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Brass Tacks, pt. II.

In the prior thread, I think we may have, through byzantine passageways of dispute, yet managed to make some progress toward clarity of disagreement.

One commenter has told me that rule-by-the-few is “here to stay,” with overtones to the effect that it is idle to argue against it; and another commenter has as good as told me that rule-by-the-few, far from merely being a fact to face, is a positive good in some areas, including health care.

The form of this rule-by-the-few will take is surely managerial or technocratic; rulership by the few experts or soi disant experts. We will all be covered with another set of regulations and officialdom. A new army of public clerks will be placed in authority over us; or, to be more precise, over the already extant army of private clerks placed in authority over our doctors. Among them — because in any army of men you will find such villains — will flitter a few ambitious tyrants and an abundance of crooks and fools.

Now I happen to think the managerial state is here to stay as well. I might have a more pronounced sense that the managerial experience is near the sunset of its days than my interlocutors (derivatives markets are giving an augury of doom right now), but we can agree that it is for now a simply fact to face.

Another area where some progress has been made, I like to think, concerns the particulars of the philosophical language of universal or natural rights — that language’s particular inadequacies.

Health is too precarious a thing to go around promising people as a right, arising from nature, vouchsafed against the community by the state. We might as well demand that every state receive the same amount of rainfall; may as well ask the Supreme Court to stop the drought or the floods in the South.

There is not yet the power in man, much less in his art of government, to insure that all our diagnoses will be right, or that none of our doctors shall ever be weary or hungover or distracted. We have yet to conquer misfortune.

So set that “rights” language aside. Repose in the language of justice — even social justice, if it will placate the liberals (though no one has ever heard of a non-social justice).

In light, not or rights but of justice, let us consider two questions: (a) has the establishment of the managerial state comprised an advance for justice? and (b) should we on those grounds continue to favor the replacement of democratic or self-governing or rule-by-the-many forms with managerial, plutocratic, rule-by-the-few forms?

Comments (39)

Maybe the real question is in light of the dawning technocratic society is there anyway to practically oppose the managerial state?

I think the Amish have effectively not participated. Is there a way to enjoy a happy, white, middle-class existence while opposing the managerial state? I would tend to think not. Exploring those limits would be an interesting exercise.

Talk of opposing the managerial state presupposes that we have agreed it deserves to be opposed. Have we?

Also, what about it, more precisely, ought to be opposed?

should we on those grounds continue to favor the replacement of democratic or self-governing or rule-by-the-many forms with managerial, plutocratic, rule-by-the-few forms?

No. (I wish I could be more eloquent, but I can't at the moment.)

"Is there a way to enjoy a happy, white, middle-class existence while opposing the managerial state? I would tend to think not. Exploring those limits would be an interesting exercise."

First of all, "white" has nothing to do with it. There is such a thing as a middle-class non-white person. I've actually met some. The average joe is getting crunched between Wall Street and K Street regardless of his color.

For daily discussions of exploration of these matters see the Front Porch Republic site.

As I said in the previous thread, the language of universal rights isn't even applicable to basic justice and protection in our system. Our legal system has categorically rejected the notion of a universal right to police protection and would likely, for many good reasons, apply that logic to access to the courts with regard to criminal proceedings.

Our modern state is actually quite coy about rights in that respect. It doesn't get the respect it is due for the way that it manages to placate the people into thinking that they have certain "rights" when the system vehemently maintains that they don't behind the scenes and goes about ensuring that they cannot act on them.

It's a two sided coin, just as some crave power over others, there are those who wish to be dominated, a matched pair of sorts.
Did Kraft-Ebbing do politics?

It might be just bearable if the power cravers gave hints of ability. But instead there seems to be a direct and historic connection between desired power & barnyard stupidity, coupled with a remarkable facility for incompetence.

A quick re-read of Hayek may help, though he was far to charitable towards those erstwhile shepherds who would guide us wee beasties to the always verdant pastures of the State, fertilized & maintained by our subjugation.
Who wants to be "managed" by the whims of say Rahm Emanuel? I know he can stick a knife in a table but what else is he good for ?

Some good comments by Deneen on this issue:

http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2010/03/americas-potemkin-village/

"We have yet to conquer misfortune."

Just so, Paul, and this is the powerful idea that haunts me whenever I think of issues like health care, or wrongful harm suits, or welfare. That we sometimes feel entitled to escape what for generations has just been known as "life" is surely both an understandable inclination and also a base one. Constant rights-talk is surely part of the cause, and so is our instinctual materialism.

"we sometimes feel entitled to escape what for generations has just been known as "life"

I've heard people make the case before that FDR and the origins of the Welfare State through depriving people of certain aspects of life (the bad parts) actually gave way to the hedonism of the 1960's and the Sexual Revoultion. Through depriving people of lifes worries and offering Goverment security and Safety nets to protect citizens, if offered people the chance to embrace hedonism in a way they couldn't have before, it relieved them of there sense of duty, of responsiblity and hence gave forth to modern narcissism and the belief that everyone has rights in areas which would previously have been considerd wants.

Someone going undiagnosed for diabetes because they haven't been able to get a checkup is not a misfortune attributable to infinite demands in a finite world. For society to ensure regular medical check ups for adults in this country is not a metaphysical impossibility. Health care rights are no different than the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rights aren't instrumental schemes to give you things. They are the defining characteristics of the dignity of man. In the liberal (Enlightenment) scheme they are intrinsic to man, having been endowed by his "Creator." My right to the pursuit of happiness doesn't mean society owes me a Caribbean island; it doesn't make all private property schemes wrong, although I do believe the near absolutization of private property rights amongst libertarians and their sympathesizers borders and in many cases crosses the line.

Deneen's application of Tocqueville is spot-on. However, there may be some overstatement. Just now my street is blocked off by a mass of grills for the neighborhood Smoke-Off. I think they even have some TVs out there to watch the college basketball. (And I must say that this year's tournament has featured some of the most amazing competition and drama in years.) The Southern sun beams and there is warmth and gaiety in Southern heart after so cold and dour a winter. Kids are everywhere. I know there are many more places across this land like my neighborhood. Our community is more than a Census commercial.

But I certainly agree about the Union of the Two Towers of managerial state and Wall Street -- our Plutocracy.

M.Z. mentions the Amish. Their non-participation is indeed fascinating. It can work. Even when a man lost in madness murdered some of them in a brutal crime some years ago, the evidence of the strength of that community was pretty clear.

Not everyone can be Amish; but what about their quiet but impressive non-participation recommends itself to us?

"Health care rights are no different than the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"

None of those rights are based on using governmental corceive force, none of them force me to accept goverment intrusion into my life, none of them involve goverment rationing my health care and telling me the drugs I use to relieve my suffering are to costly, none of them deprieve me of my freedom of choice, infinge upon the decisions I can make about my life and they don't let a collection of elitist bureaucrats decide which of my actions meet up to there beliefs about what is correct for me.

M.Z. --

What if someone doesn't want checkups? What if he is like some friends I have who live like hippies, barely in the same house for more than six months? What if he is old, knows he dying, would rather take a few strong drinks, watch the grandkids (or great-grandkids), read the classics, and die without the attendants of officialdom all around him?

regular medical check ups for [all] adults in this country is not a metaphysical impossibility

I disagree. Short of an appalling level of coercion it is a practical impossibility. It is no answer to say, well yes, off at the margins we will march grown men to the doctor's office at gunpoint; nor is it answer to deny that there will be recalcitrants which the rigid logic of the law would punish, in escalating fashion. Even the margins matter when we're talking that level of compulsion.

Unless you do not mean [all]. In which case I must confess to being puzzled as to what you are saying.

If someone doesn't have to have a checkup, that is his business. His freedom is unimpeded.

governmental corceive force...

I suppose you'll be shocked that I don't share your libertarian presuppositions. You seem to have confused a rhetorical device for an argument. The ability to tax is a right of government.

Forcing someone with threat of fine to buy health insurance is not a tax it is corceive.

Hey, look, we have MZ on board with the "it's a legitimate power of the American federal government, because it's _just a tax_." Um-huh. Seems to be the current meme of the left on this one. (Yes, MZ, you're the left. Be proud.) I'm sure telling individual existing people that, just because they exist in the U.S., they have to do some tax-unrelated X, and fining them through the IRS if they don't do X (called a "penalty" in the bill itself) is _just_ what the framers of the income tax amendment had in mind. And it has _no_ ramifications for the indefinite power of government to require us to do some other Y and fine us through the IRS if we don't. Or if it does, so what? It's all for the good of The Poor.

you're the left
This seems more significant to you than to me. FWIW, I consider you a raging liberal whose conception of the common good extends no further than her nose.

Forcing someone with threat of fine to buy health insurance is not a tax it is corceive.
I fail to see how plain old taxes aren't coercive in your deontology, so what's the significance? Who cares? Inspired, perhaps I'll protest the 65 mph speed limit this afternoon, since coercision is the new immorality.

The questions with which the initial post concludes are suggestive, and while I am undoubtedly sympathetic to Paul's implication in posing them, honestly compels me to state that the matter is not co categorical, not once one has entered into the complexity of human affairs. Has the development of the managerial state represented a net gain in justice? Not wishing to belabour the point, herewith a few observations:

1) The development of the managerial state is but one 'moment' in a broader process of the bureaucratization of society, the application of administrative technique to human collectivities ranging from government to economic entities, such as corporations, and religious institutions. This process has been studied ad nauseum in the literatures of sociology and political theory, among others, and it is indicative of special pleading to designate the application of administrative techne to one sphere of human endeavour as uniquely pernicious, violative of justice, or, conversely, uniquely virtuous and worthy of defense. We might, in my estimation, better inquire whether managerial technique is consonant with the natures of these respective spheres, and, if so, to what degrees, or under what limiting conditions. Only if the nature of a thing, or the nature of a being, is respected is it possible to speak of justice being done.

2) I have, since the inception of this website, periodically posted essays and blog items critiquing both the normative status and consequences of the managerial revolution in economics, endeavouring to indict it as productive of institutional gigantism, the concentration of wealth and power, and a diminution of opportunities for meaningful self-government, both at the level of the family, and the level of the community. These critiques, to say but the least that it is possible to say about them, have been ill-received, generating misunderstanding and accusations that the thoughts in them are subversive of "freedom" and a certain type of material flourishing. If nothing else, these exchanges have demonstrated several things, among them a) that many self-professed conservatives are quite content to accept the realities and consequences of managerialism in certain spheres, b) that those same self-professed conservatives will oppose, even to the point of lurid caricature, the merest whiff of a suspicion of managerialism in other spheres, and c) that this differentiation of spheres is predicated upon a conception of human nature, at least tacit, which specifies certain processes and ends as constitutive of that nature, and enables the possessor to discriminate between the sort of managerialism that characterizes the modern state, and the sort of managerialism that enables multinational conglomerates to exist, and to provide us with a cornucopia of crapola.

3) The foregoing strongly implies, and perhaps even entails, that any evaluation of managerialism will be contingent, not merely upon a conception of human nature, but also a conception of justice, inasmuch as any theory of justice must concern the right ordering of the human soul, and the right ordering of human relations as a mirror of the order of the soul. Disputations as to the merits or demerits of managerialism in political economy are superstructural effects of disputations as to the right ordering of the soul, the rank-ordering of its characteristics, qualities, and virtues.

4) Is the increasingly thick articulation of the managerial state an unequivocal advance for justice? The answer depends upon one's theory of human nature. Concretely, the triumph of the managerial form in economics made necessary its eventual triumph in governance. Again, not wishing to belabour the point, it was an advance for justice when the managerial state, for example, finally bestirred itself to regulation the conditions of meat-packing industries, and to proscribe the heinous practice of industrial child labour. This was because the prior distortion of justice by a managerial and technocratic economics, viewing human beings irrespective of age, status, and condition as fungible units of production and exchange value, necessitated correction, or counterbalancing; where the condition of the possibility of the prior distortion will not be removed, another distortion must be introduced in order to cancel, if partially, the first.

5) The answer to the initial question is thus nuanced: the managerial state, considered in a falsely pristinated abstraction, represents a net loss of justice; considered in the context of a managerializing society, in all its vicissitudes and complexity, it may represent a net increase of justice in any discrete instance.

6) Should we, therefore, promote the continued expansion of the managerial state? No, but if and only if we have determined to resist managerialism wherever it manifests itself in human affairs. If we have, instead, determined to connive at the expansion of managerialism in one sphere, for whatever reasons, then we will have to acquiesce in the accelerating managerialization of the state. Those who resist this conclusion are essentially postulating 'free rider' status as normative in political economy, wishing to retain the benefits of managerialism without paying its concomitant costs.

7) What does this all entail for health care policy? Nothing, until and unless we have a theory of human nature, a conception of justice arising therefrom, and a sketch of how subsidiarity and solidarity would order that conception of justice in our circumstances. There is not, so far as I can determine, any agreement upon the primary matter, and so the rest is but shadow-play upon the walls of the Cave.

Gotta love it. Agree with Maximos about "banksters," the evils of corporations, capitalism, and heaven knows what else. Maybe large-scale farming. Or shut up about the vast, tyrannical, unconstitutional, and dangerous expansion of federal power over the entire healthcare industry. No thanks.

M. Z. Just for laughs can we cut out the middle man, guvmint", for a moment? Putting your surrogate aside, when and how often do you exercise force over others? In what circumstance and to what extent? And who are they? Family members, strangers, large, muscular strangers with suspicious bulges under their jackets, midgets, old folks with canes? And what kind of force with what kind of enforcement ?
You obviously harbor some frustration over the imperfections of an unfinished world, millions of the untutored scampering around unleashed, too dumb to realize the majesty of government, too mean to show due respect to the cognescenti, yourself certainly included and at the head of the parade towards Progress, no phantom that.

But as always I go on to long and Sunday holds promise for both of us.
Careful driving!

Johnt,

Pretend I'm using your argument and "The Phantom Blogger's" about coercion except I'm speaking about my plural marriage.

Gotta love it.

Which is not precisely, or precisely not what I wrote; but I've long since jettisoned the naive expectation that my arguments, as opposed to what is thought to be their political valence, will be attended to. You can do whatever you like, politically, and argumentatively, and will; and when you do that, the resultant problematic of your politics, stated generically, will be convincing the losers/victims/forgotten of one form of managerial technocracy from adverting to another form of managerial technocracy in order to mitigate their situations. Good luck with that, in all seriousness.

Should we, therefore, promote the continued expansion of the managerial state? No, but if and only if we have determined to resist managerialism wherever it manifests itself in human affairs. If we have, instead, determined to connive at the expansion of managerialism in one sphere, for whatever reasons, then we will have to acquiesce in the accelerating managerialization of the state. [Emphasis added]
For society to ensure regular medical check ups for adults in this country is not a metaphysical impossibility.

No, but it is a logistical and economic impossibility because it won't stop there (yes, I know I have the annoying habit of often refusing to consider ideas in isolation from the real world chain of events which will proceed from them). Soon society will be expected to foot the bill to ensure that this condition is treated and that condition is treated until each person is at whatever degree of health the mavens of human dignity deem to be dignified.

Those same mavens of human dignity will then bankrupt the system, but we will have the healthiest underclass and elderly in the history of the third world. We will be the first quasi-empire to bankrupt itself on sentimentalism, not overreach.

Should we...

If we have, instead, determined to connive at the expansion of managerialism in one sphere, for whatever reasons, then we will have to acquiesce in the accelerating managerialization of the state.
This could mean "we should acquiesce" or it could mean "we will be forced to acquiesce", I suppose. As in, a selectively plutocratic modern liberal State is not a practical possibility, since whatever areas are not now plutocratic will succumb?

Perhaps, M.Z., we should give all of our income to the state, and allow them to provide everything? Is that a stretch? If so, at what level should we be taxed? If I currently work the first 3 hours of every day for the government, do you want to up it to 4? 5? After all, there's always some problem the federal government can correct, right, provided we greedy bastards just give them enough of our money? I mean they're doing so well with social security, Medicare, public education, etc.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that this health care bill costs me an additional $1200 a year in taxes. If I do have enough to afford that "extra" $100/month, I'd be far better served, as would the poor, if I gave it to the local food bank or homeless shelter. The money would go further and would actually get to the people who need the help (how much of your $100/month additional tax revenue would really provide any health care?) Redistributing one's own income is far better stewardship than allowing the gummint to do it for you; and I think we all know what Christ had to say about bad stewardship.

Now if I can't afford that extra $100/month in taxes, and the government takes it to fund their program anyway, and I have no recourse, sorry dude, but that's coercion. It's no different than if a policeman stops me on the street and demands that I give him five bucks to pass on to the panhandler on the corner. "But officer, I need that to buy my lunch. It's all I have on me." "Well, son, sorry, but he needs it more than you do!"

Would you have a problem with that? If not you're either an ideologue or a fool (or both).

"I know there are many more places across this land like my neighborhood. Our community is more than a Census commercial."

Glad to hear that, Mr. Cella -- I am envious! Yet I can't help feeling that "community" of that sort is slowly being eroded, or invaded, if you will, by a creeping, enforced sort of banal sameness that saps away its true spirit. Localist community solidarity stands in the way of the managerial state and thus cannot be tolerated. It can't be expunged but it can be undermined and debilitated.

If not you're either an ideologue or a fool (or both).
Look in the mirror dude.

we should give all of our income to the state
Finally someone sees what I've been arguing!

If I currently work the first 3 hours of every day for the government, do you want to up it to 4? 5?
...for which all that spending goes to waste, fraud, and abuse. Yadda, yadda. If government stopped stealing from you to provide you police protection, to put out fires, deliver you potable water, provide streets for you to drive upon, courts to adjudicate your claims, you can do all sorts of cool stuff like give money to the poor. Wouldn't it be so much better if we had the administrative infrastructure and cost of say Kansas circa 1850? That would probably explain why live in D.C., the city government built to service itself.

but that's coercion
Hot diggity! That changes everything. You don't want to do something, so we have cause not to do it. Stop the presses. I've never heard something so compelling in my life.

This could mean "we should acquiesce" or it could mean "we will be forced to acquiesce", I suppose.

More the latter. We should oppose managerialism consistently, to the extent that this is feasible given the structures of modern society; practically speaking, we don't have to do this, and indeed, most conservatives do not, which means that we could/can oppose managerialism selectively - but this is a "strategy" guaranteed to have conservatives fighting 'desperate, rear-guard actions' in a brutal 'long defeat'. If conservatives' rhetorical pitch to the masses is "never mind the dislocations and possible injustices caused by managerial/plutocratic economics, from health care to trade policy, just focus on the eeeviiilllll state", they'll achieve success only when the latter is perceived to do something truly egregious, and failure whenever it actually does, or is perceived to do, something to mitigate the former excesses. Trying to persuade people to act against their interests - and playing one set of managerial elites against the other set is often in the interests of the people - is a losing strategy. Kicking against the pricks, and all.

If conservatives' rhetorical pitch to the masses is "never mind the dislocations and possible injustices caused by managerial/plutocratic economics, from health care to trade policy, just focus on the eeeviiilllll state", they'll achieve success only when the latter is perceived to do something truly egregious, and failure whenever it actually does, or is perceived to do, something to mitigate the former excesses.
OK, I can agree with that much. That is, inconsistent opposition to plutocratic managerial liberalism is a losing strategy; while at the same time it is ideologically necessary for right-liberalism and its adherents. To cease the inconsistency is to cease embracing right-liberalism. I think it is important for that to be understood, eyes open if you will.

On the other hand there always seems to be a curious feature of paleo-ish discussion whereby willful defeat on some particular is apparently counseled. In the first place, I'd like to say that I see nothing wrong with fighting the long defeat, and indeed that is precisely what I both see and expect: while I accept the "kicking against the pricks" characterization as applying correctly to right-liberalism, I don't see it as applying to every sort of resistance against the modern left-liberal managerial State. Just as the fact that George Soros was against the Iraq war doesn't imply that I ought to be for it, by the same token the fact that Jonah Goldberg is against Obamacare doesn't imply that I ought to be for it.

In the second place, accepting defeat in some instances because victory is precluded by the available range of moral action isn't the same thing at all as simply embracing defeat all the time. I think the accusation that paleoconservatism has its own elements of nihilism is perhaps uncomfortably on target, which is part of what has always kept me from embracing the label for myself. This despite the fact that I am often accused of having paleoish tendencies, no doubt an accusation with some merit.

I know you know this, but it often seems to get lost when the battle rages between you and Lydia. Just because I could never form a coalition with David Frum, and indeed in a more just society he would be even at this moment in a pillory receiving his just humiliation, it doesn't follow that I simply must disagree with him about every particular.

M.Z. I expected so much from you, I receive so little.

On the other hand there always seems to be a curious feature of paleo-ish discussion whereby willful defeat on some particular is apparently counseled.

Well, I'm not one to willfully embrace defeat on any given particular, though I'm pretty much resigned to the inevitability and inexorability of the Long Defeat. I opposed this kludge of a health bill. Of all of the had-a-chance-in-hell-to-pass pieces of health care legislation, Wyden-Bennett was better. However, since the inception of this debate, it has been strongly implied that it is not sufficient to oppose the legislation simply, but that one must oppose it for the correct reasons, those reasons being a bouillabaisse of tired right-liberal mental gestures. The right is really going to argue that there is no right, no duty under justice, to provide some minimal level of access to health care which is more than "go to the ER when you're on the verge of death", but that there is a right, that it would be unjust to traduce, to a level of marginal income taxation no higher than X%, or to engage in certain financial practices regardless of their risk for society? Apparently so, when you synthesize their policy positions. If such positions afforded the only legitimate reasons for opposing HCR, I might just willfully embrace defeat. Right-liberalism guarantees defeat in many particulars, because it entails denying that many problems are, in fact, problems, and telling people experiencing those problems to just eat cake.

I think the accusation that paleoconservatism has its own elements of nihilism is perhaps uncomfortably on target...

Nihilism is often the obverse of a kind of utopianism, a belief that only some state of affairs utterly unattainable, incapable of realization in the real world, could possibly conform to justice. Obviously, I cannot speak for any given faction of conservatives, since I have my differences with all of them, but it seems to me that most conservative factions embrace philosophies with wide gulfs between present reality and their desired political end-states, with no feasible set of incremental steps for bridging those gulfs. It is supremely easy, as a psychological matter, to slide from an acceptance of the reality and a resolve to resist what one regards as further deformations - on the theory that things can always get worse - to a conservative version of the longing for total revolution - you know, after the collapse, all of this bad leftist stuff will be swept away and we'll get to do what we want. (No, they won't, because the post-collapse world will be somewhere between the Former Soviet Union, circa 1998, and Somalia, but we're talking about fantasy here, anyway.) Many paleoconservatives are, I suspect, firmly lodged in the sweet spot between openly desiring the American götterdämerung and arch commentary on the inexorable decline of a regime - emphatically not a country - they despise. Not all of them, not by a long shot, but many of them, certainly.

Maximos, you say,

Good luck with that, in all seriousness.

And this is what I say to you, in all seriousness: I truly, heartily wish for you and yours that throughout your lives you may be divinely protected from the dangers that are increased by this health care bill and that will increase still more as the socialization of medicine in the United States and the consequent power of the government over the vulnerable proceeds yet further. I wish that for you heartily and sincerely despite the fact that I have been, sadly, unable to convince you of that increase, despite the fact that every time I have brought the matter up you have responded with, "That kind of thing happens now." I would very much have preferred to be on the same side with you for the same reasons that, say, Zippy and I agree on the "insanity" of this increase of government power, and for the same reasons that Jeff Culbreath and I agree, _despite_ the fact that I am far less authoritarian and far more libertarian in economic inclination and in spirit than either of them. See this comment:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/03/language_polemics_and_obamacar.html#comment-106247

That has not happened between us on this matter. But I truly wish your safety and well-being.

Culbreath, I see, has jumped the gun on where I wanted to direct this conversation. I would just say, on Maximos' side, that he professes his opposition to the bill, though with strong reservations about whether the opponents deserve to stop it -- reservations based on an estimate of the character of their arguments. On Lydia's side I repeat my judgment that many will be the number of the men who will one day rue the day they failed, for transient causes, to line up in robust opposition to this proposed law.

"Health is too precarious a thing to go around promising people as a right, arising from nature, vouchsafed against the community by the state. We might as well demand that every state receive the same amount of rainfall; may as well ask the Supreme Court to stop the drought or the floods in the South."

States are arbitrarily designated lines on a map and have no relevance to the supplying of necessities. Actually we do quite well at that which you claim is impossible; all we need is the political will. If folks are willing to tax themselves we build things like canals, channels and levees, storm drains, sewers and pipelines. Turn on the tap in southern California and your water may have come from Wyoming or the Sacramento delta. Likewise electricity may come from Utah or Arizona. I believe Canada is part of the grid in the northeast.

Your first sentence is way disingenuous. No one is promising anyone health which is a state of being. What is quite doable is to promise folks access (N.B. ACCESS not a bayonet) to a certain level of heath care. Employers do it, every other industrialized nation manages to do it, we have managed to do it for the elderly, some poor and most children.

No other human endeavor is engaged in with the promise of perfection, why healthcare? We haven't eliminated droughts and floods but things are nothing like they were.

If, by rule by the few you mean representative government then that is all we are going to do. I get the feeling that your rule by the many (self rule) died with the likes of Jim Bridger.

If, by rule by the few you mean representative government then that is all we are going to do.

By rule-by-the-few I emphatically do not mean representative government; that you think I might have made so clumsy a mistake means either I have overestimated your intellect or you have underestimated mine.

Representative government is plainly among the various manifestations of rule-by-the-many.

Maximos --

I have, since the inception of this website, periodically posted essays and blog items critiquing both the normative status and consequences of the managerial revolution in economics, endeavouring to indict it as productive of institutional gigantism, the concentration of wealth and power, and a diminution of opportunities for meaningful self-government, both at the level of the family, and the level of the community.

Under popular government especially, the winning of public arguments is commonly the result of patience more than brilliance, of refinement and restatement more than intensity or passion. To meet with steady resistance, some of it blind and brassbound, has been the lot of many a man who undertook to persuade his fellows, particularly when that persuasion is directed toward a reformation of morals or renovation of philosophical structure.

In a word, correcting the flaws of modernity will be a long-term project. We must not grow weary or faint.

. . . if and only if we have determined to resist managerialism wherever it manifests itself in human affairs. If we have, instead, determined to connive at the expansion of managerialism in one sphere, for whatever reasons, then we will have to acquiesce in the accelerating managerialization of the state.

"We" may not see that we are conniving at the expansion of managerial rule by the unvirtuous few. "We" may think we are doing the opposite. Some of us happen to think that a lot of mushy-headedness on health care has put high numbers of generally farsighted folks in just that position. Others happen to think that a lot of mushy-headedness on political economy has put others in a similar position.

Furthermore, "we" may realize that "we" are conniving at these projects of ruin, repent, and begin to work against them. It seems to me that your desire for consistency would put some pretty stern burdens on such a convert. Lacking the consistency of having "resist[ed] managerialism wherever it manifest[ed] itself," should he keep is peace then?

Similar things could be said of any legislative remedy designed to curb the abuses of the managerial state. Financial reform, for instance: it may aim at curbing real abuses (I for one think them very real and very pressing); it may contemplate a real and useful check on a plutocracy which eminently wants checking. And yet a careful examination of the bill may disclose that it will fail in most of this, and simultaneously lay waste to fields of legitimate enterprise.

Which is all to say that to me it is more important to get things right, case by case, and avoid further damage than to establish the kind of deep consistency of philosophical approach that we desire. That deeper consistency is the long-term project I spoke up; most of the work in the service of which we fallen men must leave to the perfect will of God.

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