Seems to me one of the problems with the human race is that we constantly look for "strong" leaders whom we can slavishly follow wherever they may lead, instead of looking to lead ourselves.
It's a reminder that we are base animals, still struggling to cope with a pack mentality that requires existence to revolve around a "survival of the fittest" societal structure - one that rewards competition rather than co-operation.
Doubtless, this reflects a subconscious desire to absolve ourselves from responsibility, and even implies suppression of independent thought - the very thing we hold up as distinguishing us from the rest of the inhabitants of the Earth.
Which is probably why advertising and propaganda so readily twist and divert our reason: we want our choices made for us, without having to do the hard work of examining whether a thing is actually fit for purpose.
But the human world is what it is, and we must live within that context and its consequences. True, co-operation is a hallmark of mankind's progression, arising out of our ancestral tribal nature; the modern world would not exist without people being able to join together to create and invent and dream a collective dream.
But is it the primary driver? Not yet, no. Competition remains the number one developmental force, a force as old as evolution.
Today, perhaps more than ever given the burgeoning population, that manifests in the belief that you stab who you must on the way up in order to get to the top; if you happen to meet them on the way down, it's because you didn't stab hard enough. Globally, we do this through our "extended tribes" - nations and, increasingly, corporations. Which helps explain why citizens seek to throw up strongmen (and occasionally strongwomen) to lead those nations and corporates; leaders who can wield the biggest knife, or the widest shield, or preferably both, to ward off or take over the "enemy".
Measuring a leader's effectiveness is both complex and relative. As difficult as the job may be, arguably it's easier to be President of the USA than of, say, Venezuela - simply because of the disparity in size and strength.
Which makes a man like Hugo Chavez stand out. Because regardless of what you might think of him, he was a person unafraid to stand up for his people and confront the bigger countries without compromise or mincing words.
My favourite "Chavezism": "If the climate were a bank, the US would already have saved it". Now, it may seem odd to begin by disparaging our sheep-like faith in strongmen and then turn to praising one, but the exception proves the rule; sometimes you get more for your troubles than you'd otherwise lose.
And in the topsy-turvy extremist mix of South American politics, Chavez proved to be one who gave back more than he took in getting to the top - certainly as far as his citizens were concerned.
Nationalising foreign-owned business (especially oil) and using the profits to fund improved social welfare, health and land-use regimes made him immensely popular, as it well should; and given socialism is at heart about co-operation over competition then a leader willing to walk that path is a step in the right direction.
The US and other Western powers have been quick to flag "encouraging democracy" post-Chavez - meaning, remaking Venezuela to their liking - but I hope they will be surprised; I suspect Chavez has instilled a new sense of certainty and purpose in the country, and that most Venezuelans will look to continue rather than abort that legacy.
Which is the point: if we must cling to nationalistic tribal models, we should at least attempt to realise our own aspirations rather than meekly following along under whatever strictures some larger tribe proscribes. And if we must have leaders, their strength should be measured in how well they allow us as citizens to enable those aspirations - and share in the result, to the benefit of all.
That's the right of it.
Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.