Discover more from The Bus
Part 4: There's always a word for it. (The Bus 3.16)
Welcome aboard The Bus!
Welcome to the fourth instalment of Exquisite Words. The first (1.47) looked at acheiropoeita, chthonic, quincunx and quodlibet, the second (2.16) at hacceity, nihil ex nihilo fit and qualia, and the third (2.36) at abligurition, amatorculist, cacoethes, and quaquaversal. Today’s words all concern different forms of government: gerontocracy, pantisocracy, technocracy and timocracy. As before, try to use them in a sentence and let me know how it goes!
GERONTOCRACY – This noun from the Greek geron (old man) + Greek kratia (rule), was first used in 1830 to describe a form of social organisation or government in which a group of old men or a council of elders dominates or exercises control. A form of oligarchical rule,a gerontocracy is one in which the leaders are significantly older than most of the adult population, thus enabling the oldest people to have the most power. In a sentence: ‘Yet again, the candidates for President appear to be pushing the government towards a gerontocracy.’
PANTISOCRACY – This noun, from the Greek pan (all) + isokratia (equal power or rights) + kratia (rule), refers to a form of government in which all members rule equally. The word was coined in 1794 by the English poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey to describe the form of government they intended for a utopian community they hoped to establish somewhere along the Susquehanna River in the newly-established USA. Their plans, in the end, didn’t work out. In a sentence: ‘My utopia was a perfect pantisocracy until a second person joined.’
TECHNOCRACY: This noun - from the Greek tekhne (art, craft, skill) + kratia (rule) - has been used since 1919 to describe a system of government where the leaders and decision-makers are chosen according to their technical knowledge or expertise in a specific area of responsibility. Around 1932, technocracy became the name for a theory and movement which advocated ‘control of industrial resources, reform of financial institutions, and reorganisation of the social system’ as determined by ‘technologists and engineers.’ Today it appears largely in the form of its backformation – technocrat – which describes a government leader who believes social problems can be solved through the application of technology. In a sentence: ‘Widespread AI won’t necessarily lead to a technocracy, despite the best efforts by the technocrats in charge.’
TIMOCRACY: This noun - from the Greek tim (honour or worth) + kratia (rule) - has been used since the 1580s in one of two senses. The first, originally found in Plato’s Republic, is that of a government ruled by those who are guided by a love of honour.The second sense, based on its use in Aristotle’s Politics, is the idea that only people who own property may be part of the government. In a sentence: ‘I used to think the government was at its heart a timocracy, but then I found out it was.’
The Bus is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work (including access to the upcoming Night Bus), consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Today’s Detour is to a beautiful video (7:19) of a super bloom in California’s Carrizo Plain. A super bloom is spring phenomenon when wildflower seeds which have lain dormant for years germinate and flower at the same time. It’s a stunning piece of film, and worth a watch.
Today’s Recommendation is All the President’s Men (1976). Directed by Alan J. Pakula from a screenplay by William Goldman, the political drama follows The Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigate the circumstances that turn into the Watergate scandal. Starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, the film was nominated for - and won - multiple awards, and in 2010 was selected for the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry from being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.’ It’s a great film - and one I highly recommend.
All the President’s Men streams on various platforms.
Today’s playlist is composed of five down-tempo tracks - all of which are excellent cover versions:‘Wrecking Ball’ (Scars on 45, 2014), ‘Dance Hall Days’ (Imperial Mammoth, 2014), ‘Sister Christian’ (Juliette Commagere, 2014), ‘99 Red Balloons’ (Sleeping At Last, 2014) and ‘Waterfalls’ (Jenny O., 2015). Enjoy!
Today’s Thought is from the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment:
‘Your worst sin is that you have destroyed and betrayed yourself for nothing.’
If you have a thought on this Thought - or any part of today’s issue - please leave a comment below:
The Bus is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
And that’s the end of this Stop - I hope you enjoyed the diversion!
Thanks to everyone who subscribes - your interest and support is truly appreciated. If you like The Bus, please SHARE it with a friend or two.
If you haven’t climbed aboard The Bus, please do!
If you like The Bus, why not check out other newsletters?
Refind picks five links from around the web that make you smarter, tailored to your interests. Refind is a must-read newsletter loved by over 200,000 curious minds. There’s also a very cool app. Sign up for free!
Until the next Stop …
Rule by a small group of people.
For more about Samuel Taylor Coleridge, see The Bus ‘Kubla Khan’ (2.35).
Despite the seemingly positive nature of such a government, Plato actually doesn’t approve of timocracies: he calls them ‘unjust’ because rulers chosen for their sense of justice and honour would hold these virtues to a point where offence against them might lead to war.
As a rule of thumb, I’m not a fan of cover versions unless the artists make the version their own. Consequently, I think all of these are great - especially if you know the original. TLC, for example, never sounded so good. Oh, and for the eagle-eared out there, you might recognise that all of these tracks have been used on Grey’s Anatomy at some point.