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Leviathan and its Enemies by Samuel T Francis
Summary, Excerpts, and Analysis
Excerpts and Analysis from ‘Leviathan and its Enemies’ by Sam Francis
Introduction / Summary
A new ruling elite emerged in 20th-century America as a result of the industrial revolution, and subsequently there emerged a new form of Government.
Population growth led to the widespread emergence of mass organizations (corporations, bureaucracies, and universities), which gave birth to a new, powerful class of Managerial Elite to guide the vast operations of the means of economic production; means which, on a smaller scale, were always previously in the hands of private entrepreneurs and their families; or on a larger scale were always controlled (owned and operated) by aristocratic elites or monarchs. These old “bourgeois elites” never effectively controlled new mass organizations, and quickly lost their political and social dominance. The Managerial Elite had a global outlook, and set out to remake society according to its own interests (interests which were in direct conflict with any bourgeois interests). The Managerial Revolution consists not only in the management of the material dimension of society, but also in cultural dimensions: in the delegitimization and destruction of bourgeois culture.
The Managerial Revolution resulted in a new Ideology called Liberalism (not to be mistaken with Classical Liberalism), which was humanist, cosmopolitan, and hedonistic. The ideology justifies, rationalizes, and grows out of the structural interests of the elites. At the heart of this managerial ideology is the continuous drive for social change, and its advocates call this “progress”. Because the Media is a part of the Managerial Elite, our collective consciousness has been conditioned for decades to view this ideology in a positive light, and resistance to social change is slandered as low-status. The disruptions caused by continuous social change create a need to expand managerial reach: “the mass state exists for the purpose of social manipulation. Its elite are social engineers, who gain power and financial resources by inventing social problems, then designing and applying solutions for them.”
The Managers and Media constantly propagandize the problems that plague social and economic life by its skill in communications, public relations, social manipulation, and commercial regulation. Unemployment, labor disputes, slums: all need solved by government action. Later in the 20th century, the Managerial Elite discovered more problems, such as crime, drugs, family breakdown, racism, homophobia, sexism, illiteracy, homelessness, environmental abuse, gun ownership, smoking, junk food, etc., for which it had a bottomless supply of science, therapies, technologies, laws, or agencies that it can provide ostensibly as amelioration, when in reality these solutions are excuses to take more power into itself.
THE EMERGENCE OF MANAGERIAL ELITES
Late 19th and early 20th centuries brought a transformation of civilization and government comparable in its implications to those of the Agricultural Revolution. Like the agricultural revolution, the Industrial Revolution exponentially grew the size of human populations, and subsequently, fundamental structures of social organization and government changed radically from the preceding age. Physical technologies of the Industrial Revolution like rail, oil, newspaper, and medical advancements, led to the birth of enormous cities, large factories, exponentially growing populations, and, therefore, the need for mass corporations and mass government to manage economies of scale unique to human history. The change in size brought a change in structure of social organization and governance called The Managerial Revolution. Though the USA ostensibly retained its democratic republic form of government, functionally this government was replaced by Mass Bureaucracy, organized beneath an Imperial Executive branch, and constituents grew dependent upon and manipulated by Mass Corporation and Media.
The change in social organization required a change in the authority structure, and so the revolution of mass and scale created a new class of elites: the Managerial Elite. Mass organizations can’t be governed through personal skills, legal arrangements, and traditions of the older bourgeoise / aristocratic elites. They require technical and scientific managerial skills, and power in a mass organization must necessarily be delegated across functional sub-groups.
The general tendency of these mass organizations to continue their own enlargement brought them into conflict with more compact and traditional organizations, along with the ideas, values, and beliefs of those older organizations. The organizations tend to be public rather than private, collective rather than individual, centralized and homogenizing rather than local and diversified. In some societies (notably Germany and Russia early 20th century) traditional aristocratic elites didn’t adapt their institutions to the revolution, and their political structures collapsed under its strain against the challenges of the new elites.
And so, a fundamentally new form of civilization formed: the Managerial System, ruled by Managerial Elite. Power is centralized into the national bureaucracy or corporate technostructure, but decentralized across limitless agencies, committees, bureaus, departments, corporations, and other governmental bodies. As a result of this transformation, political revolution against one monarch or aristocratic family became impossible, and the interests of the System rose above the interests of any individual or small group of individuals within it — this decentralized nature of such enormous power is unique in human history.
The Managerial System is comprised of three kinds of mass organizations: 1) mass corporation, 2) mass state, 3) mass orgs of culture & communication (university and media). Though there are sometimes conflicts among the three sectors, and even within sectors, there’s also an underlying unity, a common interest and mentality, a consensus that is unspoken or assumed. Unified, the managerial elites who wield the power of these organizations are dominant over modern civilization.
The owners of mass corporations are interested primarily in profitable return on investment; the managers on the other hand are interested in the growth of the corporation itself. The goal of corporate growth–ever increasing expansion–has become embedded in the professional code of modern corporate managers, and the goal corresponds to their group interests.
Mass corporations are antagonistic to bourgeois order; and the fusion of corporation with state via regulation and revolving-doors strikes at the very root of bourgeois society, politically, socially, and morally. Bourgeois order rested on family, local community, church, social class, small business, and individualism; managerial order degrades each of these. To bourgeoise, wealth consisted of visible and concrete matter: private property, large houses, many children; managerial ideology however dematerializes and devalues private property, and values social status over concrete wealth. Even bourgeois moral framework is antagonistic to the ideology of the managerial state: family, religion, sexual and racial identity, and protestant work ethic is all regarded as artificial, repressive, and obsolete barriers to human fulfillment.
Slums, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, disease, crime, and general insecurity of mass society threatened to dissolve social fabric and radicalize the masses; and so the Mass State was born to solve these problems
The nature of war changed, as well, which also required a Mass State: mass armies, equipped with mass produced weaponry, uniforms, housing, and provisions. Men mobilized into factories to mass produce airplanes and bombs, whereas just 100 years prior, men mobilized into armies and all fighting was man-to-man. “Total War” of WWI involved mobilization and coordination of masses of people, resources, and technology, as well as propaganda. Technical change was matched by deliberate changes in daily human routines.
Bureaucrats of the Mass State are analogous to the technostructure within a Mass Corporation. Though both the small stockholder and the average citizen acquired a formal, legal right to participate, neither generally possessed the opportunity, the interest, or the ability to participate intelligently in the control and direction of mass organizations in the economy or government. No, actual power is distributed according to managerial skills and status within a mass organization.
The local community and local government were the bases of bourgeois political power; managerial power resides in agencies in national or international capitols. Bourgeois understood laws as conditions of conduct; managers understand them as devices for achieving preferred procedural outcomes: “Law is concerned with rights, administration is concerned with results.”
The Mass State justifies itself by the claim that managerial techniques can resolve conflicts and flaws of human society and ameliorate the human condition. Crime, war, poverty, disease, ignorance itself becomes “problems” to be “solved” by management–problems caused by the oppressive bourgeois order. Educational bureaucracy seeks to usurp the functions of the bourgeois family, and to instruct children in anti-bourgeois ideologies, values, and styles.
Mass Orgs of Culture and Communication (University and Media)
Mass State and Mass Corp can’t succeed without Mass Communication and Cultural orgs. University provides the managerial credentials, effectively gatekeeping status; Mass Media disseminates, restrict, or invents facts, ideas, values, and tastes, thus defining status, and deleting it when necessary from rogues who challenge the managerial order.
The mass circulation of newspapers in Europe and USA in the early 20th century accelerated the enlargement of the managerial systems which were newborn and rapidly evolving. Mass wood-pulp production and industrial-level dissemination of news and opinion into the hands of uneducated masses was the ultimate social control and means of homogenization of the time; more compact and less technically advanced bourgeois institutions could not hope to compete.
Mass media’s job is to transmit and inculcate the ideology of the regime, rationalizing the managerial system’s structure and interests of its elite while propagandizing against the bourgeois structure and elites. Mass/Managerial State and Corp depend on the legitimization provided by this. The consolidation of control of communication enabled the emergent elites to achieve cultural hegemony: permeation throughout civil society of an entire system of values, attitudes, beliefs, morality, etc. The process of homogenization is rationalized by a cosmopolitan ideology that regards the social and cultural differentiations of the bourgeois order as backward, artificial, and repressive.
Both the industrial and democratic revolutions of the early 20th century were the work of European and American bourgeois; but… bourgeois dominance could not prevail over the new forces that these revolutions generated. “Elites”, wrote Vilfredo Pareto, “usually end up committing suicide.” Perhaps all human societies exhibit or develop similar flaws and vulnerabilities, and perhaps the managerial regime will too. If so, then it will face challenges from the forces that it breeds, and, like the bourgeois order that preceded it, fail to recognize the threat and to mobilize the will and resources to meet it.
IDEOLOGY OF MANAGERIAL ELITES
All elites form and propagate an ideology that is used to justify their dominance. Ideology claims to be philosophic or scientific, or to explain reality, while at the same time justifies or rationalizes actions/behaviors that accrue to the advantage of the group that adopts them. Ideologies answer a real need in man’s social nature, a need so universally felt, of governing and knowing that one is governed not just by material force, but by a moral principle.
Ideology serves three purposes: 1) rationalizes the interests of the elites; legitimizes or justifies them in terms of a higher good rather than the elites’ interests themselves. 2) identify and communicate the interests of the elites within the circles of the elite themselves, but also to those outside of it. 3) integrates a society with a frame of reference to which all can appeal as a common ground of action.
The ideology behind Managerial Civilization is Managerial Humanism. It is based on scientism, utopianism, and urbanism. Three sub-species of Managerial Regime evolved: In Europe, they had two Hard Managerial Regimes (Naziism, Communism); in America, they adopted Soft Managerial Ideology (Liberalism). Soft ideology relies on manipulation and inducement, rather than force, to make use of its power: self-fulfillment, immediate gratification, avoidance of pain, pursuit of pleasure, disregard for independence. As such, the psychological type of personality that is dominant within the Liberal managerial elite recoils from the use of force and is unable to make prolonged or consistent use of it effectively.
The premise of Liberalism is that human beings and their social relationships are analogous to the phenomena of inert nature, and can be manipulated by scientific techniques in the same way. The global or transnational organization of mankind under one Managerial System, and human liberation from national, parochial, racial, or sectarian categories, are the highest goals of Liberalism.
Liberalism meant one thing during the enlightenment era and the American Revolution: it meant bourgeois values of freedom and independence. Today it is called “Classical Liberalism”. The Managerial Revolution changed the meaning of “Liberalism” to mean quite the opposite.
Liberalism in America is associated with political enfranchisement of mass populations, social and economic experimentation, and expansion of “civil rights” i.e. benefits and carve-outs for “oppressed and disadvantaged”. All of these actions only serve to reinforce and grow the structures of the managerial system. Liberal legislation/policies have promoted the fusion of state and economy, the growth of managerial bureaucracy in state and corporation, and the rise of Managerial Caesarism in the form of an “Imperial Presidency”. Liberalism is extremely effective at rationalizing public support for the actions of the managerial regime, and granting power and status to the groups delivering or receiving benefits.
Liberalism espoused nationalist values to build a managerial state which, while avoiding a formal commitment to socialism, expressed the premises of socialism with the denial of bourgeois values such as the rights to privacy, individuality, and private property. What emerged was a mixture of free enterprise and government regulation; however, all property was potentially liable to be controlled by the state, because the state, acting in the name of society, was now granted broad, nonspecific power over life and property. There was, for example, broad overlap between rhetoric and policies espoused by Hitler (promising a “new deal” to Germans with his National Socialism program), Kennedy (“ask not what your country can do for you but instead what you can do for your country” is stolen from an American fascist theorist), and FDR, who campaigned on “a dynamic democracy that would recognize the inevitability of concentration in industry and federal control of giant corporations”. Kennedy said, after his inauguration, “far from being natural enemies, government and business are necessary allies.”
Keynesian economic theory was adopted to advance the interests of Liberalism, which, again, were the interests of the managerial elite. Keynesian ideas justified the integration and growth of mass corporation and mass state: by developing a large and active government spending program for welfare, this provided the mass state with loyal voters, and a “floor” of mass consumption by the underclass (at the expense of the middle class and bourgeois) for the mass corporation. In 1964, given a clear choice between managerial liberalism in LBJ, and the bourgeois values of Goldwater, corporate elites donated heavily to the party that stimulated sales, fueled profits, and lowered corporate taxes: LBJ’s Democrat party.
The ideology legitimizes the existence, dominance, and limitless expansion of the Mass Managerial System by providing considerable rewards in salaries, royalties, celebrity, status, and power for anyone who adheres to the ideas and values that are consistent with the functional imperatives of the regime. This is particularly evident in University and Media. Liberalism rules with both carrot and stick: Dissent against the prevailing ideology tend to incite moral or emotional outrage, and doubts about the intelligence or goodwill or sanity of those who dissent.
By the end of WWII, the managerial elite had essentially won its conflict with the bourgeois order, and had constructed a Managerial System in which it was the dominant element. It had made considerable progress in fusing the Mass State, the Mass Corporation, and the Mass Organizations of Culture and Communication to advance its national (and even global) dominance. The principle need therefore became not to continue to fight against the bourgeois, but to consolidate its interests. Liberalism, therefore, provided a groundwork for continuing social reconstruction, and designing constant social changes, and, in declining to define a final goal of human improvement, the process of reconstruction could be endless. Change was the only constant; and if you resisted change, you failed the test of loyalty to the managerial elites and the ideology which animated their managerial system. The process of constant reconstructions became institutionalized, assimilated into the very structure of the managerial regime/system.
It was previously mentioned that Soft managerial ideology relies on manipulation and inducement, rather than force, to make use of its power. As such, the psychological type of personality that is dominant within the Liberal managerial elite recoils from the use of force and is unable to make prolonged or consistent use of it effectively. The disciplines of the soft managerial regime thus tend to undermine themselves, and they introduce a long-term vulnerability to the regime that it cannot easily overcome and becomes blatant when societal emergencies and breakdowns such as war, terrorism, crime, riots, or internal violence arise to challenge the regime. It may be that this vulnerability will eventually incapacitate and destroy the Managerial System, which may be unable to command the sacrifices and loyalties necessary to meet such challenges, or it may be that the soft regime of the west will simply evolve into a hard regime, in the event that it gains hegemonic power over all other nations. Although the mass population often shares loyalties to and sometimes venerates the symbols offered by liberalism, the material rewards conferred by the Managerial System have not yet eliminated anti-managerial and anti-liberal impulses. The resurgence of such impulses in the interstices of the managerial regime, particularly their adoption of force themselves, is the most profound fear of, and the most important threat to, the elite and its apparatus of power.
THE DYNAMICS OF THE MANAGERIAL REGIME: SOFT AND HARD MANAGERIALISM
Elites form when certain small groups are able to control large social forces – wealth, tech, weapons, myths that command loyalty, knowledge. In short, a few people gain control of a lot of power, which is simply the ability to elicit obedience from a mass population. Now, the TYPES of social forces that the elite controls will determine its dynamics, i.e. how does the elite acquire and maintain power, or respond to challenges. E.g. elites who control weapons will have different dynamics from those who control wealth (agriculture, commerce, industry). Sometimes, a single social force and the elites who control it become so powerful that it can exclude all others from the group; internal conflict are then reduced or eliminated, but the elite has little versatility in responding to challenges. Such contraction/narrowing of the elite ultimately jeopardizes its ability to maintain its power, since forces eventually arise that can challenge the elite in a way that it’s not prepared to respond to (if it only has a narrow range of forces, resources, or skills at its disposal).
Hard and Soft regimes were highlighted previously. It’s important to dive into further detail: there are important differences between the elites themselves that result in different ideologies, patterns of behavior, strengths, and weaknesses.
In Soft regimes (American Liberalism), elites depend on manipulation. Their dominance rises from the control of mass orgs of university, media, and finance. It offers hedonism and cosmopolitanism as means of maximizing human flourishing, and any problem that it faces must be solved through manipulation and re-defining problems/challenges in terms that are susceptible to manipulation; it ignores or fails to recognize problems/challenges that cannot be resolved by manipulation. E.g. gun violence is an administrative problem to be solved by abolishing bourgeois values of gun-rights, instead of addressing the root cause of violent tendencies which the elites themselves created with constant social experimentation that leaves young men atomized, deracinated, and radicalized. Because the elites depend so much on manipulation, the universities, media, and financial organizations hold excessive power due to their ability to manipulate with verbal, psychic, and economic instruments.
Hard Regimes like USSR and Nazi Germany depended on force or coercion because their elites rose to dominance by taking control of military-industrial complexes in the early 20th century when WWs 1 and 2 required mastery of those industries. Hard regimes inspire less loyalty than do soft regimes, but should soft regimes ever fail to provide material needs, they are subject to rapid destruction.
Class 1 “Foxes” tend to be clever and manipulators – a psychological type found in Soft regimes
Class 2 “Lions” tend to be strong and confrontational – a psychological type of Hard regimes.
Soft elites tend to perceive the persistence of traditional / bourgeois values, ideas, and institutions as “pathologies” in need of manipulative therapies. However, military institutions in western nations have experienced “managerialization” of its elites as well, to its detriment. “Confidence in technology as the arbiter of combat is natural on the part of a historically illiterate managerial technocracy that for years has confused leadership with management, effectiveness with efficiency, and tactics with technology. For decades what has passed for the professional warrior in the United States has all to often been a bureaucrat in uniform, persuaded that virtually all problems on the battlefield are susceptible to managerial or technological resolution, and whose professional standing hinges on acquired expertise rather than a demonstrated capacity to lead men in combat.” Wars essentially become economic. Efforts are made to avoid conflict of arms with the powerful, and the sword is rattled only before the weak. Wars are regarded more than anything else as speculations, fought more with sanctions and subversions than force of arms.
Soft elites don’t truly desire ownership; what motivates them is the exercise of power, the desire to go beyond imposed limitations. “It’s not ownership that counts–it’s control.” Control is the ability to select and motivate people; an understanding of what motivates people in a positive sense, and in a pejorative sense, you need manipulative skill. However, societies where Class 1s are dominant tend to have little staying power; Class 2 elements cannot always be manipulated, and if challenges from them arise, they present an almost invincible threat to the Class 1 elite that is unable to use its manipulative skills to advantage and is unable or unwilling to use force to meet the challenge. If the challenge comes from within the society, the result is often a violent revolution and the coming to power of a new elite of Class 2 residues that will come to predominate.
In Russia and Germany, democratic political revolutions shattered the dominance of the traditional elites, and enabled the managerial sub-elites to take power. Marxism made obvious appeals to this revolution with the physical persecution of aristocrats and bourgeois, as well as systematic efforts (via the press) to eradicate pre-revolutionary ideologies and institutions (the family, religion, traditional morality, private property, class relationships). Hitler made similar efforts: he “unequivocally ruled out the possibility of monarchical restoration, and excluded members of princely houses from military commands.” He frequently spoke out against bourgeoisie and lamented the failure of aristocrats to protect Germans from failure in WW1. In both Germany and Russia, the principal goal of traditional elites was developing mass organizations to enhance military capacities of the state, but the sub-elites which formed in these organizations ultimately supplanted the old elites for dominance: originally denied the status and power of the dynastic elites, though possessing far more technical qualifications for power and status, the managerial groups were attractive to radical ideologies and political movements that expressed their resentments and aspirations. Having failed previously to take power via pacific process of representative democracy, they had to seize power via totalitarian ideology and political violence. Thus, the Hard Regime of Class 2 types was born. The utopian myths of these regimes was essentially Spartan: advocating sterner virtues, militarism, contempt for “decadent” foreigners, obedience, hierarchy.
Soviets and Nazis both eventually transitioned from Hard to Soft regimes: Nazis were forced to after losing the war, and Soviets as well after USSR broke beneath the American will. If economic renaissance is necessary for metamorphosis from Hard to Soft, then a transformation of Soft to Hard would require sever economic dislocation that impairs the capacity of the soft regime to provide the mass consumption and gratification required to manipulate its mass populations. In America, a new militaristic elite could emerge from either the right or the left, but it will take severe depression, likely, to occur.
ACCELERATION AND RESISTANCE
Soft managerial elites cannot permanently remain in a period of consolidation and stability, unlike most regimes of the past. Its power rests on expansion, enlargement, and complication of systems to justify its existence. They can’t remain secure unless they continue to expand and generate social change. This results in a permanent revolution against and necessarily endless encroachment into traditional / bourgeois values. But this is also the greatest threat to the soft regime, and can only lead to crises.
After the New Deal, the significant obstacles to the soft managerial regime were: bourgeois power in the south, entrepreneurial sectors, and in local law enforcement and national military services, where non-managerial elements had retained control of instruments of force. So the regime accelerated via Managerial Caesarism of JFK and LBJ, fending off challenges from Goldwater and Nixon. Their strong and explicit support of the civil rights movement earned alliance with a new base among blacks, but further entrenched them against the obstacles mentioned above, by challenging traditional and bourgeois ideas of private property and local authority. “Great Society” programs expanded congressional offices and federal benefits to a growing mass of constituencies. The Mass State involved itself in every sector during the 1960s and 70s, focusing on the amelioration of crime and poverty to do so. The regime assimilated local law enforcement to a degree by providing federal funds and later attaching conditions to them; SCOTUS rulings Miranda and Escobedo established homogenous national law enforcement standards as well. Acceleration culminated – and resistance finally emerged – in the vietnam war, when the regime ostensibly promoted global war on poverty and crime. The emergence of managerial globalism was not imperialism in the traditional sense (the expansion of a nation or political-cultural entity over new territory); rather an enhancement of power by developing managerial infrastructure in non-managerial societies. By integrating such infrastructure into a transnational order, the managerial regime eroded national, racial, and cultural loyalties and replaced them with cosmopolitan identity. The unit of expansion was thus not nation or culture as in historic imperialism, but the managerial elite itself, a transnational apparatus of elite that became a new and autonomous identity. As it was before, it was again: the goal of managerial elites is the enlargement of managerial systems, and homogenization, by manipulative and hedonistic methods.
New Left and Old Right emerged to challenge the american soft regime at this time.
Younger academics and journalists were frustrated that their ideas weren’t being implemented; the regime couldn’t immediately accommodate its aspirations for more acceleration. But New Left eventually assisted managerial acceleration because it fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the managerial regime. It thought the regime was an extension of bourgeois and capitalist order. The practical effect of the revolutionary efforts of the new left was to misdirect critique of the regime away from its managerial elements, and toward persistent but subordinate bourgeois elements that still existed in society. It thought bourgeois were dominant, and so ultimately strengthened the managerial elite, as the soft elites assimilated the useful parts of the New Left, and placated some of its leaders by promoting them into their cause.
The struggle for power between Managerial and Bourgeois forces went on, primarily between the executive branch’s bureaucracy, and the congress and state governments. Bourgeois resistance was related to the private business interests of entrepreneurial capitalists. But Bourgeois forces quickly proved incapable of stopping Managerial encroachment, and so Post-Bourgeois forces emerged as the base of resistance. McCarthy abandoned appeals that transparently served bourgeois economic interests, and instead used patriotic and nationalistic formulas; thus he gained sympathy of groups that historically showed no attraction to bourgeois or anti-managerial ideology, and thus threatened the mass base of the managerial regime. Conservative Intellectuals emerged (National Review) but by trying to convince soft elites to change their ideology, they failed, not understanding that the ideology wasn’t meant to be rational, it was only ever meant to rationalize. By seeking a dialogue with the managerial intelligentsia and by ignoring the structural basis of managerial power, conservative intellectuals gradually came to defend the structure under the illusion that the ideology, and not the structure itself, was their main adversary. The goal of the conservative intellectual was to persuade the elite to change its ideology. Not only was this goal futile, it eventually served to assimilate conservative intellectualism to the defense of the regime itself. Goldwater’s campaign was purely bourgeois, and it failed spectacularly. George Wallace came later, as post-bourgeois resistance – distinguished by its defense of a social and cultural identity with political implications – and set the groundwork for what anti-managerial resistance would become in the future: a New Right.
The “New Right” that formed – “Mid American Radicals” – saw the middle class, traditional, working-class Americans as being neglected by its government. “The rich give into the demands of the poor, and the middle income people have to pay the bill.” While “MAR” ideology doesn’t endorse a minimalist, traditionally bourgeois state, it rejects the state as a tool for advancement of elites or amelioration of (mostly non-white) underclasses. They support the use of force as a response to challenges.
MARs constitute, effectively, a proletariat that the soft managerial regime has been unable to assimilate socially, or psychologically – though they are dependent upon mass-orgs (they support the economic security provided by mass organizations, and to this end, they may espouse socialistic policies as long as they aren’t marketed as such). They’ve seen their hard property, economic and social autonomy, and culture all diminish under the liberal regime. They’ve formed into a new social class of both lower-white-collar and blue-collar workers, who, subject to regular layoffs and sometimes dependent on welfare programs, grew to resent the cosmopolitan and hedonistic values of the elite. Asceticism, nationalism, and racialism has persisted in this class, and the liberal regime has been unable to meet their material or psychological needs.
MARS are hostile to the ideology, behavioral patterns, and manipulative style of the soft elites. The social, economic, and cultural chasms between the underclass and the MARs, paired with the sudden aggressiveness of the former and its political leaders, alienated post-bourgeois forces from the regime, and encouraged their perception of the regime and its elite as their enemies. The formation of policy that benefited underclasses led to Middle-class problems like crime, inflation, erosion of cultural values and institutions, threats to family or neighborhood. And yet, this realignment of the elite with the underclass was a necessary part of the acceleration and expansion of the soft managerial regime, and so it continued, at the expense of post-bourgeois interests.
Nixon tapped into MAR consciousness with the phrase “New American Majority”, as well as campaign efforts like his “checkers speech”, allusion to his wife’s modest wardrobe, etc; but his determination to shrink the Federal bureaucracy was met with resistance from post-bourgeois groups, as well as the managerial elite itself: the collapse of the Nixon administration via the Watergate scandal was instigated by elements in the bureaucracy of the managerial state, as well as the mass media that perceived Nixon’s plans for “massive reorganization and reduction of the federal bureaucracy” as a direct challenge to their power.
Despite anti-managerial radicalism that was forming among the New Right, the movement was eventually deflected from its original goals and assimilated by the managerial regime over the course of Reagan’s administration. Reagan exploited the anti-managerial consciousness (nationalism, racialism, and an acceptance of mass organizations), and made MARs a primary pillar of his coalition. But he came to govern more in the interests of his other two coalitions: 2) “yuppie” entrepreneurs and upwardly mobile professionals, and 3) mass corporations. The result of this assimilation was the effective decapitation of post-bourgeois resistance, for the time being. The principle ideological vehicle for this assimilation came to be known as “Neoconservatism”, which intended to unify the elite into a period of consolidation, and resolve crises of legitimacy brought about by the permanent revolution / constant acceleration of managerial expansion. Neoconservatism did not seek to dismantle mass organizations, or challenge managerial dominance; instead it sought to reform and stabilize their functioning, and provide a new legitimizing consensus for the regime. Neocons saw corporations as quasi-public institutions, rejected simplistic principles of limited government and individual rights. Irving Kristol (often called “the godfather” of neoconservatism”), explicitly endorsed what he called a “conservative welfare state”. The conservative decision to stop warring against the New Deal was one of the most important developments in the mass acceptance of Ronald Reagan. Transnational Liberalism accelerated during his administration: neocons rejected isolationism advocated by bourgeois conservatives, and defended the basic ideological goal of Global Liberalism in the terms of “National Interests.” Global Liberalism extended international free trade systems (under the formula of “Democratization” of third world states); supported far-ranging social, economic, and political reforms in Central America that would assimilate the western hemisphere into the Managerial System; and eliminated traditional elites by land reform and democratization – all which met the primary goal of Managerial Ideology (i.e. the expansion of the Managerial System, and therefore the growth of power beneath Managerial Elites). A neocon author wrote: “Nations are not separate, and short of a worldwide retreat to a pre-electronic age, trade will never balance again. The US, like all other countries, will be ‘independent’ only if it is willing to be poor.” Neoconservatism thus did not challenge the structure or functioning of the soft managerial regime in any significant respect, and in fact provided adapted rationalizations for the interests of the elite. If Reagan’s administration felt like a golden age, that is because it was only a period of respite and consolidation; but it only served to strengthen the base and expand the reach of the Managerial System, and enable further manipulation and revolution against MAR traditions, institutions, and values, by subsequent accelerationist administrations. Further, the internationalization of managerialism that took place under Reagan (NAFTA and other corporate off-shoring of American jobs) led to a sense of betrayal among MAR elements. Thus, MARs came to reject neoconservatism, and their anti-managerial consciousness only grew.
The future of MAR resistance is unclear. The permanence of the revolution, and the subsequent crises it creates, means that the managerial assault on remnants of bourgeois order will continue, and reaction by post-bourgeois forces will revive and persist. Acceleration began primarily in the 60s with civil rights revolutions, sexual revolutions, and social-technological revolution; and new constituencies/underclasses for managerial acceleration emerge through mass immigration; but these forces of acceleration and destabilization will ensure the further development of of post-bourgeois resistance, increased radicalization, and enduring anti-managerial consciousness. Post-bourgeois forces may then develop a coherent identity and ideology of its own, one that relies on Class 2 psychic traits, and a movement could emerge that responds exclusively to their interests. Kevin Phillips compared the economic dislocation of MARs to the Weimar Republic: “both involve a movement to the right, a politics increasingly nationalistic, a return to folkways and traditional values,” and a propensity to use of force to serve its interests. It is unlikely that a soft, manipulative regime could assimilate this kind of movement, but it is unclear if it could ever rise to dominance. Regardless of the future of post-bourgeois resistance, the continued acceleration of the soft regime is generating forces that will challenge its power. The possibility exists that the soft regime will be unable to contain or manipulate the products of its acceleration; that the regime will begin to lose control of the forces it created, much like bourgeois forces lost control of the managerial forces that it created in the late-19th/early-20th century period of industrialization. If so, and if these new challenges can be met by Class 2 sub-elites, then the forces of acceleration may provide an aperture through which post-bourgeois resistance could enter and acquire enduring social power.
THE PROSPECTS OF THE SOFT MANAGERIAL REGIME
Elites are neither omnipotent nor infallible. Their dominance is limited by the nature of the social forces that provide for its dominance. These limits constrain the actions, ideas, and resources that it can use to respond to challenges; but it does not necessarily limit the types of challenges that it can inadvertently create. The modern soft regime constitutes a “soft despotism”, or as Bertram Gross calls it, a “friendly fascism” that necessitates a destruction of the social order. It has to this point been able to assimilate or withstand forces that arise out of this destruction, but that does not mean it will be able to withstand them in perpetuity. Soft regimes have thus far proven incapable of assimilating or manipulating hostile Class 2 elements such as terrorists, street gangs, or drug cartels; nor has it delivered significant military victories in recent decades.
The results of managerial social destruction are evident in the brutalization of contemporary social life – increase in violent crime, divorce, and desertion, illegitimacy, abortion, child and spousal abuse, mental derangement, suicide, sexual deviance, drug use, decrease in marriage rates, increased public and personal debt, decreased access to home-ownership, etc. While the routines imposed by today’s elites serve to enhance its own power, they are insufficient replacements for informal, personal, private, and local disciplines provided by heterogenous and autonomous social institutions that the regime has weakened. The managerial routines are designed to enhance managerial dominance of soft elites, not to provide stable and satisfying psycho-social bonds and functions for the subordinate society. Man becomes isolated, fragmented into mechanical roles, deracinated from his innermost self; feels homeless and alienated in the midst of impersonal mass society. Immutable elements of human nature constrain the possibilities of amelioration, and necessitate attachment to concrete social and historical roots of moral values and meaning.
Other social fragmentation has occurred during or since the Reagan administration, particularly associated with racial and ethnic identity. Blacks have become radicalized by presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson, and by incitement from mass media. 8 to 9 million legal (and additional illegal) immigrants entered the United States between 1981 and 1990, the greatest immigration wave in American history, challenging national unity.
Fragmentation has occurred even within the elite itself. Ambitious, upwardly-mobile members of the managerial elite find no reason to limit their personal pursuit of status and immediate gratification. The indulgent, manipulative, and dispersive ethic of the elite threaten to weaken and undermine the coherence of the elite itself. Hence the regime is unable to withstand or formulate prohibitions on corruption, and the rot therefore spreads to the subordinate society in a general refusal to sacrifice for the public interest or defer gratification for any collective purpose.
“Today’s American Balkanization in large measure represents the failure of these leadership elites to understand simple facts of race, ethnicity, territory, greed, and inequality.” The soft regime is not able even to use force or assert sufficient national solidarity to exclude alien criminal elements from its boundaries. “Indeed, the entire structure and composition of the soft managerial elite compel it to pursue strategies of dominance that encourage the fragmentation and eventual destruction or extinction of the society it rules.” In this respect, the soft elite appears to be virtually unique in human history – almost all elites of the past have strong interest in preserving social, political, economic, and cultural institutions on which their own power, wealth, and status were founded; but if your dominance is derived from manipulation and acceleration of social change, you have little interest in maintaining a strong subordinate society. In fact, soft managerial elite identifies itself by the rejection of traditional values, and the dislike of its subordinate society. In an age of marked social and economic mobility, quick and frequent changes in residence lead to disintegration of neighborhoods, and the erosion of the most basic “root institutions” (family and church), until, for most people, it is no longer a question of rejecting roots, it is a matter of never even having acquired them in the first place.
The nation-state itself and national identity of citizens begin to decompose into a new transnational or global managerial regime which disintegrates national or cultural distinctions. The ties of new elites cut across borders; their perspectives are not confined by ethnicity or tradition. The tendency towards cosmopolitanism / managerial globalism manifested itself in the integration of a “global economy” and “economic interdependence”; in internationalization of populations through mass migrations from the Third World into the Global North and West; and in gradual supersession of legal and political bases of the nation-state through adaption of national policy into international law. Control of narcotics, crime, terrorism; the protection of the environment; the regulation of “the global economy”; control of nuclear arms; use of multinational sanctions against states that reject the global regime and its mandates; are all pretenses for the expansion of Liberal Ideology: a cosmopolitan, ameliorative justification for elite grip on power. The global regime–the “New World Order” of President Bush’s rhetoric–is rationalized through mass media and cultural homogenization. The decline of national power, and erosion of cultural identity, does not immediately threaten the power of the Managerial Elite, but enhances it by reducing constraints on its power, accelerating the disengagement of the elite from their subordinate societies, and enables global elite to maintain power in Mass Democracy by allying with new immigrant underclasses. While independent nation-states may persist as formal entities, the merging of their managerial elites into a global integrated unit distinct from and in conflict with subordinate society means that Western nation-states will cease to exist as meaningful objects of cultural identity (though they may maintain political loyalty via media manipulation) and the majority of their historic population groups will increasingly endure the traumatizing and potentially radicalizing experiences of social destruction, national fragmentation, and violent ethnic conflict.
While there is no real prospect for the end of the soft regime until manipulative functions are impaired by economic depression, war, or forcible insurrection, it is inherently fragile. Its imperative for social destruction creates forces that it cannot effectively control. If the material functions performed by the regime were to fail, post-bourgeois alienation could evolve a revolutionary consciousness and organize into a political movement that the regime is incapable of containing, disciplining, or manipulating, which could lead to the destruction of the soft regime.
TOWARD A MAR REVOLUTION
The soft managerial elite have failed to produce the civilization that its ideology promised, despite unsurpassed material and technological accomplishment that their skills created. MARs continued acceptance of managerial dominance is largely contingent on the capacity of the regime to continue providing material functions, as a form of grand bribery. But the hall-mark of the MARs is a consciousness (and the resentment that this consciousness inspires) of being disinherited from his ancestral place in society. Nationwide expression of racialism, and related vigilante/neighborhood-watch organizations in the 80s, confirmed the growth of radical, class-2, MAR consciousness. But neither traditional “bourgeois” conservatism, nor neoconservative globalist managerialism, provided adequate expression, and only further alienated and radicalized them. Only if MAR consciousness expresses itself in ideological vehicles that reject BOTH soft-managerial formulas (hedonism and globalism/cosmopolitanism) AND bourgeois, classical-liberal, small-govt conservatism, can MARs avoid assimilation by the soft regime and present an effective challenge that reconstructs the regime under its own leadership – bourgeois values do not reflect MAR material interests, as they now depend on the Managerial System (mass corps for work, mass state for welfare & workers’ rights). While MAR forces don’t reject wholesale the Managerial System, they do reject the manipulative techniques of the soft regime, and the social and cultural deracination that results from them. To be successful as an ideology, MARs must express solidarism, collective identity, reject cosmopolitanism and egalitarianism; it must express an ethic of asceticism, sacrifice, and rejection of hedonistic indulgence; it must postulate reliance on coercion rather than manipulation, and rationalize consolidation instead of accelerationism; its emergence as a new elite would likely be attended by violence / physical conflict.
Given the revolution of mass and scale, and the explosion of human populations, mass orgs managed by managerial elite appear to be the only viable forms of social, political, and economic organization moving forward; but the FORMS of managerial society and power remain variable, and the failure of one form to resolve challenges may precipitate its transformation into another form. The post-enlightenment bourgeois order was a failure, but so too is the soft managerial regime. “Elites often commit suicide. Civilizations more often die by suicide than by murder.” The self-destructive tendencies of the soft regime may cause it to drop its own power into the hands of enemies it itself created; and, despite the vulnerabilities that a hard regime would exhibit, it may offer an opportunity for a more enduring and effective mobilization of Mass Civilization than is possible under the Liberal order.
ADDITIONAL NOTES / ANALYSIS
Sam Francis died in 2005. Leviathan was published in 2016 after the draft was posthumously discovered, “only after considerable reflection and consultation with others, including Sam’s family.” Sam intended it to be a “reformulation” and “updating” of James Burnham’s theory of the managerial revolution. It appears that he stopped writing Leviathan sometime during the Clinton administration.
Picking up where he left off… My own analysis below:
10 years after the fall of the Soviet Union — which we should interpret rather as the victory of Liberalism over Communism for the dominant managerial ideology on earth — the twin towers were attacked in Class 2 reaction to the global expansion of Liberalism. In response to this challenge, the soft regime leveraged nationalist sympathies via the neoconservative Bush administration to accelerate its global growth. Keynesian fiscal policy, monetary manipulation via QE, and global “democratization” were employed as means to expand the soft managerial regime’s purview and accelerate domestic economic consumption, all of which accrued to the benefit of Mass Corp, Mass State, and Mass Media. But, like all acceleration, the global war on terror and fiscal/monetary manipulation created new problems and challenges that the soft regime needed to respond to; e.g. inflation which created openings for political rivals, and global trade partners have begun to openly question the USD as the world reserve currency. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the material benefits that US citizens receive from the petrodollar; and, should USD hegemony fail, the soft regime faces the prospect of economic catastrophe at home, which could give rise to a new class 2 elite and hard regime. Martial law or more active coercion from federal law enforcement agencies could emerge in this scenario.
Further blowback to Global Liberalism has materialized in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Utilizing a color revolution in 2014, American elites installed a friendly liberal democracy in Kyiv, and provided material benefits to the government and its people in exchange for geopolitical loyalty. However, US-funded Asov battalion, led by neo-nazis, began to harry Ukranians in Donbas who remained loyal to the old regime (who was still loyal to Russia), which Russia used as a pretense to invade with force. Note the interplay of managerial regimes through the lens of Leviathan: Soft elites in US Liberal government used manipulation to install its regime, while Hard elites in Russia’s autocratic government used force/coercion to respond. The United States is “the good guys” insofar as Liberalism does not use deadly force as readily as Hard Regimes do (though, as a consequence of soft manipulation, hard coercion emerged via Asov); but “both sides” are exerting their influence over a geopolitically significant country for the benefit of their elites, according to their psychic characteristics. Their wielding of their dominant social forces (US sanctions, Russian military) are subject to reactionary forces both at home and abroad – US Sanctions on Russia have led to higher gas/food prices and inflation at home, which it must now respond to in order to maintain political control and legitimacy with its voter base; and in fact it has responded with tightening monetary policy, which will in turn lead to recessionary forces that will need to be met by the regime. The manipulate > counter-force > manipulative response to counter-force > counter-force chain runs on and on into disorder.
Technological advancements threaten the regime as well.
Social Media has allowed significant dissent to rise to challenge institutional media organizations, while exposing regime manipulation, for example the FBI’s interference in the 2020 election. Efforts to censor “disinformation” (i.e. true information that is harmful to the regime) now rise from within the regime to respond to this social/cultural challenge, but this reaction may itself form a stronger counter-reaction, an increase in MAR consciousness, and ultimately delegitimize Liberal rule at home and abroad.
Gender affirming care for minors is the new culture war issue. Transgender ideology first emerged in Universities, where all expansions of liberal ideology are first formulated and tested. The 2SLGTBQIA+ flag and religion might be considered postmodernism, or cultural marxism, but it is all simply an expression of the basic liberal premise of permanent revolution against structures of traditional order. White, cis, straight, male; any thought, speech, or action that can chip away at these conventions rises to favor, first in university, then in Media and Democrat party activism. Propagated by heavy social media usage among youth, this ideology now spreads like a virus, and though ten years ago might have been considered barbarism to practice boutique castration of minors, it is now in the favor of the liberal regime due to its need for permanent revolution against traditional order – in this case, gender roles and the family unit (already in Minnesota, California, and Washington State, there are laws preventing parents from intervening if children desire these “therapies”, which is a good thing only if you desire radical social change for the sake of radical social change). But… “these forces of acceleration and destabilization will ensure the further development of of post-bourgeois resistance, increased radicalization, and enduring anti-managerial consciousness. The continued acceleration of the soft regime is generating forces that will challenge its power.” We see, now, counter-forces are rising in sharp reaction to the child-trans movement. Once again, liberal ideology and technological advancement has led to radical social changes, and this change itself has created forces that Liberalism will not be able to assimilate or contain.
US-funded Gain of Function research created covid in a Wuhan lab. It’s unclear if it was created intentionally as a tool of manipulation, if it was released intentionally by the Chinese as a means of subversion, or if the C19 pandemic was a mere accident of technological forces — but what is clear is the manipulative response to the pandemic in Western Liberal Democracy: Fed QE, vaccine mandates, media cover-ups, and de-banking in response to protestors. “Any problem that [Liberalism] faces must be solved through manipulation and re-defining problems/challenges in terms that are susceptible to manipulation; it ignores or fails to recognize problems/challenges that cannot be resolved by manipulation”. The correct response, in retrospect, might have been to make the vaccine available to the elderly and to recommend herd immunity for others (or further, the correct course of action would be to not fund risky research abroad without adequate oversight to begin with; but “we were so busy asking whether or not we could, we never stopped to ask whether or not we should”); instead, we had forced “lock-downs”, vaccine passports (advancing globalist goals of liberalism), and indeed there are even rich rewards given to Managerial Elite in the form of new bureaucracies (combatting Vaccine Disinformation, or administering its distribution), and new campaign donations from corporations who profit from the vaccine itself. We even now see vaccines and boosters being recommended to children, despite scientific evidence proving that this is counter-productive. Why would someone want children to receive medicine that can only cause more harm than good?--because it is not in the interest of the elites to serve their subordinate societies, it is their only interest to advance the scope and power of managerial control.
A normal American might observe all of the above encroachments and think “How is any of this possible? Shouldn’t the Constitution or Separation of Powers prevent these abuses, or hold the abusers accountable?” A Democrat Party voter might see these developments and express concern as well, but due to homogenization and inculcation with liberal ideology over the course of years by Mass Organizations of Culture and Communication, still reliably vote Democrat because they are conditioned to view bourgeois values (pro-gun, pro-life, etc) as repulsive, as low-status, or as limitations to human fulfillment.
An enlightened observer, on the other hand, who sees modern industrial civilization through the lens of the Managerial System’s application of Liberal ideology – it’s need for endless global expansion into illiberal societies; permanent revolution at home against bourgeois institutions of family, faith, and ethnicity; and endless social change and manipulative response to challenges that this experimentation creates — will find that current events are easily explainable: a unified and dominant System of government, corporate, and media organizations will prioritize the interests of its elite, by way of manipulation, hedonism, and globalism. Current events seem therefore not to be to be to the guided by the invisible hand of historical progress or the divine right of democratic rationalism, nor determined by a centralized and explicit conspiracy of a small handful of illuminated oligarchs, but rather driven as fast as possible by a decentralized and implicit conspiracy of a massive class of status-hungry managers whose goals amount to, more or less, the plundering of a sinking ship. Some (perhaps even most) liberal elites actually believe in the egalitarian goals of their stated ideology as a matter of secular religious devotion; all, however, are incapable of shame or self-reflection on its myriad failures and fundamental shortcomings. So long as the Managerial System provides for the material needs of most, these failures and shortcomings will continue to be covered up or rationalized away.
Francis believed MAR ideology could lead to a new dominant Hard elite, but I am not so optimistic for their prospects of controlling Leviathan via political revolution. MAR needs for Mass State programs of social security and welfare are at odds with demographic and fiscal realities. It’s more likely that, if the soft regime does turn hard in the event of economic disaster, it will be coercive / class 2 types in military or federal law enforcement agencies that supplant the manipulative / class 1 media and bureaucratic elites; or it may even be militant leftists such as antifa or transgenders who rise to class 2 dominance — it is hard now to envision a true MAR force ever rising to take power as sub-elites within our Mass Democracy with industrial ballot harvesting, FBI entrapment and agitation schemes subverting right wing political action organizing, and ever-increasing numbers of immigrants and refugees gaining enfranchisement. MARs are increasingly becoming a minority, and thus less able to take political power even if they were unified; meanwhile the manipulative power of Liberal elites by means of mass democracy has advanced to levels that Sam Francis probably could not have predicted. Though MAR consciousness does continue to develop, it may be too late for them to organize an effective political movement, and it seems possible that their doom is analogous to native americans populations who, without adequate consciousness to organize around or modern tools with which to fight back, were conquered and dispossessed of their ancestral land. I believe, instead, MAR hopes lies in organizing local, city, and state governments to protect their own interests from the encroachment of Leviathan; and to endure until the Mass System collapses due to the rot of corruption it has inculcated into the pillars of the subordinate societies that it parasites off of.