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Libido dominandi

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 16 years ago, in 2007, on the World Wide Web.

An excellent point from Richard Chappell at Philosophy, et cetera (2007-09-02):

One often hears that the ideal government would be a “benevolent dictatorship” – the wise ruler would make the right decision every time, and implement it with a minimum of fuss. But if we are going to engage in such wishful thinking, why stop at one perfect person? Why not have an ideal democracy, where the populace would make the right decision every time, and implement it with a minimum of fuss? How is the perfect autocrat any more ideal than the perfectly united demos? Or how about a perfect anarchy, where everyone simply does what they ought, without need for legal coercion? So long as we’re guaranteed our perfect outcomes in any case, why favour the most repulsive (dictatorial) process? (Is it because the wish is really to be the dictator oneself?)

— Richard Chappell, Philosophy, et cetera (2007-09-02): Ideal Rulers

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  1. Roderick T. Long

    Reminds me of this quote from Isabel Paterson:

    “The lust for power is most easily disguised under humanitarian or philanthropic motives. … An amiable child wishing for a million dollars will usually ‘intend’ to give away half of this illusory wealth. The twist in the motive is shown by the fact that it would be just as easy to wish such a windfall directly to those others without imagining oneself as the intermediary of their good fortune.” (God of the Machine, XIV.26)

    I think Paterson is too hard on the amiable child; the desire to be oneself the cause of a good result need not be an expression of powerlust (though of course it can be). But she is identifying the same structural problem Chappell is.

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