The Common Element

You know the scene in mystery novels or movies a single throwaway phrase can suddenly bring the whole mystifying case into sharp relief? I had a similar experience the other day.

There has been a lot of data across the political spectrum: Los Indignados and their American spin-off Occupy Wall Street, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy (or rather its unexpected strength), Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the right wing populist parties from Alternative für Deutschland to even more rightwing proto-fascist parties like Golden Dawn.

At any rate I had assumed that these are all connected and was convinced that it was mostly about a realignment of the political spectrum into nationalist and globalist camps (both broadly defined).

Then I was skimming through twitter feeds after the election. And then I saw this tweet.

I won’t say that everything became blurry (except for the tweet of course) but it did start to explain things that hadn’t quite jelled before. In short, all these movements and events are part of a broader rejection of Technocracy, the system under which public policy decisions are made by “experts” on the basis of their technical knowledge. More specifically it is a rejection of a certain type of technocracy which does not take fundamental considerations of human nature into account when making decisions about people.

I should have realized this a long time ago as any discussion of the EU soon finds me ranting about idiotic, unelected technocrats who are going to ruin what could be a great thing.

It also strikes me that this particular type of technocracy doesn’t have a name and it should because some types  of technocracy (to the extent that it’s transparent and meritocratic) is okay and we probably don’t want to throw away the baby with the bathwater. For the time being I’m going to call it globocracy (with derived forms like grobocrat and globocratic).

That name isn’t perfect but its good enough (and already in use by some). I don’t think that I was wrong about the emerging divide between globalist and nationalist factions. That’s happening but I do think I had the order reversed, globalism (and multiculturalism) are partly organic movements but they’re also by-products of globacratic decision makers, who think of humans as fungible goods like potatoes.

nb I’ve since adopted the term wonkocracy, with the derived terms wonkocrat and wonkocratic

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6 Responses to The Common Element

  1. el says:

    Will you develop your thoughts in following posts? This is a topic of a great interest to me, and this post just slightly touched on it.

    I’ve always felt that the recent developments and the dynamics of the rise of right wing populist parties in EU and now America are somehow fundamentally different from Israeli realities, despite Israeli population being more right wing (and probably more religious) than Europeans and Americans.

    Globalisation affects everybody, yet in Israel nobody ever pretended that humans are “fungible goods like potatoes”. In Israel, multiculturalism does not exist, and our politicians do take “fundamental considerations of human nature into account,” though they have plenty of other faults.

    In a way, not dealing with the problems of the Western world makes me feel left behind and a bit apprehensive. Everybody moved ahead, yet my country seems stuck at the nationalistic, ethnically pure (as an ideal, not a reality) and violent stage of development, like European nations before WW1. When will we achieve the rest of the world, if ever, and what will be the price of being late?

  2. cliff arroyo says:

    Sorry about the moderation, I’m still figuring out how wordpress works. It might take a few more days….

    “Will you develop your thoughts in following posts? ”

    I intend to, this post was just to get the idea out (and point out I think that I had some things backwards).

    ” somehow fundamentally different from Israeli realities”

    Israelis have walls that work pretty well and from what I can tell Israel is pretty good at keeping out people that the majority of citizens don’t want. Americans and Europeans are told that walls are useless and there’s no way that citizens should have a say in deciding who gets into a country.

    ” in Israel nobody ever pretended that humans are “fungible goods like potatoes”

    Nor do former communist countries like Poland or Hungary. But that’s _exactly_ the approach that globo-technocrats take every single time, no matter how often or how much it fails.

    “Everybody moved ahead”

    No they haven’t. There is no single line of development that all societies fit onto. That’s a pernicious Marxist myth.

    “When will we achieve the rest of the world, if ever, and what will be the price of being late?”

    Achieving what the rest of the world has right now is the end of a Jewish state. It means washing away history and culture and becoming a large scale international business hotel that people check into for a time and then leave when business beckons elsehwere. Is that what you want for your country?

    • el says:

      \\ It means washing away history and culture and becoming a large scale international business hotel that people check into for a time and then leave when business beckons elsehwere. Is that what you want for your country?

      I am afraid my country is going too much in the opposite direction of religious-nationalistic indoctrination. I do not want to live with the mentality of “we are a villa in the jungle and everybody in the West is an enemy, with probable exception of America.” I am disgusted by Bayit Yehudi (meaning The Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett’s declaration: “Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause.”

      May be, EU needs more nationalism, but Israel needs to stop becoming less and less international with every day. The latest example is adding and then expanding a new subject, called Jewish and Israeli Culture, which is more religion in thin disguise. Students in secular schools (!) already study Torah since the first grade and to the last, but for our religious-nationalistic Ministers of Education it was not enough. (The current Minister of Education is … Naftali Bennett, the previous one was Shai Piron, a religious Zionist and a rabbi) .

      \\ Education Ministry’s Jewish culture program to be expanded
      The Ministry of Education expands the current program to grades 3, 4 and 9; it is designed to provide a deeper connection to Jewish heritage and identity.

      All the ministers of education in recent years have sought to modify and expand the study of the Jewish heritage and identity among Israeli students. In 1994, the ministry began to talk about the need for more Jewish studies within the public school system.

      In 2009, then-Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, worked hard on expanding Jewish studies, initiating the program known as Israeli Culture and Heritage, which was expanded to grades 5 and 8. Within the framework of the program, it was decided that the students would be obliged to fully study the weekly Torah portion in grade 6, the prayer book in grade 7, and the Mishnah called Pirkei Avot in grade 8.

      The program was extended to include student trips to the City of David site in Jerusalem, as well as Hebron and Tel Shilo. Former Education Minister Shai Piron also made it clear that there is a need to expand the program at the time.,7340,L-4794762,00.html

      I looked at comments on Israeli-Hebrew news website and most were for the move, talking how we need more values, more Judaism.

      • cliff arroyo says:

        ” I do not want to live with the mentality of “we are a villa in the jungle and everybody in the West is an enemy, with probable exception of America”

        Without a common enemy, Israelis seem too often to descend into pointless bickering, an existential threat seems to be a necessary component of Israeli nationalism. The same is partly true of Poland – the more secure the international situation the more pointless and bitter arguments break out domestically.

        “the notion of a Palestinian state”

        The idea of a Palestinian state is a fantasy of do-gooder liberals. The Palestinians, collectively, simply don’t have the values or social capital needed to maintain any kind of modern state beyond a theocratic kleptocracy. They sort of had a chance in the mid to late 1990s and they failed miserably and they quickly gave up the idea and have carefully never gotten close to it again.Things have only gotten worse with the marginalization of Christian Palestinians who were some of their more effective political representatives.

        ” talking how we need more values, more Judaism.”

        Humans are not super apt and finding and maintaining optimal balances, the tendency is to go from one extreme to the other. I think that religion is like fire, you need it to have a successful society but it can easily overwhelm and destroy a society as well. Too much religion and the effects are pretty obviously bad, but not enough and the tendency is to descend into sterility and nihilism.

        Given the high educational and intellectual capital of Jewish people in general, my current thought is not that Israel is going backwards but it’s actually a little ahead of where the West is starting to head. Most (liberal) American Jews are still behind the curve (but because of said educational and intellectual status their opinion is taken more seriously than it should be).

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