Wednesday, 5 November 2014

“As civilization becomes more and more complex, individual freedom is more and more restricted.”


Not a new quotation there but one from Benito Mussolini that Joel Kotkin cites in writing about what might be called the new authoritarianism. Joel makes one really telling observation about modern government:

When liberals abandon liberal principles, we lose one of the most important brakes on expanding central power. As we can see already in California and other places, decisions on virtually everything about how we live – from transportation, to housing and, most particularly, how we generate energy – are increasingly being made not by our elected representatives but through the administrative bureaucracy. The notion of “checks and balances,” of getting buy-in from the opposition and dissenters in your own party, means little to those who have found the “truth” and are determined to impose it on everyone else.

Here in Europe we are familiar with this process - I've called it the new fascism in the past, others call it technocracy but it is essentially taking us away from the idea of plural democracy and towards the world of Plato's guardians. I note also that Tim Worstall writes on the same point too:

There’s a reasonably common worldview out there, I think it would be fair to say this of Ezra Klein and the crew over at Vox, of the New York Times editorial board, that if we put all the bright people in government and then they told us what to do that the world would be a better place. 

As Kotkin put it, the liberals have abandoned liberal principles. They cannot countenance the idea that voters might reject their carefully crafted solutions to the perceived problems of modern civilization and create systems that remove democratic accountablity from government and replace it with the authority of the expert. This problem is not a problem just of the left - we see the same technocratic approaches from the British Home Office, in the creation of business-led local partnerships and in the exclusion of effective democratic oversight from important areas of public administration. There has always been a preference for the backroom fix in much of government but what we now see is that fix becoming institutionalised.


1 comment:

asquith said...

Forget about your silly whim. It doesn't fit the plan.