The Lessons of Richard II

A book about Richard II prompts Theodore Dalrymple to reflect on our own feeble, rotten democracies and self-serving, mediocre political class in this week’s Takimag column.

We complain of the mediocrity, or even sub-mediocrity, of our leaders and their bureaucratic hangers-on, but we do not see that our system does much, perhaps everything, to guarantee the rise of such people to the top. Power, or at least its simulacrum, is the consolation prize of those who want to be outstanding but lack the talent for anything except manipulation, plotting, dissimulation, and betrayal. Such types are encouraged in a polity that describes itself as both democratic and meritocratic.

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