Neutralizing the Social Engineering State – Budget Cuts or Restore the Spoils System?

Since the Presidency of Reagan the official platform of the Republican Party towards reigning in Federal social engineering programs has been the elimination of Progressive dominated agencies. This well intended dream has gone without realization.  Regretting his inability to cancel them, Reagan commented FedGov agencies are harder to kill than a vampire.

In the Hamiltonian view, Reagan found them difficult to overcome because his actions were built on incorrect assumptions about the basis of their power.

The political strength of Technocracy lies not, per se, in how much money is allocated to Bureaucracy in the Federal budget.  Instead, the power of Bureaucracy to resist political attacks lies in the lack of executive control over FedGov Bureaucracy.

As originally intended by the founders, the mission of the Civil Service was nothing more than to implement, without question, the orders of the Executive so long as those orders were legal and/or not contested by either the Legislative or Judicial branches.

Passed over a century ago, the Pendleton Act began the decades long process of breaking this chain of command between the President and Civil Service by shielding Federal workers from layoffs initiated by a President.   Subsequent acts further increased their immunity from the will of the other three branches and the American electorate to the point where the Federal workforce has grown into the unaccountable Frankenstein monster it is today.

Whenever the Civil Service has had to deal with a Republican President, the Civil Service uses the political infrastructure of its Progressive allies to pressure the Executive into expanding Federal Programs as much as possible.

Should a Republican President not expand government, or do so at a rate unsatisfactory to Progressives, the Bureaucracy hunkers down, undermines Conservative programs as much as possible, and waits for the next Democratic President to give the Bureaucratic machinery free-reign to again tyrannize the rest of America.

Whenever the Federal Bureaucracy senses budget cuts – even the moderate cuts proposed by Reagan and the somewhat more ambitious, but quickly abandoned, reductions of the Gingrich Speakership – it uses its full political connections to drive back the attempt.

The Federal workforce fights budget cuts as fanatically as if it was a fourth branch of government. It does so because it is the Fourth Branch of government.

The optimal strategy to defeat the Progressive Federal workforce is not to eliminate agencies or slash their budgets, but to legally restore the spoils system over the entire Federal workforce, excluding the military, Judiciary, and Federal law enforcement.

When executive sovereignty is restored through the restoration of the spoils system the independence of FedGov bureaucrats is broken even if their department budgets are left unchanged. And when their independence is broken so too will their ability – as a branch of government – to resist budget cuts to, or, outright elimination of, Federal departments.

The benefit for Conservatives in restoring the spoils system without, initially, accompanying them with net reductions in spending comes through the radical changes the spoils system brings to the incentive structure of working in the Federal Bureaucracy.

Since Wilson and FDR, the Civil Service has been immune to the consequences of Presidential elections.  When Progressives lose the White House, Civil Service personnel remain.  Hence, the politics of the Federal government workforce (excluding the military and Federal law enforcement) is overwhelmingly Liberal despite Republicans having won the White House more often than Democrats post-WWII.

Under a renewed spoils system, the professional Civil Service would be swept out of power whenever a Democratic Presidential candidate goes down to defeat.  Without positions in D.C., unemployed Civil Servants would be unable to undermine the policies of a Republican President when he is free to fashion a truly Republican Civil Service.  Nor would unemployed Bureaucrats be of use to the rest of the Progressive infrastructure (such as non-profits and academia) outside Washington.

Even when a Democrat wins the White House, the Civil Service would be incentivized to greatly fear angering the public with radical initiatives lest those initiatives drive down the popularity of a Democratic President and jeopardize not only his reelection but also the jobs of Progressive Civil Servants.

Tying the fate of the Civil Service to Presidential election results through a revived spoils system would deal a devastating defeat to the New Deal Bureaucratic state an bring to an end the undeserved status of the Federal Bureaucrat as a ruling class accountable to no one.

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13 thoughts on “Neutralizing the Social Engineering State – Budget Cuts or Restore the Spoils System?”

  1. You might want to read, if you have not done so, Puritan Origins of American Patriotism.

    p.180. “Bellamy turned away from his religious upbringing, flirted for a time with the French philosopher Auguste Comte’s “religion of humanity,” yet in the end – as is often the case with apostates – retained many of his earlier core beliefs, especially his Protestant postmillennialism.”

    p.192. on Herbert Croly. “His parents were both Europeans (his mother came from England, his father from Irealnd) and devotees of Auguste Comete……. As we saw earlier in the discussion of Edward Bellamy’s brief flirtation with his philosophy, Comte was not only a non- Christian, he fashioned his own hierarchical “religion of humanity” as a substitute for Christianity. ”

    p.205. “Croly apparently acquired it later, during his college years (DR “Christian Activism”) by translating Comte’s “religion of humanity” back into Christian terms. They were religious, but their religion was one in which the sacred and secular were blended together, and, as Fogel puts it, “the secular component increasingly overwhelmed the sacred.”

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  2. Does it require congress to pass a new law?

    Changing their status from unionized personnel to at-will employees would require a Congressional act. Later this week I will discuss the particulars about how legislation to undo the professional Civil Service should be fashioned.

    In the meantime Trump can use existing employment rules to remove some FedGov workers, but it is not easy.

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  3. You might want to read, if you have not done so, Puritan Origins of American Patriotism.

    The more I think about it the more I agree the ideological connection between Comte and the Puritan sentiments of late 19th century American Progressives warrants more detailed exploration. This will help tie Part II – which focused heavily on the French Revolution and Continental European politics – closer to Moldbug’s work which emphasized secular ‘Puritanism’. Puritan Origins is something I will have to look into.

    Have you found anything on Comte’s influence on British Fabian Socialism? I could deal with both American Progressives and British Fabians in the same works.

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  4. Have you ever considered looking into Hegel? Apparently, he was big into the “civil service” state.

    How would summarize his philosophy of state and its relationship to the civil service?

    Have you checked out Julius Klein yet?

    Is it Klein or Krein? I am going to check out his work this week.

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  5. Actually, damm, I think it is Krein. He is running the journal American Affairs, he has a long article on James Burnham’s Managerial Revolution.

    I don’t know very much about Hegel, just that something I read connected him to the EU civil service state. Since, I know you like to trace things back to their origins, I thought maybe he would be interesting to look up.

    I will see if I can find the Hegel thing.

    I will look the connection with Fabians and Comte. I think Bertrand Russell wrote about him, and he was a “informal” member of the Bloomsbury set that had Fabian elements, but you would need to go deeper. I wonder if Mill wrote about him…. Proudhon may have something to say, along with the other “utopian socialists.” I will take a closer look.

    The Labour Party are going to, perhaps terminal, defeat:

    http://publicpolicypast.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-wrongness-of-corbynism.html

    I think there will be many parallels with this in the U.S. The doors will be wide open to enact REFORM.

    The question is will it be done, or will someone else have to do it.

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  6. I don’t know very much about Hegel, just that something I read connected him to the EU civil service state. Since, I know you like to trace things back to their origins, I thought maybe he would be interesting to look up.

    I would expect Hegel touched on a Technocratic state only in a vague way because he was, in general, very abstract and conceptual. Comte on the other hand pretty much nailed the specifics of Progressive government.

    I will look the connection with Fabians and Comte. I think Bertrand Russell wrote about him, and he was a “informal” member of the Bloomsbury set that had Fabian elements, but you would need to go deeper. I wonder if Mill wrote about him…. Proudhon may have something to say, along with the other “utopian socialists.” I will take a closer look.

    Proudhon, a Proletarian Socialist, would most likely have known about Comte in the 1840s and 1850s when Proudhon’s popularity was greatest and he was expected to know about the top Leftist ideologies of his time.

    The Labour Party are going to, perhaps terminal, defeat:

    The Fabian leadership’s immune system still cannot tolerate having a Proletarian Socialist (or what is closest to it) at the helm.

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  7. You know, TUJ, you have done sterling service with your analysis. It is funny how well it all makes sense in light of your analysis. I’m somewhat curious about how you got into this field. Do you a have academic background, i.e a degree in history or something from a top ivy? Care to share about your intellectual background?

    You seem to know quite a bit about the history of America, and the gilded age. What led you to Hamilton, for example?

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  8. Ping: Influenced by Comte:

    http://spartacus-educational.com/TUwebbB.htm

    Ping: Comte mentioned as an influence on the Fabians, in a secondary source:

    http://bit.ly/2mNQRxg

    Ping: Footnote to a paper (probably too hard to get) on Comte and his “disciples”

    http://bit.ly/2m0A2Am

    Ping:

    http://bit.ly/2mZDA4X

    Ping: good article, also names a key positivist influence of Frederic Harrison.

    http://www.victorianweb.org/history/fabian.html

    Consider this:

    “In its early stage, the Fabian Society adopted a policy of ‘permeation’, which involved infiltrating existing institutions, parties and Parliament by its members and supporters in order to carry out social and economic reforms. Fabians managed to permeate their ideology to many people who were not socialists but thought of reforms. Their principal objective was nationalisation of the industries.

    The object of the Fabian Society is to persuade the English people to make their political constitution thoroughly democratic and so to socialize their industries as to make the livelihood of the people entirely independent of private Capitalism. [Fabian Tract No. 70, 3]

    The leading Fabians proposed different strategies of permeation. They considered the Liberals to be more open to Fabian influence than the Conservatives. Therefore, for some time they supported the Liberal government, but when they realised that it did not intend to introduce social reforms, they published in 1893 a pamphlet, To Your Tents, O Israel, in which they called for the creation of a truly working-class party. When the Independent Labour party was formed in that year, the Fabian Society supported it.

    The strategy of “permeation” was used successfully by Fabians, who participated in elections to various governing bodies, such as the London County Council and the House of Commons. They called for the spread of municipal socialism, which was manifested in social reforms undertaken by local governments, such as development of water and gas supply, slum clearances, and sanitation. Besides, they advocated the eight-hour working day, public education, and the establishment of universal suffrage. As a result, the Fabian Society pressed successfully on the Liberal-dominated Progressive Party in the London County Council in the 1890s. In 1899, the Fabian Society participated in the formation of a local government Information Bureau.”

    (Forget the Frankfurt school! These prigs had the game down decades before.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederic_Harrison

    “He received a scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford in 1849. It was at Oxford that he was to embrace positive philosophy, under the influence of his tutor Richard Congreve and the works of John Stuart Mill and George Henry Lewes.[4] Harrison found himself in conflict with Congreve as to details, and eventually led the Positivists who split off and founded Newton Hall in 1881, and he was president of the English Positivist Committee from 1880 to 1905;[6] he was also editor and part author of the Positivist New Calendar of great Men (1892), and wrote much on Comte and Positivism. For more than three decades, he was a regular contributor to The Fortnightly Review, often in defense of Positivism, especially Comte’s version of it.

    Cariacature of Frederic Harrison by Carlo Pellegrini(d.1889) Ape, published in Vanity Fair, 23/1/1886. Caption: “An apostle of Positivism”
    Among his contemporaries at Wadham were Edward Spencer Beesly, John Henry Bridges, and George Earlam Thorley who were to become the leaders of the secular Religion of Humanity or “Comtism” in England.[1] He received a second class in Moderations in 1852 and a first class in Literae Humaniores in 1853.[1] In the following year he was elected a fellow of the college and became a tutor, taking over from Congreve.[1][4] He became part of a liberal group of academics at Oxford that also included Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Goldwin Smith, Mark Pattison and Benjamin Jowett.[1]

    As a religious teacher, literary critic, historian and jurist, Harrison took a prominent part in the life of his time, and his writings, though often violently controversial on political, religious and social subjects, and in their judgment and historical perspective characterized by a modern Radical point of view, are those of an accomplished scholar, and of one whose wide knowledge of literature was combined with independence of thought and admirable vigour of style. In 1907 he published The Creed of a Layman, which included his Apologia pro fide mea, in explanation of his Positivist religious position.”

    Finally, this paper looks interesting:

    http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/1917/1/U220209.pdf

    Comte’s influence on Mill.

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  9. I’m somewhat curious about how you got into this field. Do you a have academic background, i.e a degree in history or something from a top ivy? Care to share about your intellectual background?

    No background in academics.

    Politically I began as a Libertarian Republican, began reading HBD, and then came across the Lion and then Moldbug.

    What led you to Hamilton, for example?

    I was not satisfied with Moldbug’s position that Liberalism was exported to Europe from America. That led me to explore the American Conservative tradition which then brought me to Hamilton and the Golden Age (wrongly referred to as the Gilded Age).

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