Why Large and Highly Effective Organizations Are Inclined To Tyranny


Total Disaster in the Teutoburg Forest, 9 A.D.

Tucker Carlson recently produced an episode on the Masters of the Universe who recently congregated in Davos for their annual conference to discuss how they are going to save mankind and planet earth from mankind. Carlson and others pointed out that none of the purported leaders who gathered at the globalist summit seem very impressive or competent. Moreover, many of their idealistic schemes for improving the world are laughably sophomoric, based on hypothetical models that fail to address complex reality.

Throughout history, many observers have marveled at how immensely powerful states and institutions are, as they mature, often led by smug and arrogant men whose personal abilities are not commensurate with the great power they hold. Why is that? A likely explanation is the extreme effectiveness of organizations. A stupid and corrupt mediocrity at the helm of a powerful organization will always be more effective than a talented individual operating in the world by himself.

Because the organization is so effective, it often lulls the mediocre leader into believing that HE is the reason for its success, and he therefore becomes arrogant and smug. While bad leadership may result in disastrous setbacks, they are likely to be temporary if the overall organization remains intact. Likewise, the triumphs of talented individuals will be equally temporary if they fail to organize.

I’m often reminded of the the German chieftain Arminius, who totally destroyed three Roman legions at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. A prince of the Roman-friendly Cherusci tribe, he was educated in Rome and then sent back to Germania with the Roman politician and general, Publius Quinctilius Varus, who was tasked with completing the Roman conquest of the country and its tribes.

From his close observation of the Romans, and Varus in particular, Arminius had privately come to the conclusion that—for all of their talk about civilization, law, and citizenship—they were a rapacious, exploitative, and tyrannical bunch. In Arminius’s estimate, Varus was little more than a glorified tax collector.

And so, Arminius set about forming a secret, rebel alliance of German tribes to set a trap for Varus’s 17th, 18th, and 19th Legions. Under normal circumstances, these tribes and their leaders were fractious and uncooperative, but in 9 AD, their uniform resentment of Varus brought them happily together.

Arminius’s plot was extraordinarily effective. Falling for a ruse de guerre, Varus and his legions pressed deep into unfamiliar terrain (now in Lower Saxony), where they were ambushed and totally destroyed—all three legions to a man wiped out. When the Emperor Augustus received word of the defeat, he is said to have temporarily lost possession of his senses. All three legions totally destroyed? How was it possible?

The “Varian Disaster” was a demoralizing blow, prompting the Romans to abandon their ambition of conquering Germania. Nevertheless, the Romans—with their vastly superior organization—continued to rule much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East for centuries to come.

The German tribes, on the other hand, went back to their fractious ways. Just twelve years after his great triumph at the Teutoburg Forest, Arminius was murdered by rivals in his own tribe .

Courageous Discourse™ with Dr. Peter McCullough & John Leake is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

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