“The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations,” has a thesis with understandable attraction for tea partiers — that poorly funded groups and companies loosely organized around basic shared ideas can change society, often by outmaneuvering governments or mega-corporations.
The title is based on the contrasting biology of spiders, which die when their heads are chopped off, and starfish, which can multiply when any given part is severed — a trait the book’s authors posit is shared by decentralized entities ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda to Wikipedia.
“This book is about what happens when there’s no one in charge,” write the book’s authors, Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. “It’s about what happens when there’s no hierarchy. You’d think there would be disorder, even chaos. But in many arenas, a lack of traditional leadership is giving rise to powerful groups that are turning industry and society upside down.”
“The tea party is encountering a very spidery political system where it is about power and it is about money and it is about getting someone into office,” Brafman told POLITICO. “It can be easier to unite around shared values if you’re not trying to elect people into office.”
Members have rejected what some activists have interpreted as efforts to impose more centralized leadership, such as the National Tea Party Federation, or to anoint leaders, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who chairs FreedomWorks.
“If you think about systems and organizations as creatures, they sometimes want to introduce a little bit of hierarchy, and you need to actually be very cognizant of hierarchy seeping in,” Brafman said. He predicted that if the tea party is able to maintain a predominately starfish structure, it will continue to draw grass-roots energy and could be a major force in American politics.
“The model is very, very empowering, so that although they may have entered it by accident, you find out that it is actually a really powerful way of organizing, and it kind of turns politics on its head,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve had a movement like this in recent [political] history, and I don’t know whether the two major parties have fully realized this power of the tea party.”
Emphasis added. You can read more here.
(So I bought the book today…so far, the first 40 pages are great)