Yes, the West is becoming more like China. Here is the real reason why.
I’ll get an audio version of this up as soon as I can. That’s a bit complicated when it’s this long. Also, a question for readers: if this was formatted into a short e-book (or book) would you buy it?
This is some of the best reading I have had for a long time...worth all the effort you put into it. But I was especially glad for the post-note...my question as I got increasingly depressed seeing the ugliness exposed was "What can we do?" or is it too late?
So I look forward with great anticipation to the follow ons. Hope they do not take as long...I have thirst to be slaked, now.
Many thanks for this massive effort.
OK I just finished part 1 and I’m busting with excitement.
Tour de force.
This is an explication of Curtis Yarvin’s cathedral and his notion that we live in a clerical oligarchy with the Academy justifying and providing cover for the managerial regime through learned hocus-pocus.
Really brilliant, this author and Paul Kingsnorth are all we need. Brilliant brilliant brilliant!
Kingsnorth’s conclusion: the machine is eating us at its leisure. he says human health and happiness requires three things: people, place and prayer. Those are the qualities of the bourgeois telos that are being eviscerated. “That Hideous Strengh” as per Mr Lewis. Turns out that pristine visage, that waterfall in the green text book, is best not viewed through a subjective lens (place).
Out author also reverberates with Marshall McLuhan’s notion that electricity is an extension of our central nervous system, and thereby usurped time and space creating an implosion after 3000 years of western expansion. The infamous village.
Really the managerial regime as supported by the Academy is going to get a lot of people killed . Your children have been miss-educated. We are lost.
This is overwhelming. The amount of scholarship that had to go into this is intimidating. Congratulations on a tour-de-force that spells out in detail so many things I have been wondering about. If any of your essays become available in hard copy, I will certainly purchase them and share them with my family.
This is mind-blowing, timely and exquisite. It needs to be expanded a bit into a book format. It will be a NYT best seller except that the management class elites will ensure it does not get promoted and gets censored instead.
I had a few thought reading this.
One - COVID-19 was planned and executed. There is no way that we should accept the coincidence of it after Brexit and Trump, and in consideration of the management class's clear panic and WEF collusion. There are people responsible that need to be hunted down, tried and executed. These clear rational considerations are considered taboo and blasphemous per the ruling class regime, but those "rules" need to be ignored.
Two - Without the pandemic and the voting and balloting irregularities it promulgated, Donald Trump would still be President and the Senate would have stayed in Republican control... maybe the House too. This gets back to evidence supporting # one above.
Three - Without the US, China would still be a backwater 3rd world failed experiment in collectivism. China offered near slave labor to the profit-motivated corporate universe of the US economic juggernaut, and like the American Indians being attracted to booze and shiny trinkets for their land, the corporate overlords (who after all just wanted to cash out when their stock price hit a high point) were willing to give up their country for the same. China screwed the US like the US screwed the Indians.
Four - The internet and social media seem to be a major component contributing to the acceleration over what as a slow and steady degradation of individual freedom and liberty by the management ruling class. One the one hand it has given them the ultimate power to brainwash and punish the masses that would oppose them. On the other hand, it might have shown too much of their hand too soon and thus result in more of a threat as more of the masses wake up to what is being done to them.
Five - The management class population is still a minority of voters. They have managed to dupe minorities and young people... especially young women... into supporting their own future subjugation with mythology that their current malcontent feelings of being subjugated are being caused by their fellow non-managerial elite peers (whom are also feeling subjugated). The Twitter Files and other revelations are trickling past the censorship regime and more people are waking up.
Six - China's economy is built on a looter's house of cards... and it appears that those cards are wobbling as corrections are beginning. Most of China's economic growth has been from taking over the world's manufacturing thanks primarily to US technology and know-how transfer and our charity of educating Chinese engineers and scientists that would go back to China. The development of a middle class in China is presenting an end to that manufacturing strength, and the jury is still out if China, with its authoritarian hard-administrative model can pivot to being an inventive enough high-tech economy player. Clearly the US government's new policies in preventing China from accessing certain technology has caused a profound reaction from China. They are projecting insecurity for being ready to compete head on... it is clear that their expectation was continued access to what the US developed.
Seven - The Biden Administration, in a move that surprises me and thus puts me in a position of not trusting it, or wondering if there is divide growing in the politics of the managerial ruling class, is promoting pretty significant changes to our anti-trust rules and practices that basically slows and stops the corporate consolidation explosion we have seen over the last couple of decades. It might just be a political play to capture more working class and small business voters away from the feckless and divided GOP... where after the election the Democrats will just pivot back to their corporatist agenda to consolidate more of the economy and strangle small business and independent workers. However, it is also possible that reading the tea leaves of political polls and trends, the Democrats, the political home of the ruling managerial class, is beginning to cleave itself.
Eight - Related to all of this collective bipolar fight between the elite ruling management administrative class and everyone else there is the human psychology of individual status pursuit. In order to maintain solidarity, the management class cohort has to always win. Because winning gives the people in that pact a sense of having enough status opportunity. Or at least it convinces them that there are no better alternatives. If the Republicans take the White House and legislature, the Democrat machine, and hence the ruling managerial class, should start to unravel. We have over-educated the population and there are too many marbles stacked in the hopper of the status Rube Goldberg machine. Trump caused them to consolidate. Losing big will cause them to de-consolidate. Their individual ego pursuits are the thing that always destroys collectivism unless they go to hard-administrative power... but the US citizens are armed unlike Chinese citizens.
I can think of several good reasons why you would believe that this is the most important thing you have written. Let me add a reason that it might be one of the most important and consequential things I’ve ever read. There is still a defiant part of most people that rejects the impositions and coercions of the soft “united front” you describe. I happen to think that resistance flows from two main sources. One source is the affront people feel at being required to choose between assenting to obvious lies and being ostracized as evil, mean, unkind, regressive, etc. The other source is much more intuitive, and boils down to something like a moral horror at the de-individualization implicit and necessary to the technocratic, managerial view of what a human being is, fundamentally. It galls us, somehow. It’s ugly. We feel it as a sinister threat.
The problem with resisting the march of this tentacled beast - and I really am stunned to consider this for the first time ever after reading the essay - is that the particulars of this or that policy evolution are essentially beside the point. The beast is designed to consolidate power and destroy competitors. It really doesn’t give a damn about this or that fine analysis of systemic injustice, the legacy effects of past social norms, the unintended consequences of the cause du jour. None of that really matters to it, and I’ve been a sucker for thinking it did.
Somebody - I really can’t remember who - wrote a thing in Foreign Affairs after 9/11 to illustrate how absurd it was for Americans to understand why Osama Bin Laden arranged the attacks on the US. The writer offered this historical analogy: imagine the Ethiopians being slaughtered by Mussolini’s soldiers asking themselves what they had done to bring upon the horror descending around them? The question is absurd; they hadn’t done anything. They were simply “there.”
The managerial force doesn’t have a good-faith complaint with those institutions, ideas, habits and stubbornly idiosyncratic social entities that challenge its power. It has a problem with any challenges at all. It’s totalitarian even if its methods are “soft.” This is profoundly disquieting. But at least now I can start to think about what kind of resistance might actually make a difference.
I read the whole thing, because it's not dumb, but it is wrong. It misses the key tension and motivating force for all of the social changes discussed here, since the early renaissance in Europe, and accelerating through the Industrial Revolution through the lubricants of capital and literacy:
> Self-governance by the individual is incompatible with self-governance by the "localized community". Read that again, 'cause that's the whole game. Because "self-governance by the community" really means: "the community will govern you"; it means the overlapping traditions and norms of your family, town, region, religion, and nation (Volksgeist?) dictate your position, your occupation, your partners, your whole life path. Sometimes codified in explicit rules, sometimes not.
> And most people don't like that. Even "elites" in a given era, benefitting from whatever local norms prevail, chafe when they want to do something those norms forbid, so they subtly and then completely change the norms.
> Eventually (and actually pretty quickly, if you read the renaissance and early modern writers who saw it all coming), this becomes the totalizing nihilism you've identified, bolstered by science, literacy, and travel, all of which destroy any tradition's claim of inevitability and exclusive access to the truth.
> But of course humans find it very hard to exist without any norms, so as the norms are winnowed, those few that remain get pushed higher up the chain, first to the nation, and now, to the globe.
> And that's the whole story. No conspiracy. Just people, not wanting to be told what to do by their neighbors, and ending up being told what to do (with less frequency and less force) by the talking heads 1000 or 10,000 miles away. But we got what we wanted - can choose our occupation, where we live, whether to fight or not and about what, what to believe, who to marry (not even talking about LGBT, just the girl across town from a different denomination), etc. In other words, self-governance. But we lost certainty, and ritual, and easy meaning, and on top of that, self-governance is HARD (Aristotelians and Augustinians are not surprised...). So we often fail, often vacillate, and haven't yet adapted, across all people and places, to living in harmony with the abyss.
> As a side note, self-governance within this regime is still possible, and is admirably practiced by managerial elites, including the author, because it's the only way to win the race: "self-restraint, self-discipline, and self-mastery".
This is the best thing I’ve read in a while. Would it be alright if I translated it into Russian and tried to spread among people I know? In my experience, those who came of age in the Soviet Union often fail to recognize the managerial nature of the western political regimes because the exercise of power is less blatant there.
Absolutely brilliant summary of the current state of play of power politics
Tolkien saw that little people could, by undergoing great personal suffering, defeat Corrupted Power, if they sought to throw Power away. You're written about this, and your solution was men with chests, ie. men finding their own Power within.
How do we find a great enough Power to coordinate a counter-revolution against this scale of enemy? Or is that asking the wrong question - like the doomed thinking of Boromir?
In the greatest cosmology, Love rules over Corrupted Power by dying. What does it look like to replicate this schema at scale, across civilisations, as an emergent phenomenon, in the face of the most hideous global suffering we can imagine?
Huge amount to unpack here so it may take several comments.
1. The intellectual history of all this was very valuable. I suggest several additions to your litany of bad guys. Possible I missed references but if so ignore the comment. Gramsci is very important in all this. He was a heretic of Marxism (as were Hitler and Mao) who figured out that orthodox Marxism wasn't working in their environment to produce all those wonderful things that Marxism promised. In Gramsci's case, he invented cultural Marxism which is the lineal ancestor of wokeism. In an American government context, you missed Lincoln. Wilson's (and FDR/LBJ) depredations against republican government would not have been possible, had not Lincoln previously destroyed the states as independent actors.
2. I have a growing disquiet about the conservative revolt against expertise, of which your managerial system critique is an example. We do need experts and managerial talent on our side in the coming struggle or we will certainly lose. Organization always beats chaos. Managers, as you demonstrated re Mao, sometimes deliberately create chaos( been there done that) as a tactic but it is to enhance organization in the end. I would submit that the problem isn't the idea of management but the identity of the managers. You traced the leftist roots of the management revolution quite well from Wilson (in his academic incarnation) through Dewey to Adorno very well but what about Hamilton, Henry Ford and Frederick W. Taylor. One can certainly criticize them but they weren't leftists. It seems to me that an essential question is how did the leftist strain become dominant.
3. Conservatives need an alternative communication medium. The internet is far too public and subject to manipulation to be safe. Something like samizdat which is hard copy passed hand to hand. Make the oppressors deploy vast numbers of secret policemen to shut it down rather than flipping a switch in DC or Palo Alto. In the same line, we need alternative banking options. Something like the Islamic system might be an option. I don't know enough about it to know how they got rid of the untrustworthy players but it seems to operate in spite of the oppression.
Deep historical analysis.
Includes philosophical foundation.
I just read Thomas Molnar’s “The Decline of the Intellectuals” (1961).
Fits well with your essay. Adds a little color.
I’ve thought Francis Bacon’s ‘New Atlantis’ along with Campella’s ‘City of the Sun’ serve as foregleams.
Also, Revelation chapter 13 . . .
“And [The political powers] puts under compulsion all people—the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves—that these should be marked on their right hand or on their forehead, and that nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast [destructive political systems] or the number of its name. This is where it calls for wisdom: [careful analysis needed] Let the one who has insight calculate [do the mental analysis needed] the number of the wild beast, for it is a man’s number [human effort].”
Seems disturbingly . . . accurate.
The primary method of control is financial, economic - not military.
Yep, that’s sounds familiar now.
What a warning!
Thanks for this detailed, erudite explanation!
This is really excellent. I'm sharing far and wide. For a while now I've been grappling with the tension between the technocratic and human, which is far more explanatory about our current, ahem, "upheaval" than the old categories of left and right. The mystique of expertise is actively being cultivated and, to the points you're making in this piece, actively being used to undermine everyone's sense of competence to run their own lives. The way you frame the proclivities of managerialism makes sense of this cultivation of mystique. The mystical, anthropomorphic language consistently now being used to describe AI is, I suspect, part of the overall effort to demoralize any instinct that might lead someone to resist deferring to the technocratic juggernaut. Here's an effort (not yet published) to demystify all the folderol surrounding AI. (https://www.keithlowery.com/p/1009e382-e904-4c24-83ce-d45a2b61afc0/)
Finding ways to blow away the clouds of mystique surrounding experts and technology is perhaps an actionable and practical way to push back (e.g. The Babylon Bee). The technocratic/managerial elite are evil but also ridiculous. One wonders if open mockery might be one way to democratize participation in the counter-revolution.
Yes you should publish - this is book needed by the world!
It certainly presents ideas my own thoughts have been missing, to allow the whole picture to gel rationally and understandably in my mind.
I could never get the bit of why "normal" people in management could thrive in such a service or product deficient organisation - the same thing with why people happily support dictators and other evil people.
Although the article is long, the idea presented is more of an "Occam's Razor" reducing a hard to fathom structure of seemingly out of control, and becoming ever more evil, multi tentacled program of world domination, to one of merely harnessing human weaknesses and their desire for reward!
I would like the author to add more, explaining how psycho/sociopaths and narcissists think about control, why they revel in and succeed under these conditions and easily leapfrog to the top, the mindset they have to corrupt any management and implement ever more devious proposals for their power - and how they utilise the inept middle managers (useful idiots?) to do their "dirty work".
The reason very few people seem to understand the relatively simple concept presented here, is that almost no-one accepts that about 10% of humans are born with an extreme detachment from other living beings - and an utter lack of empathy and care for others.
Imagine someone with the same regard for you and other humans that you have for a mosquito.
That utter lack of regard in such large numbers of humans seems impossible to believe by ordinary people. (the percentage is disputed by the professionals, their estimates ranging between 5-15%)
I personally believe very few of these sociopaths are evil in the sense they actually wish to harm others - rather that they are evil in the sense that they couldn't care less if people get harmed by what they are doing... and actually see that harm as a useful tool to "encourage" their ambition of control.
(Is it less evil to not care if you run over some children when you're in a hurry to get to a good party - after all you didn't set out to kill them deliberately?!)
Also, I think the author needs to decide what level of audience this book will be directed at.
If aimed at the lay audience some deletion, or extra effort to explain those many "academically succinct" words used through out the text, should be attempted - or they will put many off finishing it.
What an outstanding read! Lurking in the background is the utter devastation of the globe as people decide this new world order isn't worth creating a next generation to inhabit it.
I am about halfway through and it is really blowing my mind. After being involved in so-called "development cooporation" in Afghanistan, so many of your observations about managerial control ring true.
The managerial regime that was established in Afghanistan in the last twenty years floated above the country in a virtual space completely detached from reality:
Millions were spent to establish girls' schools that never materialized. Random rural guys appeared in the Ministry of Education to collect teacher's salaries for non-existing girls' schools.
The well-paid foreign advisors first resided in secured compounds isolated from the populace and later (at least the Germans) moved to Dubai to remote-manage their projects from there.
They moved around Kabul in a special fleet of Jeeps managed by the Risk Management Office (RMO). Educated english-speaking Afghans were chauffeuring so-called experts to whitelisted locations.
For one example of the projects these experts did in Kabul, see this "Gender sensitive training", part of US's $747 million spending for Afghan women: https://imgur.com/a/gpesnPj
In one project they wanted to send an "expert" to visit their expensive projects in rural areas but he was adviced to roll into these villages in an APC, which he declined.
There is no official banking system and no IRS that checks your business receipts in Afghanistan. The international donors of course require receipts for everything so they can have the illusion their accounting and controlling do anything at all. So Afghans just make them up. I have never seen a more perfect illusion of managerial control in a country where not even government officials can safely enter large swathes of the countryside.
Even your police example can be directly applied not only to Afghanistan but also to Iraq, where de-baathification and de-talibanization have been used to completely destroy the institutions of police which predated both the taliban and the Baath regime.
The new policemen are mostly dropouts of society who had no other source of income but at least they can be shaped by instructors flown in from Germany in remote desert bases detached from the majority society.
The reporting about Afghanistan was detached from physical reality as well. When the country fell back to the Taliban in 2021, the German media reported live..... from Delhi.
Besides all the press embedded with the military, who made very boring reports excitedly jogging through irrigation trenches in the middle of nowhere, most "civilian" Journalists went to Kabul for short reports about the Kabul skate park or the women's cycling team. But the 99% of the country besides this manufactured progress were of little interest for the visiting journalists.