Nationalism, charisma and national character together produce a modern type of charismatic leadership. This chapter examines charisma in national leadership, as the ‘charismatic national leader’ often has no formal legitimacy or, in Max Weber’s terms, no ‘rational-legal authority’ and, as a result, has to rely mainly on his/her personality to sustain him/her as a leader. This chapter’s approach to the subject of national leadership and charisma is not theoretical, but contextual, arguing that there is a connection between the prevailing self-image of a nation concerning its own national character, culture and values and the kind of charismatic leadership that holds sway over the nation in times of crisis. This means that, in modern societies, a leader who embodies the national character in the public mind is likely to generate an atmosphere of charisma. In other words, national leadership becomes charismatic through the human need of the collectivity of followers to see their own idealised self, which is personified in their leader. This differs from plain obedience and legitimate authority. In addition it differs from the attribution of divine power to kings which distances them from the people rather than making them representative of their followers.1 National identity as well as hero worship of a charismatic national leader spring from individual feelings and are in a real sense also self-worship. Emphasising the interactive nature of charisma – for it depends on the followers choosing or accepting the charismatic leader as a perfected example of themselves – several historical examples are highlighted in this chapter This approach to charisma strays from the classic analysis of Max Weber,

which focuses on types of charismatic leaders, firmly lodging charisma in its bearers. In Weber’s theory, the charismatic leader is believed to be endowed with supernatural powers unlike those of ordinary men.2 This study is a modest attempt to focus on the modern role of charisma, that is a role compatible with a democratic and secular climate of opinion. Moreover, it aims to find a source for the choice of a charismatic leader in the psychological yearnings of the followers as much as in the capacity of the leader to respond to and satisfy these yearnings. It is argued that Weber’s theory is mostly focused on past periods in which religion, magic and hierarchies ruled the

relations between tribes and societies, on the one hand, and leaders, on the other. The inter-relationship between leader and followers that is proposed in this chapter is a product of observing charismatic leaders placed in a more democratic environment in which charisma has lost touch with its original meaning. This was traditionally closely associated with divine grace, whereas the new leader, however exceptional, is recognised from below as primus inter pares.3 If this understanding of charisma is criticised as a depreciation of the term, that would be a fair assessment which could be defended as one of the many demystifications that came with modernity, democracy and secularisation. Typically, Freud refers to the devotion aroused by a charismatic leader as a form of psychological ‘identification’ on the part of individuals.4