The Dim-Post

August 2, 2008

The Post-bureaucratic age

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:03 am
Tags: ,

I was interested in a comment DPF made in his post about the Nat party conference:

UK Conservative Party Leader David Cameron sent a video address. Talked of using centre right principles to deliver social justice – what the left promise but do not deliver. Said we are on brink of a post-bureaucratic age with the Internet able to empower information to individuals etc. Need policies to limit government and expand freedom.

It seems pretty obvious to me that the reverse of this is true; we are entering a post-ideological age in which our societies become ever more complex and need both state and free-market solutions in order to function. All industralised countries are seeing the rapid growth of a vast, technocratic class of civil servants and this is probably only going to accelerate over the coming decades as those societies get increasingly sophisticated.

The market is unbeatable at certain things – creating wealth, driving technological innovation; but anyone who thinks that its going to be some magical solution to social problems hasn’t been paying attention for the last hundred years and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near government.

If people really want to see the free market in effect they should take a trip to states like Bihar or Utter Pradesh in North India, where the market is king. Its hard to find your way around – there are no road signs, because there’s no real business model for making a profit signposting roads, and everybody just dumps their raw sewerage in the streets because there aren’t any evil civil servants to force their red tape building regulations on you, and there are regular epidemics of deadly diseases (including the bubonic plague), because there aren’t any fat cat health bureacrats sitting around wasting tax-payer dollars on public health initiatives. So you might die of typhus but at least you won’t have the dead hand of the state interfering in your life.


  1. If this is what you think free markets are, you haven’t been paying any attention. It’s just the usual strawman attack. I hoped you would have done better.

    Why don’t people dump rubbish in your garden, but dump it on the street?

    And also, if you think the rise of the bureaucrats is sophistication, maybe you should read a bit about the Roman Empire. It didn’t collapse because it didn’t care for the poor.

    Comment by Berend de Boer — August 2, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  2. maybe you should read a bit about the Roman Empire

    I think we touched on that during my classics degree.

    Comment by danylmc — August 2, 2008 @ 11:35 am

  3. When libertarians say “maybe you should read a bit about,” they actually mean “maybe you should read the assertions on this subject penned by other libertarian ideologues.” I’m willing to bet your Classics lecturers came up well short in this respect – mine certainly did.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 2, 2008 @ 11:57 am

  4. That free markets do not deliver complete social solutions is obvious. There will always be areas that are uneconomical to develop but provide a worthwhile social good. (infrastructure in rural areas comes to mind straight away). However, I think that Cameron was talking about centre-right principles such as less Government intervention and “user pays”, rather than hard-right free market ideology. If structured carefully, minimal government intervention is always preferable to massive intervention, as it stimulates far more inventive thinking and a greater diversity of solutions. Zero government intervention is a recipe for disaster.

    Comment by macdoctor01 — August 2, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  5. Come on guys, as examples of freek markets danylmc mentions North India for all sakes. Yes, that’s really an example of a free market.

    More bureaucrats and politicians are obviously much better than anything else to care for the poor. Just witness NZ.

    Comment by Berend de Boer — August 2, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

  6. Surely you jest. How long did you spend in those Indian states?

    Comment by Clint Heine — August 3, 2008 @ 12:49 am

  7. indeed, on that basis the most appropriate example of a perfect free market I have spent time in would be Sri Lanka. In that delightful democratic country I can buy a politician any time I need to, if I need to get a vote through I just buy a party or three and guarantee the President a cut of any and all future profits.

    Comment by shocked and stunned — August 6, 2008 @ 11:46 am

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