Thursday, October 04, 2012


There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob.
           -- G. K. Chesterton, "Heretics", 1905

That's a good one. There has been so many otherwise intelligent men through history who have been very sure that if we could just get the Wise Few to rule, all would be well. And it is a very seductive thought. But even if we assume that there are a few who are free of the basic insanity of man, and that seems very doubtful, then how will they rule? Nobody has ever, anywhere, held a ruling position more than a day except through raw force. Even a "democracy" is held in place by the force of the majority. 


emptyspaces said...

Too true. The Simpsons did an episode ("They Saved Lisa's Brain") where the local mensa chapter appoints itself in charge of Springfield. SPOILER ALERT: it doesn't work.

Stephen Hawking has a great cameo.

Anonymous said...

Good one, here is another:

"It’s amazing how many things there are that aren’t so.” - G.K. Chesterton

Ol' Ben said...

I say that is because the truly wise, when offered that much power, will run for the tall timber! Looking through the other end of the telescope: if you have succeeded in gathering a few, you do not have any of the truly wise!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

You could have a point. Politics is a dirty, sick battlefield.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Hawking did not have a great cameo. His appearance sucked, as did the episode. (Comic Book Guy a genius? Right. The whole point of that character is that he wants the world to think he's highly intelligent, but he and everyone else knows it's a lie. Skinner, too? No, no, no. Hibbert?)

The ancient Athenians chose leaders by lot. They had a truer democracy, not that this meant a just society (they still had slaves, gender inequality, and even Socrates had no problem with war), but the point is that, yes, those who want power are least suited to have it. Choosing by lottery could hugely misfire, but most likely it wouldn't be any worse. (Then again, if power inevitably corrupts then even those who don't seek it might become as bad as those who do. Libertarianism sure isn't the answer either, though.)