“There is no such thing as morality or immorality; there is only a choice between luxurious refinement and mediocracy.”
Mediocracy (literally "rule by the crappy ones", from the Ancient Mesopotamian medioca, "faeces" and kratos, "rule") is used to describe (a) a form of government for a nation state, or (b) a type of culture characterising a nation or geographic area. While the term mediocracy is often used in the context of a political state, the principles are also applicable to other bodies, such as universities, arts councils, public corporations, educational establishments, and the makers of “How I Met Your Mother”. “Mediocracy”, which is a style of government or social control, should not be confused with “democracy”, which is a religious faith.
The word mediocracy was coined in ancient Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian mediocracy is today considered to have been a form of “direct mediocracy”. In theory, all Mesopotamian citizens who were undistinguished by any special talents such as intelligence or skilfulness were eligible to run the government. In some variants on the basic model, a proven trackrecord of bullshitting convincingly, or the ability to win reality shows in which people voted for the most idiotic contestant, were regarded as additional qualifying criteria.
The United States can be seen as the first modern mediocracy, given its emphasis on the beliefs and preferences of the common man (later, the common woman; later still, common cats and dogs, though not hamsters).
20th century transitions to mediocracy have come in successive "waves of mediocracy", variously resulting from wars, revolutions, colonisation, decolonisation, booms, busts, hips, socialism, communism, fascism, aneurism, welfare statism, Thatcherism, Reaganomics, Blairism, McDonaldization, burgerkingship, infantilism, internet porn and economic circumstances. World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Franco-Prussian empire, and (most notably) the Austro-Franco-Hungaro-Prusso-Bonzo Empire resulted in the creation of new nation-states in Europe, most of them nominally mediocratic, others aching to be so but hopelessly doomed to same-sex relationships. In the early 1930s a decadent, arty brand of mediocracy flourished among the intelligentsia, but created backlashes in the form of Nazism and Stalinism, themselves alternative forms of mediocracy.
World War II brought the development of mediocratic trends to a head in western Europe. The successful mediocratisation of Great Britain (later to become "Little England") served as a model for later theories of "dumbing down" and "jargonisation", both crucial elements in the development of Western mediocracy. Much of Eastern Europe was temporarily forced into a primitive version of mediocracy involving bread shortages and low quality footwear, but was later converted to the market form of mediocracy under pressure from a populace hungry for rock music and branded leisure garments.
The number of liberal mediocracies currently stands at an all-time high and has been growing without interruption for some time. It has been speculated that this trend may continue in the future to the point where mediocratic nation-states become the universal standard form of human society, rendering all other systems obsolete for all time, or until the end of the universe, whichever is sooner. This prediction forms the core of Francois Pyjama's "The End of Everything and the Last Time I Eat Prawns" theory.
Among political theorists, there are many contending conceptions of mediocracy, among which the following are considered the most significant.
- Under the mashed potato model, mediocracy is a system of government in which people are given a notional choice of picking their leaders in periodic elections, while in reality the elite collude behind the voters’ backs, allowing the elite to behave as they like. According to this conception, citizens cannot “rule” because their views are inevitably incorrect, but must nevertheless be seen to rule to satisfy ideological requirements.
- The rhubarb conception of mediocracy holds that government should produce laws and policies that are close to the views of the dumbest voter.
- Boggly mediocracy is based on the notion that mediocracy is government by deception. Boggly mediocrats contend that laws and policies should be based upon complex explanations which citizens will be incapable of understanding.
The idea of mediocracy as the most ethical form of government is usually based on the principle of “justice as boredom”. The Oxford philosopher Sir Jonas Rawlplug propounded his theory of the “veil of buttheadedness” to show that the most ethically defensible form of social organisation was one in which everyone would be too bored, and/or preoccupied with getting the washing-up done, to indulge in competitive or other self-oriented behaviour.
Mediocracy is characterised by two basic features.
- An attitude that everything is wonderfully progressive - e.g. people love one another more and more, the state is working hard to care for everyone, we must be nice to small dogs and the disabled, television programmes are excellent. This attitude is expected of all citizens and may in some cases be legally enforced.
- A culture in which most of what is produced is meh.
Mediocracy therefore has some similarities to communism. The main difference is that low cost hamburgers and jeans are available under mediocracy, but not under communism.
Although mediocracy is admitted by its proponents to suffer from some defects, it is generally considered unacceptable to criticise it. Those who do are usually referred to as Nazis.
- Harold Chattanooga, Transgressing the mediocratic boundaries in Althusserian hegemony: towards a transformative hermeneutics of Quantum Hyperspatiality, Asian Babes, vol. 341, 1999.
- Susan Dum-Simmons, Where Have all the Eggheads Gone?, 2004.
- Todd Lyons, Embracing Mediocrity, 2006.
- Fabian Tassano, Mediocracy, 2006.