Ideology of Anti-populism & the Administrative State

In 2021, Stephen Turner writes an essay called Ideology of Anti-populism & the Administrative State:

The people, the state, and expertise form an unstable triad, and relating the three in a coherent way, either institutionally or theoretically, is ultimately not possible. Finding a way of dealing with these relations nevertheless is a problem that needs to be solved and re-solved…

Harvey Mansfield defined populism, by which he meant populism as a political idea, as the belief in the virtue of the people. ‘A populist let us say is a democrat who is satisfied with his own and with the people’s virtue’…

Progressivism was to be the alliance of experts and an aroused ‘people’ (Turner, 1996). And this followed an emerging practice of social movements based on expertise, notably the prohibition movement, which employed the
techniques presently associated with climate science under the heading alcohol science (Okrent, 2010; Turner, 2001, 2014), through this and other movements, became the third leg in the modem triad. And anti-populism came to take the form of a set of assertions about expertise and governance.

The anti-populist, who is, unlike the populist, not satisfied with the people’s virtue, faces a fundamental problem: to deny populism is to deny democracy, or a founding element of the democratic idea, that the people should be, and are the best, governors of themselves. Thus anti-populism, if it pretends to be democratic,
cannot overtly deny the myth of the people. But the need for rulers and for the justification of their rule creates an opportunity to redefine the democratic idea, to create an appropriate counter-myth that enables the people to have a place, but not to rule.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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