Whenever leadership emerges within a group, there will be resistance to that leadership. Discontent may manifest in a number of ways, and action will always be determined by factors such as resource, numbers, time, space, and the legitimacy of the resistance. What, then, turns discontent into mutiny?
Mutiny is often associated with the occasional mis-leadership of the masses by politically inspired hotheads, or a spontaneous and unusually romantic gesture of defiance against a uniquely overbearing military superior. In reality it is seldom either and usually has far more mundane origins, not in the absolute poverty of the subordinates but in the relative poverty of the relationships between leaders and the led in a military situation. The roots of mutiny lie in the leadership skills of a small number of leaders, and what transforms that into a constructive dialogue, or a catastrophic disaster, depends on how the leaders of both sides mobilise their supporters and their networks.
Using contemporary leadership theory to cast a critical light on an array of mutinies throughout history, this book suggests we consider mutiny as a permanent possibility that is further encouraged or discouraged in some contexts. From mutinies in ancient Roman and Greek armies to those that toppled the German and Russian states and forced governments to face their own disastrous policies and changed them forever, this book covers an array of cases across land, sea, and air that still pose a threat to military establishments today. The critical theoretical line also puts into sharp relief the assumption that oftentimes people have little choice in how they respond to circumstances not of their own making. If mutineers could choose to resist what they saw as tyranny, then so can we.