It's been well over a decade since Samuel T. Francis died, in relative obscurity. Reviled by enemies and abandoned by friends Francis lived his final years of life on this planet as an intellectual vagabond and outlaw. His thought has since become radioactive to almost everyone after his ill-fated and unfortunate embrace of "white consciousness" towards the end of his life. Thus, he has almost been completely forgotten, even by his ostensible allies amongst the Right-wing fringe.
It is my contention, however, that there is more to Francis, much more, than has truly been understood. In fact, I think he may be responsible for creating what is, arguably, the most impressive un-exploded intellectual bomb of the past quarter-century: Leviathan And Its Enemies. Published well after his death, in 2016, Leviathan is an enormous work which was actually originally finished by Francis in 1995. Yet he never bothered to publish it, instead letting it sit, inert, in a filing cabinet. One would think that the publishing of such a potentially important work after so many years would be greeted with a certain amount of fanfare and a revival of interest in Francis's thought; one would also, of course, be mistaken. Aside from a few, relatively short, book reviews there really hasn't been, as far as I am aware, anyone who has dived into Leviathan in an attempt to comment on it, meditate on its contents and communicate those contents in a more digestible form to a wider audience. Alas, as the old saying goes: "If you want something done right..."
Hence I've decided to take Francis's Magnum Opus on as a kind of a personal intellectual project for the immediate future. The plan is to go through Leviathan, chapter by chapter and blog each one, essentially creating a cliff notes version of the book as well as attempting to analyze its contents and add my own commentary (such that it is). This will be a major and welcome change of pace for me, hence my writing style will, at least in part, be quite a bit less formal and more conversational as I go forward. I'm a relative newcomer to Francis and his thought, but I've been extremely impressed by his combination of erudition, historical literacy, and an enjoyable writing style. More importantly, however, I think his analysis of the Managerial Class in America is invaluable and offers perhaps the most useful framework for understanding how our current system actually functions. Lastly, and most importantly, I've also become convinced that, once we truly understand this system, the Right in America may be finally able to answer that ever-present and seemingly eternal question: "What is to be done?" The answer, I think, lies between the pages of Leviathan And Its Enemies, like a long forgotten, un-exploded bomb. And it is my ambition to set it off.
Let's begin then, shall we?
Chapter 1: The Emergence Of Managerial Elites: The Revolution Of Mass And Scale
Leviathan opens with the recognition that the period beginning in the late 19th century in the Western Industrialized World and stretching down to the present day has witnessed a genuine revolution. But a revolution of a far greater scale and degree than most of us are used to contemplating, one much more akin to the Neolithic than the French or American Revolutions. This Revolution Francis refers to, obviously borrowing from James Burnham's book of the same title, as "The Managerial Revolution." A Revolution he initially describes this way:
Its essential characteristic consists in the vast and dramatic enlargement of mass and scale in almost all areas of organized human activity, the growth of mass populations, concentrated in huge urban conglomerations, working in large factories and offices, producing, consuming, governing, voting, communicating, and fighting on scales and in numbers that are unique in history. The principal consequence of this revolution of mass and scale has been the re-organization of human communities at all levels into structures radically different from the institutions of earlier civilizations.
The reason for this radical change's occurance was simple enough:
The smaller and more compact structures of traditional societies were unable to accommodate the physical, social, and psychic needs of the new scale of population in the form of adequate material provisions, labor, education, communication, culture, and government, and the enlargement of organizational scale was a response to the impending breakdown of traditional institutions that the vast increases in population precipitated.
Simply put The massive population explosion which began at the end of the 19th century radically altered the nature of society in the West, creating entirely new classes of individuals, mass men, who were unmoored from traditional society. This new class, created during the great population explosion, created new problems for which the old, bourgeois order ( a term we shall return to later on) was simply unable to properly address. Creating a demand for a new way in which to organize society. But it wasn't merely increased population alone which caused the transition from the old bourgeois order to modern managerial society, but also the progress of technology as well:
Physical technologies, based on the application of scientific knowledge to natural resources, made possible new forms of communication and transportation that facilitated the creation and management of mass organizations, while new social technologies, based on the application of the social sciences to human behavior, also facilitated the emergence of permanent mass organizations in the form of corporations, unions, and bureaucracies and their management through public finance and administration, “scientific management,” mass public relations, and the uses of psychology, sociology, political science, and economics. While the continuing enlargement of populations and their human resources and interactions made a re-organization of society necessary, the new organizational technologies made the re-organization possible
Thus we have a perfect storm of dramatically increasing populations along with a dramatically increased level of technological ability. The same technological capacity which had allowed the population increase in the first place is thus now needed to find a new way to manage this population. Francis quotes Neil W. Chamberlain who observed that:
As a population expands and redistributes itself it can no longer function effectively under new circumstances by using old organizational forms. The United States in the third quarter of the 20th century cannot rely on the same economic and political structure that suited it a hundred years ago. . . . Business enterprises, universities, hospitals, labor unions cannot function effectively today with the same organizational forms that suited their much smaller predecessors of a century ago. Even without the advancement in knowledge and technology which has occurred in that time, the pressure of added numbers alone requires modification of functional forms. As an organization grows, its manner of functioning must take account of that growth or it is impeded from performing its function, a case of diminishing returns flowing from a fixed factor. . . . The density of present urban populations . . . has required the organization of entirely new systems of public relief, public health, sanitation, law enforcement, and education.
All of this is simple enough to understand, but the big takeaway here, beyond the obvious, is that these new organizational forms and methods will themselves give birth to a new class, a class of managers. Managers who will run and maintain the new organizational superstructures needed to manage the vast new populations caused by the second industrial revolution. This, however, will naturally put them at odds with the old system and the elites who ran and benefited from its operation. This conflict, between the old bourgeois and the new class of managers, is, for Francis, the primary lens through which we should view the political struggles of the 20th, and now the 21st, centuries.
The New Class Conflict
Regarding the new, rising managerial class Francis observed the following:
The large scale and complexity of mass organizations, and their dependence on highly technical functions and the skills that perform them,serve to create elites within them that differ in composition, structure, mentality, and interests from those that presided over the prescriptive civilizations of Europe prior to the industrial and democratic revolutions of the 18th century and from those that ruled 19th-century bourgeois Europe and America.
Unlike the old bourgeois elites, who predominated in the 18th and 19th centuries, the new class of elite's power and social status was not based upon the kinship ties, hereditary land ownership, inheritance or adherence to traditional codes or honor or morality which comprised the foundation of the old bourgeois's power and legitimacy. Rather, the new elite obtained its power, almost exclusively, through the acquiring of the technical, highly specialized skills and knowledge which were necessary for the direction and management of the new mass organizations which were rising to predominance in all areas of modern life. And it is this profound difference in how social status and power were acquired which began the class conflict between the old bourgeois order and the new managerial elite, as Francis noted:
The new elites, therefore, have no interest in preserving (and in fact have considerable interest in discrediting and abandoning) other criteria of reward and professional and social advancement such as status, kinship, inheritance, or adherence to moral codes, which were the prevalent criteria in traditional elites
Furthermore, not only does the new managerial class have no interest in preserving the social conditions (primarily local and decentralized) from which the bourgeois channeled their power, they also have a vested interest in expanding their own power. To encourage the development of ever larger and more all-encompassing forms of social and governmental organization to further enhance their own influence and prestige. Thus we have two sets of elites, one old and one emerging with diametrically opposed class interests.
The Old Bourgeois
For years, the term "bourgeois" has been thrown around haphazardly, usually as a term of a abuse, by everyone from crusty, recalcitrant royalists and reactionaries to post-modern Marxist academics. Thus, it's a term that now means almost everything and nothing at the same time, hence the need for us to define our terms a bit here, so we can actually know what exactly we, or rather Francis, is really talking about when we use the term "Bourgeois."
For Francis, the term "Bourgeois" denotes the class that came to predominate in the English speaking world after the decline of the landed aristocracy (the mortal enemy of the bourgeois,) and dominated the societies of the 18th and 19th centuries. Francis describes them, in detail, this way:
The social, economic, political, and moral order of both bourgeois and prescriptive societies was small in scale, local in span, and individualized or particularistic in structure. Indeed, the characteristic and dominant ideology of the bourgeois order was a form of individualism: the belief that the individual as moral agent, economic actor, and citizen was the basic and proper unit of society. And individualism was reflected in bourgeois institutions. “Bourgeois culture,” wrote Raymond Williams, “is the basic individualist idea and the institutions, manners, habits of thought and intentions which proceed from that.” Bourgeois thought, however, did not conceive of individualism as antisocial or entirely separate from society but as rooted in and responsible to moral duties and social institutions. The family, the local community, the church, social class, and the entrepreneurial firm reinforced the identity and aspirations of the individual and spun the web of his moral beliefs and habits; and the sociable and moral nature of the individual was recognized in bourgeois popular culture and practice, even if it was often ignored in the formal doctrines of 19th-century political theory.
Thus we have the two primary pillars of bourgeois life and thought: a focus on local community as well as a strong emphasis on individualism. Of course on the surface, and especially from the perspective of someone coming at this from the extreme atomized society of the early 21st century these two attributes seem to be in conflict. But as Francis emphasizes, this does not necessarily have to be the case. In the old bourgeois order the individual, though technically free, is still bound to others through the obligations bourgeois morality imposes upon him. Thus a kind of harmony is able to be maintained between the two, seemingly, intrinsically opposed, forces. The key that enabled the bourgeois to maintain this harmonious arraignment was the cult of domesticity which it engendered and promoted. As Francis noted:
While the ethos of bourgeois individualism was sociable and moralistic, it rejected and distrusted heroic and transcendental ideals. “Domesticity, privacy, comfort, the concept of the home and of the family: these are, literally, principal achievements of the Bourgeois Age,” writes historian John Lukacs. The bourgeois ethic was secular and utilitarian in its ideals. It derived in part from the Protestant Ethic and emphasized the ascetic and individual virtues of hard work, thrift, prudence, and deferral of gratification. It regarded laziness, conspicuous consumption and luxury, and immediate gratification of appetites as morally evil and the root of social decadence. “Only the methodical way of life of the ascetic sects,” wrote Max Weber, “could legitimate and put a halo around the economic ‘individualist’ impulses of the modern capitalist ethos.”
Thus, it was the bourgeois order's very inherent, and profound vulgarity and anti-intellectualism which enabled it to square the circle between the interests of the individual and the interests of the community at large. This is the same class to which Moldbug notably gave the name of "Optimate" to, a class whom he correctly observed had formed, though their influence is now almost entirely gone, an alliance with the class he referred to the Vaisyas (a group Francis referred to simply as "Middle Americans") against a coalition led by the "Brahmins" (Francis's managerial class.)
As a brief aside, one of the more curious aspects of the modern Right, esp among those of a self-styled "reactionary" bent that I have observed myself has been an obsession with old, bourgeois styles of living. I tried to outline some of these criticisms in my essay "Against the Trad Dad's." Needless to say, the essay received more than its fair share of enraged responses, most of them taking the form of Ad Hominem attacks against your author (which, I won't lie here, amused me quite a bit.) The "Trad Dad" lifestyle I critiqued is remarkably quite similar to the old bourgeois cult of the family and the local that Francis describes. A cult which promoted family life, domesticity, and hard work for its own sake and despised transcendental and heroic ideals. One of the better examples of this peculiar anti-intellectualism, in my opinion, is the fashion among modern conservatives to decry the very concept of "Ideology"
and "Politics" itself. Jacobite magazine, for instance, proclaims that it is "The magazine of post-politics." I personally have a lot of affection and respect for the guys at Jacobite but if I'm being honest I have to admit I find the entire conceit of a "post-political" anything to be more than a little unserious.
As far as "Ideology" goes Russell Kirk (the original "Trad Dad") is surely one of the more high profile examples of the "Anti-Ideological" conservative disposition as we can observe, clearly, in his "The Errors of Ideology." Obviously much of Kirk's animus is directed at Marxist thought, especially what he sees as its inherent fanaticism and utopianism i.e. the drive to "immanentize the eschaton." Instead, Kirk seeks to focus on what he calls "the permanent things" which he describes as: "...the health of the family, inherited political institutions that ensure a measure of order and justice and freedom, a life of diversity and independence, a life marked by widespread possession of private property. These permanent things guarantee against arbitrary interference by the state. These are all aspects of conservative thought.” This description matches, almost to the letter, Francis's description of the bourgeois outlook.
The two primary problems with this outlook (among others) are that it, in spite of the pretensions of its scholarly defenders, contributes to an overall culture of vulgar, anti-intellectual philistinism (a culture Mencken referred to as "The Booboisie") as well as the very political quietism which ensures it will be easily overpowered by its more ideologically virile opponents on the Liberal Left. A phenomenon Doug Smythe laid out in detail, in his recent and very brilliant piece. Abandoning the concept of the political (the friend-enemy distinction etc.) may not necessarily be a bad idea if one is living under the rule of António de Oliveira Salazar or Charlemagne but it constitutes little more than transparent suicide if one decides to embrace it in a situation of essentially open warfare, such as the one we live in presently. And those who do embrace it, deserve to lose.
More importantly, and more interestingly, the bourgeois mindset embraced by so much of the modern Right Wing intelligentsia (such that it is) is, as we were able to observe first hand during the 2016 election cycle, a disposition without a class to support it. A fact Francis himself pointed out in his analysis of conservatism inc. Beautiful Losers:
The Old Right, composed mainly of the organized conservative resistance formed in the mid-1950's and centered around National Review, failed to understand that the revolution had already occurred. Conventional Old Right doctrines revolved around the ideas of a constitutionally limited central government, an entrepreneurial economy of privately owned and operated firms, and a moral and social code of restrained or "ascetic" individualism in politics, economy, art, religion, and ethics.These doctrines reflected the institutions and beliefs of the bourgeois elite that had gained political power in the Civil War and prevailed until the dislocations of twentieth-century technological and organizational expansion brought forth a new managerial elite that seized power in the reforms of the Progressive Era and the New Deal.
The forces of the "Old Right" thought themselves, correctly or not, as the rightful heirs and defenders of the old Bourgeois, the "Optimates." But this class, whom they idolized and pretended to belong to, was, even by the mid-1950's, rapidly collapsing. So much so that, in the present day, it's become increasingly obvious that this class barely exists in any meaningful way at all, with what remanents remain having been more or less absorbed into the managerial elite (a fact which Moldbug also acknowledged himself.)
The Old Right's obsession with converting and/or becoming acceptable to the managerial elites in Manhattan and Washington, beyond a handful of eccentric converts, bore little actual fruit. As Francis pointed out in Beautiful Losers:
Yet while Buckley seemed cognizant of the “revolution” that had transpired and was, in fact, successful in attracting a number of intellectuals, he failed to see that the new intellectual class as a whole, which had indeed “midwived and implemented the revolution,” could not become conservative. It could not do so because its principal interest, social function, and occupational calling in the new order was to delegitimize the ideas and institutions of conservatism and provide legitimization for the new regime, and its power and rewards as a class depended upon the very bureaucratized cultural organizations that conservatives attacked. Only if conservatism were “renovated” to the point that it no longer rejected the cultural apparatus of the revolution could intellectuals be expected to sign up
In spite of their impressive and sophisticated intellectual output, the managerial elite they had attempted to court for long despised them just as fervently as they had before, while their natural base of support in Middle America was left cold from their insufferably elitist posturing and their advocacy for policies (tax cuts, federalism, free trade etc.) which were diametrically opposed to their own interests, but which would have, theoretically, served the interest of the now largely fictional class they owed their allegiance to (the old bourgeois.) A cautionary lesson certain groups on the right, currently pursuing a similar strategy of elite conversion, should heed, lest they too repeat the same mistakes made by the Old Right.
Getting back to the actual subject at hand, however, another unique facet of the old bourgeois was their relationship with property.
No institution is so central to the integrity and dominance of the bourgeois order as private property. The political and economic ideologies associated with the bourgeoisie gave private property a key role, and the institution underlies the wealth, status, and power of the bourgeois elite, as well as its social extensions and institutions in the privately owned home, the family, and the community of households. Although private property continues to exist under managerial capitalism, its social and political meaning has altered dramatically and in ways that accrue to the benefit of the managerial elite and in conflict with the interests of the bourgeois elite.
As we will see later on, this relationship will be challenged by and altered by the new Managerial elite. I think we've basically defined and explained what exactly Francis's meant when he discussed when he spoke of the "old bourgeois," though so we should now probably move on to the next topic of interest.
The Managerial Revolution and it's new Managerial class obviously didn't invent capitalism but it did serve to radically change how capitalism operated. The main transition which occurred was the change from the traditional, bourgeois dominated form of capitalism where private enterprises were usually owned by a single owner who also frequently served as the manager of the company and was involved in the day to day operations of the firm as well to a corporate model where ownership was dispersed among stockholders and whose day to day operations were run by a new class of professional managers who weren't owners themselves.
The basic reason, as Francis explains for this transition from privately owned family enterprises to large corporations was:
The “basic reason,” writes Charles P. Kindleberger, for the legalization and spread of the corporate form of enterprise “was surely that the amounts of capital required by railroads, mines, shipping companies, banks and an increasing number of industrial enterprises were increasing beyond the capacity of informal markets to provide them.” The rise of the mass corporation, then, was the direct response to the revolution of mass and scale in the economy; and the availability of a mass market and labor supply among the expanding population led to the evolution of new economic structures for the satisfaction of demand and the mass organization of labor and resources.“The new industrial techniques” of the late 19th century, writes Geoffrey Barraclough: "unlike the old, necessitated the creation of large-scale undertakings and the concentration of the population in vast urban agglomerations. In the steel industry, for example, the introduction of the blast furnace meant that the small individual enterprise employing ten or a dozen workmen quickly became an anachronism."
Simply put the new manufacturing techniques which had been developed, and the new demand for mass-produced goods (in particular, beginning in the late 19th century, the demand for a large amount of new, mass produced weaponry) required an amount of capital which was simply out of reach of small-scale, family-owned enterprises and the informal networks they relied on for financing. Hence the rise of the corporate model for more and more businesses. The main effect of this new model was, and the primary characteristic which distinguishes it from the older entrepreneurial model is that ownership itself is now dispersed among shareholders instead of being concentrated in the hands of a single owner. One of the unintended consequences of this new structure was that owners could no longer participate in the day to day management of the company in question, as the shareholder possesses neither the time nor expertise to competently fill this role. Hence the shareholders must hire a new class of managers to fill this role, and thus the managerial capitalist class is born.
But this paradigm itself also birthed a new unintended consequence: "the separation of ownership and control," which Francis describes:
Both Adam Smith and Karl Marx, contemplating the rudimentary forms of corporations of their time, perceived a natural conflict of interest between the owners or stockholders of a corporation and its managers. The owners are interested primarily in a profitable return on their investment, measured in the increased yield of their dividend. The managers, on the other hand, are interested in the wellbeing and particularly in the growth of the corporation itself, and they typically desire not to pay out higher yields to the owners but to reinvest corporate profits in an increased capacity for greater output and enlargement of facilities and operations...Alfred D. Chandler Jr., whose massive history of the managerial revolution in American business is a definitive study of the subject, concurs: "For salaried managers, the continuing existence of their enterprise was essential to their lifetime careers. Their primary goal was to assure continuing use of and therefore continuing flow of material to their facilities. They were far more willing than were the owners (the stockholders) to reduce or even forego current dividends in order to maintain the long-term viability of their organizations. They sought to protect their sources of supply and their outlets. They took on new products and new services in order to make more complete use of existing facilities and personnel. Such expansion, in turn, led to the addition of still more workers and equipment. If profits were high, they preferred to reinvest them in the enterprise rather than to pay them out in dividends. In this way the desire of the managers to keep the organization fully employed became a continuing force for its further growth."
This contradiction between the shareholder's desire to profit in the form of dividends and the manager's desire to continue expanding the corporation itself is an obvious source of tension between the two. Now, common sensically, one would imagine the shareholders would easily prevail in such a contest as they, and not the manager's, are the actual owners of the corporation and thus have the legal right to ultimately decide to do as they please with it. However several, non-obvious, issues frequently prevented this from taking place. The first is simply the shareholder's dispersal of ownership, and thus sovereignty, amongst many, frequently passive and disinterested, individuals makes rallying the consensus necessary to challenge the specific decisions of the managers surprisingly difficult. The second challenge is that, regardless of their technical legal rights over the corporation itself, they simply don't possess the technical managerial skills necessary to competently operate the corporation themselves. Thus they are, in many ways, completely dependent on the managers.
Of course, as Francis discusses, shareholders can and do sometimes take action against managers who have displeased them. But this still does not necessarily equate with genuine control:
Even when an “owners’ revolt” (the very phrase suggests the legitimacy of managerial authority) occurs and is successful, the owners must simply hire new managers; without managerial skills, they cannot undertake management functions themselves. Nor can “big owners”—persons who own large blocs of stock sufficient to place them on the board of a corporation and to make their votes influential in corporate decision-making— perform management functions unless they themselves have acquired managerial skills, which is rare...Moreover, at the level of the “big owners,” the interests of management and ownership tend to coalesce. The big owners are already wealthy and are less concerned with the dividend yield than with the increase in or stability of the value of their stock. It is the growth of the corporation that increases or stabilizes the stock value, and thus the big owners are assimilated into the same set of interests as the managers.
Thus, ownership and control of the corporation are severed, with the managerial class itself, in practice, making the actual decisions which will guide the future and direction of the corporation in question.
It is not only the shareholders of corporations who the managerial class is in conflict however but also the remanents of the old bourgeois itself, particularly the entrepreneurial firm with which it competes. This conflict first takes the form of the classic move towards monopoly, with larger corporations absorbing or otherwise driving out of business the smaller, more traditional firms owned by the old bourgeois.
Unlike the pre-managerial economy which assumed a state of classical competition, in which no firm was ever large enough to ever influence market prices, the managerial economy tends towards a natural state of oligopoly. As the benefits of industrial-scale become greater and greater as a firm's size increases, which both inevitably drives out smaller competitors and also enables the firm to attain such a size that it, and perhaps a few other large firms, are able to regulate prices independent of the market itself.
Economic matters are, however, not the only interests possessed by the capitalist managerial class, culture and the structure of society as a whole also come into play. Up until the time of the apotheosis of Managerial culture (the mid-20th century) society was still largely shaped by and reflected the manners and norms of the elite which had previously controlled it: the old bourgeois. We previously discussed in detail the peculiar nature of bourgeois society, with its focus on thrift, personal virtue, and rugged individualism. The problem for the new managerial class was not only that the old bourgeois's entrepreneurial firms competed against it but also that the very nature of bourgeois society was, in many ways, hostile to the values and ways of life necessary for the smooth functioning of mass organizations, as Francis recounts:
The individualism of the bourgeois order and the institutions that reinforce it restrict the development of the collective disciplines that are inherent in mass organizations. The mass corporation must subordinate the ambitions, values, and eccentricities of its individual managers and workers to its own collective goals and routines. Teams, departments, and committees are the units of mass corporate activity...Similarly, the mass corporation must seek to break down the differentiations that characterize the bourgeois order, the diversity that exists in a decentralized and localized society that is not united by mass communications, transportation, and markets. The corporation must promote the homogenization of society because of the nature of mass production and mass consumption. Mass production requires not only homogeneous goods and services, produced by the same molds and processes, but also homogeneous consumers, who cannot vary in their tastes, values, and patterns of consumption and who must consume if the planning of the corporations is to be effective.
Hence we can see that not only must the rugged individualism promoted by bourgeois society be subverted to better enable its employees to fit into the collectivist structure of the mass corporation but also its consumers as well. Thus the Managerial class must promote ideologies in line with its goals to better reshape society to better come into line with their own interests. Ideologies which promote the values and norms of a universal cosmopolitanism, which negate the old local differentiations, identities, values, and loyalties of the old system.
The bourgeois moral codes as well were also roadblocks for development of the mass consumer society that is required in order for the managerial class itself to expand and thrive. The ascetic nature of the old bourgeois morality in particular, with its emphasis on thrift self-control and the avoidance of unseemly conspicuous consumption. Hence the need to break down and eliminate this obstacle through the use of mass advertising techniques which contain anti-bourgeois messages and that undermine the traditional values which constrain and prevent consumption and to then replace them with a new ethos which is conducive to the ends of the managerial class. As Francis describes it:
“The real social revolution in modern society,” writes Daniel Bell, "came in the 1920s, when the rise of mass production and high consumption began to transform the life of the middle class itself. In effect the Protestant ethic as a social reality and a lifestyle for the middle class was replaced by a materialistic hedonism, and the Puritan temper by a psychological eudaemonism. . . . The claim of the American economic system was that it had introduced abundance, and the nature of abundance is to encourage prodigality rather than prudence. A higher standard of living, not work as an end in itself, then becomes the engine of change. The glorification of plenty, rather than the bending to niggardly nature, becomes the justification of the system."
Mass advertising, by its manipulation of symbols and images of authority, pleasure, sentiment, and sexuality, serves to articulate an informal ethic or ideology of hedonism, and advertising, modern credit devices, and the manipulation of mass purchasing power and aggregate demand serve to encourage patterns of hedonistic behavior in the mass population. The managerial elite of the mass corporations thus has a group interest in destroying the individualism and diversity of the bourgeois order through its collective discipline and homogenizing processes. It also subverts the bourgeois work ethic and its derivative values through its promotion of mass hedonism and consumption.
This last observation is especially interesting as it locates an obvious potential contradiction within the new managerial order. Namely the tension between the need to have a population which is simultaneously both industrious enough to hold down a job and one that is impulsive and hedonistic enough to purchase the massive excess of products which are produced by the system. But modern managerial capitalism is a dynamic system, which sometimes acts in a dialectical fashion and so has an odd way of finding ways to resolve the apparent contradictions in its operation.
A relevant example of this phenomenon is the much discussed (at least back in the early aughts) ascendence of the so-called "Bobos" or "Bohemian Bourgeois" a term coined by the generally loathsome David Brooks of the New York Times in his book Bobos In Paradise. A book I don't believe, from the searches I've done, Francis responded to or commented on, though I'd love to be wrong about this (so if any readers are aware of a place where Francis addresses this, please let me know in the comments.) The gist of the Bobo thesis, which in my opinion is all but infallible gospel at this point, is that the counterculture which was spawned in the 1960's (itself a manifestation of the hedonic, impulsive ethos managerial capitalism had been working to instill in its consumers) eventually merged with the residual elements of the bourgeois order that emphasized crude utilitarianism and the pursuit of career advancement through dedication and hard work. Thus, a seeming contradiction inherent in the system is transcended by the combination of thesis (the old bourgeois work ethic) with antithesis (the hedonic, orgastic, bohemian ideology of the counterculture) to form the new bobo synthesis. This new synthesis was, not incidentally I suspect, a perfect fit for the brave new world of managerial capitalism.
The Bobo archetype is the quintessential example of the "socially liberal, economically conservative" political disposition ("economically conservative" here meant in the neoliberal, not libertarian, sense.) Both of these attitudes, which traditionally would have been seen as contradictory, now are reconciled, with only the desirable traits of each remaining. The "socially liberal" characteristic of the Bobo, in particular, its enthusiastic embrace of feminist ideology, enabled a massive increase in the overall workforce and thus also engendered a corresponding increase in economic activity. An increase in economic activity which, of course, assisted the capitalist managerial class in its goal of continuing to expand the size of their own corporations.
The general loosening of public morality, particularly in regards to sexuality, also allowed the capitalist managerial class to better implement their, increasingly potent, techniques of modern advertising. Sex and its accompanying innuendos, for obvious reasons, have an extremely powerful effect on the human psyche (essentially serving as the equivalent of human catnip.) Thus radically increasing the ability of advertisers to more easily, not only persuade consumers of the desirability of existing products but also to generate within them the need for entirely new and increasingly perverse desires as well.
While the Bourgeois aspect of the new Bobo synthesis enabled these same, newly sexually "liberated" individuals to enjoy the new hedonic products and experiences being marketed to them without themselves spiraling into true excess and, thus, unemployment. As an unemployed, unproductive individual, however hedonistic and pleasure-seeking their corrupted disposition may be, simply won't have the money to consume the products designated for them, nor the disciple and focus required to staff the levers of the administrative state. Thus, for managerial Capitalism, the Bobo synthesis represents the best of both worlds.
The Managerial State
The managerial revolution, while it began in the realm of the economic, wasn't limited to it. The state itself also became managerialized, and for many of the same reasons. As Francis describes:
it became clear that the circumscribed and neutralist bourgeois state could not discipline the mass population or cope with the problems created by the concentration of the new masses in urban conglomerations. Slums, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, disease, crime, and the general insecurity and brutality of the developing mass society threatened to dissolve the political and social fabric and contributed to the radicalization of the masses. The reformulation of classical liberalism to justify social and economic action by the state and the popularization of socialism, feminism, and other radical ideologies (including radical right-wing ideas) were part of the intellectual adjustment of the bourgeois order to the revolution of mass and scale...The willing encouragement of the growth of government was partly due to the new ideologies associated with mass society and to humanitarian concerns but also to sheer pragmatic realization that the state was the most obvious instrument for coping with what appeared to be otherwise irreconcilable and destructive challenges.
The sheer size of the population and the dislocation caused by the societal changes resulting from the second industrial revolution resulted in the necessity of developing new methods of governance. With the institutions of the old bourgeois, with their emphasis on local control and small government being simply unable to properly handle the new situation. The second primary reason for the managerialization of government institutions were the profound changes in the nature of warfare which began in the late 19th century:
With the new technologies increasingly available in the late 19th century, warfare itself became a mass phenomenon, requiring mass armies equipped with mass produced weaponry, uniforms, housing, provisions, and services. Weaponry underwent a revolution in scale in the development of artillery and dreadnoughts, as did the means of transportation and communications in the development of radios, telegraphy, telephones, and motorization...World War I accelerated the tendencies to organizational enlargement and managerial direction in Europe and the United States and provided models for the development of the managerial regime in later decades, as did World War II in the 1940s. The economic scale of the First World War compelled a reorganization of the national economy and state machinery in the form of war socialism, or Zwangswirtschaft...
The evolution of the mass state was thus comparable to the evolution of the mass corporation. The increase in the size of the state consisted not only in larger budgets and more personnel but also in the proliferation of its functions in regulating the economy, supervising and engineering social institutions, and preparing for and conducting the total mobilization of natural, human, social, economic, psychological, and technological resources for mass warfare. These new functions were highly technical in nature and required the application of the physical and social sciences, the techniques of administration, and the skills of mass communication to the goal of what McNeill has called “human engineering,” the development of which was pioneered under the impact of the revolution of mass and scale in the late 19th century.
The materialization of government, as Francis notes, mirrored closely that of the corporation. Just as the original sovereignty possessed by the owners of entrepreneurial firms was divided into the hands of a multitude of shareholders so was the sovereignty possessed by the old bourgeois over the local and republican forms of government it had dominated for so long as both women's suffrage and other movements to further democratize the ever-increasing population continued. As Francis observes:
Although both the small stockholder and the average citizen acquired a formal, legal right to participation, neither generally possessed the opportunity, the interest, or the ability to participate intelligently in the control and direction of mass organizations in the economy or the government...Equality of votes in the state does not determine the amount of actual power that citizens in the state possess. In the state sector of mass society and in the mass corporation, actual power is distributed according to managerial skills and not by a formal equality of rights and votes or by legal ownership.
The stratification of power in the mass state is thus analogous to that within the corporation. In the latter, power is divided among the managers, the big stockholders, and the mass of stockholders, who have virtually no power. In the mass state, power is divided among the bureaucratic managers, the representatives of the bourgeois elites in the elective or appointive offices of the formal state apparatus, and the mass of citizens, who have virtually no power in the state.
This developing new situation naturally threatened the power of the old bourgeois, as their power was primarily located at the local level which allowed them to largely control the operations of national legislative assemblies. This control was threatened, not only by the growth of a new class of unelected government managers and bureaucrats but also by the growth of reform and centralization movements which threatened to alter the traditional property rights and class relations which had upheld the bourgeois order.
Hence a battle for political power broke out between the old bourgeois and the new managerial elite. With the bourgeois attempting to use their natural influence within the courts and legislative assemblies to defend the local bases of their power, while the Managerial elite sought to further centralize government functions by harnessing the newfound power possessed by the newly enfranchised masses. The existence of a popular "managerial ceasar" who can harness the mass population against the mediating institutions and structures of the old bourgeois order via campaigns of "reform," thus further increasing the power of the managerial elite is an important part of this process. Franklin D. Roosevelt was, of course, the example par excellence of this phenomenon.
The managerial victory in this conflict leads, not only to the disempowerment of the old bourgeois but also to the redefinition of the very nature of the state itself. The state of the bourgeois was based upon the deceptively named "rule of law" which the bourgeois had used to undermine the power of the monarchs and hereditary aristocrats who had historically played the role of their mortal enemies. The managerial state, however, sought to replace this "normocratic" system with a "teleocratic" one based on policy and administration instead of law. Francis explains this process and the distinction between the two systems:
The redefinition of the state consists largely in the substitution of bureaucratic and administrative procedure for the constitutionalism and legalism that characterized bourgeois government, a substitution that converts the state from what Michael Oakeshott calls a “nomocracy,” in which “laws are understood as conditions of conduct, not devices instrumental to the satisfaction of preferred wants,” to a “teleocratic” government, “the management of a purposive concern.”
The formulas of “equality before the law” and “the rule of law, not men,” seemingly seeking to establish just and uniform relationships among all citizens, in fact undermined the power of the prescriptive elites and in practice generally did not apply to the lower classes and masses that emerged in the 19th century. Moreover, the constitutionally limited state of the bourgeois political order, like Oakeshott’s nomocratic ruler, was “a master of ceremonies, not an arbiter of fashion. His concern is with the ‘manners’ of convives, and his office is to keep the conversation going, not to determine what is said.” By thus restricting the activities of the bourgeois state and the ends that it was allowed to pursue by means of the “rule of law” formula, the bourgeois political elite eliminated threats to its localized and privatized interests from government...
law by its nature deals with general relationships, it recognizes that some specific situations are beyond the remedy of law, ultra vires. Administrative procedures, and those who use them, recognize no such limit. Every problem, complaint, and situation is believed to lie within the competence of the expert to solve through the application of technical expertise and the formulation of procedures. The belief that administrative procedure is an adequate and proper means of regulating human communities enhances the power of the managerial elite and also encourages the meliorist or utopian ideologies that accompany managerial regimes and which are lacking in pre-mass societies ruled by law.
Thus, crime, war, ignorance, poverty, disease, slums, etc., become “problems” to be “solved” by management and its formula of scientism, the application of science to human relations and institutions; and the managers portray the persistence of bourgeois institutions and values as itself a problem or obstacle to managerial progress.
Media and the Cultural Hegemony of the Managerial Regime
Modern forms of mass media operate as perhaps the most crucial pillar of any managerial regime. In almost identical fashion, media was transformed by the same revolutions of mass, scale, and technology that had affected the governmental and economic spheres. Technological advances in paper manufacture, typesetting, the advent of radio and film, and electronic communications vastly expanded the power and reach of traditional media. A rapidly increasing population also meant that there were also many more individuals who could be influenced by its effects.
Traditional bourgeois media, which generally took the form of local newspapers and small publishing houses, lacked the necessary managerial skills to harness these new technologies and circumstances to properly adjust to a new age of mass media. Thus, they, like their bourgeois peers in other fields of endeavor were outcompeted and replaced by a new class of managerial media men.
The Media class represents a unique subclass within managerial culture itself, as Francis notes:
The intellectual and verbalist professions constitute the intelligentsia of the managerial regime and consist of the class of persons who make their living by writing, speaking, researching, thinking, and communicating. The members of these intellectual and verbalist professions are directly dependent on the mass media for their livelihoods, status, power, and functions in mass society, and they share a common interest in the continuing enlargement of the mass organizations of culture and communication and the extension of the social functions of these organizations...
They transmit and inculcate the ideology of the regime as a means of rationalizing its structure and the interests of its elite and articulate challenges to the bourgeois ideologies. Secondly, they develop and transmit, through educational and research institutions, the body of managerial and technical skills on which mass organizations and their elites depend.
Thus we see the indispensability of the media class for promulgating and rationalizing the interests of the managerial classes interests. It serves, essentially, as the glue which holds the interests of the various subclasses of the managerial elite together.
Also, somewhat counterintuitively, this adhesive relationship to the other subclasses can also take an ostensibly adversarial form. But the true function and purpose of this adversarial relationship is not to destroy or truly challenge managerial society but, rather, to focus on locating, highlighting and liquidating the remanents of the old bourgeois order. The Media class never ultimately challenge the premises or values of managerial ideology. Thus they never weaken the regime but actually discipline it by enforcing ideological orthodoxy and reducing the influence of any bourgeois remnants that may still remain in it.
After covering the media in general, Francis then goes on to discuss the, rather obvious, managerialization of both Educational and Religious institutions. I don't think we necessarily need to dive too deeply into this as I think most of it should be relatively self-evident by now. However, it should be noted that Francis identifies "Episcopalians and Congregationalists" as being the primary culprits at the end of the 19th century for the "institutionalization" of Christianity in America. Meaning the transformation of Christianity from historic faith into the, essentially secular," social gospel" of the progressive reformers. An interesting, if obvious, insight which those who consistently blame "low church Protestantism" for the rise of Progressive ideology would do well to ponder.
In regards to the important role higher education played in the success of the Managerial elite, there is one particular passage I would like to highlight. Francis quotes John Kenneth Galbraith who discusses the new and dynamic interplay between the business world and that of the intelligentsia:
With the rise of the technostructure, relations between those associated with economic enterprise and the educational and scientific estate have undergone a radical transformation. There is no longer an abrupt conflict in motivation. Like the educational and scientific estate, the technostructure is no longer exclusively responsive to pecuniary motivation. Both see themselves as identified with social goals or with organizations serving social purposes. And both, it may be assumed, seek to adopt social goals to their own. If there is a difference, it is not in the motivational system but in the goals.
Thus the goals and motivations of the intelligentsia and the corporate world have, though superficial tensions still appear, become increasing synthesized. The most obvious example of this has been the rise of so-called "woke corporations." The primary reason for this being that both are increasingly drawing from the same well for talent: the university system.
The section ends with Francis briefly pointing out, the often overlooked fact that, in spite of the brutal and overwhelming war the managerial class waged against the old bourgeois, it was ultimately the old bourgeois itself which is to blame for its present state. The Bourgeois, in Francis's opinion "committed suicide." As, ultimately, the managerial revolution itself was made possible by the conditions of the bourgeois one, carried out a hundred years before, had made possible. Both the industrial and democratic revolutions of the late 18th and early 19th century were a product of the bourgeois revolution and laid the foundation for the rise of the new managerial class.
The old bourgeois, in the final analysis, seems to have been strangled by the very rope that they had previously used to hang their former masters.
Author's note: I wrote most of this before I decided to "retire," but I at least wanted to finish this one up as it was mostly done. I honestly don't know if I will have the time and/ or energy to complete this overly ambitious project in full, however, I would like to try. It just may take some time.