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Samizdata quote of the day – the technocracy of failure

The greatest trick technocracy ever pulled was convincing the world that it is associated with competence. Technocracy presents itself as government by people who know what they are doing – the ‘adults in the room’, the ‘wise minority in the saddle’ guiding the herd, and so on. In truth, the exact opposite is true: technocracy is always and everywhere doomed to disaster, and our current technocracy is no different. It is a technocracy of failure.

David McGrogan

Read the whole thing, highly recommended.

10 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – the technocracy of failure

  • James Hargrave

    The managerialists who cannot manage, but come with lots of paper credentials. The MBA for frying the brains of those who have already had them boiled by reading PPE.

  • Yet Another Chris

    Three things off the top of my head that technocrats don’t understand: 1) Human nature (eg incentives matter); 2) Everything is a trade-off; and 3) Unintended consequences.

  • Roué le Jour

    It doesn’t matter what you call it, the results are always the same. The more the government tries to control things, the worse the results, culminating in communism where the government controls everything and nothing works.

  • I’ve always blamed this on academia being biased against applying “critical thinking” to ideas that give their credentials political weight.

  • Kirk

    I blame Woodrow Wilson and the rest of his ilk. They want to set up a new aristocracy of “merit”, based on educational credentials that they then issued under entirely fraudulent pretenses.

    Think of an area of life that they’ve successfully “academized”: Do they work better than the old-school versions, without the gatekeeping and indoctrination of the academic world intervening in them? Time was, journalism and reporting were blue-collar jobs; you didn’t have a requirement for anyone filling those positions having a “degree in journalism”. They just did them, without qualifications. Think of your most iconic reporters; did any of them have journalism degrees? Were they university-educated?

    This whole past century-plus can be analyzed as a coup against the common man, performed by the academics. Why the incessant growth in “credentialism”, side-by-side with the increasing costs of getting those credentials? Do the holders do any better of a job, than their predecessors who hadn’t the “education”, but which ought more properly be termed “indoctrination”?

    My feelings are that the more you hear “You won’t use anything you learned in college, here…” and “I’ve never used anything I learned in college in my job…”, the worse a job these assholes are doing. When you have to have what amounts to on-the-job retraining in order to be “fit for purpose”, what the hell is the point of the academic credential? Why do we require these things, when they’re not actually of any real use to either the holder or the company/organization evaluating them on the basis of it all?

    We’re on the wrong track, with all this. Scholarship and education is all valuable, but not the way we’re doing it. It all has a place, but that place isn’t as a gatekeeper to making a living or getting ahead; the vast majority of jobs requiring a degree these days are not the sort of things wherein you actually need one, and the education we’re proffering isn’t properly preparing people for those jobs, either.

    So, what’s the damn point of the education-industrial complex?

  • Paul Marks.

    The word “Technocracy” is 20th century – but the idea is much older.

    In the 19th century it can be seen in the teachings of Henri Saint-Simon and his followers, Collectivism (in his case to be guided by Credit Money bankers) in the name of “science”.

    And it goes back long before Saint-Simon – all the way to Sir Francis Bacon, who inspired Thomas Hobbes. unlimited state power (no rights against the state) – but under the influence of “experts” in the name of “science”.

    But this is NOT the science of free enquiry and debate – no, “the science” is to be a dogma, with people not being allowed to question it. Sir Francis Bacon wanted people punished if they denied that the Sun went round the Earth – now people are to be punished if they “deny” the C02 is evil theory, or “deny” that the Covid injections are “safe and effective”.

    It must be kept in mind that “the science” of Technocracy is the antithesis of the science of free inquiry and debate of Karl Popper and Michael Polanyi.

    As for the economics of Technocracy – it is total nonsense, a series of Collectivist fallacies, pushed by Henri Saint-Simon, Klaus Schwab and others, and lapped up by the international government and corporate elite.

  • Paul Marks.

    The article itself raises two matters of policy.

    “HS2” High Speech Rail 2 – if this was a good idea economically then the money would be raised voluntarily, not by taxation, and the forced taking of land would not be required. Talking about Hume and Hayek is not necessary to know that HS2 is a bad idea.

    The other matter of policy the article raises is mass immigration under the present Welfare State – again talking about Hume and Hayek is not necessary as mass immigration is really about what one wishes to achieve. If one’s aim is what Chancellor Hunt’s aim is said to be, maximising “GDP” so that one can say that one has “avoided recession” in spite of higher taxes, then mass immigration is indeed a good idea. But if, alternatively, one’s objective is to maximise the living standards per-person in Britain and the United Stats then mass immigration to get more government spending on benefits and services (and thus increase GDP – which is, essentially, a measure of spending) is a very bad idea – as the living conditions of existing people in the country will be undermined.

    So it is not really a “knowledge problem” or something like that – it is a matter of what one wishes to achieve, what one’s objective is.

  • Paul Marks.

    To put things in an American context – in the 1950s, under President Eisenhower, it may indeed have made sense to talk of the American government wishing to help the American people, but its actions being unintentionally harmful – due to the “knowledge problem” or whatever.

    But it is utterly absurd to talk in these terms today – as the American government, and the “educated” establishment generally, is filled with hatred and contempt for ordinary people and actively wishes to harm them. So talking of unintended consequences and a “knowledge problem” is wrong.

  • Earnest Canuck

    There is also what you might call the junior version of credential madness — which is the continuous expansion of licensure into the lowest of low-skill/ low-wage occupations. You may not think central authorities need to vet who’s permitted – literally, permitted! – to be a nail technician or bike courier, but bureaucratic entities continuously form and re-form to do just that. Some are straight gov’t depts, others are ‘self-governing’ (think the College of Beauticians) — of course, licensure does allow incumbents in any trade/ field to discourage new competitors from entry. But mainly it’s technocracy in action – a self-replicating bureaucracy with no visible function or use (there are empty claims of Safety this and Vulnerable that). It’s definitional, is it not? Rampant licensure adds cost and complexity to some of the simplest things in economic life, while managing, not solving, the ‘problems’ they purport to solve – cos the ‘problem’ never really existed.

  • bobby b

    Licensure is to employment what Central Bank Digital Currencies are to finance. If you are on the bad list, you cannot get a license to work. If you are on another bad list, you cannot spend your money.

    It’s all about control.