So in practice the working rule is, when times are easy popular democracy is OK, when the going gets tough what we need is a meritocracy of peer-appointed technical experts.

I’m good with that. In practice, as I keep pointing out to over-confident UK electoral reform people, we need a balance of both. Both houses fully elected would be a disaster. There needs to be conservatism with “wise” custodians and only slow change according to popular fashion, and there needs to be liberal freedom (of speech and criticism, naturally, and) of popular mandates. An element of “elitism” in the conservative core is inescapable – the liberal freedoms need to act as checks and balances, not as an over-riding veto. Trust can only be mutual, working relationships cannot be built on criticism alone.

Oh, what was I saying about wisdom & criticism, see here.

“Critics say” they are undemocratic, short-term fix.

Shows what wisdom critics have.

8 thoughts on “Technocracy”

  1. Ian, I don’t think these people deserve the adjective “technical”! You can argue what “merits” there are, but there is nothing technical in their area of competence, except privatised (without any merit) “technical” discourse.

  2. Explicitly technical in a “technical” sense – recognised as expert in a particular area, by their peers as opposed to a wider population – hence technocrat is the technical term.

    Private (peers) vs public (population) is the key point.

  3. I’m afraid that it (peer recognition) really works only in the fields that are “technical” in a narrow sense. Economy or politics being outside of it.

  4. Clearly not, since the terms is normally used (as in this case) in political and economic terms – these people recognize their peers. (I get your point politics and economics are not objective sciences – agreed – but that wasn’t the point here – peer-appointed governance.)

  5. I don’t see them them too loving recognize their peers. I see them loving to call themselves “technical”.

    If you try to find agreement – you are obliged to extend the circle of stakeholders to the same circle which is associated with the political process “as usual” – which is never 100% public anyway.

  6. Your last para – yes, the normal process is not all public – and better for it. Calling it technocracy simply removes the misleading pretence of popular democracy. The point.

    (I think you are projecting your opinion onto them in your first two sentences – unless you can show me some evidence.)

  7. From your link:

    “has refused to set a timetable for the formation of the new government or say who he plans to nominate as ministers.
    He will hold consultations with all political parties as well as unions and industrial groups, before the formal line-up of the new technocratic government is announced later this week”

    What other evidence we need? But let’s wait for some time, and look at this appointment campaign and further discussions among peers 🙂

    I’m all for removing the democratic pretence. And I’m indeed very personal about masquerading the result behind the term “technical”. Here in Russia we can see its destructive role – you can hide there all kinds of pure politics or pure authoritarianism.

  8. Hi Victor,

    I recognize the “slippery slope” argument from your Russian perspective – the democratic checks and balances are essential. I blogged on slippery slopes leading to fascisms recently too …

    In the west we tend to start from the opposite extreme pretence, that somehow everything is (and should be) the subject of popular democracy – I’m calling for balance.

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