The Bureaucratic Demise of the American Empire

The Bureaucratic Demise of the American Empire, by David Samuels. The new ruling class of bureaucrats have supplanted democracy since the New Deal 1930s:

[The USA] is run by a class of people who may number themselves among the elect but weren’t in fact elected by anyone. Under whatever professional job titles, the people who populate the institutions that exercise direct power over nearly all aspects of American life from birth to death are bureaucrats — university bureaucrats, corporate bureaucrats, local, state and federal bureaucrats, law enforcement bureaucrats, health bureaucrats, knowledge bureaucrats, spy agency bureaucrats.

At each layer of specific institutional authority, bureaucrats coordinate their understandings and practices with bureaucrats in parallel institutions through lawyers, in language that is designed to be impenetrable, or nearly so, by outsiders. Their authority is pervasive, undemocratic, and increasingly not susceptible in practice to legal checks and balances. All those people together comprise a class.

Another thing that residents of the broad North American expanse between Canada and Mexico have noticed is that the programs and remedies that this class has promoted, both at home and abroad, have greatly enriched and empowered a small number of people, namely themselves — while the broader American population continues to decline in wealth, health, and education.

Each generation of bureaucrats, in order to not be challenged or surpassed in their internal competition for promotions and perks, hires slightly less talented bureaucrats to replace them. I saw that in action in Canberra. Inevitably, the result is idiocy and misrule.

We are well into the “fall” part of “rise and fall”:

Every student of history has their own theory about how and why empires fall. My theory is this:

The wealth of any empire flows disproportionately to the capital, where it nourishes the growth, wealth, and power of the ruling elite. As the elite grows richer and more powerful, the gulf between the rulers and the ruled widens, until the beliefs and manners of the elite bear little connection to those of their countrymen, whom they increasingly think of as their clients or subjects.

That distance creates resentment and friction, in response to which the elite takes measures to protect itself. The more wealth and power the elite controls, the more insulation it must purchase. Disastrous mistakes are hailed as victories or are made to appear to have no consequences at all, in order to protect the aura of collective infallibility that protects ruling class power and privilege.

What happens next is pretty much inevitable in every time and place — Spain, France, Great Britain, Moghul India, you name it:

Freed from the laws of gravity, the elite turns from the hard work of correct strategizing and wise policymaking to the much less time-consuming and much more pleasant work of perpetuating its own privileges forever, in the course of which endeavor the ruling elite is revealed to be a bunch of idiots and perverts who spend their time prancing around half naked while setting the territories they rule on fire. The few remaining decent and competent people flee this revolting spectacle, while the elite compounds its mistakes in an orgy of failure. The empire then collapses.