Managerialism – the bright new ideology!
Maltravers: I say, Carr-Moffit, what exactly are we now?
Carr-Moffit: Not sure I’m entirely with you, old boy. How do you mean, what are we?
Maltravers: Well, I mean, in the old days, we were Tories, weren’t we.
Carr-Moffit: And a fine body of men we were!
Maltravers: Yes, splendid chaps the lot of us. But I mean to say, what are we now? Are we capitalists? We aren’t…I mean, we aren’t…socialists, by any chance?
Carr-Moffit: My dear chap, you’re dreadfully behind the times! No no. Tony Blair got rid of socialism, along with so many other things.
Maltravers: So we are still interested in accumulating large sums?
Carr-Moffit: The larger the better. But we’re more efficient these days, you see.
Carr-Moffit: That’s the key word, old man. You see, in the old days, when we called ourselves capitalists, the notion was that society was built up of individuals.
Maltravers: Oh. Isn’t it?
Carr-Moffit: Oh no no no no no. No such animal, old man. Society is built up of organizations. The point is management. How our organizations are managed. And we, chaps such as you and I, we’re managerial class. We manage the managers.
Maltravers: You mean a whole new ideology! I wish someone had told me, damn it all!
Carr-Moffit: My dear chap, look around you! It can’t have escaped your notice that more and more public services are being farmed out to private companies.
Maltravers: In the name of greater efficiency?
Carr-Moffit: Chaps like us decide what our company’s mission, or set of goals is. We pass this down to the managers, whose job it is to work out more local goals to carry out the mission and then make sure they are carried out.
Maltravers: The managers receive the goals from above and create new goals for those below?
Carr-Moffit: Exactly. It’s a splendid model. It means that we chaps at the top don’t have to worry about what business we’re in. We just decide mission and goals.
Maltravers: Whether we’re running a shirt button factory or a hospital?
Carr-Moffit: Quite. Essentially, no difference at all, managerially. The skills required are exactly the same.
Maltravers: And what about the owners of the company, or its employees?
Carr-Moffit: Well? What about them?
Maltravers: Well, I mean, don’t they have any say in the running of the show?
Carr-Moffit: Absolutely not! That’s what managers are for! We managerial chaps are rational. That’s the point! And our rationality means that we are efficient in the market, whatever that market may be. Shirt buttons, motor cars…
Maltravers: Hospital beds…
Carr-Moffit: Schools, residential care homes, state government.
Carr-Moffit: The sky’s the limit, old man. This is the time of the managers! The big corporations, that is, the most efficient managerial structures, manage the government and the government manages all those below them. Managerialism is the name of the game. But keep it under your hat. There’s still a lot of sentimental nonsense about the importance of the individual hanging about.
Maltravers: I see. What happened to the individual?
Carr-Moffit: It depends what organization the individual belongs to, old man. It’s only through membership of an organization that your voice can be heard. If the organization allows it.
Maltravers: But isn’t there a danger that there might be a bit of bullying people who disagree with, say, some general trend in the managerial goals?
Carr-Moffit: Danger, dear boy? Danger? Haven’t you heard of technologies of self?
Maltravers: Good Lord! That sounds terrible! What is it?
Carr-Moffit: It’s how a person implicates him or herself in their own governance! It’s all in the structure of the relationship between legitimate domination and the self-constitution of those subject to it.
Maltravers: Cor blimey! You’ve been reading books, Carr-Moffit!
Carr-Moffit: I did a course, old boy. I had to in order to get to my present position in the management structure. The thing is, if you don’t like the governance, well, here’s your coat, and there’s the door. It’s not bullying, old man, it’s managing! All in the cause of efficiency.
Maltravers: And worrying about individual human beings is…
Carr-Moffit: Inefficient. Irrelevant. Exactly. Cheers.