Thursday, April 18, 2024
HomeDemocracy in DecayDemocracy in Decay: Invasion of the technocrats

Democracy in Decay: Invasion of the technocrats


TWO is a coincidence, three is a trend. First Brexit, then the Indigenous Voice referendum in Australia, now the defenestration of Leo Varadkar in Ireland: his attempt to change the Irish constitution on woke lines crashed and burned in a defeat so humiliating it seems to have led to his shock resignation last week.

Apparently, his replacement will be no better, which is in itself another pattern: David Cameron and Theresa May were undone by the EU Referendum, but after a brief and chaotic interlude the old order ultimately triumphed with the installation of the decidedly technocratic Rishi Sunak. Although it is true that in several European countries right-wing populist parties have gained significant ground and even triumphed in Hungary and Italy, in many other places they have been frustrated: in the cases of Poland and the Netherlands by a coalition of the losers despite achieving the largest individual vote shares. In Germany, there is even talk of banning the ‘far right’ Alternative Für Deutschland.

In short, representative ‘democracy’ tends to install and maintain technocrats, whereas direct democracy removes them. However, except in Switzerland, exercises in direct democracy are sporadically implemented and the system soon snaps back into aloof rule by the elites. Many think the anti-democratic triumph of the technocrats is evidence of a vast conspiracy tied in some mysterious way to the World Economic Forum. Would that this were true – in some ways it would make rectifying the situation as simple as replacing bad people with good ones. In fact, as this blog has consistently argued, it is far more pervasive and difficult than that: the representative model of democracy was simply not designed for the information age and the huge society changes it ushered in.

Firstly, the rise of information technology gave enormous economic and social advantages to those of high cognitive ability but tended to insulate them from the physical world, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries which had progressed furthest with digital transformation of their societies. Secondly, the attendant communications revolution created extremely strong horizontal networks amongst the cognitive elites at both the national and global level. Whereas previously sections of the elite may have had quite different outlooks and institutional cultures, now whether you were a bishop, an academic, a politician, a businessman or senior civil servant, your working life consisted mostly of sitting at a PC terminal managing information. In short, the elites became dissociated from those still rooted in time and place (David Goodhart’s ‘citizens of somewhere’) and at the same time developed a strong and highly rarefied shared social culture. The death of distance thus created powerful auto-alignment – or groupthink – among the elites, very often at a subconscious level. Finally, globalisation led to the growth of unaccountable global institutions and corporations which could provide exceptionally lucrative sinecures for superannuated politicians once they left office; it is arguable that in at least mid-sized or smaller countries such as the UK or Ireland, high political office is now perceived to be a mere stepping stone to greater things and even greater riches. Furthermore, the knowledge that such glittering prizes are on offer is almost certain to bias the subconscious decision-making process, even in politicians who genuinely believe themselves to be acting honourably.

The result of all these factors is a kind of mass hypnosis, with hugely damaging decisions being made and sustained on the basis of luxury beliefs and self-interest within the elite class. However, short of outright revolution, this societal structure isn’t going to change any time soon, and therefore those who put their faith simply in the rise of new populist parties are wrong to do so. Of course, some may prove initially effective in combating the anti-democratic rule of our technocratic, globalist elites, but the risk is that will quickly be degraded and captured by the same powerful societal forces as time goes on – just as the legacy parties they are currently replacing have been.

The constant theme of the Democracy in Decay series is that what must happen is the strengthening of the vertical mechanisms of accountability through widespread adoption of Swiss-style direct democracy plus a right of recall. As stated at the start of this blog, the fall to earth of three elites in three different Western countries as the result of direct democracy constitutes a definite trend that the purely representative model has failed to emulate.

Our position must now be judged more than vindicated.

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Andrew Cadman
Andrew Cadman
IT Consultant who works and lives in the UK. He is @Andrewccadman on Parler.

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