I am a little worse than yesterday, not having slept enough because of
the problems with my eyes, and for today I only reproduce three lemmas
from my Philosophical
Dictionary, because I think they are worth reading, and because I
wanted to change the subject from psychiatry.
My opening quotation is discussed, very briefly, in section
1. On leaders
In human society: Those
with power or
influence, whose commands are followed or whose ideas adopted.
It is a curious and
important fact about the human animal that most men follow leaders, and
In part this seems due to humans being social animals; in part to the
fact that relatively few are intelligent, independent, or strong; and
in part to the fact that every human being spends the first 15 or 25
years of his life as a weak dependent of stronger and larger adults.
are three other things about leaders
that should be noted:
First, there is Lord Acton's observation, as he in fact made it: "Power tends to
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost
always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not
authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty
of corruption by authority."
Second, and conversely, it is especially
the corrupt that seek power and that acquire power:
They desire it to be able to abuse it, and they have better chances than the non-corrupt
to acquire it because they
have fewer or no inhibitions to lie, to pretend or to use
or - more often - to incite to violence to get their own way.
Third, since political parties are voluntary
associations of people that seek
social power for their leaders, so that the leaders and their followers can realize their political
ends and/or acquire personal
advantages (after Max
Weber), the chances are that both the leaders and the members of political
parties are a particular type of person, that are more like psychopaths - characterized in terms
of "coldheartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm,
impulsivity, criminality, antisocial behavior,
a lack of remorse, and a parasitic lifestyle " (Wikipedia)
- than the members of
non-political voluntary associations.
2. On authorities
holder of power,
someone with influence
There are many kinds of
authorities, but two distinctions are useful.
1. Authorities through
power or influence: There are leaders who owe
their leadership in the end to some kind of military, political or
other kinds of power
or violence, all of which are kinds of power, and there are leaders who
owe their eminence to their abilities to influence the ideas of others,
which is a kind of influence.
2. True and false
authority: There are real and false authorities. Real
authority is based on real power, force or knowledge, and
is legitimate if claimed in these senses, however misled or evil the
authority may be in effect, while false authority is based on a
pretense of power, force, knowledge or insight, that is in the end
based on the inability of those who are deceived to see through the deception.
By far the largest part of
authority is based on authority about ideas or opinions,
i.e. influence, and is mostly, when rationally
investigated, a false authority: Even if, say, a medical doctor is
honest and says all (and someone who is honest and does not hold back
anything about a subject is rare), then still the patient lacks the
medical and scientific
knowledge to understand the judgements and recommendations of the
There are genuine
authorities in fields of science and other
but the ordinary following of opinions of ordinary men
is mostly based on the irrational following of leaders, often based on wishful
thinking (to the effect that Our Leaders and Our Experts are
obviously Benevolent and Good men and women with true or rational
opinions, not because the sincere believers in this can prove this, but
because this is what they have been told and like to believe).
An important reason for
of false leaders in opinions, politics, religion and fashions of all
kinds is the lack of general knowledge and education of their publics - many
lies and poses of politicians
could have been seen through by their deceived publics if only the
members of the public had given themselves more trouble to become
informed about the subjects they are deceived about by those they
believe to be authorities, or at least more informed about what makes
an argument for something rational and non-fallacious.
Hatred of human beings, or contempt or disdain for ordinary men
and their doings.
leaders, professional politicians, and con-men generally purport to
despise misanthropists, but it may make a considerable difference what
manner of men any given supposed misanthropists dislikes and what
manner of men he lives amongst.
In any case, Chamfort, a very
witty French 18th Century aphorist, known as "the laughing
misanthropist", correctly wrote
"Pour avoir une idée
juste des choses, il faut prendre les mots dans la signification
opposée à celle qu'on leur donne dans le monde. Misanthrope, par
exemple, cela veut dire Philanthrope; mauvais Français, cela veut dire
bon Citoyen, qui indique certains abus monstrueux; Philosophe, homme
simple, qui sait que deux et deux font quatre, etc."
"La faiblesse de
charactère ou le défaut des idées (..) sont les choses qui préservent
beaucoup de gens de la misanthropie."
It may well be that ordinary men,
their intelligence, knowledge, interests, concerns, and ways of acting,
especially to foreigners or when they believe themselves not to be
found out, are such as to necessarily inspire something not far from
detestation, contempt or disgust in any highly gifted, learned and kind
man, and that, for such a man, it is natural and wise to hold, again
with Chamfort, that
And indeed, for good and
intelligent men who know a lot about the ways of the world and human history, it is
not easy to escape from something that resembles misanthropy with
regard to the human average, or the ordinary types of political,
religious or business leaders.
Philosophie, rélativement au monde, est d'allier, à son régard, le
sarcasme de gaité avec l'indulgence du mépris."
In my introduction I said I would, very
briefly, discuss my opening quotation, that may
have shocked some.
As it happens, I am not a misanthropist, and the last paragraph
of the above quoted lemma on the subject does state the position I do
hold - and the reason for that position is that the great majority of
mankind's problems are due to the qualities of the human average and
their political, religious or business leaders,
with very few exceptions.
Then again, one cannot blame the average: Nobody asked to get born;
nobody asked for such qualities and shortcomings as he has; nobody
asked for the circumstances he was born in.
One can blame the leaders, or at least diagnose them, and the truth
seems to be as I stated: With few exceptions, the powerful are corrupt,
because all power corrupts, and because the corrupt seek power most,
and are most likely to get it, for lack of intellectual and moral