Incompetence, corruption, and the Pelter Principle

The Pelter Principle is similar to the Peter Principle, not only in spelling but in a more important regard.  The Peter Principle is a term invented by Laurence J. Peter.  He said, "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. ... [I]n time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties. ... Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence."

In other words, if one is good at his job, he gets promoted.  If he is good at that, he gets promoted again.  Eventually, he may get promoted to a job at which he is not good.  Therefore, he will not get promoted again but will tend to remain in a job where he is incapable.  Eventually, in any organization, there is a tendency for the people in charge of each and every department to be incompetent.  Thus, the organization becomes mismanaged through and through.  Only the unpromoted workers get anything done, but their productivity is restricted by the incompetence of those in charge.  

A related principle in hierarchies is referred to as the "Impostor syndrome."   "Impostor syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others believe you to be."  It has been remarked by some social critics that in many cases, the syndrome is a consequence of the Peter Principle — that is, a recognition by someone who has been promoted to his level of incompetence that he is indeed incompetent.  

The Pelter Principle is a term coined by me, for homophonic reasons only.

The Pelter Principle applies not to competence, but to official corruption.  In recent years, those who closely follow the news have noticed that an astonishingly large number of government officials are, well, astonishingly corrupt — more of them are corrupt than we imagined, and they are far more corrupt than we had thought possible.  The presidency of Donald J. Trump revealed them.  When President Trump began exposing the Deep State, it could burrow no deeper.  Instead, its members began wreaking destruction on the republic in a desperate effort to maintain their power.  

The Pelter Principle, then, avers that once a sufficient number of corrupt government officials achieve a foothold, they begin to recruit and promote other corrupt people in a mutually supportive arrangement, a network of corruption.  The proverbial exponential increase begins to take effect, mostly unnoticed by the general public.  If it remains unnoticed, the entire system becomes saturated with corruption, such that there is no possibility of ever reforming it within the system itself.  All the internal machinery of reform has itself become corrupt.  It becomes the tool not of reform, but of further corruption and, indeed, of worse corruption.   

There are three levels of individual corruption.  One is the quest for personal gain, such as financial enrichment.  This is the most common.  The second is ideological motivation.  Illicit sexual gratification is another.  Each of these enables the greater corruption, which is that of treachery, even treason.  This greater corruption is more than merely a parasitic infection, which weakens the host; it is more like a cancer that seeks to destroy the host, to kill it.  One would expect that this fatal form of corruption would be the result of infiltration by a foreign enemy, as a prelude to conquest.  Ironically, it can also be an interior attack by those seeking to commit national suicide.  They loathe themselves and hate their country.    

In contrast to them, those who seek absolute power would normally seek to control, not to destroy, the nation they are corrupting — but here is where the Peter Principle steps in to further complicate matters.  

We are now at the stage of American history in which corruption has saturated every level of government, and every level of institutions connected with government.  Were those in power competent to gain, use, and preserve it, we would already be a North Korean–style totalitarian state, an Orwellian beast of nightmare proportions.  That we are not, at least not yet, is due only to the ineptness of those who would rule over us.  Those who would run our lives cannot run their own.  

It is cold comfort to lovers of liberty that our overlords can wreck, but not run, our nation.  Liberty may arise from its ashes, but the ashes will be measured in terms of human agony.  

There must come a proper time to throw off the yoke of tyranny.  Too soon, and the effort is crushed, but if we wait too long, we lose the opportunity.  Hopefully, there are enough patriots competent to choose the moment and courageous enough to act.

Image via Max Pixel.

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