Sociology Index


Kakistocracy is a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, and most unscrupulous citizens. The term Kakistocracy was used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained popular usage in the twenty-first century to criticize governments emerging in different populist democracies. Letters of James Russell Lowell gave the term an intolerant but more colorful definition, "a government… for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools." Derived from Greek words, kakistos, which means worst, and kratos. Kakistocracy means government by the worst people.

The earliest use of the term Kakistocracy meaning government by the worst people, dates to the seventeenth century, in Paul Gosnold's A sermon Preached at the Publique Fast the ninth day of Aug. 1644 at St. Maries. English author Thomas Love Peacock used the term Kakistocracy in his 1829 novel, The Misfortunes of Elphin, in which he explains kakistocracy represents the opposite of aristocracy, as aristos means "excellent" in Greek, like kakistos means "worst" in Greek. Origins of the word aristocracy imply the meaning of "rule by the best." Aristocracy is the class to which such rulers belong, the nobility; the patrician or privileged class, regardless of the form of government. Plutocracy is rule by the rich. Oligarchy is a form of government where power rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty and wealth.

The Washington Post reported on the use of the word going viral to describe the Trump administration on 13 April 2018. "Kakistocracy, a 374-year-old word that means 'government by the worst,' just broke the dictionary."

Senator William Harper, In his 1838 Memoir on Slavery, compared kakistocracy to anarchy, and said it had seldom occurred: "Anarchy is not so much the absence of government as the government of the worst, not aristocracy but kakistocracy, a state of things, which to the honor of our nature, has seldom obtained amongst men, and which perhaps was only fully exemplified during the worst times of the French revolution, when that horrid hell burnt with its most horrid flame."

American poet James Russell Lowell used the term Kakistocracy in 1877, in a letter to Joel Benton, writing, "What fills me with doubt and dismay is the degradation of the moral tone. Is it or is it not a result of Democracy? Is ours a 'government of the people by the people for the people,' or a Kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?"

Kakistocracy - Leonard E. Read.
Lowell gave the term an intolerant but more colorful definition, "a government… for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools." - Letters of James Russell Lowell, ed. Charles Eliot Norton (Vol. II, 1893), p. 179.
Are we approaching this form of gov­ernment, or have we already em­braced it unawares? Once upon a time we thought of our nation as a republic, even after it had be­come in practice a democracy. But whoever thinks of the U.S.A. as a kakistocracy? The word is not even known to most of us. A reading of the ten points of the Communist Manifesto should convince anyone that we are headed into a kakistocracy. Instead of spelling out the detail, let’s examine the recent break­through of gambling as a means of financing coercive (govern­mental) welfarism.

Kakistocracy: An idiot's hilarious guide to Nigerian History Kindle Edition
by Akachi Christopher.
Hilarious look at Nigeria's history up to 1970, interspaced with off script commentary on contemporary issues. Nothing is off limit and you will love the simple style and wicked wit. Short and to the point, this is the book you want to tell you about the most fascinating country in Africa. For non Nigerians, this may just be the best way to get to know Nigeria. Wonder why Nigerian scam artists are so successful?