The "village elder" is very good in cases where you have to run a small group of people. There, selection method is irrelevant (the pool of candidates is never big in first place) and generally, the scale tends to be small enough to grasp for everyone. You simply don't need
any bureaucracy, you just get a particularly smart person from the group and let that person run things. Problems start when you outgrow the scale an average person can imagine. The "supreme leader" stops being someone you know and becomes a distant entity, while you can't simply discuss the matter of "who is the smartest of us" with everyone, since there are too many people around. Democracy in general was for a long time considered to be a solution that only works up to city-state size, and for a good reason. It wouldn't even be possible at larger scales until organized bureaucracy was "invented". Though to be fair, an autocracy needs bureaucratic structures to work, as well, the only system that doesn't is feudalism (in which you have multiple tiers of hereditary "village elders"). Notice that the transition never went "feudalism->democracy", but it usually was some variation on "feudalism->centralized monarchy->democracy". Monarchs built bureaucratic structures to consolidate their powers and take feudal lords out of the loop, then those structures were inherited by democratic governments which only had to expand them to account for their growth. I'm convinced that an attempt at direct transition from feudalism (thus without an established bureaucracy) would collapse into a mess of "manageable" subunits, unable to form a coherent state.
Of course autocrats have to restrict the freedom to think. No autocrat, no matter how benign, can allow the people under his rule to think too hard about why he should rule and noone else.
You're assuming one thing: that people thinking about why he should rule and not someone else wouldn't have found that reason
. An autocrat who has to restrict freedom to think is one who, in the end, probably doesn't deserve his (or her) position and is only trying to hide it. Divine right was sufficient for a few centuries, but like all religious arguments, it was a flawed system (it worked until people started questioning religion, as well). An autocrat wishing to rule without this crutch has to be superior to his subjects. In the modern world, that would mean superior intellect, while in old times, it was often martial prowess.
Of course, the above applies only to thinking people. Unfortunately, un
thinking people are a different problem. People too stupid to realize what it really
takes to rule a country may still think they could do a better job (see Donald "I had no idea that being President was so hard" Trump). Many people dream of money and power, but most of them don't have what it takes to use either in a responsible manner. While "freedom to think" is a bit of a misnomer with those, it's better to rule this kind of people through "bread and circuses" and not oppression. Generally, they won't spontaneously organize (envy works "sideways", as well), so as long as thinking people are kept content with their ruler and unthinking ones are satisfied enough so that nobody who can think has to take pity on them, the system can stand without resorting to oppression.
So you're saying the USSR could be where the US is now if it wasn't for their system of government?
No. They could be where the US is now if it wasn't for them being Russians and not Americans. They think differently, they do things differently, they have different priorities. They do some things better (like optical glass or manned spaceflight) and do some things worse (like fashion or home appliances). Russia has actually surpassed the US in some areas, while lagging behind in others. Differences in system of government were more the result of those differences rather than the cause.
You could possibly argue that genetics may play a role where top end achievements (like good old Albert Einstein) is concerned ... but I see a strong case for the "genetic" part of intelligence (with the exception of outright disability/hereditary diseases) having zero relevance towards being successful at a regular job and being a responsible citizen. That's all education. Hence education's importance for politics.
The thing is, running a country is
a top-end achievement. Everyone
engaging in politics is in some way responsible for millions
of people. I see allowing regular people to participate in politics as irresponsible, in light of that. I'd rather have my life in hands of one genious (or a handful of near-geniuses) than a few million cretins. Education alone is unable to bring them to that level, nor is it able to teach them responsibility (a whole lot of people can't even get their family life in order). Competence at a regular job is irrelevant here. What does a bricklayer or a grocer know about politics? It's not something that they need to worry about when doing their job. Poland had a stint with a shipyard electrician as a president. Competent electrician, good trade union leader, terrible president. Lech Wałęsa brought down communism, but what isn't so well known is that he then utterly bungled the transition and left Poland's considerable industry to be squandered away and sold off to foreign companies for pennies
You see, politicians are already highly intelligent on average, because you have to be to succeed in democratic politics. And yes, that includes Trump, Obama, the left, the right, and almost everyone else in nation state level politics. We dont need more intelligent politicians. We need more loyal, uncorruptible, empathetic and honest ones. And if anything, democracy helps with that, even if it may not seem that way sometimes.
You, of all people, should understand that this is not the case. You're from friggin' Poland
No, you don't have to be intelligent to succeed in a democracy. You have to be sociable. A powerful personality and a knack for convincing people to follow you goes a lot
longer way than intelligence does. Have you ever seen a shy, sheltered, highly intelligent person anywhere near power (excluding in hereditary monarchies)? Or someone with a physical deformity, but otherwise very bright? Being elected has little to do with being intelligent and everything to do with being personable. Most politicians are more intelligent than average (mostly because there are more personable people in the world than there are government seats), but they're rarely geniuses.
well for instance my parents are both doctors and i have a master's in pure mathematics, whereas dragon's ancestors were inbred nobles and he's barely scraping his way through biophysics
See? You did inherit their intelligence, intelligent parents don't have stupid children (boorish ones, on the other hand...). I'm not scraping my way through, BTW, biophysics suit me just fine (dunno where did you get that idea). If anything, they can be downright easy
at times. TBH, despite you being a toxic jerk, I still
have more respect for you than for most peons out there. You use your brain from time to time (even if it is just to come up with insults), which is more than can be said for the "common man". You may even say that you're one of the people who I have to thank for my disillusionment with democracy.
After I realized that the likes of you are nonetheless worth more than an average "polite idiot", I could no longer argue in good faith for a system that gives the latter a say in politics.