The Difference Between a Leader and a Master

Column by JGVibes.

What is the difference between a leader and master? These are two different terms which imply two different types of relationships that exist between human beings. The key element that separates these two types of people is the element of force; masters will use force and intimidation on others so their commands will be obeyed, while leaders will naturally gain admiration from their peers for contributions that they have made to the community. Leaders have no interest in obedience and have no time to bark out orders; they are too busy hacking through the vines in the jungle, clearing a path for the rest of us to follow.

Leaders are chosen voluntarily by people who are inspired by their acts, while masters are imposed on many different people who have no choice in the matter and would most likely prefer to be left alone if they were given the opportunity. Leaders may be exceptional in many ways but they are still on equal ground with their peers, while masters always require the upper hand and will typically have privileges that they deny to those around them.

There are some who are deceived into admiring their masters, and they end up mistaking these masters for leaders, but that doesn’t change the nature of the relationship between these two people. The fact that a slave may trust and admire his master does not magically turn that “master” into a “leader.” If the interactions between these two parties are involuntary and involve force, then you can be assured that you are dealing with a master/slave relationship, not a leader/learner relationship.

Likewise, having a choice between various masters does not change any of them into a leader, because the nature of the interactions that they will have with others once they are in power will still be those of a master, not a leader. Being the best or most popular master does not make you a leader, leading peacefully and by example is what makes you a leader.

True leaders set a positive example for others to follow by partaking in voluntary interactions with their peers and showing the community how to live more meaningful and peaceful lives. These people may be artists, philosophers, inventors, builders, entrepreneurs or skilled workers that are involved in win-win scenarios with their fellow human beings. In other words, people who create some sort of value for the community, even if that value is just a good imagination or personality. With that being the case, if someone spends their time barking out orders, committing acts of violence and meddling in the lives of their peers, does it make any sense at all for us to call that person a “leader”?

The majority of the people living on this earth are unknowingly involved in a forced association with someone who acts as their master, yet ironically, so many of these people habitually refer to their masters as “leaders.” While this may be an innocent and unintentional misunderstanding, it is important for us to consider that people who demand obedience from others may not deserve to have the title of “leader.”

Any head of state or political ruler that has ever walked this earth falls into the “master” category based on the value of the interactions that they had with other people. However, these masters have been incorrectly labeled as “leaders” in the history books and the media that surrounds us all. This is no coincidence considering that our masters keep a stranglehold on public perception by controlling the education system and media broadcasters, thus allowing them to paint themselves as virtuous and admirable people.

Talking about politics in terms of slaves and masters may make some people feel uncomfortable due to the dark history of racial slavery in the Western world. However, there are varying degrees of slavery. The conditions that we saw in colonial America just happen to be some of the worst in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean that those conditions must be repeated exactly for a situation to be considered slavery. In reality, any relationship where someone is beholden to another person who is allowed to use force against them can be described as a master/slave relationship. Since this relationship has been responsible for such unbelievable horrors in our history, it is important that we do not shy away from understanding it, as unpleasant as it may be.

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JGVibes's picture
Columns on STR: 6

J.G. Vibes is an author, and artist -- with an established record label. In addition to featuring a wide variety of activist information, his company -- Good Vibes Promotions promotes for electronic dance music events. You can keep up with him and his forthcoming book Alchemy Of The Modern Renaissance, at "" . AOTMR will be released this spring, thanks to Leilah Publications. This project features nearly 100 different essays that give historical and philosophical insight into the many important issues that our generation faces. From ethics and voluntary interactions to banking, eugenics and the drug war, AOTMR offers a complete and comprehensive breakdown of the counter culture’s struggle.


Subplotsville's picture

Your essay has a few interesting ideas. However, many leaders do, in fact, use force. Effective leadership in many real world political situations requires maintaining the rule of law, which in turn inevitably requires force. And it seems an odd use of language to refer to the prosecution of criminals as intimidation.

Jim Davies's picture

Subplotsville, I respectfully disagree. If someone thought to be a leader turns to the use of force, he is no longer a leader but a master; an analogy might be that a leader prepares a path, as JGVibes wrote, which followers voluntarily follow. Force involves connection; he pulls with a rope (or a chain!) or pushes, from behind.

I wonder also whether you might reconsider the words "real world political." If a relationship is political, it necessarily involves force; that's what politics is about. Masters are chosen by a majority (in theory) who then impose their wishes upon society. Now, is that the "real" world? It is, yes, the actual one now prevailing, but surely "real" has something to do with what human being truly are, in our basic nature. And that basic nature begins with self-ownership. (Try denying that, without assuming it implicitly in the first place.)

Self-ownership means that each decides for himself how to arrange his own life, and therefore being forced to do otherwise - politics - is not "real" in that sense. The political arena is the UNreal state in which we find ourselves; an unfettered market, alone, is the real world.

Suverans2's picture

As much as I hate to admit it, (lol), I actually agree with virtually everything you wrote here. Thus I was forced to give you a thumbs-up/like; sorry. (lol)

Paul's picture

Drawing this distinction between "leader" and "master" is a good idea I think. Yes, this dislike of "leaders" boils down to a conditioned response, as the Ministry of Propaganda tries to turn all masters into "leaders". Unfortunately even dictionary definitions repeat this equating of leader with master.

I am less sure of the notion that we are slaves. Not only are there important differences between our condition and that of real slaves, it also makes the job of freeing people more difficult, I think. Call them slaves, and they are unlikely to pay attention to you.

SensibleSolutions's picture

Would the OP agree that deprevation of a place to cultivate or build a shelter is a form of force which enslaves those so deprived?

Suverans2's picture

What is OP? Good question, by the way. The idea is to create dependence, I believe, so, yes, I perceive it may be a form of enslavement.

SensibleSolutions's picture

"OP" is "original poster".

I ask this because many in the AnCap community seem to dismiss the '"other gun in the room," which I define as "deprevation of the means of survival," such that most people are, "involved in a forced association with someone who acts as their master," governmental or otherwise.

Suverans2's picture

Thank you, SensibleSolutions. The "other gun in the room," i.e. "deprivation of the means of survival," is the real one, in my opinion, it creates total dependency. This is why there are 'corporations', (if you will forgive the "slavespeak"), that are in the process of patenting all food. These same individuals are currently in the process of genetically modifying humans, which they will also patent. What one creates, one has the right to control.