The BAE of 1910

Robert Falcon Scott, South Pole, the Terra Nova expedition ...

An Ice Tunnel in the Antarctic

I am committed:

The British Antarctic Expedition of 1910 has been selected as a primary source for study in escalation theory and the determinants of commitment because it is so tragic in its outcome: the consequences of which are poignant even to this day.  It is a story that is generating renewed interest in leadership, endurance, and the social, moral characteristics and strengths of human endeavour when faced with unremitting and horrific environmental conditions. The fallout of this expedition moved an entire nation and the English world to mourn:  Fallout and consequences that instilled pathos and heroic meandering at a time when national pride and confidence were at ebb and the Armageddon that was trench warfare was about to be unleashed.  England needed English heroes and Scott, Bowers, Wilson, Oates and Evans fit the bill nicely.  It is of little consequence that Roald Amundsen forestalled Scott to the South Pole.  Scott’s was the better story: a story that inspired courage, instilled Victorian principles of gentlemanly conduct, and reflected Edwardian masculinity and moral fortitude.  Scott may have failed but his failure in the eyes of the English world was a heroic failure (Huntford, 1979).

What is really poignant, sad, and perhaps ironic is that Scott and his party need not have died.  He made some poor decisions; some of which went beyond comprehension.  Even when looking back on this Antarctic adventure from the luxury of a warm reading room one cannot help but question some key decisions that were made that would have significant consequences downstream.  What was Scott thinking?  What was his rational for taking the fifth man on the final push to the pole when all of his logistical planning called for four.  What made Scott make such a decision?  Perhaps we will never know but one thing is clear.  He was forthright in all of his decisions barely if ever taking or accepting advice or suggestions to a countervailing argument to his selected course of action.   In Scott’s defence however, unquestionable loyalty and subordinate subservience was the Royal Navy hierarchical culture at the turn of the century.  Nevertheless, England produced some fine leaders at the turn of the 20th Century. Admiral Fisher for one was bent on cleaning up what was becoming a complacent, inefficient autocracy that was the Royal Navy (Perry & Mason, 1974; Huntford, 1979).

Sort of like Trudeau’s commitment to take down the Freedom Convoy. He is committed to a failing course of action.

The Trudeau family Sunday dinner. The wife sure does look like Bonnie Henry…Be Calm… Be Safe…Be Kind