On ‘Just Hierarchy’ and other questions. Political Observer comments

Headline: Pro-people policies, dutiful citizens effective in China’s COVID-19 fight: Daniel A. Bell

The myth of a ‘benevolent paternalism’ makes its return via a radical nostalgia for ‘safety’ in the age of Covid-19? Mr. Bell and his co-author Wang Pei, write an apologetic for ‘Just Hierarchy’, framed via a debate with toxic imperial apologist Niall Ferguson. The Bell/Pei political intervention reads like a riff on Lippmann’s faith in Technocrats, as a hedge against too much democracy:

Any large-scale society needs social hierarchy, led by experts who can efficiently deal with problems in different domains. It’s impossible to connect large numbers of people in an efficient way without hierarchically structured and specialized social organizations.’

The reader can also look to another expression of faith in this trinity of Technocracy/Hierarchy/Elites in Garett Jones’ ‘10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites A Little More and the Masses A Little Less.’ reviewed in the Economist of February 13, 2020, probably a Friday!

Headline: Why an excess of democracy can lead to poor decisions

Sub-headline: Cutting back on people power can be beneficial, thinks Garett Jones

Garett Jones an economics professor at George Mason University in Virginia, knew he was on to a good thing when he got a call from the campus police. A student journalist had written a report on a lecture that he had given suggesting that rich countries would be better off if they were less, rather than more, democratic. The hostile reaction, which spread beyond the university, included a call threatening enough to trouble the university’s private security force. Mr Jones concluded that he had an idea powerful and contentious enough to make into a book. The result is “10% Less Democracy”.


Prof. Jones, the victim of a Student Mob, echoes the recent ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, here is a condensation of their polemic in The Atlantic:


 A tribute to the political hysteria of Allen Bloom, updated by a New Democratic propagandist Jonathan Haidt, with assistance from Lukianoff. The New Democrats mark a de-evolution, from the New Deal to a political pastiche of McCarthyism, and an utterly collapsed Neo-Liberalism. The above a frame in an American political context, yet transcending borders that the Bell/Pei intervention represents. The reader need only look to the neologism of  Niall Ferguson and Moritz Schularick of ‘Chimerica’ about the symbiotic relation of these two states. Also consider this revelatory paragraph from Mr. Bell’s interview :

Bell: One of the weaknesses of electoral democracies is that it’s often easier to get more voter support by demonizing opponents and inventing enemies rather than reflecting on one’s own responsibility for problems and trying to solve problems in an efficient way. Unfortunately, these flaws are especially apparent around election time. In the US, it’s almost inevitable that there will be much “China bashing” to get votes. All we can do is hoping that political leaders become more rational after they are elected. Meanwhile, we – China – should not play their games. We should keep our heads down and aim to cooperate with reasonable and talented people to deal with global problems such as global pandemics and climate change. We can also try to inspire others by our model at home. We need to improve the ability and virtue of public officials, as well as to give more freedom of speech for conscientious professionals to report problems before they explode. We inspire by humility, good deeds, and learning from our mistakes, not by bragging about what we do.


‘Just Hierarchy’ leads me to this speculation: 

Its ‘as if’ *Kant’s imperative of ‘self-emancipation from tutelage’ had never been enunciated, by the most important philosopher since The Greeks!  The postulation of a  ‘Benevolent Paternalism’, now in the guise of Just Hierarchy, makes its return via a radical nostalgia for the mirage of ‘safety’, in the world mired in The Pandemic? With the help of Anti-Student hysteria and the return of ‘The Yellow Peril’. 

Political Observer 



*Added May 03, 2020 10: 53 AM PDT:

Headline: The deeper roots of Chinese demonization

Sub-headline: Hegel saw history moving east to west – ‘Europe thus absolutely being the end of history, Asia the beginning’

The deeper roots of Chinese demonization





About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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