Aristocracy, as you know, is government by the “best” or the “noblest” citizens. Kakistocracy is the opposite: government by the worst (or, more literally, the shittiest). Idiocracy was invented by director Mike Judge to serve as the title and theme of his 2006 dystopian comedy, set in the year 2505, when a professional wrestler and porn star occupies the White House. (In what passes for the real world, it took only 10 years for a WWE Hall of Famer and porn-star diddler to win the presidency; in a 2017 interview, Judge admitted that in the age of Trump, his film now seems “optimistic.”)
Until now, I hadn’t noticed the idiotic phonetic explainer. Intentional, I hope.
And epistocracy, our word of the week? It’s a recent coinage, created about 16 years ago by Brown University political philosophy professor David Estlund, that means “government by the knowledgeable.” The episto- part is related to other words about knowledge, including epistemology (the study of knowledge systems) and epistemic closure (an information cocoon). (I wrote about epistemic closure in 2012.)