Attention! I will be teaching an online class on “Unpacking the Professional Managerial Class”, based mainly on Catherine Liu’s book “Virtue Hoarders”. Friday 25th of February at 8pm (UK time). It will be free (though donations are always welcomed). If you want to get the Zoom link, register below:
Never say I don’t provide the most up-to-date analysis on current events. Today we are looking at the ex US president and the ex Labour leader.
What could Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn possibly have in common?
Well, they themselves not much. But they both inspire the same neurotic projections from the same class of people, and that’s important. Because this class’ opinions saturate the culture, and we need to understand who they are, and why they think the way they do. It’s essential if we want to break out of the political impasse that the US and the UK are currently in.
Two different men, with very different politics, on either side of the Atlantic, both eliciting a similar response among the Professional Managerial Class.
The Professional Managerial Class
This class goes by many names. During the Brexit campaign, they were referred to as the “London liberal elite”. On Twitter, they are “the liberal centrist blue ticks”.
The Professional Managerial Class (PMC) is the complacent, conformist and very comfortable sector of society that is doing very well in the present system and don't want it to change in any meaningful way, but like to pretend that they do, so as to present themselves as morally superior to everyone else.
Incidentally, these are the same people who fell into histrionic paroxysms of outrage at the election of Donald Trump as president of the US and Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in the UK.
And that irrational outrage is what began to be referred to as “Trump (and Corbyn) Derangement Syndrome”.
Trump Derangement Syndrome
Charles Krauthammer, who first coined the term to describe “Bush Derangement Syndrome”, defines it as the "inability to distinguish between legitimate policy differences and ... signs of psychic pathology”.
Trump Derangement Syndrome refers to the neurotic, paranoid and irrational behaviour towards president Trump. Its characterised mainly by the inability to distinguish fact from fiction, the real from the imagined, the actual president from the projections others placed on him.
We all have an understanding of what this means. Trump was vulgar, corrupt, impulsive; a pathological liar who refused to be “politically correct”.
This was the main criticism that the PMC hurled at Trump. The problem was that his supporters held these qualities as virtues. To them it was a good thing that Trump was impulsive, and did not follow the rules and refused to bow to “political correctness”.
Trump appeared to have a plan, and seemed intent on carrying it forwards. He spoke of “building a wall” and “draining the swamp”. If he failed to achieve anything during his presidency, so his supporters believe, it was because the other politicians would not let him.
If you cast your mind to the Trump years, you will remember the liberal, respectable, and educated portion of the American population, in full melodramatic meltdown because “he couldn’t do that”. It was not allowed. He couldn’t just get away with doing, or saying, these things. Could he? Yep, he got away with it, again. But he couldn’t just do these things… Right?
This class of people, the PMC, believe that there is a correct way of doing things, and that this way has to be respected, regardless of political beliefs. To them, things have to be done “by the book”. They have to follow the correct “procedure”. No deviation is allowed, unless it’s the deviations stated in the book. Breaking the law is not allowed, unless one previously makes a new law to break the old one.
Corbyn Derangement Syndrome
I have no idea where the term “Corbyn Derangement Syndrome” comes from. All I know is that I understood what it meant the second I saw it. It refers to the feverish obsessive deranged frantic frenzied scandalized indignant behaviour displayed by that sliver of society commonly referred to as “the Commentariat”.
It began tame enough with Corbyn’s election to Labour leader, with quips here and there that he was “not a leader”, but it grew to a crescendo during the 2019 general election, having accused him of being everything and anything their feverish minds could come up with.
All of it was neurotic projection. Nothing could have exposed the otherwise coolly, confident, contented PMC for the secret basket cases they turned out to be.
Corbyn was the polar opposite of Trump. He had no bankruptcies, committed no crimes, or assaulted any women. He was politically correct, spoke clearly and made strong arguments in perfect English. If anything, “Corbyn Derangement Syndrome” is harder to comprehend. That is until you understand the real purpose of the PMC: to follow “procedure” and do things “by the book”.
“But Mary”, I hear you say, “Corbyn followed the book! He had a fully costed manifesto! He followed the internal rules set up by the party! He never got so much as a speeding ticket in his life! Who could possibly “follow the book” more than him?”.
Ah, my friend, you don’t yet understand the purpose of “the book”. The real goal of proceduralism, of doing things “by the book”, of following “the law” isn’t to arrive at a certain goal: it’s to keep following procedure.
The PMC’s Real Intentions
The PMC don’t believe problems should be solved, they believe in an endless goose chase of paper trails that never leads anywhere. They go from a, to b, to c, and they keep going until they reach the end of the alphabet, and switch to Greek letters.
The PMC believe in NGOs, and “raising awareness”. They believe change can happen through re-education.
Corbyn threatened all of that by… wait for it… actively proposing to solve problems. Shocker. Imagine that, having problems actually solved.
Like any good Socialist, Corbyn understands exactly what needs to be done to solve the myriad crisis plaguing this island. Homeless people need homes. Education needs to be free. The Health Service needs investment. Social Care needs proper funding. These are are solvable problems, and these are the solutions. There are no other solutions that might magically descend from the heaven, despite how much the PMC likes to go chasing unicorns. The solutions are always the same, but the PMC exists not to solve anything but to create the illusion that they are solving problems, by following procedure, going “by the book”.
Trump, being Trump, gave all the appearance of knowing what to do, and be ready to do it. He spurned the book, the procedure, and the law.
Corbyn, on the other hand, promised to do so much, fix so many problems that the procedures would become obsolete. And, so would many members of the PMC who secretly know their jobs do not actually accomplish anything… aside from granting them status and position, privilege and prestige. And lots of comfort, security and material goods. They are many, and with Corbyn at the helm, they would be few. When problems get solved, a lot of paper pushers become obsolete.
The PMC has built an entire identity as the main advocates of proceduralism. They are the core people for whom the system works just fine as it is, and have no incentive to change it. The amount of change they want to see is inversely proportional to the amount of noise they make. “Wanting things to change” means jobs, having problems fixed eliminates jobs.
There’s a section of society that’s sick and tired of this game, who is beginning to realise that their existence, their suffering, their sole purpose in the eyes of the PMC is to act as sacks of problems to be moved around, under the supervision of elite workers who make their living from pretending to solve problems, but never actively fix them.
Under Fidel Castro, Cuba went from having a literacy rate of 77% to 96% in a single year. China built an entire hospital in 10 days.
There is no limit to what a nation can achieve when it has the political will to solve problems.
The PMC today
Before I finish this, I want to briefly turn to the present UK government. The PMC are unhappy with the current crop of Tory politicians, and this is, in part, because like all right-wing governments they are failing to invest in the “proceduralist” state apparatus that plays at fixing problems. This is a standard response from the PMC, and it appears as “much outrage about nothing”. But there is something else going on with this specific government: they don’t even pretend to want to solve any problems.
The rules of civility, of “civilised society”, of this proceduralism that I spoke about, demand that the government at the very least pays lip service to pretending to fix those problems, and remember: pretending to fix problems creates jobs.
The problem is that the Johnson regime isn’t interested in fixing anything; and they don’t even care about pretending they do. We all remember during the last election campaign when a journalist showed him a photo of a young child in hospital waiting to been seen. We all saw the PM slyly take that photo away from the journalist and dismiss the case altogether. He doesn’t even bother pretending to care.
Then the pandemic struck, and the government were forced to put some measures in place. But this was never their intention, as the PM’s first instinct showed: let’s do nothing and let the virus rip through the population.
If you turn your attention away from the virus, the government is quite open about not caring whether problems exist, or whether they get solved at all. Notice how journalists react during interviews. They are used to pointing out problems, and then listening to politicians describe how those problems are totally getting solved, through this or that procedure. But this particular government doesn’t do that, because it simply doesn’t care. “Problems? Well, it’s not the responsibility of government to solve problems”, Priti Patel admitted as much.
If any problem in society persists it is purely because the government does not want to fix it. The PMC might benefit from this arrangement, but the majority of the population does not; we need problems fixed. We don’t want more procedure, more political correctness, more surveillance, more education. We don’t need more NGOs, more government institutions that “sit tight and assess” the problems, and spend decades assessing the same problems. The solutions are always obvious, and we want the government to stop pretending it doesn’t know “how” to fix things and start admitting it doesn’t “want” to fix things.
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