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A Dangerous Partnership: the Managerial Revolution and the Immigration Revolution

(Joseph Prezioso—AFP/Getty Images)

New populations moving into a country creates ready-made client groups to which the managerial state can administer, gaining new voting blocs, which continue to vote for the party of the managerial state.”

Toward the end of my March essay in this magazine on mass immigration and the American nation, I wrote that the immigration revolution is a partner to the managerial revolution. In other words, it is a new type of governance that has made the demographic revolution that has occurred almost an inevitability. If we, in the Anglosphere, want to do something about transformative levels of immigration, we need to understand and dismantle the new form of governance that came to power before—and became entrenched after—World War II. 


Our current immigration regime is an outgrowth of our contemporary political regime. There will always be an elite minority that has the commitment and ability to lead society. There will also always be an ideology that motivates the elite and provides legitimacy in the eyes of the majority. The silent majority is largely irrelevant because its beliefs do not influence and shape elite formation and action by themselves.

According to sociologist James Davison Hunter, individuals and ideas are less important than institutions and networks in catalyzing cultural change. This change is “the work of world-making and world-changing are, by and large, the work of elites: gatekeepers who provide creative direction and management within spheres of social life. Even where the impetus for change draws from popular agitation, it does not gain traction until it is embraced and propagated by elites.” As Richard Pipes pointed out, “rebellions happen; revolutions are made.”

What is the elite ideology that animates our political and economic order? James Burnham coined the idea of the managerial revolution. This revolution was a revolution in mass and scale that took place throughout the first half of the 20th century. As I have written elsewhere, growing populations and industrialization gave rise to a mass economy, culture, and society. This was a decades-long process but became politically and economically entrenched in the United States immediately before World War II. The changes in material circumstances demanded a new administrative elite, centralized and professionally trained to manage a new mass economic, social, and political order. The managerial structures that evolved were increasingly complex, which in turn demanded the growth of bureaucracy, without which the whole edifice would have fallen apart. These bureaucracies spread across the domains of government and the economy. Each became interlinked with the other. This need for coordination and management extended to social reform that became social engineering, explicitly acknowledged by its proponents. 

Today, as Michael Lind and Joel Kotkin have analyzed, we have a technocratic “overclass,” spread across the corporate oligarchy and the administrative state. As Lind writes, “the most important managers are private and public bureaucrats who run large national and global corporations and exercise disproportionate influence in politics and society.” Today, “diplomats become investment bankers, investment bankers become ambassadors, generals sit on corporate boards, and corporate executives sit on non-profit boards.”

As Lind later wrote, “managerial dominance [is] reinforced by lateral mobility at the top levels of society.” This domination is achieved by “control of three [critical] gateways…college education, professional accreditation, and commercial services, particularly new online media platforms like Twitter, sales platforms like Amazon, and financial platforms like PayPal. All three wield variants of the same power: the power to exclude people from the economy” and from avenues for political action that go against the ideology of the overclass. All of this has led to a de-politicization of organizations, if politics is taken to mean the collective contestation over deciding the community’s way of life through electoral action. Power and sovereignty, the ability to make decisions and see them through, have moved to the stewards of non-electoral institutions, trans-national legal institutions, and global corporations.

This political and economic order is reinforced by the Clerisy, an 18th-century word that describes the media and cultural classes which control the means of cultural production that serve to legitimize the managerial administrative regime in the eyes of the populace. Gaetano Mosca wrote that each ruling class needs a “political formula” because “ruling classes do not justify their power exclusively by de facto possession of it, but try to find a moral and legal basis for it, representing it as the logical and necessary consequence of doctrines and beliefs that are generally recognized and accepted.” The overclass should not be seen as entirely cynical in pushing its beliefs: Its members sincerely believe them and act to enforce them on society through the levers of power of the administrative state, corporate oligarchy, and Clerisy.  

The political formula of the managerial regime of Burnham’s day was what came to be known as “consensus liberalism,” proclaimed by intellectuals such as Lionel Trilling, Richard Hofstadter, and others. This form of liberalism buttressed the managerial order by undermining the traditional social order and the folkways and norms of the bourgeois world, replacing them with moral individualism and political and economic collectivism. This formula eventually failed, falling apart during the social and economic upheavals of the late 1960s and 1970s. Neoliberalism, which grew out of the failure of the corporate state that arose immediately pre-war and became entrenched postwar, undid its remnants and reigned through the 1980s-2000s. The Great Recession caused many to doubt this worldview as an ideology worth believing in. 

Since then, the political formula that has become increasingly embedded into the structures and institutions of governance in the United States and in the wider Anglosphere is what I have called the “woke New Moral Order.” For University of Buckingham Professor Eric Kaufmann, this moral order centers on “the sacralization of historically disadvantaged race, gender and sexual identity groups.” Race sits at the pinnacle of the woke New Moral Order, with sex and gender just below. This ideology dominates in the academy and online. Both academia and the digital realm are part of the managerial regime. The ease with which the woke New Moral Order became entrenched through the structures and institutions of the managerial regime is entirely unsurprising. 

Mass Immigration and The Managerial Regime

The inner logic of the managerial revolution made an immigration revolution and subsequent demographic transformation almost inevitable. Managerialism arises in response to an increase in mass and scale of populations and economies. Its continued existence is built on maintaining this growth, expanding its scope, and thereby growing its remit and sovereignty. This growth implies that the social structures of families, local communities, regional identities, and eventually nations would need to be homogenized and rationalized in order to provide the managerial state the human and economic material to enable its expansion. 

The “little platoons” that Edmund Burke wrote about, those particular communities and the folkways that bound them together in time and place, acted as an obstacle to the operation of the managerial state. These obstacles of people and place had to be removed. “Consensus liberalism” was the legitimating ideology in the beginning and middle period of the managerial state that gave it license and purpose in removing these obstacles through judicial, political, and economic means. This ideology evolved into neoliberalism and Wokeism, each replacing the other as the previous material and moral order became too unstable to continue the old worldview.

Immigration plays a key part in all of this. It ties together the judicial, political, and economic revolution of the managerial state. It also has the effect of entrenching the reality of the managerial state’s legitimating ideology, expressed through the doctrine of multiculturalism, and the woke New Moral Order of which it is a part. As I wrote in a previous piece at Merion West, “change the people; change the politics; change the country.” If one imports a new population, the effects on social cohesion and trust mean that the original national populace becomes atomized and alienated, enabling a homogenization of population through the dissolution of local and regional cultures undergirded by their particular traditions. Meanwhile, any national sense of self that bound these particular sub-cultures together is gradually erased as a result of the snapping of the bonds of mutual loyalty. 

New populations moving into a country creates ready-made client groups to which the managerial state can administer, gaining new voting blocs, which continue to vote for the party of the managerial state. Never mind the delusions of Conservatism Inc. New politicized identity groups then feed at the government trough, their members gaining meaning by taking their place in the hierarchy of oppressed groups jockeying for advantage with each other, even while increasing numbers join the Right in opposing this process of divide and rule. The state weaponizes immigration as Auron MacIntyre argues. This dynamic represents what Bertrand de Jouvenal called the “high-low” coalition: elite university-educated upper-class minorities who take their place in the overclass and Clerisy, overseeing the management of their lower-class ethnic peers. 

Each group is encouraged and celebrated in its respective role by the white members of the woke New Moral Order. Elite whites on the current version of the Left are the inheritors of a particularly American worldview, grounded in a Puritanism distorted and debased beyond belief, emphasizing inherited racial guilt without hope of forgiveness or redemption. These woke white Americans are the secularized descendants of the Puritan and then Social Gospel elite class, but for today. They take their place in the organs of social engineering as an inherited right, to administer to the benighted souls of the legacy American population by reminding them of their irredeemable sin, while granting spiritual and material uplift to the newly arrived. In some sense, the British version of this represents colonialism in one country, giving the white upper classes back their role as colonial administrators in the new British Raj. 

As Paul Gottfried writes, “making others aware of one’s personal and ancestral guilt gives evidence of virtuous intention and signifies a reaching out to the benighted in one’s own society and to bigots and victims elsewhere. This may be seen as the operation of grace in a world steeped in sin as insensitivity.” According to Gottfried, multiculturalism, and the woke New Moral Order’s obsession with identity, “is neither about universal qualities of likeness or unlikeness nor about acculturation, family bonding, and shared genes. Identity as understood here has a relational and confrontational content and is contingent for its own validation on those who bestow political acknowledgment.” Therefore, “identity is something to be extended or withheld, depending on whether a person or collection of persons is beneficial to what the [managerial] regime in question is undertaking.”

Stuck in the middle of all of this are the legacy American lower-middle and petit-bourgeoisie. They are squeezed by cultural disintegration and economic displacement from above and below, subject to a regime of anarcho-tyranny whereby the lawless are allowed anarchy and the law-abiding are subject to increasing tyranny. The woke New Moral Order in this regard simply represents a radicalization and intensification of what was already in place. The high-low coalition is new, explicitly acknowledged, and entrenched in government policy and administrative governance, and the attacks on the legacy middle have—in recent years—reached particularly aggressive heights

The Failure of the Right

The American Right’s response up to now has been to gesture ineffectually at this reality, grifting off the culture war views of television audiences and the clicks of newer online audiences. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce Republicans continue to enable the mass corporate oligarchy in its economic displacement of the middle, as Lee Fang recently reported on in Unherd. After all, what matters is their place in the overclass and the managerial regime, and their means of attaining and maintaining this position is making nice with corporate donors. This is all part of the shipping out of the jobs of the middle to cheaper markets abroad, while bringing in lower-skilled and lower-paid workers into the United States. 

Multiculturalism, as part of the woke New Moral Order, is perfectly consonant with mass legal and illegal immigration, as David Rieff saw back in 1993. Rieff referred to globalized capitalism as multiculturalism’s silent partner, precisely the opposite relationship that the neoconservative and mainstream Right of the time claimed. This is still the case. A consumerist culture, and the economic order to entrench it, has been a key part of the managerial order since the beginning. As Rieff writes, “For better or worse (probably both), ours is a culture of consumerism and spectacle, of things and not ideas. Most Americans understand this on some level and are comfortable, even happy, with the fact.” As Rieff goes on, “both sides have misconstrued the power of multiculturalism in precisely the same way: as a threat to the capitalist system. In reality, it is nothing of the sort…[it is] perhaps the most salient cultural epiphenomenon of an increasingly globalized capitalist system.”

Rieff makes the point that, in our era of “global economics, multiculturalism helps to legitimize whole new areas of consumerism.” Culture, especially the high culture of different civilizations, presents a barrier to global capitalism. The products of these different civilizations and their high cultures are not easily repackaged and commercialized. They are too specific and rest on social, moral, and metaphysical distinctiveness. 

It is difficult to maintain an economic system built on eternal, endlessly expanding consumer growth when cultures are different and when they celebrate (and revere) the old over the new. They are not easily turned into a product. Multiculturalism removes the idea of differentiation between high and low within cultures—and between cultures, in the realm of distinction. As Rieff writes: “the multiculturalist mode is what any smart businessman would prefer. For if all art [and cultural output as such] is deemed as good as all other art, and, for that matter, if the point of art is not greatness but the production of works of art that reflect the culture and aspirations of various ethnic, sexual, or racial subgroups within a society, then one is in a position to increase supply almost at will in order to meet increases in demand.” 

In sum, “what is euphemistically known as ‘cultural pluralism’ permits a similar abdication of judgment in matters of artistic taste. The rules of the market are soon in full control.” After all, multiculturalism and wokeism’s “catchphrases–’cultural diversity,’ ‘difference,’ the need to ‘do away with boundaries’–resemble the stock phrases of the modern corporation: ‘product diversification,’ ‘the global marketplace,’ and ‘the boundary-less company.'” Borderless cultures and a borderless economy go hand in hand. 

Mass immigration breaks down the barriers between traditional communities and regions within the nation, while increasing ethnic diversity and multiculturalism break down barriers that undergird the continued existence and growth of global capitalism between nations and civilizations. Mass immigration and increasing ethnic diversity work hand in glove, fulfilling the inner logic of the managerial revolution. New people mean new political clients and new consumers. 

New political clients and consumers mean a new politics and a new economy. A new politics and economy mean a new country. And so the bulldozing of the old population and its folkways and lifeworld continues, making way for a country of people as products, competing for recognition and enrichment by the leviathan state. Conservative talk of shrinking the government, restoring old traditions, and regaining a country that has been lost for 70 years is a cope that must be rejected for reality, reckoning with the world as it is. Until this is done, nothing can change.

Henry George is a columnist at Merion West, focusing on politics, political philosophy, and culture. 

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