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“The swamp drained Trump?

By Daniel M. Ryan
web posted September 18, 2017

Last week was not a good week for Trump supporters. President Trump’s announcement of the DACA deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer spread like the proverbial wildfire. Breitbart exploded with angry comments. “Trump Voters Throw MAGA Hats into Twitter Bonfire? drew more than twenty-one thousand. “Report: Trump Caves on DACA, Wants ‘Quick’ Amnesty for 800K Illegal Aliens? had ~40,000 comments even after some of them were pruned. Needless to say, most of them were laced with anger.

There have been some cooler heads who’ve pointed out that President Trump had bent before but returned to his real self. They say that the DACA deal will be like the Syrian air strikes: President Trump will do something that the Establishment wants, in order to get them off his back and/or to send a message, but he’ll return and the Trump Train will chug again on the right track.

These Trump loyalists may be right, but there is a real sense that the Trump Revolution is over. Virtually all of the economic nationalists are gone from the Trump team. Steve Bannon’s gone, Sebastian Gorka’s gone, Gen. Flynn’s gone, Roger Stone is gone. The only one left, Stephen Miller, is apparently sidelined. Again from Brietbart, word is that Gen. Kelly has “ensured that President Donald Trump was literally surrounded by amnesty boosters the night he agreed to give away a huge, expensive and unpopular amnesty in exchange for an empty bag of ‘border security’ promises.? The parallel to the time-bomb of Reagan’s 1986 amnesty deal was quickly picked up. This last report elicited “only? seven thousand comments. (!)

What’s eerie about the last is that it suggests President Trump is being isolated – just like President Nixon. As one commenter at the Free Republic observed, it looks very much like “the swamp drained Donald.?

Decades ago, Milton and Rose Friedman warned about this. As a result of their team’s experience in the early Reagan Administration, they penned a book called Tyranny of the Status Quo (1983). Therein, they said that reforms of government are frustrated by an “Iron Triangle? composed of beneficiaries of government programs (including crony capitalists), bureaucrats and professional politicians. They further observed that the Iron Triangle does part when a new reformist Administration takes office - but only for a window of six to nine months. Then it closes back up, and frustrates further reforms. So, a reform President like Ronald Reagan can only institute a real restructuring in that six-to-nine-month window. From then on, except in areas where he is not thwarted by the vested interests in the Iron Triangle (e.g. foreign policy), he becomes a maintainer. After his first nine months, the swaths he intends to cut leave nary a scratch on the Iron Triangle.

For President Trump, the nine months end on Sept. 20th. Regardless of the motives behind the DACA deal – most likely, it’s a rebuke to the Republican Congress for failing to get its act together (!) - the reform phase of Trump’s presidency is over. Going forward, it’s going to be little more than tax changes, sensible judges and a Wall’s that’s likely to be no more extensive than the fence authorized eleven years ago. The Iron Triangle has closed.

That’s not to say that President Trump is destined to be a failure; far from it. One very important but under-the-radar reform that got through the Iron Triangle is the crackdown on voter fraud. President Trump’s Commission on Electoral Integrity got up, got running and has been established within that window. Already, it and related efforts have proven that the MSM’s scoffs about voter fraud are flat-out untrue. It’s one of many narrative collapses, but long-term it’s one of the most significant. If you supported Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration to restore the rule of law, you have good reason to be happy that he’s working to restore the integrity of the vote. Illegal immigration has sunk considerably in President Trump’s tenure; he definitely slowed the flow. He did try his best on repeal-and-replace; the one who looked bad was the Republican Congress. (In case you forgot, those guys were the ones who sent up all those clean-repeal bills to President Obama: when they finally had a real chance, they blew it.) Plus, let’s not forget, this was the Flight 93 election.

It’s also been informational. The surfacing of the so-called Deep State has derailed the naive happy-clappy theory of the bureaucracy. No, those folks are not the stick-in-the-mud but capable servants of the President. It’s far closer to the truth to see them as a collection of vested interests who will fight to preserve and extend those interests. The Deep-State quagmire tells you all you need to know about shrinking government. It won’t be like a corporate restructuring: it’ll be more like taking meat bones away from a pack of German Shepherds.

It also marks a time to revive a dusty theory that explains the Deep State and its power. That theory is James Burnham’s Managerial Revolution, extended by his most dogged successor Sam Francis.

The Revolution Was

Dr. Francis was one of those figures who was ahead of his time, and consequently won little fame and influence in his own time. His Chronicles columns from 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 read almost like they had been written two years ago. Long before the term RINO was coined, Francis came up with an explanatory column whose title might as well be the Beltway Republicans’ epitaph: “Beautiful Losers.? The secret of their failures, Francis explains, comes from the fact that they have not come to grips with the Managerial Revolution. The only exception to this rule is the neoconservatives, who rose to power within it and those have the skills to thrive in the managerial age.

Allow the late Dr. Francis to explain the theory in his own words:

Managerial elites depend on the technical skills that enable them to gain and keep power inside mass organizations. Their major structural interest lies in preserving and extending the organizations they control and in making sure those organizations are perpetuated. The bourgeois virtues and bonds that served the old elite as instruments of power mean virtually nothing to managers, who can no more pass on their professional skills to their children than the stock owned by the old bourgeoisie can confer the skills needed to run organizations. Hence, managers tend not to depend on families very much, to get divorces and have children who grow up to be loutish illiterates [ahem] rather than the well-bred Yalies cranked out for generations by the old elites. The managerial scion may inherit whatever wealth his managerial daddy agglomerated, but unless he has the personal brains and discipline to obtain similar skills, he can't step into daddy's shoes at the family firm the way a young Rockefeller or Morgan could. But even aside from the family itself, managers simply don't need bourgeois structures to maintain their power—not the local community, not religion and ethnicity, and not the same cultural and moral codes. Indeed, such institutions merely get in the way of managerial power. They represent barriers against which large corporations and other mass organizations are always colliding, and the sooner such barriers are smashed, the more reach and power the organizations, and the managerial elites that run them, will acquire.

...The managerial codes incorporate the ideological premises of universalism (because managerial interests are global, detached and disengaged from any particular place or group, and extend across many different nations, races, religions, and cultures) and what William H. Whyte in The Organization Man called "scientism": "the premise that with the same techniques that have worked in the physical sciences we can eventually create an exact science of man" (because the managerial skills on which the elite depends are based on the application of "science" to social, economic, and political relationships). The managerial portrait of human beings bears more resemblance to the little cutout figures you see in sociological charts and tables than to any human being who ever really existed. An elite that really thinks this is what human beings are like will not hesitate to "[manage] the economy," design "communities," bomb harmless peasants, manipulate public opinion, impose forced busing, set up concentration camps, or do anything else it imagines to be in the best interests of "humanity," "humankind," "the future," or whatever other abstraction it has fixed upon....
At bottom, the foundational edge that the managerial elite have is the gains from specialization and trade. The gains that are illustrated in economics textbooks, like this one I made up:
A high-powered lawyer who nets $500 an hour for his time is approached by a gardener who offers to keep his lawn mowed for $50 a week. The lawyer, being an economically-rational fellow, thinks about it and then realizes he could spend the hour he devotes to his lawn on more legal work. He’ll spend $50, but he’ll be able to bill another hour: that billing will get him an extra $500. He agrees, and as a result he’s better off by $450 a week. Since his billings net is half of the gross billing of the law firm he’s a partner of, GDP grows by $500 (his cut) + $500 (the law firm’s cut) + $50 (the gardener’s take for his cutting) for a total of a $1,050 gain to the economy in GDP terms.
Since neither Burnham nor Francis were much interested in economics, they did not integrate their theory with the gains from specialization and trade as per above. But they were interested in power, and were quite insightful in seeing how these gains changed power relationships. To see how, I’ll modify the above lawn-mowing example to make the point:
A high-powered, highly competitive lawyer raised by helicopter parents nets $500 an hour in billings. Since he’s been raised for a high-powered specialists’ role, he’s never so much as touched a lawnmower. He’s also been raised to feel in his bones the liberal model of society: a society of autonomous monads underneath the government who interact on the basis of self-interest or high-minded feelings. Every final exam he aced reinforced this world-view. He unconsciously thinks that a rational society is like those final exams: each person a lone individual, on a more-or-less equal footing to all the others, whose reward is determined by diligence and hard work. As he passed through undergrad and law school, he honed his political worldview into the modern-liberal philosophy that casts the government as a dispenser of justice, righter of inequities, and helper of “people? - including people like him.

Being an economically-rational sort, he enjoys the above-illustrated gains from specialization and trade. But something bursts into his economically-rational world: the gardeners launch a wildcat general strike.

His first instinct is to fire up his phone and make some well-placed calls to get the government to order them back to work. Isn’t that one of the reasons he pays taxes? And besides, every 15 minutes he’s tied up subtracts $125 from the economy.

But his overall education prevails over that urge, so he instead phones around to ask if the gardeners are members of a disadvantaged group. Finding out that they are, he sighs and goes out to look for a lawnmower. If that’s what it takes to support the victims of structural injustice, he’ll do it. Since his gated community contains high-earning, high-powered specialists like him, they’re doing the same thing. The resultant losses are a small price to pay for the disadvantaged group of gardeners to win a better deal for they and their disadvantaged fellows. The country will be better once those structural impediments to real equality of opportunity are eroded, or at least lessened.

He manages to get ahold of a cheap electric mower: one that’s not very well-designed. The wheels are a little too high off the ground, so the blades will cut the flap if it’s backed up while running. The lawyer revs it up. He does not know that his high-powered education and extracurriculars included nothing that tutored whatever mechanical aptitude he has naturally. He backs up the mower, and is shocked to see it cut the flap.

After letting go of the dead-man switch that turns it off, he gets angry. What kind of lax government would permit this unsafe monstrosity to be sold? Again, he thinks of his high-powered connections; this time, his finer feeling do not deter him. This death-trap lawnmower should be yanked off the market. It isn’t a matter of a mere class-action lawsuit; there’s a principle at stake. The government should be more concerned with safety – less unconcerned with safety.

As he steels himself to make his calls, he looks at the dead-man switch and realizes: what would have happened had that cost-cutting reckless manufacturer offered a lawnmower with a regular switch like a light switch? His inner eye flashes a nightmare vision of him staring at his bloody hand with the tips of his finger chopped off. His resolve reinforced, he starts making his calls. In each, he explains that this isn’t a mere tort: what that company did should be made a crime.

As he finishes, his mind flashes back to his uni days when he learned about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its successors. He feels a galvanizing wave of righteous fury as he imagines some in-bred no-good moron of a redneck saying to a nice black family, “Git outta here! Your dirty money’s no good!? Without realizing it, his unconscious mind links this playlet to the manager of the hardware store saying to him, “I’m not selling you anything, you no-good shyster!? What a blessing is civil rights!

On the other side of town, a long-retired blue-collar fellow is grumbling as he pulls out the same brand of lawnmower. As his wife has heard a thousand times, he resents the dead-man switch that the extant regulations demand. “Why can’t they make ‘em with a real switch like they used to? How stupid can someone be to turn the thing over and poke at the blades without unplugging it first?....? His own flap is 100% intact.
This above illustration, although merely sketchy, indicates what the class interest of the new managerial class comprises.

As for their power, it’s as brutally simple as “Possession [of the needed skills] is nine-tenths of ownership.? If challenged by a citizen-boss, the managerial specialist need only reply: “I’d like to do it, but you’ll have to show me how. I promise you: I’ll either do it your way or show you why I can’t.? This is how Humpy Meekly turns into Sir Humphrey Appleby. Even the ones who are 100% good-faith end up sounding like Sir Humphrey. “Sir, I cannot change the laws!?

And of course, he cannot change the vested interests that have been built over those laws.

As explained both by Burnham and Francis, there’s only one way through this obstacle. Raise a new set of counter-elites who acquire the necessary technical-managerial skills but stay indigenous: stay true to their roots. Instead of severing their emotional ties to the Heartland, put their skills to work for the Heartland.

Generation Reagan was blessed because they saw a self-confident Conservative President while they were growing up. This self-confidence was sealed into place by the collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War. You can see the difference by comparing Sen. Cruz with Sen. McConnell.

But this self-confidence is precisely the wrong psychology for leading the “Middle American Revolution.? Generation Reagan is full of economists – and as the above examples indicate, economists are clueless about the political implications of the managerial revolution. All they see are gains from specialization and trade, as per the first example, and think of Big Government as nothing but an institution that sometimes gets in the way of...greater gains for the economy as a whole.

For these new counter-elites, we’ll have to look to Generation Trump. Their coming-of-age has been profoundly different from Generation Reagan’s. Instead of the self-confidence and gut-sense that Reaganism is on the side of history triumphant, they’ve had the galvanizing excitement of Donald Trump winning the impossible-to-win war...only to have victory snatched away from him (and them) by the beltway Republicans and the Deep State.

As someone who himself is Generation Reagan, I have to admit that the self-confidence has made Generation Reagan emotionally clueless about the anger felt in the Heartland. Try as we might, we don’t feel the outrage that long-suffering Middle Americans feel. The only exceptions are people who have personally been hurt by the machinations of the managerial State - or who have seen their good friends or some of their family knocked down. As for how the likes of me has tried to bridge the gap, well...the clumsy attempts by Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz tell you all you need to know.

Generation Trump will be different. Because of that snatch-away, they’ll feel the anger right in their guts. They’ll take a long time to go from entry-level to holding real clout, but once they do they’ll have an intuitive understanding of Heartland rage. And in so doing, they’ll have the belly for serving Heartland interests much better than the current crop. ESR

Daniel M. Ryan, as Nxtblg, is shepherding the independently-run Open Audi Initiative Prediction Market Shadowing Project. He has stubbornly assumed all the responsibility and blame for the workings and outcome of the project.

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