Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Russell's quip and some food for thought.

On one occassion, Bertrand Russell quiped to Sidney Webb that democracy had at least one merit, namely, that a Member of Parliament cannot be stupider than his constituents, for the more stupid he is, the more stupid they were to elect him.

Now, at first it seemed a brilliant quip and i was quite impressed by this observation. However, on some thought, it occurred to me that the truth might be quite the opposite. A person who votes would look for his leader to have the same desires he has for himself, but to a greater degree. Hence, a stupid man, would have stupid desires, and would look for his leader to have stupider desires, only making the leader himself a stupider person. To illustrate, if there were a zamindar demanding that the interest paid by farmers on loans should be doubled, then he would vote for a leader who might say that farmers, once they borrow money, are bonded labourers for life! Considering that the human beings, when averaged over any significant population, are stupid, their leader is only going to be stupider than his constituents in a democracy! And so far as my knowledge goes, this is indeed the case!

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