At my age, you don’t learn anything, according to current fashionable wisdom (which is always wrong). It also denies that memory is, or can contribute to, learning. (My “always” will cover that, too.) Things which made no sense when they were happening, gain clarity of explanation, after years of experience and thought. We all start in ignorance, complete except for the little instinct with which humans are endowed (as compared to, say, flies). To the modern mind, however, that is where we end.

This is one of the principles that underlie what Pope Ratzinger called, “the dictatorship of relativism.” No idea, and no single culture — verily, no fact — is to be preferred. But since inconsistency is another of its underlying principles, the opinions of the kakistocracy are generally exalted.

The word, of which I was reminded by its use in a rightwing blog, should be revived. It was first employed in the 17th century, against those “sanctimonious incendiaries” who spread the political “ideals” associated with puritanism. (“Political correctness” has been with us for a while.) Formed from the Greek, it means “government … by the worst, least qualified, and most unscrupulous.” (The Wicked Paedia has this right for a change.) Or to bring this up to date: by the progressive factions. The word was ab initio meant to serve as the opposite of the aristocratic principle.

Democracy is not kakistocracy, necessarily, but tends to lead towards it, especially where universal suffrage is imposed. The blind lead the blind, and seldom to a good place. The credulity of the masses is easy to exploit, at least for the short time until that place is reached. “Social media” are wonderfully designed to clinch it. Whereas, those with experience and historical understanding often find themselves in a small minority, shouting their warnings in vain. Their very shouting tends to get them surrounded, by the kakistocracy who, because they are indefensibly stupid, are allergic to debate.

The political policies of the kakistocracy consist, fairly consistently, of repeating programmes that have never worked. Socialism is a good example, in any of its forms. It can be made to appeal to a large audience which, through youth or mental defect, has no appreciation of socialism in practice, and thus judges it from its rosy claims, rather than from its murderous history. The “AOC” phenomenon — those who received their moral and political formation on contemporary college campuses — who may or may not be articulate by the gift of nature — is the “cutting edge” of kakistocracy today. But as, for instance, Bernie Sanders demonstrates at great age, the condition can be incurable. Not only has nothing been learned through the years but, thanks to perversions of the human will, nothing can be learned. The appeal will invariably be to youth.

For this reason, in stable societies, there has always been, in addition to the respect youth owes to age, the hallowing of tradition. Departure from inherited “norms” will be received less with excitement than with horror. Proposals to reverse settled customs, or the definition of virtues that have guided us, will be met with proposals for prompt and severe punishment. Letting such innovations out of the bag, the box, or the closet, will be condemned — perhaps in a thoughtful way, but more likely in the spontaneous kneejerk manner, which should be discounted because it might not succeed. But if it works, fine.

Up here in the High Doganate, we have an aristocratic disposition. We would prefer “government … by the best, most qualified,” and genuinely virtuous, not only by inheritance but by arduous training. In this sense we are Platonic; in the desire for breadth, Aristotelian. To the kakistocratic factions, that currently dominate our politics, we are fanatically opposed.