The Rule of Technocracy By Peter Ewer

     What we have seen with the Covid-19 pandemic is the rise and continual rise of the technocracy, the rule by elites, wielding alleged technical and scientific knowledge. This was first seen with the climate change debate, but it was not as explicit, as the technocrats were behind the politicians. Yet today, it is all out in the open. Technical elites, who differ from the usual capitalists and financiers, set down rules that the rest of the capitalist must follow under pain of apocalypse. No doubt at the highest levels, the unseen and unknown demons who rule, control the technocrats, but from what we can see of the iceberg, the newer new class technical elites have called the shots on the corona freak-out.

“This is not a new trend. Over the past several decades—and especially since the New Deal—official experts in government have gradually replaced elected representatives as the primary decision-makers in government. Public debate has been abandoned in favor of meetings among small handfuls of unelected technocrats. Politics has been replaced by "science," whether social science or physical science. These powerful and largely unaccountable decision-makers are today most noticeable in federal courts, in "intelligence" agencies, at the Federal Reserve, and—long ignored until now—in government public health agencies. Technocracy as a style of governing has been around at least since the Progressive Era, although it has often been restrained by traditional legislative and elected political actors and institutions. Globally, it has gained prominence in a variety of times and places, for example in Mexico during the 1980s and 1990s. But the technocracy's power has long been growing in the United States as well. This may seem odd in a world where we are told democracy is among the highest political values, but technocrats have nonetheless managed to justify themselves through myths asserting that technocrats make scientific decisions guided only by The Data. These technocrats, we are told, care nothing of politics and only make sound decisions based on where the science leads.

Although that all may sound more reasonable or logical to some, the truth is that there is nothing nonpolitical, scientific, or evenhanded about government by technocrat. Technocrats, like everyone else, have their own ideologies, their own agendas, and their own interests. Often, their interests are greatly at odds with those of the general public that pays the technocrats' salaries and is subject to the technocracy's edicts.  The rise of technocracy has only meant that the means of influencing policy is now limited to a much smaller number of people—namely those who are already influential and powerful in the halls of government. Technocracy seems less political, because the political wrangling is limited to what used to be called "smoke-filled rooms." That is, technocracy is really a sort of oligarchy, although not limited to the financially wealthy. It's limited to people who went to the "right" schools or control powerful corporations such as Google or Facebook, or work for influential media organizations. It's branded "nonpolitical," because ordinary voters and taxpayers are excluded from even knowing who is involved or what policies are being proposed. In other words, technocracy is government by a small exclusive club. And you ain't in it.

So how does technocracy survive in a system to claims to base its legitimacy on democratic institutions? After all, technocracy is by its very nature designed to be antidemocratic. Indeed, as the Left has soured on democracy, leftists have taken to demanding that more technocratic methods be implemented to do an end run around democratic institutions. In a much-quoted 2011 article for the New Republic, influential banker and economist Peter Orszag complains that democratic institutions such as Congress aren't implementing enough of his preferred policies. Therefore, he insists that it's time to "jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions." He wants rule by technocrat through a system of "commissions" staffed by "independent experts." This is the new model of "efficient" government. But in many areas, this is already how the United States is governed. There is no shortage of boards, panels, courts, and agencies that are controlled by experts who function largely without any oversight from the voters, taxpayers, or elected officials.”

     This is the real threat behind the Covid-19 pandemic, which was the golden opportunity for technocrats to rise to the highest levels of power. In essence it is a case of bs baffles brains, since all of their alleged knowledge claims are totally contingent and contestable. Fighting them will involve exposing these weaknesses, but that will be difficult as Big Tech lies among them, and freely censors those they do not like. That is another great failing of Trump, not to deal with them even as they seek to destroy him. It is truly the battle of the new millennium. But, don’t worry, the good guys always win. Don’t they?



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Thursday, 22 October 2020
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