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The Big Answer


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Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century

a book by John Marini

(our site's book review)

President Trump Represented an Existential Threat to Administrative State Denizens, Who Came to Be Known as 'Swamp Creatures'

The Amazon blurb says that The election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency shocked the political establishment, triggering a wave of hysteria among the bicoastal elite that may never subside. The biggest shockwaves of all, however, were felt not in the progressive parishes of Manhattan or San Francisco, but in the halls of the political elite’s cherished and oft-overlooked center of power—Washington, DC’s sprawling “administrative state”—for President Trump represented an existential threat to its denizens, who came to be known as “swamp creatures.”

Washington, DC’s sprawling 'administrative state' freaked out when Trump was elected, since he represented an existential threat to its denizens, who came to be known as 'swamp creatures'
Washington, DC’s sprawling 'administrative state' freaked out when Trump was elected, since he represented an existential threat to its denizens, who came to be known as 'swamp creatures'

How did it come to pass that the “draining of the swamp” would become a core aim of the Trump administration, impacting everything from judicial appointments to the federal budget and regulatory policy? Marini’s unmasking of the administrative state goes beyond bureaucracy or legalism to its core in an intellectual elite whose consensus transcends whatever disagreements flare up. The universities, the media, and think-tanks that denounce Trump are its heart.

The answer to this question and many more lies in the underappreciated but revolutionary scholarship of Professor John Marini, collected in his new book, Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century, which tells the critical missed story of the last century of political history: The ascendance of the theory behind and resultant growth of an administrative state that has supplanted limited constitutional government with the tyranny of unbounded anticonstitutional bureaucracy.

Unmasking the Administrative State, which tells the critical missed story of the last century of political history: The ascendance of the theory behind and resultant growth of an administrative state that has supplanted limited constitutional government with the tyranny of unbounded anticonstitutional bureaucracy
Unmasking the Administrative State, which tells the critical missed story of the last century of political history: The ascendance of the theory behind and resultant growth of an administrative state that has supplanted limited constitutional government with the tyranny of unbounded anticonstitutional bureaucracy—this was not in any history book

Marini illustrates the existential threat of the administrative state to our republic, exposes the regressive philosophy from which it springs, and argues for the reassertion of the founding principles to restore self-government. The Trump administration may be the best chance to apply the lessons of Marini’s life’s work and seize this remarkable opportunity to restore power to its rightful owners: the American people.

Contrary to Marini's rhetoric and contrary to Trump's promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC, Trump has filled his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires, from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs and hedge fund veteran who made much of his fortune foreclosing on homeowners to billionaire heiress Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has already put the interests of bankers ahead of debt-burdened students and their families.

Draining the Swamp—Trump promised to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, dumping people who were only there to exploit their positions
Draining the Swamp—Trump promised to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, dumping people who were only there to exploit their positions


Stocking the Swamp—Contrary to his promise to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, Trump has filled his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires who are already exploiting their positions
Stocking the Swamp—Contrary to his promise to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, Trump has filled his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires who are already exploiting their positions

The Administrative State Is the New Form of Despotism That Threatens Democratic Societies

As Ken Masugi says, "Trump has established his candidacy on the basis of an implicit understanding that America is in the midst of a crisis. Those who oppose him deny the seriousness of the crisis and see Trump himself as the greatest danger. . . . The political practice of modern centralized governments, therefore, seemed to tend almost inexorably in the direction of what Tocqueville had called centralized administration. He was convinced that this was the new form of despotism that threatened democratic societies. The obsessive concern with administrative detail would render democratic man incapable of self-government."

As Leo Strauss says, “We are now brought face to face with a tyranny which holds out the threat of becoming, thanks to ‘the conquest of nature’ and in particular human nature, what no earlier tyranny ever became: perpetual and universal.” With Trump, the administrative state, very briefly, seemed to be threatened. No more, though, since the administrative state, its enablers and its beneficiaries quickly united to protect their works from the attacks of the citizens. Masugi shows how the administrative state is utterly incompatible with the philosophical vision of America’s founding. This will bring crocodile tears to the eyes of the liberals who claim to love our country and our Constitution. This book is best viewed as a way to understand why America is no longer, and never again will be, America.

Masugi shows how the administrative state is utterly incompatible with the philosophical vision of America’s founding. This will bring crocodile tears to the eyes of the liberals who claim to love our country and our Constitution
Masugi shows how the administrative state is utterly incompatible with the philosophical vision of America’s founding. This will bring crocodile tears to the eyes of the liberals who claim to love our country and our Constitution

As Ken Masugi says, "the practice of politics could not be moderated by any standard whatsoever. The twentieth century bore witness to the demise of moderation in politics and revealed the rise of those tyrannies spawned by the triumph of will. . . . the Constitution is responsible for the greatness of their country. However, there are those who think the country is fundamentally unjust. They believe the Constitution is responsible for its failure to achieve social justice. . . . When the principles that establish the legitimacy of the constitution are understood to be changeable, are forgotten, or are denied, the constitution can no longer impose limits on the power of government. In that case, government itself will determine the conditions of the social compact and become the arbiter of the rights of individuals. When that transformation occurred, as it did in the twentieth century, the sovereignty of the people, established by the Constitution, was replaced by the sovereignty of government, understood in terms of the modern concept of the rational or administrative state."


The Sovereignty of the People, Established by the Constitution, Was Replaced by the Sovereignty of Government Via the Administrative State

We need to shine a light on the political termites who have infested our government under the Trump Administration, destroying it from within and compromising our jobs, safety, finances, and more
We need to shine a light on the political termites who have infested our government under the Trump Administration, destroying it from within and compromising our jobs, safety, finances, and more. See It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America

The Progressive movement, which is the political instrument of that theoretical revolution, had as its fundamental purpose the destruction of the political and moral authority of the US Constitution, says Masugi. So government gets its powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness become threatened by the government, it is the right of the citizens to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government. FDR said the issue is whether the government serves the people or the people serve the government.

By undermining the connection of individuals to the constitutional order as the best defense of their rights, Progressivism teaches them to believe that the only source and defender of their rights is government. So, with government as hero, savior, and middleman between people and constitutional rights, the administrative state became in a powerful position which they can and did leverage mercilessly. Collectivist thinking, group-think, group mentality, obeying the group in order to find ourselves—these are part of the liberal contract as seen by today's liberals, but this is a far cry from the classic definition of liberalism.

The liberals' religion went from church related to social justice related—their religion is now political correctness
The liberals' religion went from church related to social justice related—their religion is now political correctness

Classical Liberalism Is Opposite to the Liberal Narrative

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. Liberals see most of our ills resulting from our straying from the righteous path set forth for us by leaders like FDR and LBJ, so Classical liberalism is very opposite to the liberal narrative. Now you add entitlements, globalization, multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, and conformity to the liberal narrative to liberal collectivism, tossing in the pretense of democracy, and the heroic strivings of the social justice warriors and you see modern liberalism as a truly sick puppy expending a ton of energy defining everyone who doesn't believe as they believe as unforgivably sick puppies. The sickest part of liberalism, besides political correctness, is its takeover by neoliberalism—the key to the crisis of American politics in the twenty-first century.

Noam Chomsky—the most respected intellectual alive
Noam Chomsky—the most respected intellectual alive

Every Promise Made by the Proponents of Neoliberalism Is a Lie

"Noam Chomsky in Requiem for the American Dream directs the fierce light of his intellect on the utopian ideology of neoliberalism, the absurd idea that markets should dictate all aspects of human society. He dissects the disastrous consequences of this ideology for our society, culture, and politics. He explains how corporations indoctrinated the public, academia, and the mass media to sign on for a project that has devastated the lives of working men and women and obliterated the common good. Every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie. Its power to write its own laws and regulations, Chomsky points out, has ultimately created a mafia economic system and a mafia political system that is exemplified in the rise to power of the demagogue Donald Trump."—Chris Hedges


Liberalism Failed Because Government Has Been Captured by Plutocrats

"Today, the West is probably facing its greatest crisis since the end of the Second World War. Liberal democracy has faltered in Eastern Europe, is threatened by populists in Western Europe and the United States, and is being challenged by resurgent authoritarianism in Russia, China, and elsewhere. . . . the growth of information technology and globalization have 'given rise to winner-take-all markets with huge windfalls for economic superstars.' . . . . Why has government acted in socially counterproductive and economically inefficient ways? Because it has been 'captured' by plutocrats who use economic resources to influence government policy in ways that rig the game even further. Lindsey and Teles stress that our 'captured' economy has had not only deleterious economic but also political consequences: the inability of leaders and institutions to deliver prosperity to most people has undermined the latter’s confidence in democracy and contributed to growing intolerance . . ." (Source: How Liberalism Failed, Sheri Berman, Dissent Magazine)

The rich oligarchs distract themselves from any feelings of guilt that arise from shaking down the rest of us by rolling around in their money bins, screaming with evil laughter
The rich oligarchs distract themselves from any feelings of guilt that arise from shaking down the rest of us by rolling around in their money bins, screaming with evil laughter

The Best Explanation of Government's Capture by Plutocrats Is in Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power

Sheri Berman, above, asks us "Why has government acted in socially counterproductive and economically inefficient ways? Because it has been 'captured' by plutocrats who use economic resources to influence government policy in ways that rig the game even further." The best explanation of how all this takes place is in the best book of the 21st century, Noam Chomsky's Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. Chomsky lays out the 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. They are ugly. They lead to ugliness. But rich oligarchs distract themselves from any feelings of guilt that arise from shaking down the rest of us by rolling around in their money bins, screaming with evil laughter.

Chomsky systematically documents the many ways the system is rigged from top to bottom
Chomsky systematically documents the many ways the system is rigged from top to bottom

Taking as its backbone the idea that “a significant part of the American Dream is class mobility: You’re born poor, you work hard, you get rich,” Chomsky [Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power] systematically documents the many ways the system is rigged from top to bottom to ensure that corporations always win."—Billmoyers.com

If the people had any real power, they'd stop the rich from screwing the poor and middle class, so the rich would become less rich, which they would hate, so the rich ensure the nonrich are powerless
If the people had any real power, they'd stop the rich from screwing the poor and middle class, so the rich would become less rich, which they would hate, so the rich ensure the nonrich are powerless

The burst of activism and democracy in the United States in the 1960s scared the protectors of wealth and privilege, and Chomsky admits that he did not anticipate the strength of the backlash through which we have been suffering since. In plain English, the rich saw that the nonrich—unless stopped—could use democratic methods to attempt to make life fair for all classes and races and genders. But if it was fair, the rich would get only their fair share and no more. But, like the spoiled little girl in the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the rich simply do not intend to settle for only their fair share. Like the song says, "they want the whole world and they want it now." Perhaps they never learned to share as children. Sounds like bad parenting to us—which also applies to the cute, bratty little girl in the movie.

I want the whole world and I want it now!
I want the whole world and I want it now!

The Unconstitutional Idea That We Expect Government to Take Care of Us is Flawed

IF WE DO NOT organize and just keep on truckin' with business as usual, here is what we can expect: There is an old saying that life's a poop sandwich except that they don't actually furnish any bread. But we heard a new version of it on The Middle (© ABC) the other day: In the immortal words of Mike Heck, We're all born with a crap sandwich. Some people get a big one. Others get a small one. You eat your way through it and then you're dead.

It's not just that "Every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie." The very idea that we expect Big Daddies to furnish us anything is flawed. It was obvious from the start that they—in spite of rosy rhetoric to the contrary—are only interested in what they can take from us. Liberalism's progressive taxation obviously is not U.S. policy—it's merely a leftist wet dream. (Note that Trump was able to please the rich and roll back fairness because the elites were never for fairness in the first place—it was just political rhetoric they spewed, and the citizens were helpless to stop this orgy of greed.) This progressive "getting" idea needs re-examination in the cold light of realism. Mike Heck expects he'll at least get bread with his crap. But after reading Chomsky's incredibly insightful book, we can clearly see now what we can expect from the "they" who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread. Heck was too optimistic.

We can clearly see what we can expect from the 'they' who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread, however, there will be crap painted to look like bread, cheese and pickles
We can clearly see what we can expect from the "they" who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread, however, there will be crap painted to look like bread, cheese and pickles

John Marini and Ken Masugi's Book Is Too Dense, Too Abstract, and Too Full of Intellectualization and Philosophizing

One reviewer said "Maybe I need Unmasking the Administrative State for Dummies. Another found the book to be "too wordy by half. Editor must have been on vacation." We found no problem with the amount of words, but were turned off by the excessive amount of abstractions. Whenever meaning—and interest—is being lost due to too much resorting to abstraction, the editor needs to rewrite that section so that abstraction is replaced by concreteness and examples replace intellectualization and philosophizing. Academics often enjoy impressing one another by throwing orgies of abstract philosophizing at one another. But a book written for general public consumption should be written without this stuff. Like the way Chomsky writes—deeply meaningful but accessible. If many college educated adults will stumble and halt in this book due to failing to achieve Chomsky's level of accessibility, then rewrite the sentences or explain what they mean. It makes for a much richer and less frustrating experience for your readers, who consider your writing too dense, John Marini and Ken Masugi.

Whenever meaning—and interest—is being lost due to too much resorting to abstraction, the editor needs to rewrite that section so that abstraction is replaced by concreteness and examples replace intellectualization and philosophizing
Whenever meaning—and interest—is being lost due to too much resorting to abstraction, the editor needs to rewrite that section so that abstraction is replaced by concreteness and examples replace intellectualization and philosophizing

Let's Replace Consent of the Government with Consent of the Governed, as the Founders Wanted

"Marini sees our political crisis as a conflict between two incompatible regimes: The old regime of the Constitution, with all the changes made to it since the end of the 18th century, and the new regime installed by Progressives, which culminates in the administrative state, or the rule of experts who are legitimated by their expertise rather than the consent of the governed. . . . Establishing the theoretical coherence of the progressive project we call the administrative state finally clarifies what it is that people opposed to the 'establishment' or 'the swamp' or 'Washington' or 'elites' actually oppose and offers a political ground for such an opposition in the Constitution. . . . Marini is one of a small number of writers on politics who have made it their work to question the legitimacy of rule by experts and to expose it as an attack on the constitutional system of the separation of powers, balances and checks, and accountability to the electorate. . . . May Marini’s book be the beginning of a generational effort to restore consent of the governed to its rightful prominent position in American politics and to restore natural rights to their old dignity in American political thought." (Source: Populism over Progressivism , Titus Techera, National Review)

The administrative state—the centralized institutions of the federal bureaucracy—has produced a regime change in America. It has overthrown the Constitution and the NSA might as well burn it since it is ignored
The administrative state—the centralized institutions of the federal bureaucracy—has produced a regime change in America. It has overthrown the Constitution and the NSA might as well burn it since it is ignored

". . . the administrative state—the centralized institutions of the federal bureaucracy—has produced a regime change in America. It has overthrown the Constitution and seeks to replace it with the unlimited authority of a bureaucracy ruled by an intellectual elite. In practice, the administrative state, not Congress, now exercises the power of making the laws under which we live." (Source: How Our Administrative State Undermines The Constitution, William Turton, the Federalist)

"What is the choice that America must make? John Marini says it is a decision between bureaucratic rule and political rule—the latter being what the Founders intended when they established our constitutional order. Mises’ words echoed de Toqueville’s observation regarding true American exceptionalism: our exceptional resistance to a ruling class, unlike Europe and the rest of the world." (Source: Unmasking the Administrative State: John Marini on the Real Crisis of American Politics, Bob Zadek, Medium)

America used to have exceptional resistance to a ruling class, but King Trump would rule from a throne in his gold-plated Trump Tower if he could
America used to have exceptional resistance to a ruling class, but King Trump would rule from a throne in his gold-plated Trump Tower if he could

Bob Zadek: "Here we are in 2019 in a country and a world where individuals have more tools than ever before to manage one’s life competently with maximum freedom and with the confidence that most of the decisions you make will be the right decision. As that trend continues to make decision making at the individual level easier and more effective, there is a conflict with a governmental trend towards denying us the power to make these very decisions. Government is making these decisions for us. These two trends are crashing into each other. One is the anathema to the other. They should not be coexisting but they are, and we are now governed by a government of self-appointed experts — people we don’t even select specifically. We only select them by living here, and these 'experts' make all these decisions for us, denying us the freedom to run our lives and denying us the freedom to pick who is going to be running our lives." (Source: The Perils of the Administrative State, John Marini)