Technocracy, Liberal Democracy and the Division of Our Time
The idea that expertise ought to guide our political life is at odds with the principle of national self-determination.
I spend last week in the United Arab Emirates at a conference on the future of governance. While there, I was struck by the two principles that underlay this conference and its ilk. The participants’ core belief was that human government can be improved, and the means for improving it is social engineering. If we all turn our minds to governance, we can find solutions to the problems. The idea that human government is a permanent thing that reached its perfection in Athens and Jerusalem was not part of the participants’ ideology. What was most striking is that sitting within sight of the Gulf – Arab or Persian depending on the viewpoint – in a place of ancient civilizations, the theme was how to engineer the political future.
A man carries a European Union flag outside the Supreme Court in Parliament Square, on Jan. 24, 2017 in London, England. Leon Neal/Getty Images
This process has been underway for a long time, since European states created a permanent civil service to do the bidding of their political masters. And since that time, the civil servants have increasingly managed the system – and managed their political masters.