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The failure of Technocracy… and the shift from democracy… January 18, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics, The Left.

…is discussed here in this piece by Slavoj Žižek in the Guardian.

It references a truly disturbing decision in Slovenia by that state’s Constitutional Court that a referendum on the issue of the establishment of a ‘bad bank’ would be unconstitutional because it ‘would have caused unconstitutional consequences’ by… as he notes:

…endanger[ing] other constitutional values that should be given priority in an economic crisis: the efficient functioning of the state apparatus, especially in creating conditions for economic growth; the realisation of human rights, especially the rights to social security and to free economic initiative.

Particularly striking is the following which is a conclusion that many of us have come to in the context of events in this state and further afield.

The idea is that, in a complex economic situation like today’s, the majority of the people are not qualified to decide – they are unaware of the catastrophic consequences that would ensue if their demands were to be met.

This, of course, is the antithesis of democracy.

But he makes a further deeply persuasive argument that in reality it is those in charge of economic policy who have proven to be ignorant of their supposed area of expertise and incompetent.

The least one can say is that this crisis offers proof that it is not the people but experts themselves who do not know what they are doing. In western Europe we are effectively witnessing a growing inability of the ruling elite – they know less and less how to rule. Look at how Europe is dealing with the Greek crisis: putting pressure on Greece to repay debts, but at the same time ruining its economy through imposed austerity measures and thereby making sure that the Greek debt will never be repaid.

This, I believe, is crucial. The dynamic appears to be one where as the orthodoxy’s grasp on the situation becomes more precarious so their inclination to extra-democratic approaches increases. Matters have – superficially – quieted on the European economic front, but the omens don’t look great for developments later in the year. It will be instructive to see how that is handled in light of the above.


1. CL - January 18, 2013

The Eurozone ‘technocrats’,-Monti, Draghi, Rehn-are also neoliberal ideologues, with a highly developed ‘trained incapacity’ in orthodox economics. In most instances repressive measures accompany the neoliberal project.


ejh - January 18, 2013

They’re also almost entirely insulated from suffering any consequences for their decisions, and therefore from taking any real responsibility for them.


2. Eugene - January 18, 2013

The problem with poor Slavoj Žižek is that he still has illusions regarding the class nature of the political and economic process taking place in the EU.

They are doing what the system needs to overcome its crisis. They know exactly what they are doing. They are not stupid or incompetent. The privatisation of public companies etc is not stupid, its about creating investment opportunities for capital.

The crisis has presented them with new opportunities to push ahead with policies they already had in the pipeline. As they say never miss the opportunities presented by a crisis.



ejh - January 19, 2013

The problem with poor Slavoj Žižek is that he still has illusions

*custard pie*


3. CMK - January 18, 2013

The really troubling thing about the Slovenian court’s decision in this case is their prioritising of the ‘right’ to what they term ‘free economic initiative’. This is a portent, I think, of how the hardline neo-liberal stance of the European Court of ‘Justice’ is influencing the legal systems of members states and opening up the space for these kinds of decisions based in reasoning in which, as we see here, the ‘right’ of an individual to own, control and run a business (i.e. the ‘right’ to be a capitalist) takes precedence over the collective right of a polity’s citizens to decide, collectively and democratically, on the parameters governing their economy. This is of a part with the whole notion, spurious and unsound at a philosophical level, that businesses, entrepreneurs and companies have ‘rights’ and that these ‘rights’ can, on occasion, trump the rights of workers and or communities. The most noxious expression of this is the US ‘right to work’ position which is disastrous for working people who which is spreading across the US as it wins in courtroom after courtroom and State legislature after State legislature.

The technocrats are extraordinarily far-sighted and know full well that maintaining their hegemony will depend on being able to grasp, use and manipulate the rhetoric of ‘rights’ in much the same way that they currently do with the language of ‘freedom’ and self-realisation. We may soon see, for instance, ideas like strikes by workers being interpreted as attacks on the ‘rights’ of others and, as such, of questionable legitimacy. And the State which uncritically celebrates business might, in its constitutional balancing of rights, see that the right of workers to strike such cede to the ‘right’ of businesses to continue their operations.


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