Ross Douthat writes:
“In hereditary aristocracies, debacles tend to flow from stupidity and pigheadedness: think of the Charge of the Light Brigade or the Battle of the Somme… In meritocracies, though, it’s the very intelligence of our leaders that creates the worst disasters. Convinced that their own skills are equal to any task or challenge, meritocrats take risks that lower-wattage elites would never even contemplate…”
So, he uses military blunders resulting from stubbornness on the part of people in power as an example of what happens in aristocracies, but not meritocracies like ours? Actually, I think we’ve had some problems with that not too long ago in this country.
Douthat has an interesting idea, but I think ultimately all these mistakes can happen in any system, human nature being what it is. The two different “types” of mistakes he describes are really the same thing. “Pigheadedness” and overconfidence in one’s own abilities are just different ways of phrasing the same issue, in my opinion.