EU Media Criticism Original Patrick Lawrence

Patrick Lawrence: The West—Technocrats, Incompetents, Ideologues

When the Italian Senate names party leader Giogia Meloni premier at the end of October, as is widely expected, Italy will be the first founding member of the European Union to be governed by a vigorously nationalist coalition.  
Domenico Stinellis/AP Photo

By Patrick Lawrence / Original to ScheerPost

We are but weeks into the autumn, and already the new season has something important to tell us. Its lessons this past week could scarcely be more plainly indicative of the trouble we in the West are in, as those purporting to lead us wander into a future the color of an October dusk.

A terrible clarity is suddenly upon us. We approach the end of pretend, in my read. 

Last Sunday Italian voters went to the polls and backed a populist party of extreme-right persuasions, Fratelli Italia, Brothers of Italy, by a wide margin. When the Italian Senate names party leader Giorgia Meloni premier at the end of October, as is widely expected, Italy will be the first founding member of the European Union to be governed by a vigorously nationalist coalition.  

Britain’s financial markets—stocks, bonds, currency—swooned into something close to chaos this week in response to Liz Truss’s plans to reduce taxes by ₤45 billion, $48 billion, with no provision to fund the cuts and no apparent thought to the inflationary effects of this policy. With the pound hitting record lows against the dollar and U.K. pension funds caught with their pants around their knees, the Bank of England was forced to intervene Wednesday to protect the economy against the prime minister’s self-evident recklessness.

Following referendums in eastern and southern Ukraine this week, Moscow announced Thursday that the four regions where they were held will be formally reintegrated into the Russian Federation by way of treaties to be signed at the Kremlin Friday. That makes four new facts on the ground for the Kyiv regime and its Western supporters, for which Washington ought to answer.

What does any of these three news events have to do with any other? I am pleased you asked. These developments are not so disparate as they may at first appear. It is a matter of connecting dots. Then we will have, as in the primary school exercise books, a picture in outline of things as they are.

I have to marvel at Italian political culture. It reminds me of those eight balls children used to play with: Roll it around and a surprise message appears through a little window from the dark within. Fratelli Italia’s political bloodlines run back to the remnants of Mussolini’s Fascists. Meloni’s coalition government is expected to include two variations on the theme—the Liga, Matteo Salvini’s nativist operation, and Forza Italia, the party led by the man with nine political lives, Silvio Berlusconi.

These three share various positions. They are adamantly anti-immigration and oppose any kind of open door: It’s Italy for Italians as Meloni, Salvini, and Berlusconi see it. They are critical of the sanctions regime imposed on Russia and question the E.U.’s support for the Kyiv regime. Most of all, they are vociferously against the dictates Brussels imposes on E.U. members, notably but not only the strict, neoliberal limits it sets on budgets and public debt as proportions of gross domestic product.

You read a lot about the far-right character of Fratelli Italia and its coalition partners. This is not to be dismissed as a turn in European politics, but I do not think it is what now has Brussels and the policy cliques in Western capitals quaking. It is the euroscepticism Meloni shares with her partners that most distresses political elites on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Meloni already signals she will moderate some of the positions that won her the support of voters. She is now O.K. with NATO, which she once spoke against, and she will go along, however reluctantly, opportunistically, briefly, or all three, with E.U. support for Ukraine. She no longer proposes to pull Italy out of the euro, as she once did.

But the E.U.’s prevalent neoliberalism and the austerity policies that reflect it are another matter. Meloni may speak more softly than before on these questions, but it is a leopard-and-spots question: The E.U. now has another voice that will speak out of national interests in the name of voters. The others at the moment are Poland and Hungary, but the Poles and Hungarians are post–Berlin Wall members; Italy is Core Europe, inner circle. Whether or not she intends to do so, Meloni raises the question of the E.U.’s long-term coherence. This is an excellent thing to do. 

It is interesting to listen to the think tank inhabitants who reflect the Western orthodoxy as they consider Meloni’s rise to power. They worry that Meloni will “disrupt the policy process in Brussels.” They worry that she will “gum up the works.” Charles Kupchan at the Council on Foreign Relations: “The direction of political momentum is changing. We had a wave of centrism, but now it feels like the political table is tilting back in the direction of the populists on the right. And that’s a big deal.”

As to the Ukraine question, Kupchan sees Meloni’s premiership this way: “The balance of power in Europe will tilt more toward diplomacy and a bit less toward continuing the fight.” This is because parties labeled populist tend to favor a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine crisis more than “mainstream parties.” Negotiations, bad. War, good: This seems to be the point among Kupchan’s mainstream parties.

What are we listening to? What is all the fretting about?

I go back to 2015 to answer these questions. Greece was deep in crisis at that time: The economy had cratered under the weight of E.U. austerity; people were living in camps on the street and scouring garbage cans for dinner. Then they voted in a referendum on yet more E.U. austerity in exchange for a bailout. When they voted against it, Brussels and Frankfurt, seat of the European Central Bank, simply ignored the result, shoved the Athens government against the wall, and imposed the new regime anyway.

Bondholders and technocrats, ! Democracy, no! This is what the E.U. had to say to the Greeks back then.

I got off the E.U. bus at that point. You had to call one of the magnificent ideals of the postwar half of the 20th century a corrupted failure. It has been clear since that the E.U. is little more than the instrument with which intolerant ideologues impose the no-exceptions rigors of neoliberal orthodoxy on those Europeans who, whatever their stripe, defend the mediating, democratic institutions through which they can express their will. There is a straight line between Brussels’ antidemocratic conduct and the rise of Meloni and her coalition partners in Italian politics.

Here we must make an important distinction. One can stand against the right-wing ideas and policies of the so-called populists in Budapest and now Rome. But it is imperative to recognize that, however they address their circumstances, they stand in defense of something worthy that is in danger.  

A case in point occurred just before Italians went to the polls. Ursula von der Leyen, who incessantly oversteps her brief as president of the European Commission, warned that Brussels had “tools” at its disposal to get the Italians in line if a Meloni government took the nation in a “difficult direction.”

It was a bold suggestion that Brussels could deny Italy some or all of roughly $20 billion in E.U. funds it is currently scheduled to receive annually. This would amount to Athens 2015 all over again.

There are many things about Matteo Salvini that do not recommend him, but there are a few that do. “What is this, a threat?” he asked in response. He then accused von der Leyen of “shameful arrogance and institutional bullying” while insisting that she “respect the free, democratic and sovereign vote of the Italian people.”

I am with the incoming coalition in Rome on this point, if not on various others. Whatever else they get up to, they wage a war against the tyrannies of technocrats that must be fought if we are to find our way beyond the liberal authoritarianism that now overtakes us. Do you want to complain about their positions? O.K., but remember, it is this liberal intolerance that encouraged them. 

Something to think about to round things off. When was the last time you read a news story with a Strasbourg dateline? No need to answer. The European Parliament is supposed to be the third leg of the E.U. structure: administration in Brussels, the central bank in Frankfurt, and the democratic process in Strasbourg. Forget it: The E.P. is at this point is nothing more than a pitiful sideshow of no consequence, the presence of a minority of principled members notwithstanding.

I have gone a little long on the Italian election and its implications in part because it is useful to us, we Americans, as our midterm elections approach and we try to understand what is most fundamentally at issue. In our own way and with our own many variations, the fight against the tyrannies of technocrats is our fight, too. 

In all honesty, I do not think Liz Truss rises even to the level of a technocrat. Technocrats at least think, if perversely. By all the evidence, the British PM does not, I suspect because she cannot.

There were some amusing comments from the British establishment, notably but not only among the Tories, in response to Truss’s outlandishly miscalculated—or uncalculated, better—economic plans as announced last week. “Inept madness” was a good one. “A lead balloon” was O.K. In the straight-to-the-point category, there was “an absolute shit show.” I love the Brits for their understatement.

As I write there is a growing chorus in high places demanding Truss step back from her program, which amounts to warmed-up supply-side economics, the old, very old “trickle-down” hoodwinkery dating to the late 1980s: Cut taxes on wealth and corporations and everyone will get a few bits of the manna. I hope for all of our sakes she does so, as she could put a hole in the global economy’s bow if she persists.

But what led the new PM into this irrationality?

If you follow Truss’s rise in British politics, it is not difficult to detect an obsession—not too strong—with Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher cut taxes, boldly. I will boldly cut taxes. Thatcher was tough with the Russians. I will be tough with the Russians. Thatcher posed heroically atop a British tank in Eastern Europe. So will I. Thatcher wore a ushanka of elegant fur in Red Square. I’ll wear one, too.

I do not find a single feature of Truss’s public posture that does not derive from reenactment in this fashion. Aping the Iron Lady became Truss’s substitute for thinking. This way at politics constitutes a remove from current circumstances and predicaments. Decisions can be made, but there is no need for a grasp of reality.

And what you heard across the Atlantic last week was Liz Truss crashing into reality. There was the Bank of England, raising interest rates at a precipitous clip to tighten money and stave off inflation, when suddenly, on Wednesday, it announced plans to inject ₤65 billion of emergency liquidity back into the system to save Britain from its prime minister. It is what Brits call, a little rudely, a balls-up. 

Truss strikes me as an extreme case of empty-headedness, but she is otherwise typical of her cohort of purported political leaders–an of a great many ordinary people, for that matter. . It is a question of “the vision thing,” as George H.W. Bush, lacking any himself, famously put it. Politicians always think of themselves and their climbs up the greasy pole, of course. But in our time this seems to be all they think about. Few, and it is hard to think of any, have any vision of the larger questions facing the people they pretend to lead.

I can think of no other passage in modern history when the nations comprising the West could so little afford blindness, indifference, and irresponsibility of this order. Liz Truss has just done us the favor of showing us where this can easily lead.

Mention of irresponsibility brings me—how could I think of anything else?—to the referendums in eastern and southern Ukraine last week and those new facts on the ground. This crisis seems never to stop spinning from bad to worse. We now have Washington and Moscow trading accusations about nuclear blackmail. We now watch as political maps are redrawn.

I cannot help thinking that, whatever President Putin’s military and political objectives as he reintegrates parts of Ukraine into the Russian Federation, he also means to poke Washington in the eye with a sharp stick: You think you can act this irresponsibly in response to my efforts to negotiate a security order in Europe that benefits all sides and there are no consequences? Here are four of them for you.

Is there a parallel between Liz Truss’s inability to think and Washington’s determination to prolong the fighting and dismiss all thought of a diplomatic settlement? Nothing too exact, but I see one. What Margaret Thatcher is to the British PM, America’s ideology of invincible righteousness is to President Biden. The latter seems to be thinking through the ever-changing circumstances no more than the former. One feature of ideologies, after all, is they remove the necessity of rational inquiry.

It is said here and there these days that Biden’s foreign policy is the most aggressive and warlike of any in the postwar era. This may be so. To the extent it is, I read it as indicative of a paralysis—a sclerosis, maybe—that has been evident among the policy cliques for some time but now grows more acute.

These people did not have to think after the 1945 victories. America had won, and the task was simply to keep on course. This changed after Germans dismantled the Berlin Wall and a new, more fluid community of nations came into being. It has changed again with the emergence of new powers such as China and post–Soviet, post–Yeltsin Russia.

But nobody in Washington had any practice in responding to circumstances changing so dramatically as these. The act of thinking had been forgotten. The resort has been to ideology and to nostalgia for a lost time.

Biden’s misfortune, apart from the ineptitude of the people he appointed his secretary of state and national security adviser, is that the music stopped more or less as he took office. It fell to him to manage the passage of American primacy into history and greet a new epoch with new ideas as to America’s place in the world. The end of pretend has landed on his watch. Biden is plainly not up to this moment, although in fairness it is hard to imagine a U.S. president who would be, given the kind of people our political process thrusts forward. 

Nostalgia for an unchallenged predominance is most evident across the Pacific; it is ideology that drives the policies that got us into the Ukraine crisis and keeps us in it. Neither any longer carries the day. In both cases America is slouching toward calamity at a rate I couldn’t imagine even a few years back.

The tyrannies of anti-democratic technocrats, incompetence in high office, the blindness of ideologues: The lesson that lands so squarely upon us this autumn is that leadership in the West is now in critical decline. It has nothing to do with Russia, China, or any of our other scapegoats. Our crisis is ours alone, a rot within that reminds me of the slow demise of the Soviet Union by way of internal decay. This is the truth of events of the past week pushed unkindly before us with a savage clarity.

Patrick Lawrence
Patrick Lawrence

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a media critic, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon siteHis Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored without explanation.

37 comments

  1. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to keep up with Patrick Lawrence’s critique, but as he lays it out, it’s undeniable. The stink from the rot at the head of the fish is asphyxiating. The only transposition I would make in the equation is whom is the fish’s head. Patrick says technocrats, but I don’t want to agree with that culprit naming. There is a locus of power above Giogia Meloni, Liz Truss and Joe Biden. Can you identify it? Let’s have a contest and see who can name the baby, shall we. (hint: it’s not Jews, idiot)

    1. Agreed Tony. It’s not Jews. (exclusively)

      Consider Will Durant’s observation: “History reports that the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all.”
      (hint: Although unquestionably systematic; just what in hell is federal about the Federal Reserve System?)

  2. Thank you Patrick for you’re clear headed analysis of the situation. “Biden is plainly not up to the moment.” Great line and with him Austin and Blinken men of no vision, limited intelligence, and a virtual non-existent moral compass. It seems the west has coughed up these leaders as a result of its utter hubris in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union Liz Truss a women who cavalierly declared she is prepared to engage in nuclear war. Nothing short of insanity from our leaders as Biden and ilk sleep walk to nuclear Armageddon. Hopefully, Meloni stands up to these neoliberal zombies! Keep up the great work Patrick!

  3. The US is also experiencing internal rot, a disease from which few survive.
    All the fingerpointing at China and Russia will not put a dent in the problem and perhaps aggravate it by neglecting the real issues and causing tensions to build between nations. Reform, whether social or political is what keeps a society vibrant and developing. That has been deferred and often killed numerous times citing other priorities. As a result our infrastructure is failing, a large proportion of the public is without adequate health care and the entire country does not have a rapid rail system connecting major cities let alone small ones.

    The whole nation is governed by the corporate regime thru its two branches, Red and Blue who continue to bankrupt the state by its obscene expenditures on the military. When internal problems such as illegal immigration, homelessness, opioid crisis, mass shootings etc. need urgent attention we focus our energies on quelling demons abroad that have little to do with our national security but bring us closer to nuclear war.

    A Sunday morning Jeremiah? Perhaps but I can’t remain silent in front of this waste, fraud and mismanagement.

  4. Thank you for another insightful and relevant article. You rightly say that few politicians have a vision of the broader issues facing the people they claim to lead. The same is true of journalists. And you are one of the few. Thanks again.

  5. Excellent article!
    The world is spiraling downwards, and the US acts as if the leader, cluelessly.

  6. Excellent article, as usual. But, I doubt that any of the neo-liberal will even read it, much less, consider it!!! And as you say, we are on the brink of catastrophe!!!

  7. I see nothing.but dark times ahead.The combination of greed,stupidity and our national.racism will.do.civilization in along.with the preponderance of nuclear weapons and the willingness to.use.them.I believe.there.is a lack of moral.fiber.in the US

  8. Patrick:

    “The end of pretend”, I’ll have to remember that one.

    Thank-you for expanding on such complex topics and historical trends. I always understood part of neoliberal ideology to be small, weak govt: allow big business/investment banks to flourish and set the agenda for govt and society. You don’t want strong, visionary leaders, left or right, in such a bureaucratic system, just administrators.

    The enemy of big business has always been variants of collective govt, whether communism or democratic socialism. I appreciate how Scheerpost inspires its readers to be informed, active citizens, but for the neoliberal ideology that is anathema.

    I’ve been more shocked by the suicidal leadership in Europe, than the antics of the US and Ukraine. I haven’t really understood the EU govt structure, but gained some awareness during the events in Greece you describe. I remember talking to family and have them blame the corruption and laziness of the Greek people for their problems, while I tried to argue it was more systemic than that. US finance can soon buy up Europe and its industries at fire sale prices, so Goldman Sachs et al have certainly won on that front, unless protests or nationalist movements stop it.

  9. So glad that Patrick Lawrence landed at Scheerpost. Read a few of his columns years back, then lost track until twitter censored him. A throwback to foreign journalists who actually knew their subject, these days he’s more valuable than ever. Similar to Alex Cockburn in the 90’s, when each offering was an education.

    1. Agreed Lionel, but don’t forget the late Robert Fisk; many of his articles are still worth a read.

  10. Patrick. I hope you can consider talking about the following topic when it becomes more relevant:

    I’ve gotten some sense of the Davos agenda, which is an upgrade to the EU technocracy that you describe. One where most of us are part of the “useless class” (Yuval Harari), not needed as workers or consumers, where production is largely automated, and services and decisions rendered by AIs, for the benefit of a small elite. Will there be room for democracy, for the common good in the future? Not in the world the neo-liberal ideology takes us. How much of a future, technocratic society can the Davos oligarchs create? Perhaps in part, for a time, if a police state can be realized, where dissent is forcibly erased.

    You mentioned the Soviet Union, and I think that is prescient. The “globalist project” as I’ve heard it described, means to create a highly centralized, controlled economy and society, not unlike the police state the Soviet Union created. It would be a bitter irony for America and the EU to become some form of the very societies their founders swore never to become. But it’s easier to gradually sleepwalk into this reality, when you live and depend on a complex, bureaucratic system as we do today.

    1. As a socialist, I cannot agree that a centralized, controlled economy is a bad thing. The Russian Revolution brought into reality a system completely different from capitalism, and if it had not been for the treachery of Josesf Stalin–no Marxist, he–it would have changed the world for the better. Capitalism is not the highest form of economy or government that humanss are capable of. It is primitive and barbaric. A system that elevates profit and brute force to its highest aspiration is a corrupt and cursed system.

  11. I’ve been wondering about the Meloni victory and how that might play out both for Italy and the EU but I take your point – especially taking into consideration what happened to Greece. Truss is very lightweight (a commercial TV Australian commentator of the recent Queen’s funeral did not recognise Truss as she entered Westminster Abbey and suggested – on air – that perhaps she was a minor member of the British Royal Family?) and so a danger to the people of the UK. Thank-you for these reflections. Jim

  12. Bravo Mr. Lawrence, bravo. What an eloquent, entertaining and painfully on-the-mark article.

    The number of quotes that are worthy of painting on the wall (or al least a post-it note) are staggering.

  13. Concerning the 2015 Greek referendum:

    “When they voted against it, Brussels and Frankfurt, seat of the European Central Bank, simply ignored the result, shoved the Athens government against the wall, and imposed the new regime anyway.”

    That’s very, very, very wrong . Tragically standard whining from the “Left” instead of the accurate history it needs to escape from its cult of its own impotence. Brussels & Frankfurt didn’t do anything, didn’t impose anything new then. Wolfgang Schauble was even offering a friendly, negotiated Grexit plan. The EU had shot their wad before the referendum, and scared many Greeks, but still a large majority voted against austerity and in essence to leave the Eurozone.

    But insane surrender-monkey traitor PM Alex Tsipras spat on the popular will, snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory and signed a worse pact than the one voted down in the referendum. Compare to the Brexit referendum with a much closer result, but which was obeyed. What this shows is that the UK’s Tories are to the Left of many continental “socialists”!

    One can never repeat enough Steve Biko’s wisdom: The most potent weapon in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. Tsipras and his “left” supporters were completely brainwashed Ah Q’s (read Lu Xun). That mind control is how the ruling class rules, not their weapons and wealth.

    1. I believe you are correct about Tsipras and the betrayal of the Greek people, who voted vehemently against EU “austerity”.

    2. @Calgacus
      Just as a reminder where the Greek euro crisis came from : Greece ran a debt of about 320 billion euro due to inept government politics and corruption, with no way of paying it back. (theare scheduled to pay it by 2060).
      The austerity measures required to collect taxes as due, improve financial statistics and reporting, reform the pension system ( which was very generous but unaffordable). The bottom line was that the other eurozone countries did not agree to take money from their taxpayers to enable the Greeks to live as usual.
      It was the Greek Parliament who passed the austerity measures and a few months later Tsipras and Syriza won a new election.

  14. I think there is another factor. Until recently the West had control of the world’s energy supplies. A control it has had for the last 300 years. Firstly coal (the British Empire), and secondly oil (the US empire). Now the West has lost it’s control of these sources of energy, and with them, it has lost a lot of its power.

  15. America did not win WWII. The Soviet Union won WWII. And the thanks they got for it was the dropping by the U.S. of atomic bombs on Japan, long after the Japanese had begun negotiating for an end to the war. The most violent, and arrogant, imperial state is that of the United States of America. And the arrogance and delusion have only increased and deepened in the years since 1945. They are incapable of learning anything about reality and the massive changes occurring throughout the world. As an American myself, I am appalled by this bellicose imperial insanity.

    1. @Carolyn L Zaremba

      WW2 was won by the Allies who included Britain (who fought alone ) until 1941, the US and the Soviet Union (who was an ally of and actively supported Nazi Germany until 1941). While the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the losses , it benefited from enormous quantities of material help from the US and Britain , including tanks , all kinds of vehicles, food, clothing, aircraft, gasoline and more .
      There have been no US negotiations with Japan, only some unofficial feelers regarding a peace which will enable Japan to keep some of its conquests in Asia, which was totally unacceptable to the Allies.
      After Japan rejected the Postdam Declaration and in order to minimize the US (and Japanese) casualties expected from an invasion of Japan’s home islands.
      “Imperial bellicose insanity” describes very well Putin behavior

      1. You are mostly right about WWII, but almost as wrong as Lawrence on Greece. Yes, it took all three major allies to win, the war was much closer than most now imagine. I recommend Gerhard Weinberg’s standard one volume history, A World at Arms to understand that. Stalin said that they would have lost if not for Lend-Lease several times.

        Calling the Soviets “allied” is wrong and postwar Cold War revisionism – for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was something the USSR was forced into by the behavior of Britain and France rejecting years of Soviet offers of alliance against Hitler, preferring to give Hitler “a free hand in the East”. So if the Soviets were “allied” after the pact, one should also say France and especially Britain were “allied” before it. Roosevelt’s ambassador Joseph Davies and his fellow US European ambassadors saw that Stalin had no other course than “returning the favor” and the pact. Davies informed many in the US government, the State Department, Congressmen etc with this accurate prediction.

        The stuff about Greece is a standard BS story. The real problem was not Greek corruption or whatever, but the Eurozone design itself. As a great many American & British economists – dozens, a substantial majority of those interested – warned beforehand the design of the Euro is unworkable and made crisis inevitable. It was and is an economic suicide pact that wreaked and wreaks destruction on nation after nation. Financial fascism is not too strong a description of it. The Euro makes one Greece after another – inevitable.

        By the time of the referendum, contrary to mythology, the Greek debt was payable and imho should have been paid. It had been renegotiated at low interest and long terms. Greece had already had austerity for years and was running balanced trade. Its pensions were NOT unaffordable. What was and is “unaffordable” is continued membership in the Euro – with the IMF-to-third-world-like demands that a nation destroy its own economy – so foreign investors can pick over the corpse – in order to get loans. It is operated like a bank (loan shark/drug dealer) that insists borrowers become drug addicts to get business loans. So they become debt peons.

        This is what people miss – membership in the Euro destroys a nation’s capacity to control its own economy, to make it productive, to have full employment. So leaving the Euro would in Mark Weisbrot’s words – cause “a robust recovery” in any nation that had the wisdom to do so. It would make debts much MORE payable, make the pensions easily “affordable”. Not harm the people of the nations still stupid enough to remain in the Euro or make them pay anything at all.

        The economic inversion here is like the standard modern nonsense view of postwar social democracy and its demise around 1980. Robust growth didn’t make those welfare states affordable. The postwar welfare states caused the robust growth. Americans and Europeans once understood that. The deepest problem is the worldwide neoliberal brainwashing, the economic quackery that gets everything backwards.

      2. Excuse me, if Britain “fought alone” (albeit with an empire covering a fifth of the surface of the earth), it was only because it was BRITAIN WHO DECLARED WAR IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

    2. Zaremba absolutely correct—USA did nothing…the 15% lend lease promised USSR was largely unusable junk…UK and France would be speaking German if not for USSR

  16. “Technocrat” is supposed to mean a person with technical skills. A government of ‘technocrats’ is usually a government of perceived experts with less of a political tilt. In desperation, a society turns to the people who know how to actually make things work for a rare change.

    Liz Truss as a ‘technocrat’ generates a belly laugh. This lady demonstrates zero technical skill in her departments. This is the lady who went to a meeting with Lavrov and did not know that Rostov is a city in Russia. That was her level of technical skill as foreign minister — a diplomat who could not read a simple map.

    One thing where I live (the Land of the Un-Free), is that ‘meritocracy’ is very out of style. And this is across the political spectrum. And thus, ‘technocrats’ in government is also out of style. The two political movements in America are both strongly opposed to putting a person into a job because they actually know how to do the job. One movement is the right-wing cult of personality, and they give the job based entirely on the loyalty to the great leader.

    Meanwhile, in the party of Wall Street, they believe Identity determines who gets a job. That is the first political question to be decided, much like in say the Lebanese government. If there is an opening, which Identity owns this job? For example, with the recent Supreme Court opening, the discussion was first on which Identity would get the job (African-American Female wins), only then were candidates discussed. Skill and where this would take the court were verboten topics.

    Of course, what happens to a nation when nobody with any talent ever gets a top job, no matter which of the two officially permitted parties is in power, is a question that is never answered. Actually, for your answer, look at DC across Trump and Biden. Entitled, privileged idiots as far as the eye can see.

    Of course, the same system permeates down through the system. A person who got their job because of loyalty or identity will do the same below with their choices. Smart people are a threat because they can show up the people who got the job.

    In America, you are most likely to find the smart, talented people emptying the dust bins. They get pushed out of the way by the system. They sure as heck ain’t running this place. Meritocracy has been banned in America. Yep, the world’s foremost nuclear power runs on a system where it is guaranteed that the person who gets an important job won’t know jack about doing the job.

    1. @Wilimina Gault

      “In America, you are most likely to find the smart, talented people emptying the dust bins.” Or opening their own business, making lots of money and getting reviled as evil 1% percenters.

  17. Biden may not be the most intellectual or deep thinking US President, but al least he knows enough history not to fall pray to the tentation of Munich and emulate Chamberlain to get “peace in our time”.
    It is a pity Obama did have what it takes when Russia annexed Crimea. The world would not be where it is today.

    1. Crimea voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. Did you miss the news on the morning after?

  18. An excellent synthesis of the situation we are in. Most people on here know most of this stuff, pieced together from sources that can be trusted and reading widely and between the lines from other sources.

    But pieces like this are so important. The truth. It keeps me sane.

    Many people also instinctively or otherwise know the truth. When talking to intelligent people, particularly recently, you start by gently pointing towards some of the contradictions in the reality that has been constructed for them. Very shortly the glassiness is gone from their eyes and they are leading the conversation.

    Please keep up your amazing work Patrick and Scheerpost.

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