Rebranding The State

Ecclesiastes was right to observe that there is no new thing under the sun. Of nothing is this truer than the so-called New Public Management, whose mixed public-private legal regimes and demand for private contributions to what were once thought of as government functions uncannily recreate the economics of the Late Roman Empire. And we all know how well that worked out. The rich may have imagined that they were getting their snouts into the public trough, but ultimately discovered that the state was getting its snout into their pockets, and was bankrupting them. If the contributions were private, they thought, so should the ownership be, and the jurisdiction to enforce it; and thus there was no particular reason to stop at any half-way house to feudalism.

Given that all human government involves both formal authority and institutions, and also informal and personalised networks by which the processes of that formal government are either expedited or negated, a handy short definition of “feudalism” may be: when the contradiction is minimised by rebranding of the informal networks as formal authority.

Posted on April 16, 2010 at 09:50 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: GETTING MEDIEVAL, Economic Universals In Funny French

Leave a Reply