielding the leader from the sight and consciousness of the crowd, of distorting or misinterpreting his message in the minds of the crowd, of ridiculing the leader and early followers, of jailing, killing, censoring or otherwise removing the leader and his followers, and of threatening or punishing members of the crowd.

The Thug, in other words, guarantees that there will be enormous risk—near-certain risk—that otherwise-motivated individuals will be ridiculed, stand out, and never be part of the in-crowd if they make any move whatsoever to join the leader or contribute to his legitimacy.

The Thug has innumerable mechanisms at its disposal to accomplish its objectives. Among them are the media of mass communication. To quote academic writers on cultural transmission: “The media act as a powerful type of one-to-many cultural transmission [a single source sending a single message to a mass audience] that can effect rapid cultural change.” On top of that, “many-to-one” transmission [a different type of transmission] consists of many persons or institutions “transmitting the same idea or practice to one individual,” resulting in social or peer pressure. “Because this many-to-one transmission is concerted, with every transmitter giving the same signal, this group effect provokes powerful conformism.” (Stone and Lurquin, A Genetic and Cultural Odyssey [2005], 101.)

The Thug is super-sensitive to crowd dynamics. Recently the ADL [9] and SPLC [10], powerful racist groups with deep and extensive ties to the government, have busied themselves erecting a barrier between white racialists and the conservative Tea Party movement. They will stop at nothing to forestall a tipping point [11] like the one depicted in the video.

For example, the SPLC instructs government officials and other elites that the “anger” and “rage” of conservatives (overwhelmingly white tea partiers), whom it paints as “revolutionaries,” hearken back to the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that “left 168 men, women and children dead.” “The Oklahoma attack was the culmination of political anger against the government. Today the fury is building again,” the SPLC slyly insinuates. In part this is due to “the country’s changing demographics.” Tea partiers are “laced with extreme-right ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.”

The SPLC describes tea party groups as “nascent.” The whole purpose of the organization’s vociferous defamation of tea partiers, of its massive assault on the fragile, struggling movement’s freedom of speech and assembly, is to prevent the outcome that Sivers’s video so powerfully depicts.

The Lesson


Collin Wynter, dancin' fool

“Followers” are also leaders! They set a powerful example for others when they stand up for the values they believe in, no matter how unpopular. With stakes so high, every person has a moral duty to step forward and join the dance.

For more than fifty years, the menacing Thug has jealously retained sole power to mediate reality. More than any other factor, The Thug has thwarted every attempt by Americans and other Europeans to halt the downward spiral of our historic people into planned oblivion.

If enough people join the dance, the bad guys will get a taste of their own medicine. Social change can occur swiftly and unexpectedly once the tipping point is reached.

TOQ Online, March 16, 2010