Of Leaders and Prophets
” History bears witness to the vital part that the “prophets” have played in human progress, which is evidence of the ultimate practical value of expressing unreservedly the truth as one sees it.
Yet it also becomes clear that the acceptance and spreading of their vision has always depended on another class of men—“leaders” who had to be philosophical strategists, striking a compromise between truth and men’s receptivity to it. Their effect has often depended as much on their own limitations in perceiving the truth as on their practical wisdom in proclaiming it.
The prophets must be stoned; that is their lot and the test of their self-fulfillment.
A leader who is stoned, however, may merely prove that he has failed in his function through a deficiency of wisdom or through confusing his function with that of a prophet.
Time alone can tell whether the effect of such a sacrifice redeems the apparent failure as a leader that does honor to him as a man. At the least, he avoids the more common fault of leaders—that of sacrificing the truth to expediency without ultimate advantage to the cause.
For whoever habitually suppresses the truth in the interests of tact will produce a deformity from the womb of his thought. ”
–“Why Don’t We Learn from History”, B H Liddell Hart