Sunday, July 25, 2021

Governance:"De Gaulle’s State of Tomorrow"

From Palladium Magazine:

Technocratic power has become the core backbone of industrial civilization. Incapable of managing complex modern forms of social organization, legacy political structures have outsourced their responsibilities to an army of credentialed bureaucrats. The abdication of the statesman marks the rise of the expert, a political player who wields a different kind of authority. Where the democratic leader derives his mandate from the supposed will of the people, the expert’s legitimacy comes from his supposedly superior knowledge of technical matters. A product of the meritocratic machine, the expert translates epistemic credibility into influence: He rules because he knows more.

Modern states created expert-led administrations to serve specific, subordinate functions. Certain questions required technical assessments, for which rulers had to employ competent advisers. But the Industrial Revolution expanded the need for this kind of structure far beyond its initial conception. The centralization of private power demanded the centralization of public power.  Faced with ever-expanding firms with clear objectives and coordinated hierarchies, the state found itself dealing with unprecedented legal, administrative, and industrial complexity at scale. Institution-builders restructured state power to deal with these challenges, one step at a time. Once a subordinate extension of conventional authority, technocracy metastasized into a large, independent authority of its own. The statesman-expert hierarchy has become a partnership upon which the functionality of the state depends. Just as the preservation of order in medieval kingdoms required symbiosis between priest and knight, so the preservation of state capacity in industrial societies requires symbiosis between expert and statesman.

Political and technocratic modes of power can no longer operate on their own. Without direction, bureaucracies degenerate into cold-hearted machines that reduce the human experience to a set of metrics devoid of higher purpose. Without structure and expertise, politicians simply cannot manage the social systems of modern life to carry out any particular vision. Both modes, therefore, need each other to thrive and survive. Working in unison, political leaders provide the end to the technocracy’s means and the moral purpose of the machine’s inner workings. Conversely, experts can enlighten the decisions of statesmen, temper their dynamism, and bring detachment to the chaotic whims of the moment. Ultimately, modern, industrial states are faced with this central challenge: to re-establish the primacy of the political over the technocratic without destroying the necessary symbiosis between the two.

Few regimes, if any, have found the right balance. In the West and beyond, political representatives delight in delegating their power to administrators. Two incentives explain this love of abdication: First, outsourcing represents a handy way to avoid policy-making, responsibility, and personal accountability. Second, outsourcing frees up time to fundraise, campaign, and build a media-savvy persona. On the other end of the trade, technocrats welcome their ever-expanding authority by consolidating their status and influence without worrying about elections. Over time, the unchanging administration captures the influence that elected offices once possessed; every time, power flows from the temporary and fragile to the permanent and secure.

This trend results in an unbalanced structure wherein political leaders turn themselves into actors in a televised pantomime while experts, internalizing the hubristic idea that technical skill and statesmanship are one and the same, rule behind the scenes. In theory, this model applies the division of labor to politics. Theatrical players, selected for their charisma, dominate surface-level institutions while technical players, selected for their brute-force competence, control the superstructure. In practice, however, this imbalanced order fuses the worst of both technocracy and mob rule. Unelected, directionless bureaucrats reign supreme while demagogues distract the masses. Devoid of discipline, coherence, and moral purpose, technocrats cannot even deal with strictly technical issues like pandemic management, even as they undermine and absorb the whole political structure.

Industrial societies thus face a dilemma. On the one hand, modern forms of social organization demand the symbiotic alignment of technocratic and political modes of authority. On the other hand, bureaucracies as we know them tend to accumulate power while the political center becomes the concierge of its own abdication....


"Concierge of its own abdication". I like that.

Plus, it brings to mind a line from one of the great actors, re-posted June 2, 2020:

"He worships at the temple of his own narcissism."
No, not Cuomo on de Blasio, although the mayor's irresponsibility is approaching that of Jacob Frey of Minneapolis.
Rather the comment is from Marlon Brando when Burt Reynolds was being considered for the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather.
The line of thought was something like: Governor Cuomo > Fredo > Michael > Bill de Blasio ( né Warren Wilhelm Jr.) > Brando.

The full quote on Burt Reynolds was:

"He is the epitome of something that makes me want to throw up. 
He is the epitome of everything that is disgusting about the thespian, 
he worships at the temple of his own narcissism."

If the reader has stuck with me this far I feel I owe you something. Here's our last use of the quote:
People, People "That Time The National Security Agency Invented Bitcoin"

Interesting story.

Governor Cuomo Threatens To Remove Mayor de Blasio, Send Him To Nursing Home

A couple more Brandoisms:
"I don't want to spread the peanut butter of my personality on the mouldy bread of the commercial press."

"If you're successful, acting is about as soft a job as anybody could ever wish for. But if you're unsuccessful, it's worse than having a skin disease."
Source for all: IMDb