tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 27, 2013 10:55pm-1:01am EST
telling the story. >> host: i love the term you being a professor at m.i.t. scientific racism. just lee, what do you say in the book? what is scientific racism? >> guest: there are few chapters in the book where i write about the emergence of race in science, within science. one of the things that i argue is that not only does science, one of the key ways for establishing the legitimacy of racial and the racial defense of slavery. >> host: in essence would i be incorrect in saying white supremacy? >> guest: yeah. i would argue it's the racial defense of slavery. it's the idea that african people are inherently inferior and created or prepared by nature for a certain level of humanity. and for certain level of treatment.
prepared by nature for that existence. that idea pre-existing rights of the scientific academy of north america but it gets co-opted by science. in many ways science becomes one of the key areas for defending race and for defending the injustices of modern slavery. i write about that in the book for a few reasons. one of the good ones is actually that's the path that allows universities to emerge by the 1830s. as independent actors in the political sphere. it's precisely the ability of university and faculty and officers to argue in defense of slavery that creates the space in the public sphere. >> host: i assume because it is the university that they are the center of learning so
therefore what more appropriate place to take place and validate this racist science or raise science you're talking about? gaska the prestige of the university rises with race and then race creates the prestige of the university so that race ultimately unfettered -- if you remember the beginning of our conversation we said these are church denominational schools. the break free of the church in the 19th century. largely because they have the capacity through science to make secular arguments. >> host: they start with nonsecular religious support and as they progress and become more influential but break free of that and align themselves with the pseudo-science. and my fair to say pseudo-science?
>> guest: absolutely in one of the key elements is the rate -- rise of racial science creates an public prestige and universities but the modern universities found exact way that moment. one of the things i would argue about the question of reparations and social justice is we have to remember the troubled history of the american university doesn't and when the book ends. it continues into the 20th century because those same racial concepts actually come to justify all sorts of new brutalities in the modern world. we shouldn't forget that a lot of those ideas didn't have their origin on campus but they got their legitimacy on campus. they got refined on campus. they got validated on campus. they got modernized on campus and got their prestige on campus. >> host: is there another 10 years? [laughter] to go from the 1830s forward?
>> guest: whoever wants to i will help them every step of the way. >> host: it's fascinating. >> guest: the young person with a full head of hair that won't set project that will help them every step of the way. >> host: amazing. to say it's at page-turner doesn't do it justice and i encourage everyone to please read this book and i started off making sure that people understood the this is not a textbook. this is not a textbook. this is an excellent chronological experience that you have taken our universities that we hear so much about and really it is their very history. it's their history from the beginning to where they are now. i do hope you will spend another 10 years doing it because you did this one justice. thank you very much.
politics and public affairs weekdays the train live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weekdays what's the public policy events and every week and the latest nonfiction authors and books. you can see past programs in their schedules that our website and join in the conversation on social media sites. >> i think radio is the longest and the best form of media left. unprecedented. only c-span knows how important the conversations are. read books the way that i do, talk to the authors seriously. tremendously revealing what authors have not read because they don't get many people that have read there books and know what they're talking about with page notes, and it is so rewarding for them. i get a great deal of satisfaction. the highest compliment is that is the best interviewer i have had. love the interview.
new collection. some of which are old. that makes my day. i like radio. three hours is an abundance of time. >> more with a radio talk host sunday night at a clock on c-span queue name. >> up next on book tv, "after words" with guest host susan glasser talking with christian caryl on his book "strange rebels: 1979 and the birth of the 21st century". this senior fellow of the center for national studies at mit argues that a left-leaning consensus developed across the world and that counterrevolution representing a new era began in 1979 with the election of margaret thatcher as british prime minister and the overthrow of the shah in iran. this is about an hour. >> host: hello. we are here to talk about your
terrific new book "strange rebels: 1979 and the birth of the 21st century". i am going to let you explain in a second why it is that 1979 was really the crucial his point to history. but let me first start of a little bit of explanation for what i think is a really unusual book that you have done. i know it is a labor of love. but for those of you joining us today, a longtime correspondent and a contributor as well as my colleague who contributes to a foreign policy magazine. and a i think you have done something very unusual with this book which is, you have managed to do, in a way, the impossible, linking together in one place margaret thatcher and ayatollah khomeini as characters in a unified counterrevolutionary
year of 1979. very provocative piece, but this was a year in which basic belief that backlash or the return of market and religion to global politics in a big way signaled a accountant -- counterrevolution toward the earlier postwar era. how did we come up with that? could it possibly write a book that says margaret thatcher, ayatollah, the communists, the iranian revolutionaries, never mind pope john paul the second and a resurgence of religion as a factor of polish nationalism which is a whole fascinating part of the book. how do you come up with putting these things together? >> it had a lot to do with my reporting in afghanistan after september 11th. you were there, too.
we actually -- if memory serves, we actually stayed in the same house for a while. you're with the "washington post" that. i was with this week. at house struck me and had this shag carpet and these tubular light fixtures, a ranch style house. was the kind of houses that we were growing up in the 70's, when i was a kid. i was struck by that. when you went outside you were driving around in 1970's, american cars, some times a track tape players. the ministry buildings, the government buildings are of the 1970's. and then when you went to the bookstore you found all of these great post cards and books about afghanistan in the 1970's. and what all of it showed was that afghanistan was actually an up-and-coming country in the 1970's. it was really going somewhere. and at the end of the 1970's, it is a law and history starts running in reverse, as it were.
and the more time i spent in afghanistan the more i found myself wondering. we should not take this as a self evident thing when an entire country goes into reverse . and during my reporting of the past couple of years i began to notice similar things in other places. and i began connecting the dots and thinking about what happened at the end of the 1970's. and i realize that if you look in a globally is an important moment. we tend to focus on 60's, western europeans tend to focus and the 60's. but if you look get it from a global perspective, i now think it looks quite that way. my book was kind of exploration, an attempt to figure out why this was so. >> host: let's take the five. briefly. you have afghanistan, as you mentioned. i always thought it was like the brady bunch spirit it was literally a copy of the house and the brady bunch with the open staircase, you know, the
family would come down, the opening scene. and yet it had been most recently occupied before newsweek took it over by leaders of a terrorist organization. but it is a great point that you make. afghanistan and the communist takeover of afghanistan which happened in 1979, china, the rise and the beginning of a turn , and then end to the cultural revolution. poland, as we mentioned, the election of the polis to the polish pope john paul the second and his return to the precursor of the solidarity movement. great britain, the election, and then the tall malts over the british economy that has been lost, part of the historical narrative of britain after thatcher. some looking for to come back to
that. and then number five, of course, the one parlay that most people think of first, the iranian revolution, the toppling of the shah end the hostage crisis. that is an awful lot of ground to cover. let's start with thatcher. there is a huge outpouring of tributes your bird texas are some of the myth. >> guest: i tried to do that. it is always a challenge because you want to show why someone is worth knowing about in the first place. there's been a lot of revision of the history of thatcher come but, of course, first of many have to establish why she was a board in the first place. a very few people vote -- a transformative figure it
generated a lot of myths. there are many about her. for example, american conservatives think of for as this icon of conservatism. guess what, she was in favor of national health insurance, never seriously tried to dismantle the health system because she knew how popular it was. she voted for the law when she was in parliament, decriminalizing homosexuality. she never interfered with gun control. if she had a chance she voted for abortion. so the social issues in which britain sometimes have very different opinions than american conservatives she does not look like a tradition of conservative. the traditional story is her relationship with ronald reagan. no question that there were close. they adore each other, but they were both very intense and then send went came to defending the national interest of their respective countries.
make no mistake, even when it came to ronald reagan, she was not shy about defending a national interest. >> host: she was not scared about much. is really about the economy in many ways, our legacy kind of her rise and fall according to your account. >> guest: yes. for example, we live now in a world where it has been taken for granted that capitol can flow across boundaries without any barriers that almost. the very first thing she did when she became prime minister was dismantled capitol controls in great britain. there was a time in britain or if you wanted to leave the country yet to fill out a form, and then it would give you 50, you know, french or something if you were going to france. you actually had a bureaucratic procedure. she did away with all of that which was important as a prerequisite for what came later, the huge deregulation project that turn london into a european and local financial center. we take all of this for granted today.
we justice and that this is a given. we'll send that big companies should not -- multinational corporations should not be on by governments. other parts of her legacy perhaps have not endured because we face as different conditions. austerity is a good example. she was very austere and her financial policies. and those sorts of policies are really coming under attack a lot so i think economic to she was hugely important in shaping this market-oriented world that we live in today, but by no means at all aspects of her legacy remained in place. >> host: it is this shocking howl much she is end up as the matriarch of modern politics and may be a reason that her successor, david cameron, embarked upon that path, as a
response to the financial crisis of 2008. she has been much in vogue even if actually be conditions bear almost no resemblance to the kind of math, heavily nationalized economy that she was dealing with in 1979 speech you exactly. she did reduce the punitively high rate of personal income tax. 83 percent, incomprehensible. no country as far as a personal income tax like that today, but at the same time she raised taxes on consumption because you believe in balanced budgets. she was willing to raise taxes to make the books balance. and in this she was quite different from reagan who, you know, allowed enormous deficits to build up which was quite a source of friction between the two of them. but when american conservatives house seat to position themselves as, you know, part of
her legacy, i really wonder if they're paying attention to that part of it. she was a budget hawk, not averse to raising taxes. the early part of for skynyrd. >> host: the willingness to use all the tools. it is certainly not the direction that american conservatives on capitol hill have gone in dealing with this latest budget crisis. sometimes history gives us lessons, and sometimes we don't know them. and i think, you know, it brings me right to the lightning rod subjects of the book, iran and afghanistan, countries that are very much front page news in the united states today in terms of policies that, frankly, get stuck and in many ways we're dealing with the legacy of the
1979 policies, but not sure that we have come up with a better way to negotiate with the iranians and we did at the time of the hostage-taking in afghanistan. have we learned the lessons of the last superpower to find itself enmeshed in a war there? is hard to say that when a war in afghanistan is now the longest war in u.s. history by a long shot. so let's start with iran, for example. what surprises you delve into the history, something that you feel like you know. a lot of things that you did not know or forgotten. >> one of the most fascinating things that we have had built into the history of the iranian revolution is this blend of the old in the new. one calls the revolutionary traditionalism. it was a revolution. it overthrew the shah, but it
was conservative staged in part by men in white beards in turbans, and a aligned themselves at the beginning with non as llamas democrats, secular, in some case nationalist, and the forces of the left. and ito was very smart in a way that he talked like a leftist. he loved talking about imperialism and colonialism and the fight against americans in germany. and he was very, very good at incorporating that sort of rhetoric which played a huge role in bringing the leftist and the other revolutionaries into his coalition. when we did not need them anymore, he discarded them. they had some very interesting characteristics you have this combination of an elected parliament and president which is the legacy of the democratic
revolution, shall we say. and then you have the supreme leader who is really appointed by the other cleric and you exercises ultimate authority. even today more than 30 years after the revolution we still see a power struggle between the president, the people who support him, and the supreme leader. there been power struggles says the day the islamic republic was founded. never quite seems to come arrest. fascinated by the with a legacy that ayatollah established continues to shape that country today very clearly. >> host: and particularly relevant, another presidential election coming up in just a few weeks in june, and that think you'll see that tension is of as americans continued to a struggle with the question of who really makes decisions in today's islamic republic. you can we negotiate with. and that is another striking thing. the internal american positions
at the highest level, the u.s. government over how we should approach this new more threatening iran. and you chronicle how the secretary of state had one point of view, much more in favor of negotiating a more conciliatory stance. you could be writing a story you could read page. >> guest: those things are very similar. the thing that was new, of course, nobody ever encountered an islamic revelation -- revolutionary movement like this. people at the time, there were looking for all kinds of comparisons, people comparing ayatollah to ghandi, wherever
comparison, he is a religious leader. pretty much as simple. and when you look at this policy feud, not putting too much and it, between the secretary of state, national security adviser at the time, what you see is competing views about what this whole thing means, what is going on here because it was hard to understand. we have to remember, the word is law missed did not really even exist at the time. this whole idea of is like revolutionaries and fundamentalist was new. >> host: and one thing i want to follow up, as a historical point, it is striking to recall in historical terms what will the hostage-taking of the american diplomats played in resolving that internal power structure. in fact, that was a key moment at which that question in the balance which many more elected, democratic form of government and a harder line clerical form
of government was resolved in favor of the clerics, in part because of the internal political success of taking the american hostages. they use that in a way it i think many americans would not be familiar with. >> guest: exactly, and that is another thing i wanted to examine. quite naturally and understandably and rightly we look at the hostage crisis from an american viewpoint. how could they possibly violate all of these diplomatic laws and traditions by holding our diplomats hostage. people were understandably and quite rightly very exercised over this, but at the time people tended to pay less attention to how that factored into these internal conflicts of and the iranian revolutionary jean. as you say, very, very skillfully used the hostage crisis to undermine his secular liberal opponent, branding them as agents of america and trying to enshrine the principle of clerical rule, and from then on
he had no serious challengers. >> host: that is striking. and just in terms of its present-day relevance, you make the point about, you know, being almost a key moment in the creation of modern political islamism as we know what. it sounds a lot like what is going on in egypt these days. early and so what is going to happen in egypt and what did that tackling of hosni mubarak, we don't really know yet. you know, it certainly seems like you can see parallels between the rise of the muslim brotherhood and what happened on the sort of early vacuum between a whole bunch of different political factions in egypt. their up the one who rent control.
was not in the story of the revolution. >> guest: absolutely, and that they will we are seeing right now is the process where the muslim brotherhood, for example, now the muslim brotherhood controls the presidency and the parliament of egypt and is showing signs of cracking down on the judicial branch and putting in judges to are amenable to the muslim brotherhood. it's extending there control the differences that egypt is 30 years later. an example of what of fundamentalist date and the like it's not a service a pretty so
even though the islamists right now are cementing their power over politics and egypt, i wonder if they're going to go quite so far, i wonder if there is not at least some extent to which that example deters them from absolute power. we will see. right now it does not look very good. but, of course to my big difference is the people in charge of regional or not clerics. they're not members of a theocratic regime. they're just members of the muslim brotherhood who have appointed themselves to be the defenders of the politics in egypt. so i think that also covers the situation from a different perspective, but it does not look very good. >> well, speaking of not looking very good, it is relative. we go from iran to afghanistan which has an even more tragic narrative over the last 30 years, and it really begins, in many ways, with the soviet tanks
rolling in to defend a regime that they did not particularly want to. is an interesting take away from your accounting of this sad history of coups and the communist infighting that led to the soviet invasion in the first place. >> guest: that, of course, is a very important part of the story. and the british intervened in the 19th century, and intervene several times, and you never really quite want to go. you always get drawn in against her will by the internal politics, and that is what happened to the british, the soviets, and in many respects us in 2001. i don't think anybody was that keen on getting involved in afghanistan in 2001. we felt it was something that we had to do. once we were there we could not leave. >> that is a key part. everyone was a consensus. the u.s. was going to do something in retaliation for the
attack, but they had in mind something that was not going to involve a big footprint on the ground that would last a you know, does in his letter. and that is the part about getting sucked in by the dysfunctional politics and situations on the ground. >> guest: was frustrated me about the situation in 7879 was just how different it was from what we face today. many things are radically different. there are no radical leftist parties are secular parties in afghanistan today. that has all been pretty much wiped out, but in the 1978 time friend those were the powerful forces in afghanistan. the president, some of the 1970's, a secularist modernizer. he was replaced in 1978 by the afghan communist he tried to remodel society according to their own utopia design.
the whole country rose up against him. completely white doubt that old afghanistan that we saw in the 60's and 70's that was really so radically different. i don't want to exaggerated too much. there were a lot of religious people. and the countryside, quite conservative. always been a conservative country, but if you walk around in the 1970's you would see girls in skirts, very few women in merck is. people dressed in western-style clothing taking that -- is in taurus around to the sites. a radically, radically different place. one of the thing i tried to explore why change so dramatically.
>> host: and that is so important. one of the most popular things we have ever run now website is a terrific fellow as a call once upon a time in afghanistan. and people just cannot get enough of the pictures of women in pencil skirts and sort of snazzy madman arad signature. absolutely. you know, sort of groovy records, hang out kind of clubs and stuff. you know, there was a sense of afghanistan on a development trajectory and actually, in the time before it all started to go down hell the u.s. was competing for influence in afghanistan, so you had both of them building these big projects, building the south. you know, the tunnel that connected afghanistan's north with the capital. i mean, these are incredible. there were moving society's board in significant ways.
has been a very poor, landlocked country that people were astonished to realize it is such an experiment. there was an alternate trajectory, and we all have this historical determinist after the fact. that was inevitable. what i like about your book is it actually forces us to get away from that kind of lazy habit of saying, oh, yeah, sure, it's just always was a suede. i think that the court that people start with that once upon a time afghanistan. so a quick question, and then we will move on to the next example . uni both lived in russia. how did you come away from your study of the soviet debasement in afghanistan thinking in terms of what role that conflict played in hastening? are you one of those people think it actually just had to do with the price of well in the
1980's, or do you think that afghanistan hastened the soviet demise? >> i am one of those people it thinks the soviet demise did a lot. you can't focus on one and not the others. it was a confluence of several things, but afghanistan was one of the biggest and most important enormous resources. and not any less importantly. chase away the soviet citizens saw their own government. the government which forced to lie about the things that it was doing. one dead soviet soldier started coming in. not widely publicized. people knew that it was happening. citadel lot to undermine the authority, and that think quite importantly it also made the
soviet union 1979 is also the year when the muslim population try to overtake the soviet union population, an interesting moment. the arms race with the united states, a lot of these other places conspired to make life hard, but i do think that the war in afghanistan was a major factor. >> host: let's go to the other end of the soviet empire. in 1979 you had this really amazing spectacle of a polish pope and not only was see the first nine italian and western european centuries, but really it is your view that he started
the solidarity movement. what strikes you as fresh? >> well, i think the thing that strikes me as particularly fresh is the way that polls have described the impact that he had on them. it was not just the pride the polish pope. he became pope in 1978. extremely happy about that. the kremlin was extremely worried about it faugh. i think it has a great deal to do with the special qualities. he was one of the most brilliant man ever to become pope. and amazingly brilliant guy.
he was an incredible figure, and the combined that intellect with a very easy, charismatic way of dealing with ordinary folks. a very fine parish priest because he did things with his parishioners. he went out and its words with them. he attended the confirmations with the children, very much involved. a remarkable, unique, individual the other big thing, the role that he played in getting them to think of a running their own entry the communist they said we will provide security, but you
have to of provide everything yourself. they organized the trips, they managed the crowd. for a lot of them there was a revelation because they have grown up under the communist system, used to having the state do things for them and suddenly here they were organizing nine days of popular events were 11 million poles took to the streets traveling through different parts of the country. that was quite a revelation. that was an important movements which came up the very next year . >> host: religion, practical politics as well as in opposition politics. can you really make a link? keeping that there is a link between the time of religious opposition to communist authority.
the religious opposition to the shaw. >> guest: i think they're different. he was obsessed with human rights. john paul the second road quite extensively. he had suffered under the nazi occupation of poland and the stalinist time. so he was really quite a assessed. he built up an entire personal, philosophical direction based upon the primacy of the human individual and human rights. there was a view that is mom was everything an individual rights harry often had to be superseded. so i think in that respect there were very, very fundamentally different, but there are some striking parallels.
and monday interesting parallels , both of these men were mystics. in some ways they were very unusual in their religious beliefs. john paul the second had an intense mystical relationship to christ and the virgin mary and was not your ordinary priest. really amazing an unconventional rounds. ayatollah was also a practitioner, mystical, sort of along the lines of what we would call sofia's some. and there were many other clerics regarded him as a practitioner of forbidden or suspect ideas. and what is interesting is the way at mysticism and lead to political activism and make you more of political activists a whole lot of things, complex.
your the direct line to god you might think you have a greater ability to shape events. and that is something that i find to be very interesting parallels between these two men. >> host: where do you see this story of poland and the catholic church today. many people perhaps moved on. at least in eastern europe. gone from that. we have a new pope today. a story that is very much moving out of your where the churches on the decline. does this chapter of your book have relevance today? >> i think that it does. the striking thing when you look at the history of the catholic church in politics in the 1970's and 80's is the way that the church is very effective when it is -- how can i put it, when it is in the opposition in the
philippines, even south korea church plays an incredibly powerful role in organizing opposition and mobilizing opposition. and then you have a regular democracy, regular secular state the cuts became cozy. they realize they did not like that some months. we see very interesting phenomenon that church has become the state. many opinion polls, studies suggest this is undermining the position of islam is and people brought seeing it as part of the establishment. islam has lost its opposition on cachet and power to defend the powerless and has become part of the power structure.
when i think is fascinating is the way that in these cases we have seen the power of the church to marshal opposition, but when it becomes part of the power structure it loses that ability and because part of the establishment and people don't think about it in the same way. is something that i find very, very relevant in this story which continues today. >> host: it is interesting buried in the other part of your book which is one of the major things that has to do with the incredible transformation in china -- the opposition comes from within the upper echelon of the communist party. and so you have an insurgency from on high, if you will. you know, and that is the amazing story of his return from being banished in the cultural revolution to unleashing one of the greatest transformations our lifetime. in a way this was the big story that you're telling. how did you crack into that?
so many people i've tried to tell the story. >> that is a good question. i think it is a fantastic story and one that a lot of people have forgotten. again, the slight political islam we take china as a capitalist countries so far granted. we seem to have forgotten that it was a wrenching and very difficult and very unlikely change. >> it was exactly like north korea, except with a billion people making the transformation , and transform itself into something completely different. at the time it started rather small. one of the things i enjoyed it very much was that people did not compared china's economic reforms to the united states or western europe, the idea that capitalist china would have
probably gotten used into an insane asylum, they compare the economic reforms time greed or yugoslavia or even ease germany which seemed like the most successful economically successful number of the eastern bloc. so i think that just goes to underline how likely -- on lightly and surprising these changes are when they happen. and as i tell in the book, a great way to tell the story and china is by going back and looking at what people were looking at the time. i have this story or an american investor is brought to a place and all that he should invest and he just sees water buffalo and rice paddies, and the place they took into is now a shenzhen which has a population of new york city and your ipad is made there. so i think there are a lot of great ways to tell the story, and some people told them at the time very, very vividly. there have been great books read a time of these changes the
number nowadays people of kind of forgotten the story. i have a lot of fun trying to bring it back to life. ♪ -- >> host: that raises the question that applies in china and i think across the stories that you look at in the book. that is, how rider wrong war we at the time? as you look back into it and how these stories are covered at the time, that instant history that was written, did we understand the historical import of these events at the moment? are we really of the mark? >> i think we missed a lot of the story at the time. you know, the big story in 1979 for americans and chinese was the visit to the united states at the beginning of 1979 which marked the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries and was a huge event. the economic changes that were going on at the time which we would probably now regard as much more consequential and important were largely missed
simply because people could not imagine how far they would go, just missed. we did not understand how significant they were. when the soviets invaded afghanistan, we can look at the memos and see what people were thinking in the carter white house. he reacted quite toughly. even before he was giving covert aid to the islamic rebels who were revolting against the afghan communist party government, but what is interesting when you go back and look at this is that people in the white house thought that this was part of some larger soviet plan. they thought it was like the soviets invading czechoslovakia armory said throughout communist party rule. this was an extension and there are going back. what they did not understand was that the soviets did not really want to do this at all. they kind of felt that they were forced into it by the rapid deterioration of the situation
there. they were extremely reluctant, and when they actually made the decision, they did not even have a proper paper, you know, that they all signed. it was as vague memorandum that did not even say what they were going to do. >> host: just like vietnam speech you just like vietnam, they split into it. they really did not want to be there. and i'm not sure we understood the extent to which that was the case. we thought it was all part of development. >> host: right. and, you know, it is interesting when you think about the extent to which the united states was involved, of course, has a significant player in all these stories in different ways, and get you have done something commendable, you have not put the u.s. front and center, whether they have a deep relevance, both to american history and also to decision makers today. you know, how daring of that are
you being to not put the united states front-end center? are we to soften of to read a book that is about other people? [laughter] >> guest: i don't know. we will see how it does. it is a good question. that was a conscious decision because i thought that as important as the united states is committed is not the only country in the world. and this was the year i felt where there were a lot of other interesting things happening. the united states is a part of the stories, but it is on at the center, and in many ways it is reacting to events more than is shaping them. we thought it was important to capture that. i was trying to write a truly global book. >> host: and ronald reagan, for example, not on the cover. many bullets say, well, 1979 was a crucial year. he was about to be elected president. this was the beginning of the republican revolution here in the united states. do you see him as fitting into this story?
>> i would contend that he was not really a player in 1979. he was starting to campaign against carter, an important domestic politician, but his moment really came later, and that is why i did not include him in his book. there are some important events that pre stages era, for example, 1970 year -- 1979 was a year the moral majority was founded, the start of evangelicals, born-again command to being directly in a way that they had not before which was crucial to reagan's 1980 victory but this moment that i am trying to capture here is to might think, a slightly earlier moment. and for that reason i have not really brought reagan into a. i just felt that he really belongs to a slightly later era. >> host: tell me about where you think 1979 fits and on those years that are kind of the hinges of history, the pivot
points of history, 1789 and 19 seventeens and 1989 and most recently the arabs bring revolution of 2011. word is 1979 fit on that spectrum in terms of the import? will it be one for the long term? will we be talking about it as we still do well 1789n1848? >> i would make the case that we should because i simply think that it was such an important turning point. it marks an important moment the domination of the ideas from the left which played a huge role and victorious century in if you want a communist or socialist a social democrat you invariably found yourself reacting to these ideologies. will we have seen in 1979 is the rise of canal when i put it,
finally viable alternatives to ideologies. markets were no longer. is on becomes an ideology. turns out that as ideologies these things compete quite well. i was just talking to someone the other day who read the book. he felt himself to be much more of a leftist but said with a left ever find a language that unifies the way that marxism did and i thought that was a very, very good question. i don't think it has. i'd think the left is still trying to find a response to these things. i think that is because this year and the things that happened this year and the changes that this year initiated . i think may be this may be drawing to a close. when it does, the ideological viewpoints of people have to be different from what they are
today. >> host: it is such an interesting point you are making and an important one because most of our conversations about the death of ideology has revolved around the collapse of communism later and that has come to be seen as the moment when ideology died, leftism died , but you are in a sense saying, no, that is wrong and we need to move the clock back. the death of leftist ideology was in 1979 and had this decade-long afterlife the you could argue as events play themselves out from 1979 to 1989, but i think that is an interesting argument. you could say that actually there was a new ideological consensus that had given birth in that year around markets and religion which have yet to die. that is a very interesting and
new take on things. and it is certainly true, today's left is a very different one and the laughter when we were kids. >> guest: oh, yeah. >> host: republicans love to call barack obama socialist and love to talk about him as a european left liner, but in reality even the european left has excepted they think what came to be known as a washington consensus, although you're arguing really that it belongs to an earlier harvard, but even a left except that basic principle that market has been threatened by the last few years. do you think that the financial crash of 2008 and the ongoing trauma associated with that in europe especially could finally spell the end of that market oriented consensus? >> guest: i think it has in many ways. as i tell people, if you are taught -- and the united states and cannot find a job and i
saddled with $100,000 in college debt, wonder if you will believe in capitalism away some did it went to college in the early 1980's and was born into a completely different world. i think that what happened with the financial crisis is that it deeply undermined a lot of our faith in capitalist institutions , but again, no one has found the language to bring the opposition to that together. no one has found a coherent ideological alternative to that. and so i think barack obama is a great example. i agreed that he really does not fit the definition of the 1970's and 1980's socialist a stretch of the imagination. he is simply very different. you mentioned -- you mentioned the united kingdom. it was one of tony blair's associates who said we are all thatcher writes now, members of the labor party. so what i think is still missing
is the opposite. what is the coherent alternative , the coherent alternative to this market consensus? i don't think it is being a maoist because the chinese abandoned that. i don't think it is being a marxist leninist. the russians abandoned that. there are still of you out there in the world. >> host: but everyone is a pragmatic marketeer, except for the people who are religious leaders. >> guest: right. exactly. we all know that there are big problems with the system, but we have not figured out an ideological alternative. >> host: in your book in many ways is really history of ideas as well as the advance that i then shaped by those ideas which is part of what makes this such an unusual but, but then it does go back to this question of, you know, is it relevant still to the time we're living in or have we capture the moment in time?
you said something earlier, it has taken 30 years since really if you think about it like this, 1979 there were as close to or two as they are to us today. and in a way where you are seeing in 1979 is the end of that post world war ii era of ideology and politics and, you know, governing consensus in many of these countries camino, the shah of iran is a good example, directly came to the throne after his father's ill seeded and it ill advised alliance with the nazis in world war ii. so you have these arrangements that came about at the end of world war ii finally reaching there and. in 1979. certainly that is true of the story of britain. >> guest: exactly. >> host: so are really reaching the end point?
the ideologies? >> guest: that is a great question. i think a lot depends upon what works and what does not. because, you know, people need to put themselves back into the historical context. that european state and american state delivered unprecedented prosperity after world war ii. people live better. the working class is in europe and in the united states that better than they ever had before , and president lee cell which worked for a good 30 years and in the 1970's, the energy crises, stagflation, the west to the wall and they needed new solutions. it was clear that the old model was not going to work anymore for ever reason. so i see some interesting parallels to that and the financial crisis because the financial crisis showed that with limited faith in markets, probably not the same faugh.
we need some sorts of alternatives or corrections perhaps would be a better way of putting it. some countries to try to put in place corrections or somehow reform their market structures, but you cannot help but think that might not be enough to satisfy voters in this country and in your are now having a very hard time of it. the employment rate may be increasing, but there is still enormous segments of the american population who are not benefiting him from the growth that is going on. you cannot help but wonder whether that will at some point turn into a fundamental discontent that has some really transformative the fact. but i don't know. perhaps we will see that. >> host: when you started in on the book. it has been a long journey were the things that surprise you. these are stories that you came into knowing a fair amount about. >> one thing that surprised me
and continues to is the extent to which a lot of people did not really understand what was going on in china and took maoism at a -- face value. they sit in down at the table. just then a few years earlier with the documentary team 70's leftist. she begins to-. going on and on about how great this was that's ridiculous. teaching in universities, not planting crops.
but a lot of the chinese scholars at the time still bought into maoism and these ideas. this is one of the reasons why it was so hard to understand the reforms going on in china. and as you go back to the accounts of the time, a lot of the established chinese dollars just did not quite get the story they did not understand what they're receiving. a lot of them were still wedded to these old images of maoist china and in some cases there were quite bewildered. >> host: this argument, one of the people you rely on, the smart british diplomat who, you know, just went out there and beat the pavement as if he were a journalist. in effect and interviewed people and wrote down what he saw. >> guest: exactly. i'm happy to say he is still alive and an absolutely magnificent book that has stood
the test of time. i would say his is pretty hard to beat. precisely, as you say, he went out, was on the ground, got the story. and he saw things very, very pragmatically without an ideological lens. and so he caught a lot of things that other observers missed. >> host: that is interesting. so ideology is or can be the enemy of history. >> guest: i think very much so, and i am struck when i look back at this time again by how you very ideological people did not understand what they were thinking. i had a very good conversation with the gentleman you might remember, a man who wrote a fantastic book about the evils of the saddam hussein regime. and he was a very, very convinced leftist. and he described to me, his wife was iranian at the time of the iranian revolution.
and he described to me how completely bewildering the iranian revolution was to them. you believe the theories of the struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat and all of these things, you just did not understand it. it was completely nonsensical. so they tried to write articles and their journals explaining why the masses were temporarily being, you know, seduced by ayatollah. in the end he said that they were just completely -- he said this was the end of a lot of communist and socialist believers in the middle east because it just ceased to be a viable alternative that people did not want. >> host: i think that is an important out for us to and on. we're almost at that time, but not entirely. what brought this question. what is not in the book, one of the most significant things to you were talking about. a great on the book for someone in the rise of the personal computer which happens right in
the 1979-1980 timeframe, but do you see technology as playing a role, even backstage, the hands of this new order that would come in the stories? >> absolutely. the rise of telecommunications is use the important. he was in exile for much of the iranian revolution and communicate with the supporters to the state of the art telephone switching system that had been started by the americans for the shah. the call-up anyone anywhere which was used the important. and, you know, all the satellites. very important. you see a lot of different levels on which the technology was influencing all of this. there were not yet there, but there were very much a part of this. technological aspect really deserves to be gone into more deeply than i was able to. >> host: tell me, if you were
to do a follow-up to the book which you go and with 1980 are where is your next moment? 1989, will that be the next part? >> guest: that is a great question. and i think that all right for about a year again. in terms of the response. >> guest: i am happy with it. a lot of people got it. when you write a book like this you're sitting alone in your room wondering, am i just and that case are people going to understand some of the points i am trying to make. i think a lot of people have understood exactly what i was trying to say. of course, i am making an argument to a certain degree, but if you just want to read the story and examine the lives of these incredible characters and stories that they're going through, i think that is quite
enough. you don't necessarily have to buy my larger argument about ideology, counterrevolutions and all of that. you can enjoy it as a historical narrative i hope, but i tried to write a book that would have different levels, you know, something for everyone. >> host: congratulations on the book and thank you, again, what is very interesting conversation. a lot to chew over. in luck with the book tour. >> guest: thank you very much. >> visit booktv.org to watch any of the programs to use your online. type the author are book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on booktv.org easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting
the format. book tv streams live online 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. booktv.org. >> that a great deal is the longest in the best form of media left. will we are doing right now is our own conversation. read books the way that i do, in order to talk to the other seriously. it is tremendously revealing ..
up next on booktv "after words" with guest host talking with bob lutz. discussing the leaders that made the best and worst impressions on him during his career in the auto industry. this program is about an hour. >> host: bob, it's great to be with you this afternoon. i hope you doing well. >> guest: thank you, debby. i am. and i hope you are too. >> host: i am. well, and i joyed reading the book in the last week. i have clearly known you a long time. and knew a number of the people in the book you wrote about. i wondered why did you write this book now? >> guest: well, it's clearly something i couldn't have written while i was actively employed by general motors, because some people, either within general motors or other
companies might have taken offense. but it was a book i always wanted to write because i had worked for a number of very interesting personalities and i felt that at sometimes skewed personalities. people with a great deal of ability on one side, but some very serious flaws on the other. and figured that public rarely, if ever, gets an inside look at the overall behavior of some of these famous executives they have read about. >> host: so, what is your definition of leadership? especially in business. what would you -- what do you look for in a good leader? >> guest: well, indefinitely -- look, the most important prerequisite is an absolute sense of integrity. if that isn't there, everything else is built on a house of cards. you also look for a healthy degree of self-confidence, there
has to be some ego. you can't have a retiring, shy person who likes to defer to other people. that's not possible. it has to be somebody with some command presence. a leader also has to, obviously, have decent interpersonal skills, but must have the ability to communicate because the leader -- a leader can't say do this and don't ask why. just do it because i say so. that's not a very effective form of leadership. a much better form of leadership is to use the power of verbal or written communications to pave the vision that everybody wants to follow. once you've gotten all the troops mobile idessed and wanting go in the same direction as you do. it becomes pretty easy. >> i read this book a couple of times preparing to talk about this today with you, and i honestly was trying to figure out who did you think was the
most effective leader. did you have a favorite ?reard i had a difficult time, because you did give the both pluses and minuses. ultimately i use the scoring you did at the end of the book. but who was -- who do you think the most effective leader was you worked with in the auto industry? >> guest: well, the most effective leader i worked for in the auto industry, i have to say for all his flaws, profanity, the down sides to him was, without question, lee. >> host: and why? did you learn things from him? >> guest: well, you know, i learned a lot of good things. i hopefully didn't learn too many bad things. but lee was passionate about the company, passionate about saving this inner passion, this interrer drive, of course, is another good hallmark of good leaders. they have to be enthusiastic
about the tasks they are embarked on and able to convey it. lee was a brilliant communicator. and he also, on good days, and he was sometimes off his game a little bit. on good cay -- days he could listen to a very, very complex, multifaceted business problem and thereon everybody talking and after 30 minutes say wait a minute. shut up. i think i have it figured out. he would lay out an impeccable step-by-step plan. there were other days which seemingly obvious problems seemed to escape him, and he was also -- at times, this is at times he was -- i would say overly driven by a sense of ego and people needed to defer to him. he needed red carpets rolled out
for him. figuratively speaking, of course. and he was often somewhat shy man. especially in the company of others he didn't know. but over all, you know, take the weaknesses and the positives, he was a highly effective, highly visible leader who could rally the troops, not only in-house but he could also get the dealers behind him and you saw the brilliant job he did with the u.s. -- with congress during the days of the chrysler loan guarantee. believe me, that was a tough sell. >> host: i agree with you. he was respected. i was trying to figure out also who you least respected. who in your career or life that you wrote about did you least respect and why? >> guest: well, certainly art
hawken whom i never worked for directly. he was the ceo of -- i succeeded him as ceo of the company. , i mean, i just uncovered the biggest possible can of worms. he was in violation of many state and federal laws found guilty of racketeering, i mean, he did there have not only a lack of integrity but a huge ego, self-peeling. this man never should have been in a position of responsibility in any large organization. but again, he possessed some of the traits that good leaders have. which was the enormous degree of self-confidence, the command presence, you know, he looked like a leader. he sounded like a leader, he used the vocabulary of leadership.
people were persuaded by him. they were fooled by him. somebody that possessed the skill set but did not possess the moral or ethical requirements to be a leader. and he eventually dragged the company down, because when i took over, it was impossible for me to do business with certain companies. for instance, i couldn't entertain walmart as a customer even though they were potentially would buy 7 or 8 million batteries a year. that say, i'm sorry, we're not going deal with a company where the former ceo is headed for the federal penitentiary. so i found that a lot of doors -- i couldn't waive equity because the company was still under indictment in several states. so this was a guy whose personal greed and willingnd to cheat and lie to achieve his goals
actually destroyed the company and drove it at the chapter 11. >> yeah. i think you did right, by the way. let me ask you this question. why don't you talk about at the end of the book you have a scoring metric system for what you call the bean counter that need to have things in metrics. talk about that a little, so that people understand what the metrics are. i don't think people know you very well would think of you as a bean counter or metrics. i think you have passion. >> guest: i'm not. [laughter] but and of course, of course debby, when you -- first of all, a set of leadership attributes are my own, and i don't claim that they're complete. other people might have others but i think i have a firly comprehensively list. secondly, the importance or the weighting of the leadership skills. to be honest, some people might not attach as high as weighting
to integrity. others might attach a greater weighting to creativity. and i think it depends. i think i gave the disclaimer. i said, look, these weightings are subjective. they're the way i see. other people might have different weights. i wanted to at the end of the book, i wanted people to have an opportunity to kind of see an effort, even if it's subjective quantify indication. i wanted them to see some sort of quantified way of assessing who is best, second best, third best. and i also wanted to encourage people to do a self-assessment oar assess their present leaders. and you'll probably recall at some point in the book those individuals have worked for me and any of the four company in this case work -- companies i worked for i certainly would welcome them
filling on the form on me. you are basically never too old to learn. >> host: why don't we use it as a chance to do some self-assessment about talk about yourself as a leader. clearly, what do you think some of the leaders thought about having of -- some clearly chose you and it looked like a few may not have. what do you think of yourself as a leader. using that self-assessment. >> guest: well, first of all, i don't classify myself as an articulate -- i can get people enthusiastic. he was clearly very passionate about the business i was in. i think thanks to my training in the marine corps., and also my general --
large american automobile companies. i had. i think a pretty impeccable sense of business ethics. what you do and don't do. on are i think on the integrity front i passed. i certainly -- i think i'm a creative person. so i was easily -- i found easy to come up with new ideas and new solutions to old problems. give myself a high score on that. i didn't keep it to myself. one of the rules you should observe as a subordinate is maintain loyalty to your leader, and you should not openly criticize that leader in the
presence of others. and that's one that i occasionally violated. one of the things that struck me an organization can become an bureaucracy karat institution that can dampen inspiration. i don't think you ever let it happen to yourself. but why -- how do you and leaders ensure it doesn't happen? >> basically -- this is why i say good leaders are often impatient. they're often somewhat inteam operate. they are sometimes arbitrary. because the leader always listens to everyone. always listens to all of the viewpoints wants to make sure everybody is convinced before they make a decision.
you just lose valuable time. ic a good leader has a sense of impatience. is impatient in overly long meetings. a lot of people make contribution to demonstrate their knowledge as posed to advancing the cause of the meeting. but not as much get done. i think we e both now examples of leadership style that was overly patient, overly tolerant
of other opinion and finally was too slow moving. we know people that was too patient. you were allowed to show your impatience more than i was. let me ask you a different question. how does leaders encourage creative thinking. how do the create ideas comet forward and be heard in an organization? >> guest: yeah, and i don't think anybody has ever completely solved that. but certainly one way you do it is by espousing new different solutions to yourself.
when they try something out of the box and it doesn't work you don't punish them. i'll tell you a little 30 second story. two young engineers at chrysler, when i was there, took company car home with them because a company engineering car because they thought they could make some modification to where you shift the four-speed automatic transmission with a little switch. which is now known as a tap shift, you know, every car has got it. they successfully did that. and they were able to demonstrate that chrysler could now, for a cost of $10 a car, introduce a manually shiftable automatic transmission. well, when the organization heard about it, it was immediately "how do you do unauthorized work on a company car."
who authorized do you take the car home with you? who authorized the work? do you realize that you did unauthorized damage to a car company? and the whole weight of the bureaucracy was about to be descend on them and squashed like maggots. and i found out about it and said, wait a minute. these two kids exercised their own initiative, did something that every automobile company in the world trying to do. general motors hasn't done it, ford hasn't done it. they figured out a low-cost way to give the owner the convenience to be able to shift the automatic transmission at his desire. i think they are heroes. we finally wound up giving them the chairman price. i think if do you it once or twice. you reward innovation as opposed to squashing it, the word gets out and all of -- then what you find is that all of the innovative people in the organization prior to that hunkered down.
they come out of the wood word and make contributions. >> host: let me ask you a question i think the united states government could use some help on too. i knew what you were going say when you talked about the organization's reaction. i worked in those organizations. and the autos like so many corporations that have been successful for decades or hundreds of years have grown to the large bureaucratic organizations that do squash and what is -- how do you get rid of level of bureaucracies that come in to exist organizations that have been successful at lasting but aren't successful at innovation creativity, et. cetera. >> guest: right. it's a problem still facing a lot of american businesses. it certainly is facing a lot of american communities and we saw what happened to detroit over
time built an apparatus administrative apparatus that is simply no longer supportable by the revenues. i was just talking to a consult assistant today about a major american corporation that is facing head wind seeing decline in revenue. decline in margins, and they are also reluctant to reach in and take the bitter medicine that is going to take to right size the company. basically what it takes is somebody they found them so amusing in the american government. when there's a new problem instead of asking your existing organization to deal with the new problem. to expand the scope, a new department is formed. and so the departments all over the place many of them operating
across -- i don't know how many intelligence services we have. but a lot of corporations behave the same way. you'll remember in general motors under the go fast initiative. it's supposed to be a respondent use flow of little ideas that can be quickly adopted to streamline the organization or make tasks easier. the ceo wanted to know how many go fasts or curing throughout the company. who was creating it. which department fostered the most go fast. how fast were go fast being processed, how many were adopted, what were the savings for the go fast. i see all large organizations
during that. they'll create a new bureaucracy to solve the problem of the old burke. and of course the old briewrk doesn't want the problem solved. the only way to is it's got to be -- but detroit is undoubtly in a couple of years going emerge as a new stronger welt balanced city with a realistic tax base, a lot of heretofore public services privatized, et. cetera, et. cetera. and certainly true for general motors and chrysler. and true for a lot of american companies. government is going to require -- i hate to say this, but it's going require a chief executive
who is not -- but very much focused on streamlining government and reducing the size of big government. reducing budget, and unfortunately forcing a lot of nice to have people out of government service and encouraging them to find jobs somewhere else a highly effective leader who is facing a difficult or seemingly intractable situation cannot wait around for everybody to agree with what he or she is doing. at some point, you know, that's why he or she is the leader. it's supposed to force change. it's going take somebody in government to force change. and say i don't care about this. we don't need this. we don't need that. we can consolidate that or hand
out to task to everybody and tell everybody. everybody is going to get rid of 30% of the people. you guys figure it out. i'm not going tell you how to do it. t going take something arbitrary like that. of course is it an unpleasant task in yes. would the person get heavily criticized? yes. negative press? yes. he or she likely be voted out of office the next time around? again, yes. that's why it's difficult to do. instead of actually tackling the problem, most leaders in government and industry they just kind of kick the can down the road this is something we're going have too address someday. a lot of people find comfort in doing lock range plans. they are usually five years out.
i've seen in my career i've seen hundreds of those plans which make everybody feel good. they all go home at night and are tired. once it's finished and put to bed they say we fixed that one. of course they haven't fixed a darn thing. i agree on everything you said, by the way. which probably scaring some people out there. did they make a difference to you? >> guest: no. >> host: we agree on that too. >> guest: we do. all of these silly initiatives
of this and that and it was really the program dejuror. they were sold to the company by consult assistants. i think one of the cancers in the side of the american industry and the american society of human resources professional is sending me a bunch of angry e-mails on this one. it's almost a cancerous growth in the -- human resources keep the personnel records, and make sure they get paid and serve the right ones up for raises periodically. expanded to all kinds of programs and betterment just myriad programs they grow and grow and grow.
they are the instigators of many of these enormously time consuming bureaucracy creating new niche fives that everybody has to pretend believe in and then usually books are handed out that everybody has to read. it's a huge waste of time. and i saw this. i saw a lot of that. i saw it at chrysler and ford. we saw more than we wanted to see at general motors. i think if human resources were either outsourced or cut down back to the basic functions of keeping the personnel records making sure people get paid and that the promotional increases take place. i think we all be a lot more better off. because they create way more work than they actually aleve
yailt. you and i both remember what was performance management system? the general motors. the pmp. >> host: pmp. >> performance management program. where we would, i mean, we would spend literally hours or days developing next year's goals and quantifying them all. and then checking them against other people's goals. then having big meetings to make sure that everybody's goals were consistent with everybody else's goals. when it was all done, you put them in the desk drawer and never looked at them again. >> host: your communications people are having a heart attack right now. if they were at one of the company. you speak the truth. that's what you're trying to do in the book about leadership. but it begs a question for a minute. i was going to have to ask it sometime. i'm going ask now. you don't have any women leaders in the book. and e i'm curious what you think about women as leaders, and what you think of them as being part
of your team and why does the auto industry still have a glass ceiling for women at the top? ?rg that's several questions in one. female this guy is obviously sexist because he doesn't deal with a single female leader. the reason why i didn't is i never had a female superior. it's just not my fault. it's other people's fault for not having promoted women early enough so i can report them. having said that, i think all in all, and now what do i think of women as leaders. i think women are highly effective as leaders. not all of them.
but good female leaders are highly effective. i would have to look at national leaders like margaret thatcher a brilliant leader or of israel or so forth. a number of officers are female now. certainly a in the case of mary often spoken 77 candidate to succeed dan a ceo of general motors. and ford motor company has a highly placed females whose name escape me now. oil make this prediction.
i would say within the five to six years at the latest one of the large automobile companies will have a female ceo. do you think the recent trend of bringing people from outside the industry has been something that sphri needed to get it shaken up a little? >> guest: yes, i do. first of all, i think in the case of general motors. it was very open to a female leader and wanted to see them promoted as fast as possible and wanting to put them in positions of greater responsibility. and willing to take push female leaders pretty fast.
there was no problem there. but it was really dan who made what i consider the boldest move of putting mary in the broader question. do i think it was good to bring outsiders in? i think because we've got outsiders in all three american companies now. i was always of the feeling that an awe motive ceo should have an auto motive background. they needed to understand the industry and make the right judgment. i revised my opinion on that. i think the most important is for the nonautomotive experience ceo as recently said somebody
asked them you weren't an automotive person. how did you know what to do fix ford? i came and didn't have a clue about what to do fix ford. all of the ideas of fixing ford were right there with my people. these were people who had been held down, hasn't been listened to. i listened to them. their ideas made sense to me. like, global product development which general motors it took me from the time i got the gm in 2001, to 2005 to get global product development implemented as opposed to each doing their own car which is wasteful.
i can give you similar better than the seasoned automotive professional? because most of the seasoned automotive professional had 30 years of training of running the business the wrong way. you know, running it by the numbers, doing all the product plan all laid out with cost targets and investment target and rate of return targets and
only doing the ones with the higher rate of return. dan comes in and says, look, beyond the business. but all i know is general motors used to make not very appealing cars, and we were losing money; right? right. now we are making highly desirable cars that cost more to make. but we're making money. is that right? right. why would we change? let just keep doing great cars the best we know how with a lot of content and technology in them and a lot of quality because if you run the plan
targeting to make as much money as possible and expen everything in money. we spent thunderstorm watch this much on the product. and add a little margin and sell it for this much. we never talk about what you have to do for the customer to get to the numbers. and the philosophy have followed and most successful businessmen follow this is satisfying the customer. and manage the rest of the business get the profit response
i think both dan and allan -- are nay businessmen, sure. do they care about the botment to line? of course. they the customer is willing to pay for. >> host: building on that. why did the auto industry go to near collapse. was it they weren't billing good product? was there anything could have been done differently? did you have any responsibility for what happened? >> guest: well, you know, i'll start with the last one first. did i have any responsibility for what happened? sure. i probably wasted some money here and there. i probably caused the creation of some cars or versions of cars that turned out not to sell as well. as i thought they were going do. but as wayne gretzky say, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. and all in and all, i think my
batting average of successes to failures is probably -- i'll make a bold statement probably not many people who can equal my batting average for successes versus failures in the product they create. this almost constitutionalized do everything through the bureaucracy, don't take any risks, don't take any chances. don't accept the obvious. study everything. then study it again. if you don't like the way it comes out, study it one more time.
>> i think a good leader, me may or may not like the people heys got. but they should try to hide that dislike and mainly, mainly, try your level best not play favorites. playing favorites is what really destroys the morale in a situation. if you have a situation and i every time i opened my mouth, the leader would say, there you go. again we're not interested in your opinion. and then some -- all smiles and praise would be heaped on them. i found sickening. it tend to destroy morale in an
organization. you have to be consistent and, again, with the most important thing is don't play favorites. treat everybody the same. and if you have -- a lot of good coaches of sports teams are extremely tough, but yet they somehow manage to convey to the players that they are being tough for a reason. they're being tough on them because they want the team to win. it's not tough because a sadist. he's being tough because he wants the company to win. >> host: good advice. most leaders at some time in their career have to deal with
conflicting priorities. how do you choose what is the priority that has to drive the business decision ultimately. >> guest: that's a good question. the general motors pmp process where we have to write down our goals. there were a lot of conflicting goals on there. i think the -- and of course, leaders of organizations are faced with goal conflict all the time. long-term or short term success like quarterly emerging earnings, make the stock look good. make stock go up. all options become more valuable. et. cetera, et. cetera. it's going u hurt us in the long-term. the long-term, short term goal conflict is there all the file a lot of times there are other goal conflicts. one of the famous one in the automobile business is cost versus quality. do you spend $15 more per car
putting in added rust proof or added sound -- or using a better quality bearing and very often in the past most with the over emphasis on cost, cost, cost, cost and the american automobile industry in the old days when there was a goal conflict between quality and cost. quality of the depriorityized and well, you know, the bearing going last 30,000 miles. by then it will be out of warranty. if we put in the better bearing, we know that is going cost us $2 a car. so most of the decisions tended to be driive toward cost. good leaders look beyond that. the visionary leaders like the people we have running the business now will say, hey,
quality is free. you may be putting -- you may be investing a little bit in the car right now, but the downstream effect on customer loyalty, resale value, absence of warranty cost, absence of recall, et. cetera, et. cetera, et. cetera, will more than pay for the added quality that we're putting in the car. now so you to adopt that as an act of faith. you can't prove it numbers. long-term results this is why many private companies do better than. privately owned companies were grand dad and the son and the kids automatic own the business. they can make the decision oflet not be behave foolishly in the short term.
unbelievable pressure for short term results all the time. the good leader will -- when face with these. he'll let the moral compass be his guide. what is really better here? a short term cost reduction. or customer satisfaction? a short term quarterly earnings report that looks good and next quarter have to explain why we're down. he'll say, let's not do any funny business this quarter,let just run our business soundly and we'll have a good profession next quarter. i think good leaders make those judgments intuitively. but they tend to be ethically guided as opposed putting short term smoke screen.
i think the largest mistake that i certainly witnessed with most of the leaders that i've worked for is a too great of faith in number call analysis. and because they'll take a five-year sales projection or five-year revenue projection or health care costs. they'll take five year projection of old price per barrel of oil and so forth. and they'll accept it as gospel. and they because they got it from one of their great departments that supposed to create these numbers. and, you know, when i joined general motors in 1963. i worked in one of the
where you so nicely pointed out you're absolutely right. you can argue with the list. you can argue with the waitings, you can argue with the rankings and so forth. at the end of the day, numbers unless it's historical numbers but any future numbers it's always the product of somebody's judgment. and the product of judgment and of the numbers in large corporations usually the input is from low level people who are fresh out of business school who are very smart and have no experience in the business. so why would you believe those numbers? >> host: i'm sitting here and i'm not sure quite how to frame this question. i think -- a political correctness i think you would probably say killing the government and bureaucracies and corporations. how would you deal with legitimate issues like, you know, when i worked started working at gm --
it's a true story. why would a woman want to work at general motors. how do you help broaden organizations, make them open, be aware of things they need to be tai. -- at the same time not have political correctness, kill the ability to be competitive and productive? >> guest: well, i think we have to separate diversity programs from political correctness. it's probably a good thing sort of force open, you know, force open some opportunities. but to me that's got nothing to do with political correctness. where political correctness becomes absurd is when you're -- for instance, i was once hugely
chastised in a meeting because we were talking about female designer and how skilled she is without question one of the most attractive woman. i made the offhand comment she's extremely beautiful. you would have thought i had used -- in a church. and the full weight making a comment as long as we don't say, as long as you don't imply that she got to her position because her beauty oreos her position to the beauty. but you fully recognize and talent an contribution.
excuse me she's fat. we can find yiewfm muslim for that and say she's queen sized or large or something like that. but this -- this total perversion of our language to avoid phrases or references that could conceivably be offensive to someone i think is wrecking a lot of things in this country. and if i were dictator, i would really step in and fix it. there is some vailed viewpoints expressed. how do you have a valid discussion is worth having the discussion. let me tell you frankly, i did experience discrimination probably my entire career at general motors. you didn't talk about it.
it would hurt you as well. it's not as simple or uncomplicated as people make it either. but that's another conversation. >> guest: i'm sure that's true. i knew our joint friend barbara real well. she's african-american and female. she had some great discrimination stories. i don't think if has anything to go with the political correctness movement which is entirely separate thing. >> host: we need to have this and we will. let me ask you. we only have a few minutes left. so you so much wisdom and so many good straight forward things to share with people. let me -- what would do you differently if you were starting your career over again? is there anything you would do differently? >> guest: well, i thought, you know, if i had been less outspoken and less critical of the wait company is run, i might
not have alienated as many bosses as i did during my career. i might have risen to greater height. but then i tell myself i would have dpned my own being. i would have denied my sense of critical analysis. and my frustration with things not being run as well as they could be run. and i think if i had denied my own personality and tried to be something i wasn't i probably wouldn't have gotten as far as i did.
?ries i would most people would think you had a successful career. are you really retired, bob, what is next for bob? >> guest: well, i'm certainly not going be aen executive in a major corpg at age 82. i do so the -- i'm a contributor to forbes. i'm a cnbc contributor. i where a column for -- i do a little bit of consulting. and i'm now involved in with a partner in producing premium
men's watches. one of which is right here. i've got plenty to keep me business. >> host: i wouldn't dhal retired. we have a couple of minutes left. you are someone with many sides. a lot of wisdom. somebody just starting out today. they want to follow in your footsteps. you have lot to teach them. what would your parting words of wisdom be to some young person starting out? and leadership. >> guest: well, be passionate about whatever you do. if you're passionate about furniture business, go in to that or the hospitality business, go in to that. last night i heard a lecture by a sports castor name -- i forget his first name. and he said --
he's probably the most famous and widely known sports castor in the united states. and he was telling his life story. from the time he could walk, he would walk around holding a spoon and pretending to be a sports castor. it's what he wanted to be. castor always get a little extra. always maintain absolute professional integrity. don't try to pull funny stuff starting rumors or try to -- by shaigd the truth and so
forth. just behave with absolute integrity. will is, i think a lesson that america's youth today needs to hear. >> host: bob, you are great. you have taught me a lot. john and you are two people that i love. because you stay as it is. i don't always agree with you. i think we need more people who are willing to say what they think. i hope people look forward -- >> guest: john one of my heroes. >> host: i love you both. i hope -- >> guest: john is one of my heroes, for sure. >> host: i look forward to seeing you soon. i hope people do learn from reading your insights and wisdom in "icon and idiots." thankfully there were fewer idiots than i cons. take care. [laughter]
i think radio is the longest and best form of media that is left. what we're right now is an hour-long conversation only c-span does it anymore. you and charlie are the only guy read books the way i do. in order to talk to the authors seriously. it's tremendously revealing when an author had the book read these days. they don't get many people who have read their book and know they're talking about. with page notes. it's rewarding to them. i get a deal of satisfaction when an author says to me the
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