Monday, May 2, 2022

James Burnham Warned You...

 "Where there is no alternative, there is no problem..." -- James Burnham

"There is no one force, no group, and no class that is the preserver of liberty. Liberty is preserved by those who are against the existing chief power. Oppositions which do not express genuine social forces are as trivial, in relation to entrenched power, as the old court jesters..." -- James Burnham, "The Machiavellians"

There are lessons here to be learned, specifically by the American Right, which long ago abandoned Classical Liberalism in favor of retaining power by becoming the junior partner of the American Left.

In this role, the Right has been content to simply occasionally change places with their Leftist counterparts, the entire time spouting a catalogue of anti-Leftist dribble, only to eventually give the left what it was after a decade earlier upon acquiring power. This, always, as a means of retaining their own newly-acquired positions and in the hope that this will make them enough to vote for them again.

This continuous process of fighting rear-guard actions and then surrendering ground, anyway, only to set up a new rear-guard that will eventually surrender more, is a strategy of no alternatives.

It's how we got Donald Trump. I'll return to that thought a little later.

But not to be too hard on my supposed compatriots, the Left is also running out of alternatives. It's emotional -- rather than rational -- approach to politics has painted the Left into a corner, as well. Based largely on romantic notions of "struggle" and the teenaged anguish of "It isn't FAIR!", it has nothing left to offer except the revolutionary's creed of "to the bitter end".

The real virus that has infected both ends of the political spectrum is Managerialism. I've written about this more than a few times here and it bears repeating until the great mass of dumbfucks that inhabits this country finally gets it. The Left is perfectly fine with being afflicted in this manner because it works for them; the typical leftist being an incapable turd who would rather turn responsibility for everything over to someone or something that relieves them of any burden (or merely promises to do so). The Right adopted it because it wins elections....sometimes.

And those are the goals -- to create a world with no personal responsibility, on the one side, and to simply win for the sake of winning on the other.

Before I go any further, a review of Managerialism's tenets, the Holy Writ of Modern Politics.

Managerialism postulates that Capitalism is dead, but that Socialism will not replace it, as many believed it world. The great flaws in Capitalism were the threat of mass unemployment caused by great swings in economic conditions, and that Capitalism has a habit of creating huge surpluses which it cannot distribute, and therefore, not profit from (constituting waste). These two factors counted for much in the 20th century, and were among the proximate causes of two World Wars, as nations competed for export markets, access to raw materials, and colonial possessions (which indicated labor, materials and markets, all in one).

Socialism has flaws of it's own, the major ones being the loss of liberty and the deliberate impoverishment that naturally comes from all attempts to "level the playing field". You can only raise one up by bringing another down; you can only redistribute goods and services if there are goods and services to redistribute, which there aren't when the main "enemy" is the producer and he's been destroyed in the name of "fairness'. In totalitarian Socialist nations, this destruction was carried out by the state; in "Democratic Socialist" nations, it is carried out, nominally, by vote.

This is merely the economic foundation of Managerialism. Managerialism entails far more, however.

There is a social element to it, as well.

As societies become more complex, the lines between government power and private rights become blurred. The great social upheavals of the early 20th century usually had more than just economic factors at work. In America, mass immigration, for example, created new problems and new complexities and as advancement in industrial technique progressed and the ethnic groups became conscious of themselves as groups, the erosion of the common culture and the devaluation of labor followed. In fact, these often fed upon one another and fueled even more complexity.

This complexity resulted in a greater interference in what were once more "private" aspects of life by government.

This complexity creates, or exacerbates, problems -- social or economic -- that call into being a unique social class, which Burnham described as "Managers", that is, people who specialize in walking the tightrope between private capitalism and government.

To give an easy-to-understand example:

In 1800, a Capitalist (of any kind) was most-likely to have been someone who was intimately familiar with the inner workings of his business. He probably started it himself; he probably knew the names, faces and families of the people who worked for him as he was just starting out. He had few problems -- beyond paying taxes and obeying mostly local laws. As his business grew and technology advanced that made him more-profitable (but which often had unforeseen pitfalls) a new class emerged that injected a layer of bureaucrats between Owner and Market; between Capitalist and Worker, and eventually, between Capitalist and Government.

He suddenly needed lawyers, accountants, various expert technicians, Public Relations types, marketing people, those versed in arcane aspects of things like "Environmental" and Labor Law, and if he wanted to get in on various, lucrative government contracts, or wanted access to export markets, he needed to make contacts within government, which meant more people who knew how to deal with that monstrosity.

Eventually, the owner is left to become little more than a dividend drawer, or, like the modern CEO, a face that publicizes the company, a "trusted name" that gives people the confidence to buy his products or use his services -- but who doesn't have the faintest clue as to what his company does, or how it works -- and the real power within his concern devolves to the middle layer of specialists. It is they who decide what gets done, who does it, what products will be produced, in what quantities, where and how they will be sold, and a billion other details that arise from the complexity associated with running a billion-dollar company.

The owner becomes detached from his own firm. Shareholders often have no say in what happens. There is alienation between owner, shareholders and labor because none is truly aware of what is happening within a vast machine, the inner workings of which are indecipherable to individuals or even groups of individuals. It is the Managers who control everything and who exert influence. In return, this Managerial Class -- which produces nothing and which does not garner profit for it's efforts -- extracts a very good living, like a swarm of parasites.

The same process operated in government.

As government exerted influence and claimed authority over more aspects of American Life, it needed it's own middle layer of Managers. These government bureaucrats ruled on everything from how something was to be made, to how workers are to be compensated, to what percentage of rat dung you can be safely permitted in your bologna or hot dogs.

And as this bureaucracy of "experts" grew and stuck its tentacles into more and more areas of formerly-private life and markets, the gap between governor and governed likewise expanded. Presidents and  Congresscritters, who are tasked with "running" the government do no such thing. They can't, for the scope of government has grown beyond the capacity of any individual or group to comprehend, let alone control, so that the decisions these people make are informed and influenced by what the bureaucracy tells them is necessary or possible.

As an example of this (I keep using this one because it's the most shockingly obvious), when Nancy Pelosi (in-)famously said of ObamaCare "we have to pass it to find out what's in it", most people who still have a half dozen braincells thought she was either being stupid or flippant. The truth was, and it still is, that she didn't know what was in the bill because she had no role in crafting it. That job was left to the Managerial Class -- government bureaucrats, lobbyists, spin doctors, and so forth -- who essentially gave Congress a range of alternatives from which Congress picked and chose and then cobbled into a bill.

Giving the benefit (a HUGE benefit) of the doubt to President Nobel-Prize-for-Being-Half-Black, when he made statements about "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor", it is entirely possible that he didn't know what was in it, either, but was compelled to hawk it like a cheap rug in a Persian market because the people around him -- all of the Managerialist Class -- told him he had to, or should.

And these two managerialist layers -- in business and government -- have counterparts all over the world. They form a distinctive, world-wide CASTE that is always in communication, and often collusion, with one another. Because in a real sense, it is THEY who run the world, and they see themselves as doing so, as well.

But, it doesn't end there, for even within the Caste there are often disagreements about what to do or how to do it; they have factions within the class, too, so that each new problem sees the various factions fight among one another for the opportunity to control a new problem and thus expand their own power, prestige and opportunity for reward. If it seems as if no problem in America can be solved without 15 Federal Agencies and their counterparts at the State, County and Municipal level all having a hand in the "solution", this is why.

According to Burnham, because of the functions these bureaucracies fulfill and the will or needs of the people who make them up, the urge to control puts them at loggerheads, too. The result is usually something of a Rube Goldberg-like compromise that ultimately satisfies no one, becomes the source of future conflicts, needlessly injects more complexity into the system, and fails everyone involved.

The American tax code, for example, isn't 39,000 pages long because the IRS needs specific instructions on how to collect and enforce taxes: it requires that complexity because it needs detailed instructions on how to treat different classes of Americans differently, because the Bureaucracy has decided this is fair.

It also decided that this was good for the bureaucracy and it's sycophants, like lawyers. Apply this principle to every great American policy endeavor -- the Wars on Drugs and Poverty, the response to terrorism, the way in which we wage actual war. If none of it works, it is because the Managerial class is as fractious as any other organization, and there is a constant battle for supremacy between The Managers.

It is also why we frequently get "solutions" which are either no such thing, or which plant the seeds of even larger problems later on. Take the Mortgage Crisis, for an example.: the "problem" of not enough minorities and women getting into the Middle Class was deigned to be because they could not accumulate assets -- particularly a private home -- and the reason was assumed to be some ____ -ism. The "solution" became handing out mortgages, insured by government, like candy to people who could not pay them back. It also garnered votes (Hey! Bill Clinton gave me a House!) and so when the Managers suggested it, the politicians followed the suggestion.

We know the result: the relatively minor problem of favored groups not owning a home then became a full-blown implosion of the global economy.

The Managerial Class, which is supposed to be made up of "experts" is usually no such thing. Mostly because much like the private Capitalist and the Congressturd they insinuated themselves between rulers and ruled, owner and customer, in the process losing touch with the broader market (of ideas as well as economics); the Managers talk only to one another and about one another, and their talk is always centered upon keeping the gravy train moving -- being rewarded for producing nothing of value, and usually something no one asked them for.

This Class creates chaos; it deliberately crafts policies that are almost guaranteed to fail, because the failure brings them more power, more jobs, and greater security. The "Revolving Door" between business and government wherein former government officials leave government to work for private enterprise or academia, only to return to government with the next change of regimes, is a good example of Managerialism in action; these people use the knowledge and contacts they gained in government "service" to enrich their new employers (who pay very well for this knowledge and access), and then they return to start the process anew.

This class is also not terribly distracted by matters of ideology (although this is now changing in America); it does not care if it runs Stalin's Russia or Reagan's America, because it's interests do not wholly lie in support of one side or another. It will just as happily enforce one regime as it will another, and does so without breaking its stride, in many cases. The DMV run by a Cuomo will still be the DMV run by a republican next week; the same people will be working there and it will fuck up by the numbers just the same as it did before. The only thing that matters is that when "something needs to be done" it is the Managerial Class who figures out what to do and who does it.

Which is usually itself. You saw this, starkly, during the "Pandemic" when the normal operations of government and society were being destroyed, dictated to both populace and politician by the likes of Fauci, Birx and Wallensky, and people claiming the mantle of "Science". As we progressed it became increasingly clear that whatever they were up to, it wasn't curing COVID or even had anything to do with "the nation's health", but rather with enforcing and maintaining their authority, privileges, and paychecks.

The process was also evident in the Russiagate nonsense; the point of Managerialism is not to do the right thing, or to even try; it is to advance the interests of this self-professed expert class. Donald Trump was a threat to the Managerialist Class, so they tried to frame him, and did so with such lack of skill that they exposed themselves, in the process.

Those are the basic economic and descriptive features and motivations of Managerialism. But what are the effect, and goals of it all?

In the early 20th Century, the original "Managerialists" -- The Progressives -- had postulated (if not formally, then tacitly) that Capitalism and Socialism, while mutually-exclusive on the subject of liberty, could be used in combination (in theory) to balance out or correct the problems inherent in either system. In other words, the Managerialist strove to borrow features of both in order to create a new, hybrid system under their control.

If Capitalism created surpluses that could not be sold or made profitable, then the Socialist Welfare State would eliminate the waste of surplus which only would have led to either war or growing social gaps. If Socialism could not solve the problems of inequality in wealth and status in a society, then Capitalism would produce the goods, services and capital to bribe anyone who noticed into complacency and thus blunt or avoid social unrest.

The New Deal, and its bastard children of The Great Society and The Green New Deal were all Managerialist attempts to put these theories into practice, on the Left, and the Military-Industrial Complex was the "solution" on the right. If we built too many homes, if there was too much food laying around, if there was a great mass of services available that were underutilized, then the solution was to either give them away or to expend them in ways -- like building aircraft carriers, Stealth bombers, and thousands of nuclear warheads --  that still provided profit for someone, but which did not raise the general standard of living all that much. 

And so it is that every four years in America you get a "choice" between Managerialist Socialism (just enough Capitalism as will support the welfare state and the government and political party that exists to suckle on that tit) or Managerialist Capitalism (just as much government as will support and advance Capitalism), and both, about the margins, will claim to be the special champion of some program or identity groups that will allow them to cobble together temporary coalitions to win elections, and thus gain the ability to influence The Managers (or so it is hoped).

The "prize" in American politics is not any ideological victory or even to "do good"; it is to gain access and some level of control over the levers, not of production, but of DISTRIBUTION. This is the real power of the Managerialist class, even above its power to dictate government or commercial activity. The purpose of achieving power is to use the bureaucracy to distribute the rewards to the people who put you in power and who are expected to keep you there.

Since the democratic (small 'd' intentional) party is that which is most-closely aligned with the Managerial class (American leftist ideology is consumed by the belief that government should be the arbiter of all things), the Managerialist Class, when it expresses any political preferences at all, is apt to support "liberal" democrats, as this almost-all-but guarantees an expansion of government and a further devolution of power to the bureaucracy.

Because that's easier than, say, crafting any original solution to any problem. When democrats are in power, the formula for "solution" is to create a new bureaucracy or expand the old one and throw more (other people's) money at it.

When republicans (small 'r' intentional) are in power, the "solution" is to create either stupid bureaucracies that serve no useful purpose, or to expand others in a way that is more-palatable to narrow "conservative" (small 'c' intentional) tastes ("Offices of Faith-Based Initiatives", "Department of Homeland Security").

In either case, the proposal is merely an abdication of responsibility, and is usually carried out with little to no consent of the governed, violates constitutional practices and processes, and represents little more than a reshuffling of the organization chart. The same people who brought about the crisis that precipitated the solution are the same people who will be entrusted with implementing the new solution, and because they are a diffuse class of anonymous individuals working within the bowels of a vast bureaucracy in which "responsibility" is partitioned among several, often-competing bureaucracies, no one can ever be held accountable for the resultant failure.

Unlike a Capitalist enterprise, the government Managers can afford to operate in the red...forever...and so there is no thought given to efficiency or expense.

It is often impossible to identify any individual or group that is a responsible party when the shit does hit the fan, and the Managers go on drawing paychecks, benefits, and enjoying privileges not available to anyone else. After all, where else but within the bowels of bureaucracy can you be a complete fuck up and not get fired for it, or refuse to answer questions posed by a Congressional or legal authority, or even blatantly lie to same, and get away with it?

But the truly destructive aspect of Managerialism is the social aspect.

Since the Managers form a distinctive class within society (the five richest counties in America are all surrounding Washington, D.C.), and have little to no physical contact with the greater mass of people they ostensibly serve (and what contact they do have is usually not very pleasant for the person on the receiving end), and are completely self-interested and arrogant to the point where they can commit felonies in the open (yeah, you, James Comey), lie without embarrassment or scruple (Mainstream Media), they give the impression (correct, as it turns out) that they don't actually give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about the people they're stealing from.

Conventional politics does not solve this problem; both parties are dependent to a large extent upon the Managerial class, and are, for all intents and purposes, members of it. So, simply changing D for R, or vice versa, doesn't materially change much of anything for the common person.

Again: This is how you got Donald Trump. The population looked for a solution to its problems from outside "The System" (and even this was wishful thinking, for while Trump might not have been a professional politician -- the results speak for themselves -- he had spent decades gladly writing checks and giving endorsements to professional politicians). "The System" took note: if someone from outside of it's ranks could ascend to power and threaten to eliminate their cushy status, then he had to be destroyed so as to discourage the next uppity parvenu who got delusions of grandeur.

It was Managerialists who went after Trump -- the professional class of political operatives, the bureaucrats, the media, the party hacks, and they're still at it. When Russia failed, there were his taxes to pour over; when that failed, his business dealings, when that bore no fruit, they boxed him in and outmaneuvered him with COVID. Even his supposed success in that battle has resulted, in retrospect, in vaccines that don't work, but which are relentlessly pushed by the Managerialists in the health care and pharmaceutical industries and bureaucracies.

Because it makes you forget THEY CREATED THE FUCKING VIRUS. They did so because they believed they had the right to do so; they were serving a higher purpose, which was the expression of their own brilliance and importance, for no other reason than because "expert".

And Anthony Fauci is still the highest-paid government employee.

Understand this: this Managerialist Class does not give a rat's ass about topics as mundane as "service", "right versus wrong", "compassion", "ethics", "legalities" or even simple fucking courtesy. It exists to feed itself on the largesse of the American taxpayer, consumer, and shareholder. It is the true power in the land and it will not go away willingly or without a fight. It does not care if you are locked in your homes for two years; it does not care if you go bankrupt; it does not care if you starve. It gives not a thought to your happiness and contentment. It wants you discontented and unhappy because when this occurs, you will scream for someone to "do something" and they'll be ready to give it to you.

Good and hard.

And if you should get uppity and start to push back, The Managers will start wars to distract you, censor you in the public square, make your food and life more-expensive. It detests you; you, the individual, are the anti-venom to its poison, and the great quality of individualism, so far as the managers are concerned, is that it is the same quality of individualism which prevents you from banding together with other individuals to fight them, and when that formulation appears to not be working, they'll simply expand the number of "individuals" to create further separation (identity politics). All this bullshit about race, gender, trans-whatever, rural versus urban, vaxxed versus unvaxxed, is all about splintering the potential unification into a billion pieces.

You, on some level, get this already.

So does the political establishment, but since it is also part of the Managerial Caste, it is not going to help you all that much. In the realm of politics, the Left wins because it simply promises everyone everything and someone else gets to pay for it. On the Right, it only wins when the promises go unfulfilled, but makes promises of it's own that go unfulfilled, as well. Both sides are simultaneously aware of "how things work" -- that elected officials exercise no real power -- and still profess their own ability to corral and redirect the forces they depend upon.

Presidents, Congresspeople, Governors, Senators, even Supreme Court Judges come and go: the Bureaucracy is forever, and unlike politicians, it usually does not need to make the case for why it should remain in power indefinitely. It simply assumes it has that RIGHT because it has assumed all those FUNCTIONS, and because it recognizes itself as the true ruling clique, it has decided it also has the right to arrange all rewards and privileges in this country for it's own benefit.

Because they DESERVE it, for being such smart and superior human beings.

Whoever stands on the Republican side in 2024 needs to make this case unmistakably clear to every citizen. S/he (but far be it from me to misgender anyone) also needs to make it unmistakably clear to their own party that this particular phase is over. It cannot continue; the Managers have proven themselves both incompetent and corrupt, and that is why the next candidate has to stand for election on a SINGLE issue: to put a stake through the Managerial Class's collective heart. It has wrought nothing but discord, foreign invasion, disease, economic ruin, and turned the American Playground over to the demented, immature and retarded sectors of our society. S/he cannot play at identity politics-- they have to make the case there is only One True Identity ('Murican); they cannot champion the staid, stick-in-the-mud issues that typically get the Candidate through Super Tuesday -- fuck the Ten Commandments, screw the "flamethrowers and RPG's for everyone" crowd, and to hell with the scolds on both sides who live by a tortured morality that they wish to impose -- BY FORCE --upon everyone else (yes, even you God-fearin' knuckleheads. Don't get me started on the "Free Traders").

All of those other issues are insoluble until you fix the system that spawned all the disunity, like a metaphorical hydra.

The Swamp does not need mere draining; it requires annihilation.

Nothing positive is possible until and unless this beast is slain Constitutional Process is restored, and by that, I mean Federalism as it was envisioned 250 years ago. The Central Government has encroached too far into the purview of State Government, and State Government has been more than happy to take the "Federal Aid" that cushioned the blow and roll over.

The result is $30 trillion in National Debt and the two-headed dumbfuck of Joemala, furiously paddling upstream against their own "disinformation", which clearly does not jibe with objective reality. 

But then again, they are products of the Managerial Class -- the one a recipient of bribes that originate in supra-national business and governmental agreements, the other risen from the sewer by the identity politics that elevates appearances over effectiveness.

The internecine battles within republican circles, most originating in religion, have to be put aside. The greater threat is the machinery that pours out a constant stream of liberty-destroying nonsense. If that cannot be destroyed, then the religion and guns and gay hating doesn't matter -- you won't have a right to that, anymore.

Because as Burnham reminded us: Decency doesn't exist in politics.

All politics is simply a fight for power, and nothing else.

If you're interested in this subject, then I recommend that you read Burnham's seminal work,. "The Managerial Revolution" and it's follow-up, "The Machiavellians", and "Suicide of the West".

There have been some very good discussions on the subject online, recently, and you can find two of them (these are the shortest for those of you worried about time)

UPDATE: Fixed some ridiculously dumbass grammatical and spelling errors. Again, i really suck at editing, and sometimes my brain moves faster than my fingers.


Ben Gremillion said...

Good God, what an excellent summary. I knew there was a reason I have hoped and prayed for the dollar to lose its status as the world's funny money and the bloated Federal beast to die of starvation.

Matthew Noto said...

Thanks very much, Ben.