Neoliberalism, managerialism and kakistocracy

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes


Khakistocracy is the system of government that brings together the worst, the least qualified and absolutely unscrupulous

Neoliberalism expresses the hegemony of financial capitalists on a transnational level and, consequently, a new configuration of capital accumulation with the intensification of financial speculation. The culture of neoliberalism is based on the excesses of capitalists in terms of boosting accumulation by expanding the functioning of market logic for the State and for all public institutions to operate as private sector companies. Consequently, the occupation of the public sphere by the private sphere is aggravated. Accordingly, the tendency is to increase the manifestation of private practices by individuals within the public sphere based on favoring the group of equals for the reproduction of their interests. Therefore, immersed in this situation, consciously or not, individuals tend to accept the appropriation of public institutions by financial capitalists, with the expectation of acquiring advantages, but these are always postponed as a dissimulation of the unfeasibility of their concession. What actually materializes is the dismantling of public institutions and the maximum degree of deconstruction of the rights of those who work in them.

The engagement of individuals in the operationality of the logic of the private sphere culminates in the transfer of business management to public institutions in the form of managerialism inherent in neoliberalism. Managerialism is relatively problematized in institutions with a predominance of democratic organizational culture and fully assimilated in those with a predominantly authoritarian organizational culture. In authoritarian institutions, which are composed of a significant number of authoritarian individuals, the collective expression of resistance based on the guarantee of the public sphere is almost non-existent, any manifestation of cooperation that reaffirms the public sphere is disqualified and rejected, and any individual who expresses resistance individual against the dominance of the private sphere is curtailed, intimidated and excluded. The tendency is to erase any trace of democracy that makes it possible to problematize the reproduction of the power of individuals who favor practices that support their private interests, such practices corroborate the domination of neoliberal capitalism, in the name of economic reason. Authoritarian institutions are laboratories of this capitalism, they serve to strengthen and reproduce it. Dejours (2000, p. 17) lucidly observes that the “machinery of economic warfare is not, however, a god ex machina. It works because men and women consent to participate massively.”

In view of the above, authoritarian institutions whose functioning is congruent with managerialism have disordered productivism and no collective ethical commitment to society as their centrality. The culture of managerialism is constituted to link public institutions to the capitalist interests of expanding the market and maximizing profits in an exorbitant way. As a result, the culture of managerialism in institutions establishes customs, such as the regularization of the persecution of those who disagree, the use of performance evaluation based on ideological assumptions with the objective of establishing the conformation of individuals to the logic of private interests, the search for compulsive search for results that match inclusion criteria and upward mobility in rankings that measure efficiency and excellence according to the adjustment in the gears of the machine of transnational financial capitalism. The reason for the alienated satisfaction of individuals with the condition of voluntary servitude, in this context, indicates a state of physical and mental illness, justified by the objective of insertion in international competitiveness and modernization that does not favor them in any way.

This conjuncture of inappropriateness that leads to barbarism combines with the expression of kakistocracy within the institutions. Khakistocracy is the system of government that brings together the worst, the least qualified and absolutely unscrupulous. In institutions, managerialism is implemented and supported with the dedication of the individuals that make up the kakistocracy. They are willing to perform “dirty work” (a dimension of work that is consubstantial with evil), according to the analysis by Dejours (2000). When performing the "dirty work", they inflict suffering on others and manipulate them, without guilt, with pride and ostentation of the condition of accomplices of the terror empire, but such behavior reveals that they are inhabited by slavery. Most individuals dedicated to participating in the system consent to suffer the suffering imposed by members of the kakistocracy within the institutions. Suffering feeds the machinery of economic warfare and speeds up the gears of the machine of transnational financial capitalism in each institution.

There is the possibility that a minority group of individuals that manifests courage as a political virtue, through its lucidity, causes the exposure of the propagators of suffering, members of kakistocracy, within institutions. It is with the exercise of courage that such a group improves its lucidity that contributes to the revelation of injustices, persecutions, and possible tricks that result in blows against those who intend to guarantee the democracy that reaffirms the public sphere. On the other hand, the group of equals that reaffirms the private sphere uses all the cunning articulations for recurrence in power, which ensures the reproduction of their private interests. The authoritarianism of institutions is the portrayal of the domination of the group of equals in the private sphere. In view of this, the question is indispensable: what is the participation of institutions that function as laboratories of authoritarianism in the constitution of the situation of barbarism that plagues the country?

When the majority of individuals support and become zealous contributors to a system that functions through the regulated, agreed, and deliberate organization of lies and injustice, the banality of evil prevails. Evil is tolerance of lies, their non-denouncement and cooperation in their production and dissemination. Evil is participation in injustice and suffering inflicted on others. Suffering can give rise to a movement of solidarity and protest only when an association is established between the perception of the suffering of others and the conviction that this suffering results from injustice. However, in contemporary times, the attitude of individuals is one of resignation to adversity, there is no collective mobilization against injustice and, therefore, no call for collective action that calls for political action (DEJOURS, 2000). Undoubtedly, any protest movement against injustice will be postponed as long as the need for narcissistic identification with the myth (tyrant), for engagement in the economic war machine, makes resistance unfeasible as a path to emancipation that constitutes liberation against the driving kakistocracy of the neoliberal capitalism.

*Joelma LV Pires is a professor at the Faculty of Education at the Federal University of Uberlândia.

Originally posted on the blog Viomundo.


DEJOURS, Christophe. The trivialization of social injustice. Translated by Luiz Alberto Monjardim. 3rd ed. Rio de Janeiro: Editora FGV, 2000.


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