In 2013 I wrote “We Need Ortega y Gasset Back” published on Nouriel Roubini’s Economonitor. I reminded the reader that in his essay “What is Philosophy?” Jose Ortega y Gasset presents what is perhaps his most relevant innovation: the concept of generation. Another world is possible if… (Susan George, 2004) a new generation takes over:
Para que algo importante cambie en el mundo es preciso que cambie el tipo de hombre y –se entiende- el de mujer; es preciso que aparezcan muchedumbres de criaturas con una sensibilidad vital distinta de la antigua y homogénea entre sí. […] Yo incito a las generaciones nuevas de la intelectualidad española para que sean en este punto sobremanera exigentes, porque ésa es la condición esencial para que en un país llegue a haber en serio y con verdad vida intelectual. “Lo demás no es –como dice el personaje de una novela española- más que carrocería”.
A coup d’establishment is an imaginary coup d’etat challenging a country’s political leadership. As such it belongs in the realm of fiction and is nothing but an announcement of duel launched to a country’s executive power. Contrary to a (political) coup d’etat imposed by the use of military force, a coup d’establishment is merely presented to society as a possible governance alternative to be likely and subsequently embraced through democratic means and manners.
Manners, concepts, style evolve. Since publication of my two pieces in 2015 I have improved all aspects of the new global governance paradigm proposed which I have called “Post-Politics“, the obvious name for a new operating system able to replace the obsolete, in fact decrepit politics. In 2016 Christian Caryl publishes “The End of Politics as We Know It” on Foreign Policy:
We still categorize our politicians as “right” or “left,” usually without remarking that this is a distinction that dates back to the French Revolution. […] The old ideological poles of Left and Right once reflected an important social reality, the fundamental divide between the industrial and agricultural working class and the people who ordered them around. Western societies are no longer so straightforwardly organized. The number of people who work on assembly lines and farms has diminished sharply and will continue to do so. The trade union movement, once the backbone of left-wing political parties, has faded. Many members of the modern underclass perform services rather than making things. Manufacturing is steadily becoming the province of small and highly trained elites.
Cities want city administrators that manage and administer the city, not politicians that rule as caciques embracing ideology and prioritizing tearing down the opposition, owning the media and building up a rhetoric of exaggeration in which they pretend to be what they are not: visionaries and great executors. Architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, their ideology matters little, their track record and professionalism matters most. Carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, their ideology matters little. I am indifferent to the religious orientation, place of birth, even age of a mechanic so long as the price is right and the work is done impeccably in a reasonable amount of time. I am indifferent to the mechanic’s favorite food or the football club he or she is a fan of.
The problem of politics is the political party. The problem of capitalism is however not the corporation but the set of rules that make it operate and the set of incentives of its employees.
In 2014 I wrote the piece “The Fallacy of Podemos” which The Huffington Post refused to publish based on ideological grounds:
Now who are Podemos’ party members? We barely know them if we know them at all. One of Spain’s historical problems is as Philosopher José Ortega y Gasset pointed out the hate of the best or “aristofobia“. The mediocre dominate Spanish politics (but achtung! also Portuguese and Italian politics). Whoever is considered to be best would never enter -or let’s say rarely enters- politics. Meritocracies are non-existent since the Opus Dei Technocrats rose to power in 1959 as part of the Francoist regime’s plans to launch the economic recovery in the well-known “desarrollismo” years which allowed Spain to grow an average GDP of 8.5% a year between 1959 and 1975. The who is important as many Spaniards would understand if we talk about football. You may have a wonderful captain but one captain is not enough to win a football game after all. You need eleven players, a coach, a bench of another eleven great players, team spirit and a strategy. I do not know yet who the team players are in Podemos. I have perhaps barely seen their team spirit and I am not sure they have a plan or a team strategy. Almost everything that is done in Spanish politics is improvised. There is no ability to plan ahead with mission, vision, discipline and determination.
The political party is an obsolete, the decrepit type of organization at the very core of politics’ obsolescence. Religion owes its existence to the Messiahs and Prophets but if the Humans at the base do not excel ruling by example, the transposition of the platonic idea of Religion becomes humanly mediocre at best. Politics like democracy’s platonic idea may be paradigmatic, but the reality in the World of still the nation-state is that far from ideal, democracy and politics have embraced a real mission drift because the operators of the paradigm are not only unprepared, but having embraced their priorities and those of the apparatus of the party they belong to, before priorities of society.
Political parties should look rather like the best strategic consultancies McKinsey&Co., the Boston Consulting Group or Bain. First of all the individual members of the political parties should have stellar credentials. Second of all the aggregate of politicians should operate as a High Performance Team, meritocracy or technocracy at the service of society. Third of all a political party should have a global brand, a global philosophy, a global vision, a global plan, and be able to address any challenge of any kind in any geography all of the time.
Many advocate we should not listen to the Experts, that meritocracies and technocracies will defend the orthodoxy, the current system, the current statu quo. In my first book published in 2010 I reviewed and analyzed extensively this very question, writing a whole chapter on “Lobbies and Elites“, denouncing their pretentious nature, their complacency and vanity. I met and interviewed in Madrid Philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset’s two most relevant Experts: Jose Javier San Martin Sala ([email protected]) and Jose Lasaga Medina ([email protected],[email protected]). Ortega y Gasset was an elitist of his time, his time was a time for Spain of loss of an empire, revolutions, civil war and fascist dictatorship, and he was extremely well educated having completed his doctorate in philosophy in Germany. In today’s Spain it would be unfair, to say the least, to raise such a statement, for there are thousands, at least, with the level of qualification of the philosopher.
The British weekly The Economist published on December 10, 2011 an article entitled “Lessons of the 1930s: There could be trouble ahead” in which the Anglo-Saxon liberal magazine compares the Great Recession with the Great Depression that started in the United States in 1929 after the crack Black Monday stock market. The Economist affirms that “it is all dreadfully familiar” in clear allusion to the similarity between both crises.
The same weekly published on November 19, 2011 an article entitled “Technocrats: Minds like machines“, presenting the technocratic movement that flourished in the United States during the years of the Great Depression:
A fully fledged Technocratic movement flourished in the United States in the inter-war period: it believed in an economy based on measuring energy inputs rather than prices, and in what would now be called crowd-sourced solutions to political problems.
The technocratic movement was described by William E. Akin in the “Technocracy and the American Dream” essay published in 1977. In 1978 Daniel Nelson published “Technocratic Abundance in Reviews in American History“, an article summarizing Akin’s essay. Nelson describes the importance of Akin’s essay:
His contribution is the most ambitious effort thus far to find significance in the depression phenomenon that occasionally excited but more often perplexed contemporaries.
Nelson adds in relation to Akin’s essay:
Akin is more convincing when he examines the post-World War I radical engineers and Veblen. In the former case the key figure was Walter Rautenstrauch, a radical engineer and Columbia professor who organized the Committee on Technocracy in the summer of 1932. Weblen’s impact is also apparent: several of the radicals he recruited after World War I, including the enigmatic Howard Scott, worked closely with Rautenstrauch in the early 1930s.
Nelson highlights Akin’s words about the absence, in the technocratic movement, of an alternative social order or a political process to achieve it:
Yet he also concedes that the technocrats had neither a clearly defined alternative social order nor a political process for achieving it.
Nelson explains how Akin contextualizes why the movement would collapse in the mid-1930s:
Akin nevertheless rejects the conclusion of Elsner and others that technocracy declined because of the Lure of Roosevelt and the New Deal. He argues that the movement collapsed in the mid-1930s as a result of the technocrats’ failure to devise a “viable political theory for achieving change”.
Gareth Davies, Professor of European Law at the University of Amsterdam, publishes the article “The Crisis of the Technocracy” in 2009 with an emphasis on the leadership – of a technocratic nature – of the European Union. Davies raises the central paradox of the current technocracy:
Yet the paradox is that it was the experts who created the crisis, with complex systems and models that are now discredited. Does the solution really lie in more advice from the same people, or is the crisis also one of ideas, showing that we cannot understand or manage the world using only quantitative sciences, and human and political judgment still need to be central?
Technocracy, Davies argues, can be the alternative -particularly in times of crisis- to escape a childish policy of destructive patterns based on opposition:
Recent years have nevertheless seen a move towards technocracy in many areas of policy, particularly where economics is concerned. The EU is the leading example of this in action. Political judgment is not dead, but there is a conscious attempt to formulate as many policies and measures as possible in quantifiable, scientific, objective terms. From banking to food regulation, the technocrats are taking over from the politicians. This offers a chance to escape from a destructive pattern of oppositional and often infantile politics, and to avoid swings in behaviour which result from political change.
Starting from the comparison between the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession enunciated by The Economist, and intuiting that the episode that sees the technocratic movement emerge in the decade of the 1930s would be repeated in 2012 in certain countries (in crisis) of The European Union, I believe that the technocratic movement arguing in the direction of Davies, represents only a transitory solution that lacks democratic legitimacy.
The political party in a majority of so-called democratic countries which embrace the democracy of the nation-state and the market economy is a defunct organization for ten straightforward reasons which are visible to everyone:
The challenge today in the governance arena is to design an alternative to politics. Evolution in a darwinist sense, progress and advancement in an engineering and technology pespective, have been missing in governance since 1945. Our baby boomers who have been ruling the World since the 1980s and are beginning to pass away, have inherited a system that has worked well for them, but not for subsequent generations, having done nothing to change the hen of the golden eggs. The United Nations is a bad but necessary organization because it is run by ex politicians who originate in the political party. A computer needs an operating system but if the operating system is Windows 95 perhaps it is time to replace it with a more modern, state-of-the-art, vanguardist operating system.
The key to designing a new global governance paradigm lies in the standard. When a standard is created it can be imported and implemented anywhere. This century is in fact the century of the standard in the ISO sense of term. There are standards in accounting, airport control, roads and transportation, railroads, hospitality. Everyone understands what a three, four or five star Hotel is, and the level of quality that is associated to it. Of course when standards are not enforced through audit, free riders can claim qualities and levels of service that are false, inflated.
McDonald’s is a franchise and all franchises have standards of delivery. Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt, Accor, all of the great names and brands in Hospitality offer consistency throughout reason number one to secure the customer’s satisfaction and then loyalty. Michelin awards three stars to extraordinary restaurants providing a product, a service above a standard of incredible caliber.
In politics there is no standard across countries and territories. Dozens of new political parties emerge every year with names nobody recognizes led by individuals who have typically been Ministers in the past and have as a result spent all of their life in politics.
Post-Politics can only implemented at a global level if there is a standard across countries and territories that guarantees to the customer the incorporation of the best talent, the creation and delivery of an extraordinary vision and thus narrative, and the ability to implement such vision and thus narrative. This new standard has to guarantee consistency across countries and territories, minimizing the likelihood of bad delivery, maximizing customer satisfaction and securing loyalty, throuth the delivery of an extremely entertaining narrative in the form of reality-fiction. The standard once created has to be audited. There has to be a guardian, a ratings agency, making sure the standard is respected, fulfilled.