Outsourcing Life To The Expert Class: The Menace Of The Managerial Class

COVID-19,Family,Government,Outsourcing,Psychiatry,Psychology & Pop-Psychology,The State


In James Burnham’s Managerial State, explains , “political power moves away from … institutions like Congress and toward the executive bureaucracy … The effect is the reduction of nonmanagerial political institutions to increasingly nominal status. Forms of ‘constitutionalism’ may still be permitted to exist, but the managerial elite does not derive its power or legitimacy from them. It can, therefore, easily manipulate or simply ignore these institutions while pursuing its own ends.”

The managerial elite has given us our dysfunctional, atomistic, fragmented society, where traditional support systems no longer exist. To pick up the slack we have the Expert Class.

In a way, the insidious Expert Class that shapes and manages perceptions about public affairs is an extension of the Managerial State. The expert class tends to remove moral and medical decisions from individuals, families, and communities of faith by medicalizing problems of living.

Once, big-on-the-military actor James Wood got word about a veteran who was about to shoot himself in some remote location. So he galvanized the … experts. He got him “help.” He outsourced the problem.

Most people need community, not therapy.

The reason people are desperate and depressed is not because they don’t have a suicide hotline’s number handy or an AA support group buddy; but because they are bereft of family and community.

This simplest of logical deductions we are no longer even able to arrive at without outsourcing thinking to the generators of empirical evidence, the expert class.

Here is that “doh!” factor, confirmed by The Economist in, “A pandemic of psychological pain: How to reduce the mental trauma of covid-19″:

Humans are resilient. Those who experience trauma mostly cope. When their homes are destroyed by earthquakes, they rebuild them and carry on. Even the mass bombing of cities in the second world war did not break civilian morale. Nonetheless, the world should take the collective mental damage of covid-19 seriously. Steps to reduce it cost little, and can benefit not only individuals but also society more broadly.

Research into previous disasters suggests that survivors’ long-term mental health depends more on “perceived support” than “received support”. In other words, donations of money or food matter less than the feeling that you can turn to your neighbours for help. Such help is typically offered spontaneously, but governments can also chip in. France, for example, sets up “medical and psychological emergency units” after terrorist attacks and other disasters. These try to minimise the long-term mental-health consequences of such events by offering immediate walk-in psychological support near the site of the disaster. Several cities in France have reactivated this “two-tent model”, one for medical care and the other for mental care, to help people cope with the toll of the virus.

Some people draw comfort from the fact that they are not alone—millions are facing the same tribulations at the same time. But the pandemic also presents unusual challenges. No one knows when it will end. Social distancing makes it harder to reconnect with others, a step in recovering from trauma. And the economic shock of covid-19 has undermined mental-health services everywhere, but especially in poor countries.

The most important measures will be local. A priority should be bringing people together by, say, expanding internet access. Mutual-aid networks (eg, WhatsApp groups to deliver groceries to the elderly), which tend to peter out once the initial disaster subsides, should instead be formalised and focused on the most vulnerable. Mental-health professionals should connect patients to such services, and train more lay folk as counsellors. In Zimbabwe, well before the pandemic, hundreds of grandmothers were taught how to provide talk therapy on village benches to depressed neighbours who could not afford to visit a distant clinic. Such innovations can work elsewhere, too.

3 thoughts on “Outsourcing Life To The Expert Class: The Menace Of The Managerial Class

  1. El Dragon

    “Samuel Francis wrote Leviathan in the early 1990s, when he believed America was entering the terminal stage of a protracted period of social transformation. Leviathan details the steady expansion in scale, complexity, and reach of various sectors of American life. Government, business, education, unions, churches, media, and entertainment were all transformed by a new social pattern. Organizations once rooted in local relationships, family ties, and regional cultures became larger, more impersonal, and more standardized.
    The revolution required a new elite to advance it. Its distinguishing trait, suited to the institutions it controlled, was the possession of special forms of expertise. The managerial class knew how to run bureaucracies, develop the technologies on which they depended, and communicate their benefits to the masses. Leviathan follows Burnham’s pioneering work on this new class and describes the self-reinforcing process by which growing populations made social reorganization necessary, while new technologies and sciences of management made it possible. But Francis possessed a sharper eye for political conflict than did Burnham, and he examined more closely the shifting distribution of social power. Leviathan proposes that the managerial revolution can explain the major inflection points in postwar American politics. For Francis, the sharp ideological debates of recent decades—over the Cold War, civil rights, the New Left, Nixon, the religious right, and globalism—masked conflicts between ascending and declining elites.”


  2. Musil Protege

    El Dragon, nice going. You beat me to the punch. I was going to say Ilana’s initial thoughtful blog post contained several insights into the managerial state (“…medicalizing problems of living,” vg). Any reason to talk more about Burnham’s work, his precursors and those who followed him, is by definition a great topic.

    I bought the massive Leviathan and Its Enemies when it was published four years ago (I believe by Richard Spencer’s old press, just before RS became notorious), and read it avidly. Why Francis abandoned it 5 or 10 years before he died, I’ll never know. It’s pretty lucid and comprehensive. You can draw a straight line from the book back to Burnham’s two masterpieces The Managerial Revolution and The Machiavellians, and from there to Machiavelli’s Discourse on Livy; and from there back to Livy’s History of the Roman Republic. I’ve read the Francis/Burnham books, but only dabbled in the latter two (so much to read, so little time!!), and wish I had a solid year to devote to all five books. I think anyone who does and reflects on them enough to know what the authors were really getting at, will have a pretty complete understanding of how the world works and how it wasn’t an accident that we find ourselves in this predicament at this time. Please, oh wise one, keep giving us more reason to turn back and reflect.

    This blog is ALL RIGHT!!

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