Saturday, 12 May 2012


'If you want to see the difference between people steeped in their trade and people steeped in managerialism, compare the testimony, at the Leveson Inquiry, of the Murdochs, father and son. The wicked old man spoke in the language, simultaneously sharp and blunt, of people who know and run their business. The evasive son adopted the locutions taught in business-school courses, honed by big law firms, footnoted by anxious compliance officers.'
 Charles Moore in today's Daily Telegraph.

Moore, who is a High Tory and the official biographer of his heroine Margaret Thatcher,  argues that organisations are no longer run by experts - the NHS by doctors, the universities by academics, manufacturing companies by engineers - but by a new breed of managers with MBAs and managementspeak whose chief achievement is to award themselves very large salaries before moving on. I am put in mind of a similar idea from an unwholesome book by Christopher S. Hyatt called The Psychopath's Bible, that the world is run by experts who control and manipulate  affairs solely for their own benefit. I repeated this to a Romanian lawyer I knew, whom I had realised was undoubtedly a psychopath, who replied drily, 'A truism.' 

Managerialists are in most cases not evil, although evil people are good at adopting their jargon and can rise surprisingly high in big companies, but historians should look at the growth of business education and the social, economic and political implications of the new class, MBA graduates, who like the pays legal of electors in Restoration France, wield so much power these days.

What all managerialists and all intelligent business leaders share is the knowledge that change is these days constant and that businesses much embrace it. They know that knowledge is the key to success and advancement and they think in international terms. They often move from country to country. Being conservative, traditional or insular are bad things.  In the world of popular culture, of rap music and celebrities, in the world of IT and the internet, what is new is everything. (It always was but when Nat King Cole was a hit and people used ready reckoners in l.s.d. popular culture was much more conservative.) These ideas fit into politics as well as business and music and it is much harder to garner support for political positions which were once supported by liberals and conservatives alike, such as the merits of traditions, of the wisdom of our ancestors, the value and importance of Western civilisation. Much harder in these days to be in fact a genuine conservative, as opposed to a managerialist lover of free-markets.

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