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  • 7

    Power Trip
    Reviews; Posted on: 2009-07-27 09:16:44 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy
    by Paul Gottfried
    Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003

    Reviewed by Samuel Francis

    Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt is the sequel to Professor Paul Gottfried's earlier volume, After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State, published by Princeton University Press in 1999. In both books Professor Gottfried, a prominent paleo-conservative polemicist, intellectual historian, and Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, tries to account for the emergence of "post-liberal" trends in political thought and behavior, especially the rise of such phenomena as "multiculturalism" and what is popularly called "political correctness." The problem underlying his efforts is that such political and cultural views are so self-evidently absurd, based on such transparently false beliefs about history and culture, and so evidently harmful to intellectual freedom and social cohesion, that it is a mystery why anyone believes them at all, let alone why they have become such powerful and all but irresistible trends in academic, intellectual, and political life. Is the acceptance of such views by various key elites in Western society genuine, and to what extent does their acceptance point either to some hidden agenda reflecting the material interests of these elites or to some equally obscure irrational motivation, a collective "death wish" on the part of the leadership sectors of the modern West? This is perhaps the central problem Mr. Gottfried's series seeks to answer. Aside from what I take to be certain flaws in his presentation and argument, both books are well worth reading, and not only for the large amount of anti-Western foolishness that he documents. They are major contributions to our understanding of what is happening to the Western world and why.

    Both books take off from the common assumption that the United States and most of the Western world are now governed by what Gottfried calls the "managerial state," a term and concept that derive from conservative theorist James Burnham in his The Managerial Revolution of 1941 and which I to some extent reformulated in various essays, columns, and books in the 1980s. Gottfried's usage of them, however, is quite different from their meaning as defined by either Burnham or me.

    In the first place, Burnham was writing under the influence of a Marxism from which he had only recently defected and of the largely Italian school of what are known as "classical elite" theorists, in particular Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, which he had recently discovered. Hence, his theory, as well as the reformulated version that I developed, is framed in terms of elites, relatively small groups within a population that share a common relationship to the instruments of power within a society and a common interest in how those instruments are used and which exclude the majority of the population from access to power. The key concept for Burnham, then, was a "managerial elite," a "managerial class," or a "new class," which was displacing the older elite or ruling class in modern society. He saw this process going on simultaneously in Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, and the United States of the New Deal era. The new elite, like the old, dominates the state, the formal apparatus of government, but also extends well beyond the state in its control of the economy (as a corporate elite) and of the culture (the structures of ideological formulation, education, and mass communications). In both the original and the reformulated versions of the theory, the behavior of the managerial elite is largely determined by its consciousness of its power interests and its pursuit of those interests, and its ideology is constructed by a managerial intelligentsia (academics, journalists, think tank verbalists, etc.) to justify its interests.

    Gottfried's work, by contrast, owes little to elite theory, and he seldom speaks of a "managerial elite" or "managerial class" at all. Instead, his discussion focuses almost exclusively on the state itself. Large corporations, unions, foundations, mass media, and schools and universities play far less of a role in his model of managerial dominance than in Burnham's or mine, and his concept of what motivates the thinking and behavior of those who control the managerial state is also radically different.

    Secondly, and consistent with his abandonment of elite theory, Gottfried's usage of the term "managerial state" itself is quite different from that of the Burnhamite school. In the latter, much as in classical Marxism, the state is largely the "executive committee" of the ruling class, in Marx's case, the capitalist bourgeoisie; in the Burnhamite case, the managerial bureaucracy, which is closely wedded to the corporate and cultural managers.

    News Source: The Occidental Quarterly


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