There is an interesting guy in Russia, Alexei Navalny who has become widely known a couple of years ago for his anti-corruption investigations and his active political position that led him to a number of arrests.
Alexei calls himself a ‘politician’, and to a degree it is allowed in Russia, he actually is a politician. But ‘politician’ is a negative word for many people and rightfully so. He also says he was a lawyer and advocate for some time and in eyes of populus it is not much better than being a politician.
I would like to make the case here that Alexei and his Anti-Corruption Foundation are rather good investigation journalists than a political organization. Politicians don’t investigate corruption, they normally are walking depositories of corruption. Politicians are normally talking corruption when they are out of their offices for long. When they enroll into an office, they normally seek ways to get corrupted.
If you have read my piece about Journalism vs. PR, you would understand why journalism is what Alexei is doing with his foundation. He writes in his blog something people in power would rather see unpublished and tries to ‘upset an established order’. This is exactly what a good journalist should be doing.
Why Alexei is not promoting himself as a journalist? Well, probably because he has political ambitions, but he thinks public doesn’t believe a journalist could be a good country leader… Well, what’s so bad about journalists? I am not sure. Let’s examine who were Russian/Soviet leaders in XX-XXI century:
- Vladimir Putin: KGB agent.
- Boris Yeltsin: construction industry engineer.
- Mikhail Gorbachev: agriculture economist by education.
- Yuri Andropov: KGB director.
- Konstantin Chernenko: propagandist.
- Leonid Brezhnev: metallurgical engineer.
- Joseph Stalin: self-educated revolutionary.
Clearly these people were neither sort of ‘technocratic’ experts in how government works, nor experts in economics nor experts in anything for this matter. The only relevant expertise they possibly had was gossiping in corridors and making friends with influential people and then putting their bosses into cages or in graves and taking over their seats.
So, career of a journalist is a fine start for an activist to bootstrap yourself as a public person and build your name recognition. And being a journalist is much more moral place to be in than playing some asshole role in KGB oppressing ‘untrustworthy’ people around.
What KGB alumni is probably good to be a dictator the only purpose of whom is ‘saving the country’. The only problem with such exKGB guys is that they can never voluntarily finish their ‘savior mission’ before they die… When you think the country is saved, they still think there is a little extra thing to deal with for them and nobody else is capable to deal with it. Why? Because these KGB guys eliminate any strong leadership around them. They perceive it as a threat to their seat. So when the time comes, there is the only guy standing and he cannot pass the country to somebody else.
My advice is to start looking at journalists, they might be a good choice for a leadership position.