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Corporatism and technocracy January 4, 2013

Posted 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.


1. Phil - January 4, 2013

This is a digression from the point of the post, but I’m fascinated by the thought of Lloyd George and National Efficiency. Back on soc.history.what-if some of us identified the German collapse in 1918 as the moment that saved *Britain* from Fascism – because if the war had dragged on for another year, it would have been won by tanks, with consequent glorification of mechanised military force and the modern scientific ruthlessly violent men who delivered it. The thought of Lloyd George as “non-political” technocratic leader joins another couple of dots. Sadly the early termination of the war wasn’t so effective in delivering Germany from Fascism, but you can’t win ’em all.


WorldbyStorm - January 4, 2013

That’s an interesting take on it and I’ll have to check out soc.history.what-if. I have to say the more I read about LG the less I like.


2. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 4, 2013

Add a media obsession with business celebs- Norah Casey, Dragon’s Den, the Apprentice, Fergal Quinn-
with a historic low in organised working class militancy- how low are the strike figures now- what’s the level of private sector organisation again?
Not fascism but as Thomas Frank argues the worst crisis in capitalism since the Depression producing a revived faith in the free market.


WorldbyStorm - January 4, 2013

And the corollary being the worst crisis in the left/working class in terms of ability to resist capitalism.


3. gfmurphy101 - January 4, 2013

But are things about to get worse? No one can predict the future but many times seeing what is coming down the tracks is just perhaps a matter of being able to read between the lines of what others are saying! What was it Jim Power uttered last week about a need for less democracy…..?
My own belief is that because capitalism is in such big trouble (and may I add governments and right wingers know so) there are many (right wing thinkers) who earnestly believe (or know it is wrong to believe so, but they will still do it) that it is only through governments adopting the practices of good old fascism that capitalism (and these peoples lifestyles/positions) can be saved.
Of course I am sceptical that I may be on the wrong track…..so I took some comfort when I came across this article, as it happened to confirm a lot of what I was thinking myself about the future

Quote ” The 140-page report released today by the National Intelligence Council lays out dangers and opportunities for nations, economies, investors, political systems and leaders due to four “megatrends” that government intelligence analysts say are transforming the world. The report reflects the consensus judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, who consulted or contracted with academics, research institutes, political leaders and corporations in 14 countries and the European Union.Those major trends are the end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a rising middle class whose demands challenge governments, and a Gordian knot of water, food and energy shortages, according to the analysts”.

Its a good read (I have’nt read the full report, maybe someone would find that interesting!) although I think the Americans are a bit full of themselves and so seem to play down the negative aspects of their own situation.
However I think some aspects are interesting, albeit there are also inherent contradictions, for instance, could the break up of the USA be a possible ‘black swan’, given that the US is going to be weakened as a global/economic power ?
However, taking from the article I found these points to be both interesting and disturbing, as I am looking at these in a “what if ” scenario…..what if these things happen (and I believe some of them will) and what will be the consequences, (my comments are in brackets)

1) Leading the list of the “game-changers” — factors the report says will shape the impact of the megatrends — is the “crisis-prone” global economy, which is vulnerable to international shocks and to disparities among national economies moving at significantly different speeds. [this has got to be on the cards, I don’t for one minute believe that we have seen the end of the current troubles, I would concur with what Michael Roberts says here for 2013
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/the-world-economy-prospects-for-2013/ ]

2) The end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a rising middle class whose demands challenge governments, and a Gordian knot of water, food and energy shortages, according to the analysts. [there is a lot here, but can anyone see a rising middle class in Europe, I dont think so]

3) The report envisions an international economy that remains prone to potential “black swans” such as the collapse of the euro and the European Union, a pandemic, a Chinese economic collapse, a nuclear war or a debilitating cyberattack. [ could add here possible break up of USA, Iran/Israel possible conflict, Korean situation could lead to many possiblities, perhaps more! I would refer to these as “unimaginable improbabilities” !

4) European and Japanese share of global income is projected to fall from 56 percent today to well under half by 2030. [this defo is the big one for us, how can we have a rising middle class if our share of world income drops….something has got to give somewhere!
There are loads more points but I think this statement is the one that ties in with the fascism debate
“The future is “malleable,” according to Kojm. “Our effort is to encourage decision-makers, whether in government or outside, to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding.”
It seems to me that the statement is loaded with explosives! What some might find as a “positive future” may be the nighmares of others!


4. Corporatism: Because It's Impossible to Talk Sensibly about Fascism - February 9, 2013

[…] Corporatism and technocracy (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]


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