Category Archives: managerialism

Impenetrable drivel unworthy of the faculty of speech

The linguistic effluent that has engulfed Western society and economy

The linguistic effluent that is engulfing Western society and economy

Managerialese is the revenge of the unscrupulous and mediocre on the talented and principled

People who become managers in public service organisations and in large commercial firms, writes Dalrymple,

speak a kind of language that is neither colloquial nor technical nor philosophical nor literary nor precise nor poetic nor even quite human.

He asks whether their utterances correspond to what is going through their mind, or whether they have to translate their thoughts

into this simulacrum of language.

The bullshit piles up so fast you need wings to stay above it

The bullshit has piled up so fast you need wings to stay above it

No man of education and feeling can bear the tedium of it. A virus has entered the brain to

disarrange its language centres, rather as a stroke does.

Scourge of the talking robots

The source of the malady might, he suggests, lie with industrial concerns

and perhaps the business schools that trained their managers, as primates in the forests of Central Africa were the source of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Infection often escapes its original nidus to infect the surrounding population of the susceptible, in this case managers in and of the public service made susceptible by Margaret Thatcher’s ill-fated notion that the public service could be some kind of replica of private business.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 11.26.35Verbigeration

Dalrymple points out that the argot is both a symptom and a sustainer of a social revolution. Those who consult its claims are

ruthless and ambitious, mediocre in everything except in the scale of their determination to rule some tiny roost or other, and be paid accordingly. The quid pro quo is that they must learn a new language, whose mastery is far from easy: I am sure that if my readers will try to speak for only a few minutes in managerialese they will find it almost impossible, for meaning will keep breaking through their best attempts at meaninglessness.

Cherchez la femme

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 00.02.54Dalrymple draws our attention to the root of the problem at the world’s fifth largest employer:

Ever since Mrs Thatcher introduced general management into the NHS, it has been an inexhaustible well for bureaucratic looting and self-enrichment.

The disaster of Thatcherism

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.28.48Margaret Thatcher’s cultural effect on Britain was, overall, disastrous, writes Dalrymple. She introduced the commercial spirit

not only where it was needed, but where it was harmful. Almost all the legalised corruption for which the British public administration is so notable can be traced back to her. She believed in management as a science in the way that Latin American peasants believe in miracle-working Virgins. She introduced business practices (such as high and rising perquisites) into the public sector without the disciplines of a real marketplace.

She failed to learn an important lesson taught by the experience of the Russian communist tyranny, that

in centralised bureaucratic systems, the setting of targets results not in efficiency but in organised lying to pretend that they have been met. The result has been Soviet-type corruption, moral, intellectual and financial, some of it legal and much of it compulsory. Those who work in or for the public administration – it is increasingly difficult to tell them apart – have been comprehensively corrupted.

Thatcher and corporatist corruption

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.25.01Margaret Thatcher‘s belief, writes Dalrymple, that the idea of public service

was a mask for private rent-seeking, which could be avoided only by the introduction of the management techniques of the private sector, paved the way for the corporatist corruption of Blair and Brown. She helped create a large class of apparatchiks posing as businessmen, who learned how to loot the public purse

Blair and Brown

expanded the public sector to secure votes and increased dependency on the state. They did so by borrowing.

Curse of Thatcherite managerialism

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 17.54.38Margaret Thatcher was deluded enough to think that the techniques of business management were the answer to public sector inefficiencies. When applied to bureaucracy these techniques came, of course, without what Dalrymple calls the ‘disciplinary influence’ of the ‘bottom line’, so that

while certain business practices (such as large perquisites for managers) were easy enough to introduce, efficiency was not.

Dalrymple points out that when a government sets the bureaucracy targets, the result is ‘organised lying’.

Thatcher the Leninist

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 17.59.15Where bureaucracies are set targets by a government, writes Dalrymple, the result is

organised lying.

Margaret Thatcher, he says,

ignored the lessons of the Soviet Union and became something of a Leninist.

She instituted

the régime of legalised corruption under which we live, and which Blair expanded with low cunning. Blair saw it as an opportunity to create a nomenklatura.

Thanks to Thatcher’s faith in managerialism,

private looting of the public purse takes place on a scale not seen since the 18th century.