Imagine meeting a man you haven’t seen for a while in the street early in the new year. You exchange “Happy New Years” to one another, and you ask him how he and his family fared during 2016. The man tilts his head slightly, looks you in the eye, and begins:
“As a family we’ve grown stronger over the past 12 months. Our combined income has risen by 6%, which is 3% above average for our area of the country. At the same time, by prudent management we’ve managed to save 4% on our annual utility bills, which equates to nearly £100 in real terms.”
You try to interject to say that you’ve just remembered leaving something important back home, but it’s clear the man isn’t finished:
“Through careful watching of our nutritional intake, we have, as a family seen our consumption of sugar and saturated fat fall to between 10-15% below the national average, but we’ve managed to achieve this at the same time as cutting our annual food bill by almost 6.5%.”
Yes, you’ve really, really got to go, but still he continues:
“At school, our children have been receiving the best education we can give them, and both Alice and Sebastian are scoring in the 80% percentile for 90% of their subjects, and above the 50% percentile for the other 10%.”
As he pauses for breath, you realise this might be your only hope of escape, and so you say, whilst starting to run, “Oh that’s great. Well good to see you and I hope 2017 will be another happy time for you all.” And so off you dash, hoping that your next bumping into each other episode might be delayed until at least New Year 2023.
Nobody speaks like that guy, do they? Well yes they do and the problem is they have been “governing” us for some time. I use speech marks around the word “governing” for a reason, which is that actually they don’t govern at all – they “manage”.
Consider the New Year address given to the American people by the outgoing Archmanager of Washington, Barack Obama. I won’t trifle with your intelligence by quoting all of it, but here are a few excerpts:
“At a time when we turn the page on one year and look ahead to the future, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for everything you’ve done to make America stronger these past eight years…
Just eight years ago, as I prepared to take office, our economy teetered on the brink of depression. Nearly 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs each month. In some communities, nearly one in five folks were out of work…
Eight years later, you’ve told a different story. We’ve turned recession into recovery. Our businesses have created 15.6 million new jobs since early 2010 – and we’ve put more people back to work than all other major advanced economies combined…
Poverty is falling. Incomes are rising. In fact, last year, folks’ typical household income rose by $2,800, that’s the single biggest increase on record…
Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance. Our kids’ high school graduation rate is at an all-time high…
Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago. And marriage equality is finally a reality from coast to coast…
We’ve made extraordinary progress as a country these past eight years. And here’s the thing: none of it was inevitable. It was the result of tough choices we made, and the result of your hard work and resilience.”
Oh yes, he did of course manage to find the space to wish everyone a Happy New Year, although in keeping with the rest of it he should perhaps have mentioned that according to such and such study, New Years are, on average, 2.3% happier than when he first came to office.
Don’t know about you, but there’s something about reading this that makes me want to spend an hour in a room with the lights off, gnawing my elbow whilst listening to the Blues. I’m not even talking about the lame claims. Everybody, including the Archmanager himself knows that it’s a pile of manure. But it’s the managing of that manure that is so nauseating. Managing that nagging perception you may have developed that there has been a rather large increase in poverty in many areas; managing that nagging perception you may have developed that the education given to young people is increasingly worthless; managing that nagging perception you may have developed that for millions of Americans, the increased cost of health insurance has been a huge increased burden to them. If you have any of these perceptions, they are clearly the result of hallucinations, probably brought on by listening to Blues in darkened rooms whilst gnawing at your elbow.
Everyone knows that politicians lie, right? So what’s new? Well this is different than plain old lying. It’s about managing the lies. It’s about so befuddling you and confusing you that you doubt your own sanity for doubting the figures. It’s about taking a lie and diluting it with the smooth waters of Public Relations, so that it can be swallowed without making you vomit.
The great CS Lewis identified all this years ago. In the introduction to his Screwtape Letters he wrote:
“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.”
He nailed it.
It seems to me that that the majority of people are now totally, utterly sick of this stuff. That the smooth Public Relations / Politically Correct management drink has been given to them so many times, that it has induced nausea and they are now starting to reject it everywhere where it has been prevalent. It’s not just people from my side of things – Christian and small ‘c’ conservative – but also many on the left too. In fact, the only people who seem to like this stuff are those who believe they occupy the “centre ground” – ideological Globalists whose project depends on managing people and not governing nations.
Deep down, this may be the single biggest reason for the vote to leave the EU, and the vote to elect Donald Trump. Yes, there are tons of other reasons. But at some level, it seems that people are just tired of the “Managerial Age.”
Unfortunately, those who have just seen their attempts to manage us fail on a big scale have learnt nothing. In the aftermath of those two great rejections of their Managerial Age, they have reacted in the only way they know how: more and more and more management. Will it work? Time will tell. My only hope is that as they double down on their attempts to manage us back into the Managerial Age, we will have the good sense to spot their ugly attempts from a mile off, and reject them outright.