in politics

Ignorance is strength

Yesterday I re-blogged a couple pieces by Yonatan Zunger that make the case the Trump administration is systematically testing our government for weaknesses. But what if it just seems that way?

In a post on his blog, Tom Pepinsky makes the case that things often aren’t what they appear:

An essay by Yonatan Zunger entitled ā€œTrial Balloon for a Coup?ā€ is making the rounds. Such essays are frightening to many. And yet they must be read critically. I am equally taken by the argument that everything that Zunger identifies is evidence not of a deliberate planning by an aspiring authoritarian, but of the exact opposite: the weakness and incoherence of administration by a narcissist.

One of the many things that studying authoritarian politics has taught me is that from the perspective of the outsider, weak leaders often act like strong leaders, and strong leaders often act like they are indifferent. Weak leaders have every incentive to portray themselves as stronger than they are in order to get their way. They gamble on splashy policies. They escalate crises. This is just as true for democrats as for dictators.