Corporatism and technocracy January 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left, Uncategorized.
I’ve referenced Martin Pugh’s book on fascism in Britain in the inter-war years once already over the last week. But there are other aspects of it which seem to have remarkably contemporary resonances. Take the following where Pugh writes about the National Efficiency doctrine, which united politicians and thinkers of right left and centre in the early 1900s in Britain.
British fears about national decline and degeneracy reached a climax amend the disasters of the war in South Africa between 1899 and 1902.
Their [those attracted to National Efficiency] characteristic complaint was at the decay of the parliamentary system and the incompetence of amateur party politicians in tackling complex issues.
Does this not sound very familiar? And it continues:
National Efficiency enthusiasts sought to remedy matters by reducing the role of parliament and elected local authorities and replacing them with experts and successful entrepreneurs capable of promoting the national interest without being diverted by party, doctrine or sectional interest.
And Pugh concludes:
But it was the wartime administration of David Lloyd George from 1916 to 1918 that most closely reflected National Efficiency thinking, by incorporating businessmen and non-political experts into government ministries, and thus reducing the role of party politicians. While National Efficiency was not fascism, it represented a halfway house to the corporate state, preparing the way for it by fostering a disparaging view of parliament and by promoting the obsessive belief in national decadence that was at the heart of post-1918 fascism.
There’s no question that this state has seen a rupture in the past five years unlike any in living memory. The – perhaps temporary – eclipse of Fianna Fáil, the continual drumbeat of orthodoxy in our media and so on, has a certain similarity to the failure of the British state – most obviously in South Africa – during that period. Indeed one could make a case that the failure of this state and private sector looms much larger because the failures happened here around us.
Tellingly during the 1900s there was the rise of unions and working class power, albeit in a somewhat submerged fashion. And with that other issues – the activism of the suffragettes being another example. All of which was met by a profoundly conservative response.
And in this society we’ve seen much the same calls, and much the same attitude towards politics and politicians. We’ve also seen politicians present policies which have had no credibility, and worse in a remarkably opportunist fashion present policies which they had no intention of fulfilling.
I’m not in the slightest suggesting that it is a case of ‘next stop fascism’. But it does make me wonder at what manifestations driven by the crisis, at one or two removes, will appear in the next decade or two, and whether our polity is equipped to deal with them.