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Samizdata quote of the day – the West and China share the same fate

It was managerialism that emerged as the true winner of the 20th century’s ideological battles. As Orwell prophesied in 1945: “Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic.” China is just a bit further down the path towards this same totalitarian future. The West is following.


12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – the West and China share the same fate

  • Kirk

    Meh… Manager, aristocrat, same thing. Same mentality. It’s all about the control; they want it, they think they “know better” than anyone else, and even think that their own ravings project out into reality, forming it around their ideas.

    Same issue overtook Imperial China when the mandarin class overwhelmed everything, under a blanket of “Confucian Thought”. Same regime of “examination” leading to sinecure jobs without consequence or repercussion for failure. Same thing destroyed Gaul, under the Romans… The Roman aristos thought to “manage” the Western Roman Empire, and turned the place into a domesticated hothouse, unable to defend itself absent the central control and force projection from Rome. Gaul, before Rome? Able to defend itself. After Rome? Defenseless and entirely open to invasion from the east, which they actually preferred because the invaders brought the destruction of centralized authority and management.

    You can’t manage the world. Hell, most of the assholes trying it can’t even manage their own families or even lives, themselves. Look at the rate of dysfunction in the “leadership class”, with the way the second and third generations are utterly incompetent scumbags.

    They try for control. It slips from their fingers, but having reached for it, after having destroyed the mechanisms of actual control out in the greater society, they wind up having destroyed the entire organism. The age-old battle between reality and the control-freak types goes on and on, a sine-wave weaving through history. Organic growth creates social structures that are chaotic, and which work. The control freaks want to run those things, contrary to the actual de facto corrective feedback mechanisms, and you get nothing but disaster. The actual cause for Chinese vulnerability in the world from about 1800 to 1950 wasn’t that the evil outsiders were evil, doing evil things to poor, innocent little China, but the fact that the mandarin class had been running China for their insular self-interest for centuries, leaving it locked into a stasis that couldn’t get out of its own way, let alone defend itself from competitors.

    Control is an illusion; the more you reach for it, the less you have. You want a lasting, stable society? Be prepared to put up with a ton of chaos and incessant back-and-forth shifts. The bigger the block you try to form, the more stability you reach for? The more damage you do when the whole thing comes unwound. That’s the eventual fate of the European Union, run by control freaks for control freaks… It’ll all come unwound, messily, when all the contradictions become undeniable.

  • David Roberts

    A sine-wave weaving through history. Love it!

  • Paul Marks

    “George Orwell” (Eric Blair) had it in his head that socialism is someone “democratic” (as if voting on the price of bread was somehow more rational than bureaucrats deciding the price of bread) or just “nice” – that socialism might be evil did not occur to “intellectuals” of his generation.

    We can see this also with “Social Reform”, more government spending and regulations, which nearly everyone (including many Conservatives) just assumed was a Good Thing (TM). For example, Bertrand Russell read out, in school, John Bright’s speeches against factory regulations – NOT because Russell agreed with the late liberal thinker John Bright, but as a way of mocking the memory of John Bright – sort of “see what a weirdo he was – he was against more regulations, he thought they did harm whereas everyone knows they do good”.

    As for “managerialism” – our dear friends the Economist magazine think that splitting ownership and control is a good idea, that individual and family owned business enterprises are bad – and the Economist is normally (although NOT always) a good inverse guide – if they say X then the opposite of X is normally (although not always) the truth.

    On China – I am going to break a rule of the internet, because to do so is correct in this particular case.

    A nation where the means of production are, mostly, privately owned – but where the private “owners” have to follow state direction in the state’s plans for world domination.

    We have seen this before – Nazi (National Socialist) Germany, this is the model that the People’s Republic of China is now following – rather than the socialism of Mao (and Mao’s state was socialist – contrary to what Orwell might have thought).

    The West? Much of it is a corrupt Corporate State with governments and corporations more equal than they are in China (in China the state says “jump” and the enterprises say “how high?”) – so the West is NOT really like Nazi Germany, it is more like the National Industrial Recovery Act system that Franklin Roosevelt tried to create in 1933- which was struck down by the Supreme Court (9 to 0) in 1935 – a “National Recovery Administration” Corporate State – modeled by Franklin Roosevelt and others on the Fascist Italy of Mussolini.

    So when the left scream that many Western countries are “Fascist” they have a point – just NOT the point they think they have. Largely because the left do not understand what Fascism is – and that such things as Agenda 21 Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development goals, the Corporate State, is Fascist (not Nazi – different thing).

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – I believe that Prime Minister Russell was a kinsman of the later philosopher Bertrand Russell – Prime Minister Russell’s idea of free enterprise was bank bailouts, government funded teacher training, and crushing Poor Law taxes in Ireland that broke the economy and led to a third of the population (one in three) either dying or fleeing the country.

    As Edmund Burke said of the Russell family, the Dukes of Bedford (and so on), they think themselves very wise – and they are not.

  • Barry Dixon

    From 2010.Angelo Codevilla
    The Ruling Class

    “Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?

    The most widespread answers — by such as the Times‘s Thomas Friedman and David Brooks — are schlock sociology. Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector. Similarly fanciful is Edward Goldberg’s notion that America is now ruled by a “newocracy”: a “new aristocracy who are the true beneficiaries of globalization — including the multinational manager, the technologist and the aspirational members of the meritocracy.” In fact, our ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government, and above all by a certain attitude.”

  • Paul Marks

    Barry Dixon – the basic truth, that people such as NYT David Brooks refuse to accept, is that their American “Meritocracy” is NOT a meritocracy. Their expensive “education” just teaches them to use lots of long words – they do not actually know anything about anything else and their judgement is terrible.

    They get a lot of money – but they do not earn it. That is true of both government crowd and the corporate crowd – who are joined at the hip. And both are sustained by endless Credit Money.

  • Paul Marks

    In China the money is also fake – it is inherently worthless (like that “100 Billion Dollars” that Mr Putin got for Russian natural resources – “money” that vanished with the press of a few buttons on computer keyboards) – and the People’s Republic of China does not need the “digital currency” because it can already reduce any person to dire poverty overnight, which is the point of “digital currency” – controlling the lives of everyone (an unofficial Social Credit system) where anyone who dissents, politically or culturally, can be utterly destroyed by pressing a few buttons on a computer keyboard (or, these days, just speaking to the computer).

    Rich people in China do all sorts of things to buy assets (land and other property( in other countries – for when the state turns against them in China. But if everywhere becomes totalitarian – what is the point of buying property in some other place, such as America, where it can also be taken from you.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    the European Union, run by control freaks for control freaks

    Now there’s a strapline if ever I read one!

  • Paul Marks

    The European Union is like the United States – rather than like the People’s Republic of China. In both the U.S. and the E.U. there is a more equal partnership between the government and the corporations (a Corporate State) rather than the very strong dictatorship that these is in China.

  • Paul Marks

    Fascist Italy, the original Corporate State which inspired Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” National Industrial Recovery Act and National Recovery Agency (the Blue Eagle thugs – struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935) was supposed to be absolute state despotism – but, in practice, it was far less totalitarian than Nazi Germany.

    What we are seeing in the modern West is a return to state-of-affairs similar to Corporate State Fascist Italy – repackaged as “Stakeholder Capitalism” (Dr Schwab – more than 50 years ago), – one can say it all goes back to Henri Saint-Simon two centuries ago, but I doubt that even Dr Schwab has read the works of Saint-Simon.

    Is the modern West becoming like Italy under Mussolini, a Corporate State, a good thing – of course it is NOT a good thing. But it is not as bad as Nazi Germany.

    It is a pity (to put the matter mildly) that the Corporate State (imitation of Fascist Italy) that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935 has slowly crept back by other means.

  • GregWA

    When articles such as this do not end with an optimistic note, “…but there is a sliver of hope…”, I’m disappointed. I feel like I’ve only read half of what should be said.

    The author makes a strong argument but I am immediately trying to construct the “…but there is hope…” collection of facts, observations, and predictions. Not that I’m equipped to do that…I’m hoping someone here will do it!

    And surely this is the best quote from the article: “In the West, progressive managerialism softly strangled democracy to death over a century of manipulation, hollowed it out, and now wears its skin.” [and yes, I’m going to keep calling you “surely”]

  • GregWA

    Thank you, Barry Dixon, for the Angelo Codevilla link.