The Old Paths with Grant Allen

The Old Paths with Grant Allen

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13. Managerialism

Chronicles Magazine has become one of my favorite publications to read. They brand themselves as a bastion of paleoconservative thought and one of the few locations where the Old Right is allowed to flourish – as opposed to the neoconservatism of the National Review.

Chronicles has a podcast that I have come to enjoy and is another resource I recommend.

In the latest episode, an anonymous Twitter user and Substack writer, Kruptos, was the guest where they discuss the French thinker Jacque Ellul and his critical appraisal of managerialism.

Simply stated, managerialism (or the administrative state) is the concept where human agency is removed from an operating society for the good of the efficient.

An example of this phenomenon is customer service. When you have an issue with a piece of technology, you call the number and are redirected to a very particular department that can handle your very specific issue by way of automation. The human agency of an issue has been removed, and you’re just the next caller in the technological line.

The opposite of managerialism is Thanksgiving dinner. In your family, you know exactly what makes a good Thanksgiving dinner. You are a part of a natural bond – the family – that has traditions, assumptions, and taboos that make your family and its Thanksgiving liturgy normal. It is all unwritten. Expectations are met and everyone is comforted by the traditions and culture.

Many problems would arise if your aunt showed up to the Thanksgiving dinner with a book entitled “15 Steps to the Best Thanksgiving Dinner.” Everyone would look at her like she was a mad woman trying to impose some artificial, drawn out rules that someone wrote down and sold on the market that has no connection to your family’s culture, traditions, time, or place.

Your aunt is attempting to managerialize Thanksgiving dinner.

What the administrative state is now, is managerialism on a massive scale, and the tentacles of the EPA and Department of Education reach down into your office place with HR schoolmarms that clamp down on genuine culture building within a workplace because it doesn’t comply with standards or Civil Rights law.

One of the most impactful things the Right can do is develop unwritten, deep cultural social mores that fall outside of the managerial state.

This is why I’m rather pessimistic about the presidential election, because it doesn’t matter if the right candidate gets elected. Chances are they are simply going to assume the good of the managerial state. When in reality, the managerial, bureaucratic state cannot exist for the good of a particular people.

The entire system is the problem. Whoever promises to dismantle the managerial state and allow genuine culture to flourish apart from centralized Washington and its puppet actors, that man has my support.

Take a listen to the great podcast episode.

Grant Allen can be reached by email at If you’re interested in reading his other posts, check out his archived content or learn more about him by checking his short bio here.

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