The concept of anarcho-tyranny has been recurring to me, and I wanted to relate it to the coronavirus health crisis, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, the takeover of the Capitol in the United States, or the bureaucratic hurdles suffered by the citizens of any nation.
But the recent violent prison riots, the controversial elections, and remembering that capital cities can be besieged by hordes of protesters, I understood that this recurring thought about anarcho-tyranny was the subconscious result of observing the disappointing state of public institutions in Ecuador.
What is, exactly, anarcho-tyranny? It is the modus operandi of the administrative state taken to its deepest and most soulless technification. The administrative state is the institutional technocracy, with bureaucrats that complicate the minimum functioning to be fulfilled in political organization, security and justice, and that exercises power in the infinite areas in which the state has intervened.
This is not a new concept: it arises from the New Deal in the United States and with the conquest of the liberal state in the West, it is adopted as a general model of public administration.
Its theoretical basis comes from The Managerial Revolution, written by James Burnham, a conservative thinker and former Trotskyist, who expresses that the state born of the Enlightenment is oriented to implement a total model, similar to that of Soviet Russia or Fascist Italy, and that for American liberalism, it would be the taking of political power by the business elites, which would transform the public function into an administrative one to make it more efficient and extensive in its control at the service of society.
Legally, the administrative state is the evolution of the legal fictions raised by the enlightened constitutionalism, from the rule of law to the welfare state, with totalizing and constantly growing services and functions, assuming powers over everything and everyone.
Its essential characteristic is administrative law, all internal regulation of the state, inferior to the constitutional and legal, unilateral between institutions and officials or between them and the citizens, governing secondary, subsidiary or directly unnecessary matters.
The administrative state can be equated with the bureaucratic technocracy, which has little moral or political orientation and works only to preserve and increase its own power.
It is also an illegitimate institutional model, since it does not formally exist in the constitutionally mandated elective structures and operates with the arbitrary election of officials in a pyramidal scheme disguised as meritocracy.
Here enters the concept of anarchotiranny, developed by a disciple of Burnham, Samuel T. Francis, who defines it as “the Hegelian synthesis in which the state tyrannically and oppressively regulates the lives of its citizens but is incapable or disinterested in applying norms necessary for the protection of their fundamental liberties.”
This concept became popular among American paleoconservatives (opposed to the neoconservatism of Trotskyist converts such as Burnham or Irving Kristol), who would give it a greater dimension, expanding in Paul Gottfried’s definition, which states that it is when “the state apparently has a greater interest in controlling the citizenry from opposing the administrative elite (tyranny) than in controlling rampant crime (which causes anarchy), so that the rules are applied selectively and depending on what is beneficial to the ruling class.”
Anarcho-tyranny and the administrative state are intertwined since the conditions for twisting the state’s obligation to provide security and justice for the citizenry into harassment of the citizenry can only come about by transforming institutions based on the common good into bureaucratic, technocratic institutions whose soulless administrators believe only in utility and economic efficiency (and usually only in their own self-interest).
This is the modern institutional crisis, in which the state is an obese and inefficient Leviathan, and institutions are so fragile that hordes of demonstrators besiege and take over capitals, corruption networks control public health services, criminal gangs make pacts with governments and join political parties, and police forces cannot stop massacres and prison riots, as they are conditioned by doctrines of progressive use of force, which mean the imposition of sanctions for those officers who fail in their duty.
These events demonstrate that the aforementioned conditions lead countries to chaos. Where thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama would see failed states, having failed to establish functional liberal regimes, the existence of inefficient administrative states leading countries towards anarchy proves the opposite.
The case of the prison riots in Ecuador exposes this point, revealing the unnecessary complexity in public administration, with a criminal justice system corrupted from its own operators, who participate in extra-legal incentives to arbitrarily promote cases and resolutions, and a Ministry of Government, subordinate to the Executive, which operates the prison system, with authority over the police, in which there is a bureaucracy of favors, the performance of its agents is dominated, and failures are hidden by excessive and ridiculous legal formalism.
Likewise, budget allocations are incomplete, and filtered through the whims of the government hierarchy, and mean less capacity for penitentiary control, subhuman conditions of dignity in wards, and negligible entry security, which saturates the prisons and increases internal criminality.
The country’s socioeconomic conditions do not help to eliminate poverty either, since informality is related to higher and faster income, although illegal and dangerous, and formality to bureaucratic obstacles and confiscatory taxation.
Such is the work of the administrative state, which must nurture its urban bureaucratic class through institutional theft, and isolates the rest of the population in subway and insecure economies, in which it cannot intervene as it is alienated in its own dynamics by its excessive internal institutional regulation.
In countries such as Ecuador, the State itself has generated its own functional collapse, retreating into urban centers, where it generates and maintains civil servants and feeds on formal private production.
In this vicious circle, political power, public administration and the urban population are concentrated in a rentier system that rewards loyalty, punishes dissidence, and aligns legal and illegal self-interest with that of the State and its administrators.
This anarcho-tyranny subjugates the population, disconnected from reality by its deeply technical education, and orients it to enter the caste of public and private administrators, paying for its permanence and its expectation of ascension in this social sector through ever-increasing tributes.