Leadership by the “Enlightened Few” is a Farce

Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s discriminatory statement about who should argue with her is a flagrant display of arrogant elitism in this country. She is a product of the idea that “enlightened” people should lead society. Even I have an old article about who to consider “elite,” where my point was that we should never worship the underdog. But now I decided that there is a healthy kind of anti-elitism, and indeed we should not worship elites or “enlightened” people either.

As I have made known in my article about art, I believe the idea of the many people following an “enlightened few,” whether about standards of art or political ideas, is crud. The “enlightened few” is common window dressing for dictators and control freaks. They say, “hey, you follow me, because I’m smart/great/good-looking/have the blood of a hero/etc.,” but by projecting themselves like that, you can be certain they’re assholes.

One of the greatest myths that people believe is that if all people followed one creed, one belief system, one persuasion, one ideal, one this, one that, that there would be world peace. That is far from the truth. When people believe in one way, they will see their own way as right, and will have contempt for others’ ways. They will themselves as “elite” and set out to “convert” others, and can resort to attacking or punishing those refuse to convert. Belief in being the same and one does not reduce conflict; it causes conflict. This doesn’t just apply to religion, but to societies and tribal institutions too.

The Trouble with the “Enlightened”

The “enlightened few” or elitism concept has been around for as long as humanity has trying to put one over his fellow. In Greek times, it was supported by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. The academy in Greece was set up for this purpose. In ancient China, scholars were trained in schools as the “elite few” who would become part of government. This is where school came from; it was reserved to the elite expected to be our rulers. The peasants and ordinary people never went through school then.

Today, anybody can go to school, not just “elite rulers.” While it is true that certain professions should have adequate training, they don’t become our leaders. The meaning of “educated” has been muddled. This should have led to dropping the idea that a certain educated and “enlightened” elite should be our leaders, though it didn’t.

Propping up an “enlightened” few is just another ruse or excuse to justify ruling others, and then later becoming abusive. For example, even before the philosophers mentioned above lived, many monarchs justified their rulership with something like the divine power of gods, “rulership talent,” being members of the “nobility” or any other reason to make you obey them. As monarchies were deposed and removed in the modern era, the excuse for “leaders” was returned to supposedly intelligent people as elite and rulers. The “enlightened” and “intellectuals” are today’s self-made god-kings.

Classic Theorists are Bleh

“Enlightened” few are sometimes the origins of our modern ideas and philosophies. Greeks and American founding fathers popularized democracy. During the Renaissance, philosophers and scientists were laying the foundation for the empirical methods we use today. However, they or their followers believed that their theories can explain everything, and that everyone else must follow their system. That proved to be folly.

Old theorists often commit the error of sweeping generalization, since they spoke in general terms all the time in those days. For example, B.F. Skinner theorized that all people are responsive in the same way to rewards or punishments; then we find later that people can ignore rewards and punishments and can be motivated by something else. Most philosophers and scientists thought everybody acted or thought according to their theories, such as Freud (or at least his successors) assuming everything in the subconscious is about sex. Then actual study of people shows that it is not always true. The conspiracy theorists (yes, I know this is the deep end) say that people are always mind-controlled by others, that there is always some form of “inception” and people never choose their tastes on their own. I call this rubbish since it downplays the free will people really have and might even be used as justification to control others against their will.

Marx of course is our favorite pin cushion. He theorized that overthrowing upper class people and eliminating private ownership of resources will lead to a better society. But he missed out on a lot of things, such as individual human behavior and differing individual needs. Refined psychological science came after him as well, so he did not have the benefit of understanding human behavior as we do today. Through the refined knowledge, we’ve seen that socialism and communism can never work without a good bit of “adulteration” (Making it far from what Marx theorized at all). Today, such theories offer perspectives, but they never alone have the answer. They can even detour us from that.

One of the major ideas related to elitism is the idea of utopia, that a perfect world in this physical realm can be achieved. This is a product of the Middle Ages, and perhaps this what drove many classical theorists who wanted to find “the perfect thing.” After years of learning things and maturing, I have learned to accept that utopia or “the perfect thing” is unachievable. And it’s not because I don’t want it. It’s because reality says so. If a utopia was tried, it was because someone tried to impose their utopia on others. People can be violent against those those disagree with their utopia. This is what motivates communists and other people with a dream of an “ideal world.” It’s better if they never achieve that dream, as it can lead to disaster (example, Mao-era China).

While I am much against idiocracy, I am against the other extreme as well. People who claim to be the “intelligentsia” and want to be leaders are likely arrogant pretenders. All the more leadership roles should not be given to people like them.

Control-Freak Tendencies

Some people want to run others’ lives. They want to dictate others’ tastes and become others’ thought police. For example, some of today’s human rights “advocates” assume that their version of human rights should be accepted by all, without realizing that they’ve fallen into the slippery slope of being dictators by doing so.

The “enlightened” may claim that people can benefit from letting them choose for others because of their “superior” intellect and other traits. But this is one reason why the world is a mess. These “enlightened” are control-freaks who only want to satisfy some juvenile urges. This is not limited to religion. It happens in every area: politics, tribal society, interest groups, hobbies, and more.

“Enlightened” nutjobs claim their ideas are for helping others, but are actually for selfish reasons. For example, vegan activists are so desperate trying to get other people to be like them because simply, they are surrounded by meat-eaters. For example, there was this vegan woman who tried to sue everyone who ate meat around her, so they annoyed her by having a probably lovely aromatic barbeque in front of her home. She sure deserved it. People like her probably find it difficult to live among other people who live differently, so they try to rig the situation to they don’t find it hard. But that’s stupid. If you believe in something, be prepared to hold the fort alone.

Older people believe that since they are old, they have authority and are entitled to other people obeying them. That was how culture was before; old people dictate other people’s tastes, try to realize their idea of beauty on the world, propagate their values by ordering other people, etc. But that’s also the fallacy of authoritarianism (and that’s why the old people long for the good old days).

The woke and SJWs are like this, too. They imagine a world where their entitlement is catered to, a world that does not shock them or hurt their feelings. For example, the woke LGBTs likely want to make refusal of “love” by a straight person punishable. The “forced giving” crowd want to punish non-giving to poor people, and some of them may actually want to make ATMs of other people. They want to force other people to pay carbon taxes for using fossil fuels, but they use the same thing for free. But what are they in this? Dictators.

I recently watched a video where Thomas Sowell was a guest, and he talked about the vulgar pride of “intellectuals” while promoting his book Intellectuals and Society. His message jibes with my earlier article about “intellectuals” in their ivory towers. “Intellectuals” and academics seem to have their own Dunning-Kruger Effect where they believe their little knowledge is already the secret of everything in the world. Thus, they become arrogant. Being “enlightened” is useless without emotional maturity.

This arrogance is demonstrated by someone I knew who told me that the best way to deal with people who disagree with you is to insult them. He said he admired Steve Jobs, but he assumed Jobs’ way of dealing with people who disagreed with him was to insult the other person and talk down to them, with the stupid expectation that the other person will give up and listen. If ever Jobs did that, that was surely not part of his success, and was more of shooting himself in the shoot. The guy I knew kept on reaping what he sowed, getting ejected from forums here and there and setting back his own agenda. If that’s what many “enlightened” people are like, I can understand why Pol Pot and some Cambodians rampaged against intellectuals, though what they did was wrong, too.

Limited Humans

Theories can’t explain everything. People’s ideas are not always perfect. People make big mistakes that kill others, guesses are often wrong, and more. People are limited. So if people limited, why give them so much power over others? None of them have the one answer to everything, because instead of providing answers, humans are fulfilling their own agendas.

One truth I hold is that people run their own lives. People have the right to do what they see as fit for themselves. This is what the “enlightened few” hate, because they see this as a hindrance to imposition of their way on the world.

People will say, what about laws? Aren’t the elite or “enlightened” the right people to craft and enforce our laws? No, because even such people are prone to corruption. The reason for laws is help pull off or keep people from others, or to protect people from others who want to take things from them. It is not necessarily the product of “enlightened” thought, but more like common sensical respect of people. For example, those who just want to masturbate in their own spaces should be left alone, but when they want to rape others, those are the ones you want to pull off others. Or let’s say, one loitering guy was picked up, tested for Covid-19 and quarantined to make sure he doesn’t infect others. It’s based on the concept that one’s rights end where another’s rights begin.

Even with good intentions, the “enlightened’s” efforts do not necessarily lead to success or goodness. The accidents such as famines caused by communist ideals could probably been avoided by not giving such “enlightened” any power over others. Giving such power to limited creatures gives them the chance to cause great damage when they fail. Or even cause great damage when they want to.

We should stop the culture of enjoining people to be like us or try to put us all on the same boat. People are all different and differences have roles. In true freedom, people are able to act on their own to do what’s right without being told to and without telling anyone else to do it.

Some members of the opposition say, “we need the right leaders, we should follow the right people.” Basically, let’s choose the elite to suck up to. It’s more like being a thrall. The current “opposition” is still like this, even while accusing Duterte supporters of being like this.

On Duterte, he isn’t the best and brightest, which is why he was elected. The “enlightened” of the past administration proved to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. The people got tired of them and decided to vote the opposite.

The Function of Leadership

The best and the brightest are not always meant to be leaders. The best and brightest are best measured by what benefit they can bring other people, and that can happen through sharing inventions, ideas and products, not just leadership. For example, inventors have left devices that we make use of today, such as vaccines, computers and factory machinery. In our current situation, medical experts are at the forefront of combating the Covid-19 illness. But they are not leaders; experts are not necessarily intellectuals. If the best and brightest insist on being leaders, then they are probably not what they claim to be.

Experts in a field cannot always be good leaders and teachers. For example, a skilled physicist or chemist cannot be a good teacher or manager by default. Having knowledge in your head is one thing, but dealing with people to impart or apply that knowledge is another. That “enlightened” person may even become frustrated with people who are slower than him in grasping certain concepts. He may blow up at even the slightest misunderstanding, and he cannot get people to follow his lead. Being a teacher and leader are separate skills, and one must allot a good amount of time to learn them.

Sometimes, the experts let someone outside of their circle do the managing and leading, because there are people with these skills. But what if someone is a leader, is he someone great? No. Being able to lead is a skill just like any other. It is a skill for filling a particular need. Leadership is not a function of greatness, it is just a function.

I have in a previous article warned about worshipping or praising any old famous names as great geniuses over others or something like that. It’s nothing more than starstruck ignoramuses hoping that the “enlightened” or “guapo” and whatever are going to be their ATMs. That’s how Filipino culture sees intelligent people, and this is perhaps the central premise behind Filipinos’ understanding of leadership.

Leaders best not be permanent either. Most systems today, such as the democratic system, have the right idea of giving leaders temporary terms, then letting others take over afterwards (though in this country, the system is indeed gamed by vested interests). If a leader were permanent, or when a dynasty takes over, that can also be a factor for incompetence and corruption.

Leadership is an overrated thing. Leaders don’t change the world. The world is unchanged, while societies change themselves. People just live temporarily on it, then move off. Celebration of leadership or of any human “greatness” is just that gasp for relevance on a world that you can never own and control, and will leave behind anyway. Covid-19 is just one of those things that remind us of this.

One hopes this insanity of wanting to be “led” by an “enlightened few” will be dropped soon. I do understand that reality makes this difficult. However, I doubt it is impossible.

As rule by the few becomes more challenged, it’s possible that societies will evolve to become more decentralized. If you ask, do I mean nation-states and other large political entities splitting up and go back to smaller units, I do predict that. That’s the trend so far, since nation-states are very unwieldy entities. They will be pulled down by their own weight, similar to how empires are undone by their own unwieldiness. People would exclaim, how horrible. I say, it might be better that way.

10 Replies to “Leadership by the “Enlightened Few” is a Farce”

  1. ChinoF, you sound very much like an anarchist. But as you probably know anarchy is also very much an utopian dream since humans have always needed some sort of community and therefore leadership. So what is your reason for telling others in your article that “It’s better if they never achieve that dream, as it can lead to disaster (example, Mao-era China) “? When the process of moving to anarchy is also dangerous? And lead to no improvements but only deteriorate the human life.

    1. There’s an in-between anarchy and big order. Probably that is the safe space. That’s where my journey of ideas leads to for now.

  2. There are “born leaders”….there are leaders, who perpetuate their rules, thru ideologies, beliefs and the “divine rights” beliefs.

    Some people have exaggeration of their abilities and intellect. that they look down on people, who are less endowed of them.

    A true leader, is humble, compassionate, and intelligent.

    1. The question is then: How do people know whether a person is humble, compassionate and intelligent?
      The answer must be that we can’t possibly know. right?

  3. “Belief in being the same and one does not reduce conflict; it causes conflict. This doesn’t just apply to religion, but to societies and tribal institutions too. ”

    ChinoF, since you believe in the in- between but contradict yourself in your articles at times, perhaps you know the solution to your quoted statement. Which do you think on the grand scale will pull more weight?

    What is Enlightenment to you?

    1. I don’t see how my statement about not being the same being OK is in contradiction with my “in-between” remark. I don’t think anything pulls more weight than the other in the grand scale, because I doubt on the grand scale, no one thing will every become law for all. It’ll just be all free-flowing, which I’m trying to be in this article.

      My use of “enlightened” is in quotes, meaning I’m referring to who are not really enlightened, as in immature and un-woke, rather than the really enlightened who would be more mature, would not attack people and would not impose their way on others. I don’t impose my way on others, I’m just offering my current wave of thought.

  4. when you take a flight you want an elite pilot. when you have surgery you want elite doctor. but for our nation we should strive for mediocre leaders like duterte. thats your argument?

    1. I would rather dissociate elite from experienced and careful pilots, because even elite pilots could commit error, and some elite pilots, although this is very seldom, crash planes in deliberate murder-suicide.

      If you want Dutertes, or even Marcoses, to not be leaders, either the elite clean up their act, or let’s not vote any of them anymore. Or, let’s go a distance more. Let’s eliminate or make smaller the structures that lead to these kinds of leaders, such as the nation-state. That way, you don’t get leaders at all – and less risk of a big “dictator” imposing their way over so many people. Let the smaller polity be more normalized.

      1. That’s a good idea TBH.

        On the contrary, it’s really hilarious than there are idiots who keep on blaming leaders like it’s their pastime while failing to realize that the SYSTEM is the problem all this time.

    2. Greengrin,
      At one point KLM (the dutch airliner) once had an “elite” pilot but he was part of the cause of the so far and by far biggest airplane crash in Dutch history (KLM – PanAm in Tenerife, Spain, if I am not mistaken). So, in short, the “top gun” is not always the best (paradox, right?).

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