Shawn Gude

Shawn Gude is a writer, graduate student, activist, and assistant contributor at Jacobin. His intellectual influences include Chantal Mouffe, Michael Harrington, and Ella Baker. Contact him at shawn.gude@gmail.com or on Twitter @shawngude.

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23 Responses

  1. Avatar Murali says:

    Dude, Welcome to the league

    I’m a decentralist that both distrusts technocratic elites and loathes anti-intellectualism

    Now there is something to talk about. It is not clear that one can both distrust technocratic elites and loathe anti-intellectualism. Because to be intellectual is to be elite. And a good technocrat is one who knows the boundaries of policy as knows the best policies to implement. To suppose that lay people have better knowledge than technocrats is to be anti-intellectual.Report

    • Avatar Shawn Gude says:

      I’d quibble with your assertion that “to be intellectual is to be elite” (unless you have a super expansive definition of “elites”). I assume that many technocrats *do* have better knowledge than many lay people. What I wish to inveigh against is anti-democratic veneration of these elites. Politics is about ideological clashes; technocracy seeks to negate politics through (ostensibly) non-ideological analysis/ data crunching.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Politics is about ideological clashes; technocracy seeks to negate politics through (ostensibly) non-ideological analysis/ data crunching.

        And is this not a good thing?Report

        • Avatar James K says:

          It is, where it is possible. But as Hume put it, reason must be slave to the passions and similarly the detached logic of the technocrat must be in service to the terminal preferences of the public.Report

        • Avatar Shawn Gude says:

          “And this is not a good thing?”

          Nope. Politics are an essential part of a modern, heterogeneous society. Technocracy is a softer former of tyranny, but it’s tyranny all the same.Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            Politics are an essential part of a modern, heterogeneous society

            unless you are saying politics is inevitable (which I consider defeatist) you cannot at the once say that politics is about ideological clashes (i.e. clashes/differences which are not corrigible by reason) and at the same time, an essential aspect of society which we ought to embrace (if I’m reading you correctly) If not outright engaging in a contradiction, you are advocating irrationality.

            Technocracy is a softer former of tyranny, but it’s tyranny all the same.

            Technocracy is only tyranny if we non-evaluatively label all non-democracies as tyrannies. In which case to the degree which constitutions/judiciaries protect the rights of minorities against the interests of majorities, then they too are tyrannical, in which case I am in good company.

            If you are saying that they are essentially tyrannical in the normative sense, then you are simply assuming that democracy is intrinsically justified, not exactly demonstrating it.

            In so far as you are a minority as far as your conception of justice goes, then you are going to find that justice demands certain undemocratic things. But you could not consistently hold this view and at the same time say that democracy is intrinsically justified. If you are an intellectual, you are likely to disagree with majorities on a number of issues.

            None of this is to say that I am not open to justifying democracy instrumentally. But, if were to do so, not only would we be far less confident about the justice of democracy, but we would cease to think that saying something is undemocratic is a pro tanto criticism of it.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:


    I always wonder what people are actually talking about when they discuss technocrats. It seems definitions are in order firstly. People who dislike technocrats tend to roughly define them as unelected overlords controlling society while those of us more positively deposed to technocrats see it more as hiring a person with disaster management experience to run FEMA as opposed to a crony.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

      I’d say “technocracy” as commonly used is a system where our best and brightest tell us what we should be doing. I oppose this. On the other hand, the jury’s still out on other possible definitions of technocracy. I might support technocracy if we’re talking about rule by technology: a skin-job might make a good leader. Seriously though, a lot of our economic policy could benefit from more automaticity. I’d support technocracy if it meant a system where our best and brightest don’t tell us what we should be doing.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        I think a technocrat is someone like James K, and I would so want to live in a place where lots of people like James K set policy. Why? Because that policy would be smart and efficient. And even if they were not libertarians like James K, because policy was smart and efficient, tax rates would be low and seriously evil policies would not be set because that would lower immigration rates (which in turn would be detrimental to the economy.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      technocracy is like socialism in that the definition depends on whether you mean it as a compliment or an insult.Report

    • Greginak,

      I agree, and I think the call for a definition is also in order when it comes to “bureaucrat.”Report

  3. Avatar Shawn Gude says:

    I should also add that I’m going to put the education coverage quiescence to an end.Report

  4. Woot woot. Welcome. Very much lookin fwd to yr work.Report

  5. Avatar James K says:

    Welcome aboard Shawn.Report

  6. Avatar Katherine says:

    Looking forward to reading you. Nice to have a bit more ideological balance on this site.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It will be good to read your stuff and argue with you.Report

  8. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Welcome aboard!Report

  9. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Hi there fellow. I’m for limited gummint too. Can you talk about the 14th amendment? Can anyone talk about the 14th amendment.Report