Ходжа Н. (hojja_nusreddin) wrote,
Ходжа Н.

George Friedman, "Technocracy, Liberal Democracy and the Division of Our Time"

The idea that expertise ought to guide our political life is at odds with the principle of national self-determination

The experts ... genuinely know many vital things

- But in thinking of global problems, they tend to think of national boundaries as impediments to solutions
- and national self-determination as being of value, as long as nations understand that there is a problem
- that they are unlikely to solve it or even understand it,
- and they are prepared to cede authority to the experts, the technocrats.

In Europe, which was the laboratory for this, there was an attempt to solve the problem

- National self-determination was guaranteed, but
- a complex political process with uncertain authority and little deference to the people governed
- Behind it a relatively small but powerful group of technocrats designed and redesigned the details of European life.
- It was a reasonable arrangement as long as it worked

But after it failed, it created 2 problems
A. The 1st problem with technocracy is its lost of moral authority to rule
- its claim to the authority is expertise, but
- the proof of expertise is success.
- If the technocracy is seen as a failure,
- then the technocrats’ right to manage the systems is destroyed.
B. The 2nd problem with technocracy is its inability to handle a failure alone
- that given the complexity of what has been created,
- even a failed technocracy can argue that it may not have done well,
- but it can understand the failure better than anyone else.
- And more likely, the claim will be made that it did not fail, but
- the remnants of nations, governments and uneducated people selecting these governments caused it to fail.

There are 2 questions facing us
1. does the nation still constitute the framework of human life,
- and is representative democracy competent in managing the state?
2. is the theory of social and political expertise a myth?
- Are the technocrats competent to manage the complexity that the state has become?

This has become the fundamental issue of our time

- From the technocrats’ point of view, the idea that the nation should be the primary interest of the state
- is anachronistic and dangerous.
- Nationalist movements threaten the ability of experts to govern.
- From the standpoint of increasing numbers of voters,
- technocracy usurps the power vested in the people
- without being able to manage the system successfully.

This has also created a social divide

- The Euro-American educational system is constructed on the idea that management is at the center of success.
- The management of a government, a business, a hospital or a charity depends on expertise
- For their social position, the managers of society depend on the idea that they are indispensable to society:
--- They have an obligation to manage well, and
--- they have a right to rewards for good management.
- As such, this class manages everything from hedge funds to schools &
- it shares in common this sense of social obligation and rights.

But the people, excluded from the managerial class, are increasingly unhappy
- they unprepared to concede that the technocrats of the managerial class have earned their benefits
- 2008 was important for many reasons, but chief among them - the question of:
- whether the claims of expertise & beneficial social consequences was simply a cover for avarice?
- Indeed, the argument against technocrats everywhere is that they lack the expertise they claim to have
- and their real end is to skew wealth in their favor.

Another argument against the technocrats is their arrogance
- instead of increasing their modesty after their failure,
- they are increasing their claim to authority and
- working to eliminate the right to national self-determination

But the national self-determination derives from such fundamental moral principals as
- the moral equality of all people, and
- the citizen’s human rights and self-interests
- It does not rest on an expertise:
--- that technocracy claims but
--- doesn’t clearly have or
--- use for the common good.

There are clear divides of our time:
1. Majority / minority divide

1a. Minorities are appalled by the rise of nationalism.
1b. Majority is terrified
--- that in stripping away the nation-state rights
--- they will be left helpless
- This is not a frivolous argument.
--- It rests directly at the heart of the Enlightenment and
--- of the Euro-American search for balance
--- between the representative democracy & expertise
2. Another divide is rooted in the complexity of ruling
2a. the complexity of governance is beyond our individual ability to grasp
--- society must have technocrats.
2b. that complexity may be a threat to the people's right to self rule
--- to the principle of the liberal democracy, as it was first conceived

This question is at the heart of many of our divisions

- and is being discussed daily
- even when people don’t realize they are discussing it.
- Technocrats are struggling with how to perfect the world.
- Citizens are struggling with how not to lose control over their lives.
- It is not just that they live different lives.
- It is that they live in different moral & economical universes.

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