Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Camille Paglia Opines

And now, a few words from Camille Paglia. In a recent interview with the Spectator she touched on some important current issues. Among them, off the top, her explanation for Donald Trump’s erratic presidency.

She does not attribute it to evil or to self-interest, but points out, as I have done before, that Trump did not arrive in Washington with a well-honed and well organized political machine. He picked up a number of political types, but one suspects that he did not really trust them… because he had never worked with them. Trust is earned, not conferred.

Paglia sees a minus and a plus to the Trump erraticism:

Yes, that’s a fair description. It’s partly because as a non-politician he arrived in Washington without the battalion of allies, advisors, and party flacks that a senator or governor would normally accumulate on the long road to the White House. Trump’s administration is basically a one-man operation, with him relying on gut instinct and sometimes madcap improvisation. There’s often a gonzo humor to it — not that the US president should be slinging barbs at bottom-feeding celebrities or jackass journalists, much as they may deserve it. It’s like a picaresque novel starring a jaunty rogue who takes to Twitter like Tristram Shandy’s asterisk-strewn diary. Trump’s unpredictability might be giving the nation jitters, but it may have put North Korea, at least, on the back foot.

And then, the deep state. Paglia believes that the deep state exists. She believes that an entrenched bureaucracy  exercises enormous power, mostly in the interest of maintaining its power:

The deep state is no myth but a sodden, intertwined mass of bloated, self-replicating bureaucracy that constitutes the real power in Washington and that stubbornly outlasts every administration. As government programs have incrementally multiplied, so has their regulatory apparatus, with its intrusive byzantine minutiae. Recently tagged as a source of anti-Trump conspiracy among embedded Democrats, the deep state is probably equally populated by Republicans and apolitical functionaries of Bartleby the Scrivener blandness. Its spreading sclerotic mass is wasteful, redundant, and ultimately tyrannical.

I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies. The current atrocity of crippling student debt in the US is a direct product of an unholy alliance between college administrations and federal bureaucrats — a scandal that ballooned over two decades with barely a word of protest from our putative academic leftists, lost in their post-structuralist fantasies. Political correctness was not created by administrators, but it is ever-expanding campus bureaucracies that have constructed and currently enforce the oppressively rule-ridden regime of college life.

Interesting points-- especially her observation that civilizations in decline often choke on their own bureaucracies.


David Foster said...

Bureaucratic behavior tends to spring up in organizations of all types. A CEO of my acquaintance referred to the need to "play whack-a-mole" to suppress outbreaks of dysfunctional bureaucracy. Not all leaders do this, of course, but at least in the private sector those who fail to do so will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage relative to those who do so effectively.

MikeyParks said...

I consider Camille a national treasure. A smart, strong woman – the kind that's supposed to frighten men. She probably frightens Leftist women a whole lot more.

David Foster said...

Also, thoughts on bureaucracy from Peter Drucker:

Sam L. said...

I recall reading that firing a government employee is nearly impossible. Deep state is one result.