Mediocracy: The Politics of the Extreme Centre by Alain Deneault
Date: 7 months ago
"Mediocracy: The Politics of the Extreme Centre" by Alain Deneault is a meticulously researched and nuanced analysis of the state of contemporary politics and society. In the book, Deneault argues that we are currently living in an era of mediocrity, characterized by a dominant elite of technocrats, bureaucrats, and managers who prioritize efficiency and profit over democratic values and social justice.
Deneault begins by tracing the history of mediocracy, arguing that it emerged in response to the failures of traditional political ideologies, such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism. These ideologies, he contends, have been discredited by corruption, authoritarianism, and incompetence, leading people to lose faith in politics and turn to a technocratic elite to manage society. Mediocracy, therefore, represents a form of anti-politics, in which power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of experts who are accountable to no one but themselves.
One of the most striking aspects of Deneault's analysis is his critique of the role of technology in reinforcing mediocracy. He argues that the widespread adoption of digital technologies has enabled the creation of a surveillance state, in which governments and corporations monitor and control every aspect of citizens' lives. This has led to a loss of privacy, autonomy, and dignity, as well as a breakdown of social trust and solidarity. Furthermore, Deneault contends that technology has facilitated the emergence of a new class of digital oligarchs, who wield immense power and influence over politics and society.
"The objective of mediocracy is to make sure that everyone fits into the system, and that the system is the only possible horizon of thought. It is a system where everything is managed, where everything is normalized, and where everything is standardized. It is a system that turns human beings into numbers, into data, into algorithms, into models, into indices, and into performance indicators. It is a system that reduces the complexity and richness of human life to a series of statistics, a system that turns individuals into objects to be measured, manipulated, and controlled. It is a system that is indifferent to human suffering, human dignity, and human freedom. It is a system that treats people as disposable resources, as expendable inputs, as cogs in a machine. It is a system that is designed to maximize efficiency, productivity, and profitability, regardless of the social and ecological costs. It is a system that is destroying the planet, destroying communities, and destroying lives."
Deneault also explores the impact of mediocracy on democratic values and social justice. He argues that mediocracy undermines democracy by concentrating power in the hands of a small elite, who are disconnected from the concerns and needs of ordinary people. This has led to a breakdown of social trust and solidarity, as people feel alienated from the political process and powerless to effect change. Furthermore, mediocracy has led to a culture of conformity, obedience, and passivity, which undermines the very foundations of democratic society.
In addition to his critique of mediocracy, Deneault also offers a compelling vision of a post-mediocratic society. He argues that such a society would prioritize democratic values and social justice over efficiency and profit, and would be characterized by decentralized decision-making, participatory democracy, and social solidarity. Furthermore, Deneault contends that a post-mediocratic society would prioritize the well-being of individuals and communities over the interests of corporations and the state.
While "Mediocracy" is a deeply insightful and well-researched book, it is not without its limitations. One criticism of the book is that it tends to present complex social and political issues in black and white terms, without acknowledging the nuances and complexities of these issues. Furthermore, Deneault's analysis is sometimes overly deterministic, as he tends to present the rise of mediocracy as an inevitable outcome of historical forces.
Despite these limitations, "Mediocracy: The Politics of the Extreme Centre" is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about the future of politics and society. It offers a compelling critique of mediocracy, highlighting the ways in which it undermines democracy, freedom, and equality. Furthermore, the book provides a powerful call to action, urging readers to resist mediocracy and fight for a more democratic, just, and equitable society. Overall, "Mediocracy" is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the current state of politics and society, and in envisioning a more just and equitable future.