corporatism

More Wisdom from Theodore Dalrymple

I’m reading his Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics & Culture of Decline. It’s chock-a-block with wisdom, as is almost everything Dalrymple writes. This is from the essay “How Not to Do It”:

The state has become a vast and intricate system of patronage, whose influence very few can entirely escape. It is essentially corporatist: the central government, avid for power, sets itself up as an authority on everything and claims to be omnicompetent both morally and in practice; and by means of taxation, licensing, regulation and bureaucracy, it destroys the independence of all organisations that intervene between it and the individual citizen. If it can draw enough citizens into dependence on it, the central government can remain in power, if not forever, then for a very long time, at least until a crisis or cataclysm forces change.

At the very end of the chain of patronage…is the underclass, who (to change the metaphor slightly) form the scavengers or bottom-feeders of the whole corporatist ecosystem. Impoverished and degraded as they might be, they are nonetheless essential to the whole system, for their existence provides an ideological proof of the necessity of providential government in the first place, as well as justifying many employment opportunities in themselves.… I have seen myself…large numbers of people corrupted to the very fibre of their being by having been deprived of responsibility, purpose and self-respect, void of hope and fear alike, living in as near to purgatory as anywhere in modern society can come.

Of course, the corporatist system…is a house of cards, or perhaps a better analogy would be with a pyramid scheme. Hundreds of thousands of people are employed to perform tasks that are not merely useless but actually obstructive of real work and economically counterproductive. The bureaucracy insinuates itself into the smallest cracks of daily life.