Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Review: The Cult of Incompetence

The Cult of Incompetence, by Emile Faguet, is a criticism of modern democracy. At the beginning, author examines different forms of government, to identify the general idea which inspires each political system. And locates the principle of monarchy in honour, the principle of despotism in fear, the principle of a republic, in virtue or patriotism, etc. 
The book then goes on to describe how everything concurs to make the representative, the most important part of democracy,  as incompetent as he is omnipotent. Which naturally leads to inefficiency, and democracy has to resort to nationalisation to accommodate the incompetence. And as people are under no obligation to please the Government or willingly tolerate incompetence, and had no other interest but to do their work properly, the State will transform the free population into government employees, whose primary duty is to be docile and subservient. Legislators shall continue to produce laws that aid them.
The spread of incompetence in other areas of the society, like governance, judiciary, military etc., by limiting the independence that is essential to moral efficiency, is then examined. Which is followed by examining the thorn in the flesh of democracies, every form of superiority, whether individual or collective, existing outside the State and the Government.
Next chapter examines how, democracy's disrespect for any superiority stands to corrupt our manners. Or, how democratic is rudeness! Also inimical to efficiency. 
How people, democrats themselves, have sought very conscientiously, to find remedies for this constitutional disease of democracy, is discussed next. The best way of avoiding the worship of intellectual and moral incompetence, the hidden rocks which threaten democracies, is examined, proposing a multi chamber house with purely democratic and aristocratic parts. 
This interesting discourse cleared many of my questions. The historical and philosophical relevance of many of the institutions we continue to have is quite plain now.