"There would be fewer blunders involving society as a whole if big decisions were left entirely to the few political leaders who are naturally equipped with the insight, ability and charisma to deal with them."
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I think that much of the response to the quote is going to be based on one's own predispositions. If there is a belief in the positivism of government or attributing positive impulses to human beings in the position of political power, there could be much in way of truth in the quote. However, if there was a belief that human beings could seize power in order to serve their own good as opposed to that of the social good, the quote reveals some rather dark tendencies. I think that my own experiences puts me in this camp. I see that the quote becomes a pretext for elitist rule and a government that nullifies the will of the people. The terms that serve as "red flags" in the quote would be "few political leaders" and those endowments that are "naturally" bestowed upon them. I guess I see this as too close to where the classical definition of "tyranny" enters. Consider this definition of "tyranny" as offered by Plato and Aristotle:
one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics -- against his own people as well as others.
The "charisma" that is alluded to in the quote compels me to feel that the quote sets the stage for a government that "looks to his own advantage." In this light, I disagree with the quote and would rather have a government where more people have say than the consolidation of power in the hands of a few.
There is much to like in this statement. When "the people" as a whole make big decisions, they can do so in very short-sighted ways. For example, "the people" in the US today want lots of government services (no cuts to Medicare or Social Security) at the same time that they want low taxes. This is contradictory, but people are fine with it. It's a good argument for the sorts of ideas put forward by people like Alexander Hamilton--the idea that the elites should rule because they know best.
On the other hand, this is a really slippery slope to tyranny. Once you establish the idea that some people are equipped to rule and others aren't, where do you draw the line? How do you logically argue against dictatorship by one individual? We know that dictatorships by charismatic individuals (Hitler, Mao, etc) don't always turn out well.
So it's a tempting thought, but I think it's a very dangerous one.
Na. I'm against elitism.
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