Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

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Steve3007
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Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Steve3007 » October 9th, 2017, 2:33 pm

In the second book of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, it turns out that the real ruler of the galaxy is a guy who lives in a small wooden shack and knows nothing whatever about the outside world. He simply reacts, from instinct, to various questions that officials periodically come along and ask him.

In the US, this experiment is also currently being tried. The current president knows virtually nothing about the way that the country of which he is president works. He doesn't know how legislation is passed. He didn't know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. He thought that if you use hairspray in a room with the door closed, the CFCs can't get out and damage the ozone layer. etc.

Is this a good thing? Is that the kind of leader we should all have? One that is unencumbered with knowledge and is free to just react naturally and instinctively without getting confused? Less is more?
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Greta » October 9th, 2017, 6:16 pm

It is reckless and will set the US backwards, which is dangerous. I am personally nervous about races of angry fallen kings with tremendous weaponry. We have seen how that plays out in the past. As the US falls behind their more far-sighted competitors, the logic of using their one advantage over their becomes ever stronger.

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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Burning ghost » October 9th, 2017, 8:17 pm

If you create a society that revolves around celebrity and business mentality then those prerequisites for "success" will eventually present themselves in the political sphere.

Reap what you sow, and all that malarkey!

Frankly I am surprised it took the US so long to elect such a president. Is it good? Short term, no. Long term, YES! It will hopefully shake the apathetic people of the US into a state of wakefulness, into a mode of listening to what common people and stepping away from the idea of treating a nation like some business venture. Or maybe not?
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Steve3007 » October 10th, 2017, 3:01 am

Perhaps the experiment being conducted is really about whether a country just muddles through pretty much as it did before regardless of the characteristics of the leader. It seems clear that Trump is, above all else, the anti-Obama president. Most of what he does is simply revenge against Obama. He persistently told the now familiar old lie that Obama is not American (purely and simply because of Obama's skin colour. That lie absolutely would not have arisen if he had lighter coloured skin), Obama mocked him for it, and he then made it his goal to attempt to systematically destroy everything Obama had done purely because it was Obama who had done it. Obviously you'd think that this entirely negative agenda would be devastating. But maybe it simply doesn't matter that much.
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Eduk » October 10th, 2017, 12:52 pm

Douglas Adam's was awesome. As normal he is not talking about an alternate reality he is talking about the reality we are in. Trump is just even more obviously analogous to this character than the other leaders were. I particularly like Adam's electric monks which would believe things for you, this seems more and more real the older I get :)

Anyway, to the question. The obvious answer is that such a leader would do a terrible job. But in fairness not the worst possible job, a Hitler style dictator would still be worse than a random bloke living in a shed talking garbage which had little to nothing to do with reality.

Then of course there is the silver lining argument. He will mess things up so badly people will be forced to change things for the better and after a couple hundred years or so it's actually better off for it.

I am of the opinion that the silver lining argument is irrelevant. I look at it slightly differently. If you take an individual that individual can (for a huge variety of reasons) make better or worse choices. Now it may never be known if those choices were better or worse. It might be that they make little to no difference. Certainly there is no objective standard of better or worse to judge against and even if there was an objective standard there is no way to hold an individual to that standard. Now of course if the choices get too bad then disastrous things happen which evolution selects for. This applies to groups of humans as well as it does to individuals. So I see a kind of see saw effect going on. Choices get too bad then evolution (via natural selection) starts to force choices to get better. Choices get too good and natural selection becomes a non issue and we swing back into bad choices again. Of course the pendulum stops either when we all die out or if we can find a way to stop it.

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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Mike-the-philosopher » October 10th, 2017, 2:52 pm

My response to this question for now is Yes. If he knows nothing then as he becomes knowledgeable about politics he has a greater chance of not becoming corrupted by anything that he would have known before, once he begins to know about politics. My point is that the problem with Trump is not that he doesn't know anything about politics, but what he knows about everything else. What he knows about everything else will certainly corrupt anything about politics or running a country he becomes knowledgeable about. It would therefore be better if we took a baby, lock him or her away in a bubble from all knowledge for about 25 years, then teach him/her everything about how to run a country for another 4 to 5 years and watch that person become the most successful president or leader of any country. So in conclusion, the possible best political leader would be one that knows absolutely nothing.... at first (saying he/she would then have to become knowledgeable about politics). One may argue that to know about politics you must possess knowledge of other areas, but politics or political science rather is a social science which incorporates every other conceivable aspect of life that a leader of a country would need to know. Hence, as he/she becomes knowledgeable about politics through the study of political science, then he/she would in essence become knowledgeable about everything else that is necessary for him/her to know. I am therefore implying that the best political leader can only be one who studies political science, and would be even better if he/she never study anything prior to this.

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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by LuckyR » October 11th, 2017, 12:23 am

If the know nothing leader was also neutral, one could make the argument that he would have an equal chance of making correct decisions as a partisan. That is to say that if legislation crossed his desk in ordinary circumstances he would sign it or veto it. Future history will tell us if the action taken was correct. A coin flipping monkey might do a decent job, randomly. The current POTUS, though is not a coin flipping monkey, unfortunately. He is making decisions that either are good for him personally (like abolishing the estate tax) or as mentioned above, massage his ego. For example taking away health coverage for the combination of reasons: A) a guy I hate wrote the original law and B) I might have to pay more in taxes to pay for the health care for a bunch of losers.
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Steve3007 » October 11th, 2017, 3:10 am

It's probably obvious that one of my main motives for starting this topic was to have yet another cheap dig at US president Trump. In that sense, I guess it's a bit like one of his knee-jerk Twitter rants. I see the latest news and fire off a topic. Same principle, much, much smaller audience.

But perhaps it is still interesting to consider that guy in the wooden shack.

Eduk:
Douglas Adam's was awesome. As normal he is not talking about an alternate reality he is talking about the reality we are in. Trump is just even more obviously analogous to this character than the other leaders were. I particularly like Adam's electric monks which would believe things for you, this seems more and more real the older I get :)
The guy in the wooden shack in the story seems to be very solipsistic and he seems to be a continuation from Douglas Adams' idea of the "Total Perspective Vortex", the "Fundamental interconnectedness of all things" and the extrapolation of the entire universe from a small piece of fairy cake. He is a piece of human fairy cake! The people who put him in power clearly think that it's possible to take his logical reasoning and musings based in his immediate sensations and extrapolate the broad principles he comes up with there in the confines of a small shack which he never leaves to the entire galaxy.

A nice idea. Whether president Trump is really analogous to it? I guess probably not really. That was just a little conceit of mine. An obvious difference is that Trump clearly has brought with him various pre-conceived ideas. But one parallel to the solipsism of the character is perhaps Trump's apparent belief that truth and falsehood are irrelevant and that all that matters about one's words is the effect that they have. And therefore Fact Checking news services miss the point.

-- Updated Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:11 am to add the following --

(I like the electric monks too. I think they were in Dirk Gently weren't they?)
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Greta » October 11th, 2017, 3:58 am

Steve3007 wrote:IWhether president Trump is really analogous to it? I guess probably not really. That was just a little conceit of mine. An obvious difference is that Trump clearly has brought with him various pre-conceived ideas. But one parallel to the solipsism of the character is perhaps Trump's apparent belief that truth and falsehood are irrelevant and that all that matters about one's words is the effect that they have. And therefore Fact Checking news services miss the point.

-- Updated Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:11 am to add the following --

(I like the electric monks too. I think they were in Dirk Gently weren't they?)
Trump is completely opposite to the ruler of the universe. The latter claims ignorance about things of which he really does know while Trump claims great knowledge of things about which he knows precious little.

The electric monk was a Dirk Gently character. I especially liked his horse:
[...] it was none the less a perfectly ordinary horse, such as convergent evolution has produced in many of the places that life is to be found. They have always understood a great deal more than they let on. It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion about them.

On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.

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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Steve3007 » October 11th, 2017, 4:20 am

Greta:
Trump is completely opposite to the ruler of the universe. The latter claims ignorance about things of which he really does know while Trump claims great knowledge of things about which he knows precious little.
Fair point. So I suppose there isn't so much of a parallel between the two; more of a perpendicular.

(Dirk Gently book)
They have always understood a great deal more than they let on. It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion about them.
I guess that's why the White House staff give so many anonymous accounts of life inside.
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Eduk » October 11th, 2017, 4:33 am

hmm I believe I need to re-read the restaurant at the end of the universe :)

Zaphod and Trillian seem quite pleased with the ruler of the universe. I mean I get the theme that anyone who both wants to be the ruler and can convince others to allow it should not be the ruler. In real life I see this often, people who know how complicated and difficult a problem is may not believe they have the aptitude to run a country (or run a business). Anyone who does think they have the aptitude to run a country is probably mistaken about how complicated and difficult it is and how little they know (dunning-kruger). So naturally the number one attribute of a leader is the desire to be the leader. Secondly to convince others to allow it. And distantly last any actual ability.

So from that perspective the hermit is a better choice than someone who wants to do it. Plus he does not believe that he can do it, on the surface he has minimal bias. Sadly it doesn't address, for me, the fact of whether he can or can not. Of course it's meant as a joke but most of Adam's jokes mean something, so I'm not sure what he means on this one.

Now I am less sure of the analogy to Trump :) Although I see what you are getting at. In a way he is as solipsistic as the hermit. And in his own way just as cut off from the world as the hermit. But as Greta pointed out he seems to be the opposite to Trump in manner.

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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Steve3007 » October 11th, 2017, 4:35 am

Maybe it would be better to say that the shack-dwelling ruler of the universe is Barack Obama and Donald Trump is Zaphod Beeblebrox?
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Eduk » October 11th, 2017, 4:38 am

I dimly seem to remember Zaphod is the official ruler of the universe? But I also think he realises that he shouldn't be (and isn't)? I may be giving Zaphod too much credit :)

Barack seems further away from the hermit than Trump to my mind.

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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Steve3007 » October 11th, 2017, 4:57 am

Eduk:
Zaphod and Trillian seem quite pleased with the ruler of the universe. I mean I get the theme that anyone who both wants to be the ruler and can convince others to allow it should not be the ruler.
Yes, I think the general message is that power corrupts, so an arrangement has to be made whereby the person making the big decisions doesn't realise, or believe, or accept, that they're in a position of power.
In real life I see this often, people who know how complicated and difficult a problem is may not believe they have the aptitude to run a country (or run a business).
Yes, I agree. The kinds of people who say things like "Shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong..." or "I'm probably talking out of my ar*e, but how about this..." don't generally tend to get political power.
Anyone who does think they have the aptitude to run a country is probably mistaken about how complicated and difficult it is and how little they know (dunning-kruger).
Yes, but on the other hand, maybe people who appreciate the complexities of life get so wound up thinking about it that they never actually make any decisions? That, I think, is the difficult balance that has to be struck. The interesting thing about the recent US election was that the current and previous presidents seem to neatly encapsulate the perils of both extremes.
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Re: Is the best political leader one who knows nothing?

Post by Eduk » October 11th, 2017, 5:05 am

Yes imagine being the president and being concerned about getting everything 'right'. It would certainly slow down decision making. I'm not sure if Obama really suffered from this or not, on the surface he seems like the most reasonable president in my life time. But I don't know him well.

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