The rule of experts

Since Plato’s day, intellectuals have thought they should rule the world.  Plato proposed a caste of philosophical Guardians, immune to self-interest, to shepherd the dumb, destructive populace.

The progressive vision — advocated by Walter Lippmann, among many others — was of highly educated technocrats, immune to self-interest, poring over statistical analyses to make scientific decisions about everything from morals to manufacturing.

The European version is possibly the most ambitious of all:  a thin layer of bureaucrats and NGO advocates, transcending not only self-interest but national interest, managing a multifarious continent and weaning it away from its natural propensity for warmongering, racism, and class exploitation.

Proponents of the rule of experts in every age hold democracy in fear and loathing.  Cut loose from their superiors and allowed to rule themselves, the people, these proponents believed, would sink into an orgy of selfishness that would ultimately destroy the community.  The people were children, who never rose above the pleasure principle.  The experts were grownups, who had left such childish emotions behind.  This has ever been the guiding  principle of the rule of experts, and its fatal flaw.

Consider:  why should intellectual training result in emotional self-control?  How would technocrats, who are also husbands and fathers, react to the thought, “If I cook the numbers, my family’s problems are over”?  Who guards the guardians?

The contradictions inherent in the rule of experts are only too visible in Europe today. Fjordman, one of the most articulate bloggers in Brussels Journal, posts a long reflection on “The Rule of Experts and the Rise of Transnational Anti-Democrats.”  In it, he notes that the ideological multiculturalism of Europe’s elites stems from a “postdemocratic” as well as a postmodern frame of mind.

To intellectuals, filled with abstract notions, human society is a kind of lab rat:  the object of ceaseless experimentation in pursuit of vague, vaporous ends.  It goes without saying that the lab rat — in this case, the people of Europe — wouldn’t voluntarily submit to being experimented on.  That is why postdemocratic mechanisms must be found to coerce population to the laboratory table.

. . .  the challenge to liberal democracy can also come from new and more insidious threats. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute notes that “transnationalism” and “Multiculturalism” are presented as unstoppable forces of history, but in reality they are “ideological tools, championed by activist elites. He suggests that the end of the Cold War has intensified an intracivilizational Western conflict between liberal democracy and transnational progressivism, between democrats and post-democrats. According to him, the EU “embodies transnational progressivism. Its governmental structure is post-democratic. It is unelected and, for the most part, unaccountable.”

Transnational progressivism is undemocratic and authoritarian to its core. It presupposes the rule of enlightened “experts” and elite groups over the ignorant masses, who are stupid and should not be permitted to make important decisions without supervision. Its goal is to establish a benign oligarchy, where power will reside within smaller groups which will conduct their affairs out of the public view. This line of thinking is nothing less than a frontal attack on all basic principles of freedom and democracy, disguised under a benevolent facade. It needs to be exposed as such. Transnational organizations such as the European Union are a throwback to the pre-democratic age. [. . .]

Is democracy compatible with Multiculturalism? Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt thinks Multiculturalism can only work under authoritarian regimes, naming Singapore as an example. A people must have some shared bonds and a shared outlook on life. Multiculturalism will pit various groups against each other, creating a pattern of democratic Balkanization once the minority groups become large enough. [. .  .]

Do read the whole thing.  It’s long but meaty.


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