Doing ‘deliverology’

08 June 2021

Who should be ruling us and by what right should anyone claim to be an expert in governing, or steering the ship of state? What Dominic Cummings said before the joint commons select committees last month is, once you strip away the emotion and impact, a plain tale as old as the hills.

What practical experience do those who profess to be experts in politics actually have? It’s what Socrates first asked of the elite of Athens and forms the foundation of Western political philosophical enquiry. Socrates’ trap was to start off with a barrage of simple and self-evident questions. If you want to be an expert in the art of shoemaking, you’d study the art of making shoes, right? You’d need a working knowledge of what to do with leather and all that, sure? And moving on, then would come an inquisition as to by what right or skills do self-professed city politicians come to wield power. Was the study and practice of politics a skill anyone could acquire, like shoemaking? Or is it really fair to say you can train to bluff and get away with it by being taught by professional rhetoricians how to be good with fancy words and making weaker arguments prevail against stronger ones in the public forum?

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