We live in an age of increased specialization and expertise! We as individuals know more and more about less and less. Individuals become more powerful over a narrower set of issues and mostly ignorant and powerless over more and more issues!
Modernity with its ever-increasing division of labor provides us with great advances in science and technology but also with a great sense of despair over having little control over forces and decisions which impact our lives! How can democracy survive when the when everyone feels is incapable of understanding the policy alternatives or evaluating current policies?
Bureaucracies both public and private are created for enhancing are intelligent capabilities. In the case of Public Bureaucracies do elected officials fully understand the advice emanating from these agencies? Bureaucracies that are involved in intelligence, defense and law enforcement have an even greater capacity because they are based on the data controlled by the agencies themselves. Elected Officials and citizens are reluctant and fearful to reject advice that they don’t fully understand and do not have alternatives.
Bureaus are organized intelligence and are often aligned with Interest Groups that have vested interest that do not always coincide with the public good. This alliance between the bureau and interest groups is very difficult to defeat especially when it is further aligned with the Congressional Committees and Subcommittees. Membership on these committees is usually based on the dominant interest groups and/or Governmental policy in their districts! Hence the Armed Services Committee would be composed of district that are impacted by Defense Policy: Defense Industries and large military facilities. This is hardly an arrangement that would effectively oversee waste, corruption and incompetence. This alliance enhances individual congresspersons ability to fundraise and get re-elected. The question that is worth asking is: Does Modernity and Expertise threaten Democracy by allowing Senior Bureaucrats to be the dominant decision makers in society?
2 thoughts on “Modernity v Democracy”
I would rather have career specialists providing expert inputs to the executive and legislative branches than having elected representatives make decisions in the blind. They may still decide or legislate based on other factors(politics) , but the input is essential.
Input is great but when only one agency gives advice without the data there may be a problem!