events archive

America’s new technocratic elite

Daniel Ben-Ami, author, Ferraris for All, introduces a discussion of Joel Kotkin’s conception of the new class conflict in America.

6:45pm, Tuesday 16 September 2014, Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT

To what extent do changes in America’s economic structure help explain long-term shifts in political debate? Joel Kotkin is one of a select group of authors who attaches great importance to the ascent of the “clerisy”: a class of technical experts whose fortunes are linked to those of a burgeoning state. This development certainly seems to accord with the rise of technocratic elitism and the demise of mass politics. Do such class-based arguments retain any validity or have they had their day?

Questions to consider

1) Has the emergence of an extensive role for the state in capitalist economies paved the way for the emergence of a technocratic class or “clerisy”?

2) Does this clerisy have distinct interests?

3) Why is the clerisy so hostile to American suburbia?

4 ) How would you evaluate Kotkin’s claim that the divisions in American politics can be explained by reference to two competing oligarchies? That is an old plutocracy based on sectors such as agribusiness, construction, energy and manufacturing vs a new one centred on information technology and Wall Street.

5) Why are America’s political leaders so preoccupied with inequality?


Daniel Ben-Ami, author, Ferraris for All


Joel Kotkin The New Class Conflict is due to be published on 1 September but it might not be available in time for the discussion. However, his website has an extensive archive of articles on these topics: . In particular see:

- Watch What You Say, The New Liberal Power Elite Won’t Tolerate Dissent
- The Divisions In The One Percent And The Class Warfare That Will Shape Election 2014
- America’s New Oligarchs— and Silicon Valley’s Shady 1 Percenters
- Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy: the Alliance between Government and the 1%
- Growth, Not Redistribution the Cure for Income Inequality

You should also read:

- Daniel Ben-Ami “Liberals against liberalism” spiked