Is there a name for a political tactic or a political theory where the leader of a public organization performs actions that only just fulfill the expectations of the masses (when potentially far more can be done), and makes the lay public (which forms majority of the population) believe that nothing else can be done? An example of this is a Cricket Team where, despite a wealth of talent in the domestic teams, the chief selector selects the same mediocre players for the international team in spite of countless failures. The majority of the lay public (who are unaware of players in the domestic system) may remember one or two good performances of the players selected, and may consider this selection a good one, while those who have access to statistics and are critically following the sport both internationally and domestically may consider the selection as absurd. Another example is the political scenario, where the politicians set aside funds to build a transport network in a localized area that is visually appealing for the public, but benefits only a selected few, when the same amount is more than enough to overhaul the electricity infrastructure the country? At the same time, the politicians makes the lay public believe that overhauling of the electricity infrastructure is not possible due to lack of funds?

  • Is "superficial" the word you want? – Bobson Oct 8 '14 at 17:55
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    As they used to call this tactic in the context of the labour market in USSR, "they pretend to pay us salary for our pretending to work" – user4012 Oct 8 '14 at 17:57
  • lazieness?????? – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Oct 8 '14 at 21:26

Here's a few terms that fit your description to varying degrees:

Demagoguery: appealing to common prejudices, fears, biases, or ignorance to gain power. The cricket coach going with the popular player (who they can remember good things about, but isn't actually the best candidate) is acting as demagogue, relying on public support to stay in control of the team rather than making the best choice with his careful study.

Exploiting Rational Ignorance: People in a democracy don't really get much from voting; the outcome of an election will almost definitely be the same whether or not any individual votes. Therefore, it doesn't make much sense for an individual to spend a lot of time researching an issue; the voter might as well just go with his gut on most issues, or ignore them altogether. In the infrastructure example, no individual voter has any reason to question the assertion that the electricity infrastructure is too expensive. The almost zero benefit of using that information correctly is unlikely to be able to overcome the costs of time investment of personal research or the money it would take to hire an impartial panel to study the cost.

Democracy: Early theorists of Democracy like Plato and Aristotle saw this kind of manipulation as the status quo for a system where popularity and rhetoric rather than wisdom ruled. In fact, for Aristotle, democracy was considered the be the deviant form of a government called polity, where the passions of the masses were moderated by a constitution that limited the ability of the mob to influence government. Plato's forms of government:

Plato's forms of government read more

This fear of direct rule helped shape division of power in the Roman and American Republics.


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