Incompetence ought to be assumed before malfeasance (following Occam’s Razor and the maxim—assigned to various authors—that we should “never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”) but, in many cases, easily preventable incompetence might as well be deliberate; accordingly, these maxims appear to be applicable to the scandalous, burgeoning cases of misfeasance and malfeasance which blight our commonwealth.
Informal’s Assertion:Callously indifferent incompetence may be indistinguishable from malfeasance.
Informal’s Corollary:A concatenation of malfeasance functions indistinguishably from a conspiracy.
Informal’s Axiom:The larger the bureaucracy the higher the likelihood of indifferent incompetence.
“The lot of princes, Domitian remarked, was most miserable: they were not believed when they uncovered a conspiracy unless they were murdered.” (Condicionem principum miserrimam aiebat, quibus de coniuratione comperta non crederetur nisi occisis.—C. Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, “Domitianus”, XX.) If you haven’t spotted a conspiracy, you’re not paying attention.*
* John Nolte observes, for example, “If you don’t think there’s an agenda behind this, you haven’t been paying attention the last 40 years.”
As an online discussion of totalitarianism or authoritarianism or the Second World War grows longer, the probability of an inappropriate but smug reference to “Godwin’s Law” approaches 1.
Informal’s First Principle of SatireNo satire of modern behaviour and doctrines can be so ridiculous that some people won’t interpret it as accurate reportage.
Informal’s Second Principle of SatireNo supposed proposal invented by a satirist can be so ridiculous that some people won’t support it.
Informal’s Commentary on the Two Principles of SatirePurportedly progressive people are particularly likely to confuse satire with actuality.