Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, September 19, 2018 02:30:58 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Opinion

Elections and the technocratic ideology

By
09th-Sep-2014       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Erick Vasconcelos :
People who vote for politicians such as Brazilian presidential candidate Aecio Neves, as well as many of his party's supporters (the Social Democracy Brazilian Party, PSDB), are often dumbfounded when they find out how unappealing ideas of "efficiency" in the public sector, "management shock," and "professionalization" in government are to a large sector of the population. It's a moderately widespread idea, also spearheaded in the Pernambuco state government (more as a campaign bullet point than real actions) by Eduardo Campos, who died on August 12. The belief is that there is - or at least should be - a vital separation between the public administration and politics; between ideology and efficiency. However, the idea of professionalizing politics, putting "technicians" in government positions, and "managing" public affairs like ordinary organizations in society is, in itself, deeply ideological.
And it isn't one of the youngest ideologies: Thorstein Veblen talked about his technocracy of engineers in the 1920s. Veblen, in his well-known The Engineers and the Price System described engineers ("technicians") as the class capable of promoting the principles of "scientific management" for production - as opposed to a system of market production with effective price signaling. Veblen didn't have any problems with the corporate organization and intended to universalize its model as the foundation of society, eliminating technical limitations to what he termed "industrial values," which were connected to productive efficiency (and had nothing to do with, and indeed were opposed to, market incentives).
Veblenian championed his ideas on industry and technique as the starting point of the mass production society he envisioned. That society and its values would give rise, through industrial workers, to a new democracy with a new management style that promoted efficiency, technical knowledge and administration. That is, a machine perfectly adjusted to the control and regulation of society.
This dystopian ideal was able to find adherents and modify itself slightly during the 20th century, especially in the works of managerial progressives such as Joseph Schumpeter and John Kenneth Galbraith. Nowadays, we hear it from politicians who may think they speak with the voice of innovation when they say that specialists should fill government positions. It's also a convenient ideology for a number of bureaucrats because it doesn't ask whether such government positions should exist at all, but only who should fill them. It's not about being governed or not, it's about who is going to do the governing. Who would we want to sit on the Iron Throne if not a "specialist?" Someone who wouldn't be driven by politico-ideological passions, but by the "industrial values" Veblen cherished. Someone to oil up the gears of this great machinery that is society.
That is all hogwash, of course, because when we talk about politics, we talk about ideology - about prioritizing, about choosing one collective goal as preferable to another. However, there are no macro social ends, at least not apart from a sum of individual goals or as a mere metaphor. Which is also the reason why it isn't possible to put public management under the control of experts, because the very definition of what constitutes "public management" is an ideological question subject to political negotiation and resistance.
It's impossible to remove ideology from government because government is an ideology: The ideology of power, control and suppression of dissidence. The ideology of conformity, of the macro-social, of the idea of society as an abstraction, never reducible to its individual components.
Governing, far from an activity without ideology and plans, is the stitching of majority plans within hierarchy. It's no wonder that anarchist movements have historically tended to horizontalism and consensus-building as strategies to avoid the formation of majorities and bureaucratic power structures. These ideas of horizontalism are intended to mitigate the effects of particular ideologies when applied to the collective. In contrast, technocracy looks like a form of enlightened despotism with its attempt to rationalize processes. Of course, it's a positive thing that socially desirable processes should be efficient and demand less resources - but we must first know which ones are the socially desirable processes. They're not a given.
It's somewhat ironic that lifelong politicians are the biggest (and maybe the most cynical) proponents of the technocratic creed. Aecio Neves himself, despite his claims of technical prowess in administration, is a specialist in one thing only: Getting positions in the government. He's been the director of a large state bank, secretary of the presidency, deputy, governor, senator.
It may be the case that Aecio Neves nowadays is a puppet of the narrative he's built for himself, replicating it as a hostage of his own rhetoric. Because Aecio has never been a technician; the technicians are the arms that execute his political plans.

(Erick Vasconcelos is a contributing author at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

We welcome Islamabad for awarding Bangladeshi-origin refugees Pakistan`s nationality


PAKISTAN government has decided to grant nationality to all Pakistan-born refugees of Bangladeshi and Afghan origins staying there for decades. Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan on Sunday made this announcement during his maiden visit to Karachi, saying the Bangladeshi and Afghan refugees who were born in Pakistan would get National ...

Sports »

Argentina's Facundo Conte (left) and teammate Alexis Gonzalez celebrate during the Men's World Championships' volleyball match between Argentina and Slovenia, in Florence, Italy on Monday.


Football »

FIFA president Infantino has doubts about La Liga match in Miami


AFP, Barcelona :FIFA president Gianni Infantino has expressed concern about La Liga's proposal to stage a fixture between Girona and Barcelona in the United States.The two clubs have each approved a request submitted to the Spanish Football Federation for the match to be played at the Hard Rock Stadium in ...

Entertainment »

Annie Sekhon all set to shine in Bollywood


Actress Annie Sekhon who has worked in many television shows and Punjabi films is having the time of her life. Off late she's been enjoying the success of her latest Punjabi film, 'Punjab Singh' opposite Gurjind Maan. The hangover of this film hasn't even faded yet and she's taking a ...

Entertainment »

2018 Emmy winners list


Best Drama Series: Game of ThronesBest Comedy Series: The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselBest Actor, Drama Series: Matthew Rhys, The AmericansBest Actress, Drama Series: Claire Foy, The CrownBest Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, Game of ThronesBest Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Thandie Newton, WestworldBest Writing, Drama Series: Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, ...

Business & Economy »

Md. Momin Ud Dowlah, Chairman and Managing Director of Eon Group of Industries Limited, inaugurating its 18th anniversary celebrating programme by cutting cake at Eon Convention Center in the city on Sunday. Major ABA Mesbah Ud Dowlah, Vice-Chairman, ABA Shahid Ud Dowlah, Executive Director, Sayeeda Dowla, Director and Dr. Tamim Ud Dowlah, Group Director were also present.


City »

BNP Standing Committee Member Barrister Moudud Ahmed speaking at a discussion on 'Voting Rights-Fair Justice and Human Rights: Present Bangladesh' organised by Bangladesh Jatiya Manobadhikar Parishad at the Jatiya Press Club on Tuesday.


International »

US slashes refugee admissions to 30,000 for 2019


Reuters, Washington :U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States would cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30,000 for fiscal year 2019, a sharp drop from a limit of 45,000 it set for 2018."We proposed resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the ...

Editorial »

Journalists` concern for free speech should not be ignored


EDITORS' Council on Saturday expressed its surprise, dissatisfaction, and shock at the final report of a parliamentary standing committee on the draft Digital Security Act which totally ignored the concerns expressed by journalists. Following disapproval from journalists, rights campaigners and foreign diplomats in Dhaka, the Law Minister earlier had admitted ...

Sports »

Japan's Osaka blames US Open tears on 'notorious' nerves


AFP, Tokyo :Naomi Osaka has put her US Open tears down to shredded nerves and her natural awkwardness, rather than the tantrum thrown by Serena Williams that overshadowed a historic Japanese win.The 20-year-old melted hearts when she burst into sobs as boos rang out following her emphatic 6-2, 6-4 thrashing ...

International »

Floodwaters rise as killer storm stalks southeastern US


AFP :Catastrophic floods raised the threat of landslides and dam failures across the southeastern United States on Monday, prolonging the agony caused by a killer hurricane that has left more than a dozen people dead and caused billions of dollars in damage.Downgraded to a tropical depression, Florence crept over South ...

International »

Imran Khan pledges citizenship to Afghan and Bangladeshi refugees


Al Jazeera News :Karachi, Pakistan - Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged to implement existing Pakistani laws that would grant citizenship to all Afghan and Bangladeshi refugees who were born on Pakistani soil, a major departure from previous policy.Pakistan is home to more than 1.39 million registered Afghan refugees, according ...

City »

BNP Standing Committee Member Barrister Moudud Ahmed speaking at a protest rally organised by Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu Smriti Sangsad at the Jatiya Press Club on Monday demanding release of BNP Chief Begum Khaleda Zia and other leaders of the party.


Entertainment »

Radhika Apte turns adviser for AndhaDhun director


AndhaDhun director, Sriram Raghavan holds Radhika’s opinion in high regard when it comes to working on a project. Radhika being an omnipresent character in the entertainment world, the filmmaker feels that seeking advice from the actress always works in favor of him. According to sources, Sriram Raghavan said, “Since Radhika ...

Editorial »

DUCSU election is desirable but subservient party politics must end


ACADEMICS and former student leaders have emphasised favourable environment and immediate announcement of schedule to hold the long-awaited election to Dhaka University Central Student Union (DUCSU). While Dhaka University authorities initiated a discussion with student organisations over the issue yesterday, the participants welcoming the DU's move pointed out that flexing ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news