Why do rightwing populist leaders oppose experts?

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  • #293448

    eridani
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    @eridani

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/26/rightwing-populist-leaders-oppose-experts-not-elites

    Is the success of the Trumps, Bolsonaros and Johnsons of this world proof that the people can always be seduced by demagogues – and simply don’t know what’s good for them? Distrust of professionalism does not come out of nowhere. Neoliberalism paved the way for these attitudes. Margaret Thatcher memorably held that academics didn’t really do any work; in fact, they all – with the possible exception of scientists – seemed to be lefties wasting taxpayers’ money. Tories introduced the imperative constantly to audit and assess (and discipline and punish those not measuring up); only what could be counted, counted. Governments that praised “free markets” – the spontaneous emergence of economic order – actually ended up constructing entirely artificial “markets” in academia and healthcare. These pseudo-markets had to provide the right “incentives” – because, so the assumption went, professionals could not possibly be motivated by intrinsic goals of helping patients or pursuing research or educating young people.

    The result was not a genuine market, but a vast bureaucracy reminiscent of the late Soviet Union. What one historian has called “the tyranny of metrics” meant that the measure became the target; the relentless quantification of performance distorted what and how professionals performed. Enormous resources, and a fair bit of cunning, went into gaming a system which was based on the suspicion that professional self-regulation and internal accountability are sham ideals that just justify professionals erecting monopolies and closed shops.

    This concerted attack on professionalism made it easier for Trump and Boris Johnson to claim that they might just know better than leading scientists. Business leaders are praised as more capable decision-makers, when it comes to the length of a lockdown, than epidemiologists. Trump – who apparently listens to theories cooked up by his uniquely unqualified son-in-law and fears being upstaged by Anthony Fauci – has still not understood that the longer amateur hour at the very top lasts, the more lives will be lost.

    The assumption that there is only one right way is perversely shared by populists and technocrats: populists claim that there is only one authentic popular will (to build a Wall, get Brexit done, or what have you), and that they are the only ones who know it – and the only ones who can implement it. The technocratic stance – widely on display on the continent during the European debt crisis – holds that there is only one rational answer to policy challenges, and that only technocrats can identify it. If you disagree with a populist, you are declared a traitor to the people; if you disagree with a technocrat, you’ll be told politely that you’re not smart enough.

    Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

  • #293480

    joentokyo
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    @joentokyo

    @eridani

    “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”

    John Stuart Mill

    “A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves” ~ French philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel (1903-1987)

    • #293905

      eridani
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      @eridani

      –rather than stupidity.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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