Tuesday, November 25, 2014

brutes in suits

(Don Boudreaux)

“There is nothing at any level that is uplifting or good or noble or praiseworthy about politics.  It’s a nasty, corrupting, soul-destroying business.  Politics is the province, not of civilized men and women but, rather, of brutes in suits.  At best, in this imperfect world of ours, entering politics is excusable only if the genuine goal is to reduce the role of politics as much as possible.  But the great majority of people who enter politics, regardless of what they say (for they are nearly all skilled in the dark arts of deception), do not do so in order to diminish the role of politics but, instead, to extend that role or to change the details of the application of government force (or both).  These are people who arrogantly wish to dominate others, and who are happy to have the lazy assent of the masses who labor under the ages-old superstition that human society must be formed and guided by force wielded by Great Men and Great Women.

We humans are not very far removed genetically from chimps; we are much more like them than it seems to us from our self-aware perch.
Alpha-male (and female) humans who seek and gain positions of political ‘leadership’ in human society are best thought of in the same way as Haidt describes alpha-male chimps.  Without exception, anyone who seeks a position of political  ‘leadership’ does so largely for self-interested reasons.  And with rare exception, those who succeed in gaining such positions – especially positions at the highest (“national”) ranks – are individuals who are especially unscrupulous about imposing their wills on others and are inordinately good at marshaling physical violence, or threats of such, to impose their wills.”

… is from pages 170-171 of Jonathan Haidt’s excellent 2012 book, The Righteous Mind (original emphases; footnote deleted):
Alpha-male chimps are not truly leaders of their groups.  They perform some public services, such as mediating conflicts.  But most of the time, they are better described as bullies who take what they want.



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