Much of society is organised on the principle that we should leave decisions in the hands of those who are most competent to make them. But we often confuse competence with cleverness. However clever you are there are very real limits to your competence at making decisions on behalf of other people:
- Understanding – you don’t really know how I think or what I value
- Position – you can’t take the opportunities or avoid the hazards that lie before me
- Social – you can’t replace me in relationships of love, work, friendship
- Motivation – you can’t really avoid putting your own interests before mine
It is a special temptation for the clever to think they can act on everyone else’s behalf. It is a deep incompetence which is often masked by phoney rationality and a dismissive attitude to those they see as somehow beneath them. The clever folk who rule us do appear to have made this error – and have left the wisdom of true leadership behind.