David (Brooks) Discovers The Managerial State

Economy,Fascism,Old Right,Political Economy,Pseudoscience,Regulation,Socialism,The State


David Brooks, via Vox Day, makes a welcome discovery: The technocratic or Managerial State, a foundational concept among Old Right thinkers, Paul Gottfried, most recently. In my review of Gottfried’s superb After Liberalism, I explained:

The present managerial state certainly is not an instantiation of the liberalism of the American Founding Fathers. The post-revolution federal government was not to levy any taxes, and an expansion of its power required the consent of every sovereign state. “The American Revolution,” writes economist Murray Rothbard, “was against empire, taxation, trade monopoly, regulations, militarism and executive power,” all now implicitly embraced by the US and its Western allies.
Undergirding our public administration is an unyielding ideology bolstered by a monolith of toadying journalists and intellectuals. The dubious precepts of social psychology and the enforced “public philosophy” of pluralism have become means through which bureaucrats, educators and state-anointed experts embark on crusades against “prejudice”. Together with official multiculturalism they form an instrument of control, designed to privilege a certain position and to stigmatize those who think differently. By extension, speech codes, human rights legislation, employment quotas and other infringements, contradict the classical liberal espousal of rights to property and freedom of association.
“Unlike the communist garrison state or the Italian fascist “total state,” the managerial state succeeds by denying that it exercises power. It conceals its operation in the language of caring. But “behind the mission to sensitize and teach “human rights” lies the largely unacknowledged right to shape and reshape people’s lives. Any serious appraisal of the managerial regime,” cautions Gottfried, “must consider first and foremost the extent of its control—and the relative powerless of its critics.”

AFTER summarizing the Republican and Democratic expansion of “a vast national security bureaucracy,” and the latter’s bureaucracy accreting health care and financial reform laws, BROOKS concludes:

When historians look back on this period, they will see it as another progressive era. It is not a liberal era — when government intervenes to seize wealth and power and distribute it to the have-nots. It’s not a conservative era, when the governing class concedes that the world is too complicated to be managed from the center. It’s a progressive era, based on the faith in government experts and their ability to use social science analysis to manage complex systems.
This progressive era is being promulgated without much popular support. It’s being led by a large class of educated professionals, who have been trained to do technocratic analysis, who believe that more analysis and rule-writing is the solution to social breakdowns, and who have constructed ever-expanding networks of offices, schools and contracts.

Vox adds by alluding to the impossibility of economic calculation in a socialist system:

“The Misean [sic] concept of central information deprivation – not to be confused with F.A. von Hayek’s later refinement – first foresaw and explained this certain failure not long after the Progressive era began, in a monograph entitled Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth, published in 1920.”