“The tendency to depict democratic accountability as a deeply flawed, unpredictable thing is based on the belief that ordinary people lack the intellectual resources to deal with the complicated challenges facing policymakers. According to the traditional aristocratic version of this argument, since people will inevitably react against taking difficult decisions, it makes far more sense simply for someone else to take those decisions on their behalf.
In recent decades, this claim has been supplemented by a new thesis: that ordinary people are so misguided by the media or the church or some other institution that they simply do not know what is in their best interests anymore…
…Contempt for the intellectual and moral capacities of the multitude invariably leads many self-proclaimed ‘enlightened’ commentators to distrust the public. Such anti-public sentiments are often expressed by environmentalists, who regard ordinary folk as far too selfish or too in thrall to consumerism to vote for policies that will require them to make the kind of sacrifices that might ‘save the planet’…
…Thinkers who argue against democratic political accountability often assert that representatives of the people are far less able to deal with complex issues, certainly in comparison with technocrats and experts. Of course, every modern political institution requires and depends upon the advice and input of scientists, engineers and experts. But what the advocates of the current technocratic turn demand is not simply that politicians consider such advice, but that they defer to it, that they bow before the wisdom of the expert. In its more caricatured form, this technocratic turn assumes the character of an expert-dominated polity. So Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister and grand old man of the Green Party, has talked about the need for an ‘avant garde of the United States of Europe’.
Fisher’s avant garde would consist of 17 leaders of Eurozone countries who would de facto constitute a government of Europe. The main accomplishment of this scheme would be that ‘parliamentary powers of control would be taken along to Brussels from the European capitals’. In this way, the pretence of national accountability could be maintained while the brave 17 could govern Europe without the hassle of having to deal with political arguments and pressure. This proposed model of insulated decision-making is probably at the top of every EU technocrats’ wish list….”
A really good article worth ten minutes of your time.