It just doesn’t make any sense: The cognitive dissonance of justifying government because people are dumb


Cognitive dissonance is something that Slappy and I talk about a lot.  He questions how I wear crew socks with sandals while claiming to be up on all of the latest fashion trends.  I question how he can say that he hates all reality TV but loves to watch Dancing with the Stars.  And while this can lead to fiery debates, we do try to spend more time on the cognitive dissonances of statists.

One such example came up this weekend while I was out with some friends and the topic of the legitimacy of government was being discussed.  One person’s justification for government went something like this: “Just think about all of the stupid people in this country.  And like George Carlin said, think about how dumb the average American is—half of the country is dumber than that.  So I want a government because of those people.”

This isn’t anything that people in the liberty movement have not heard and have not fairly easily debunked already.  It is, however, an argument that still gets used so I suppose that it still requires discussion.

First of all, how arrogant do you have to be to hold this position?  It’s such a cheap appeal to emotion—everyone likes to think that they’re part of the smart people club.  But even if there are a lot of dumb people out there, how does someone’s lack of intelligence give you the authority to impose your will upon them?  Does that mean that anyone who is smarter than you has the authority to impose their will upon you?

If that wasn’t enough, the biggest reason why this is such a bad justification for government is because of the massive cognitive dissonance that is happening when the argument is used.  You think that there are a ton of stupid people in the country, and you want them under the control of a government, but you also want a government where the officials are chosen from and elected by the people you’ve determined to be stupid.  That’s like being allergic to peanuts and making yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch to ensure you don’t succumb to a peanut allergy.

It just doesn’t make any sense.