I think there is a definite difference between malevolence and incompetence with what’s going on. People do tend to lean towards malevolence, because it denotes an external entity, often too powerful to contend with, incompetence requires self reflection & responsibility.
More and more now, I think it incompetence and compartmental incompetence as well. Where someone might be competent in one thing, but are incompetent in the actual situation they are dealing with but we think they are competent because of that other thing they are good at.
Leadership incompetence seem to increase the more safe & developed we become and the less we need our leaders to actually lead. I think that’s a major problem. Failure of meritocracy in local/ central gov & political leadership as competency not being challenged prior to attaining roles.
I don’t know, I think I need to ponder over this more. You surely need more competence to be malevolent as well and these people in leadership positions are not showing much competence level in their current roles, so I don’t know if they are even competent to be evil.
But problems and situations like these are usually complex, they are not set about in simple binaries of good and evil. It could very well be that there is both present at the same time, or incompetence by majority, and opportunistic malevolence by few, internal or external.