Vivek Ramaswamy is an entrepreneur and author. In this interview, we discuss his thesis that social and political struggles are rooted in the rise of a managerial class dominating society at the expense of everyday citizens. We also talk about the need to revive a binding national identity, and how the social justice movement may be causing more harm than good.
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Public choice theory influenced a generation of conservatives around the world in the 1970s and 80s. In essence, the theory applied economic thinking to political behaviour. It undermined the notion of public interest: it was a nebulous irrelevance in relation to public policy as all individuals, including politicians and bureaucrats, work in their own self-interest.
What resulted was the development of a managerial class that would be incentivized to achieve specific aims through monetary rewards. This class has grown since the 1980s to now represent, in some people’s views, an oversized controlling force within society. However, their decision-making is increasingly outside of the purview and influence of ordinary citizens.
Vivek Ramaswamy believes this friction between managers and everyday people is at the root of the current social and political struggles within society. Exacerbating these tensions are increasing incidents of managers being coopted by elites to do their bidding, undermining constitutional norms. Vivek believes that we are now at a defining moment when the defining principles of political organisation need to be reviewed.
The ideals and principles of the United States, as laid out in the constitution, became a unifying force around which a vibrant national identity was developed. This, until very recently, facilitated and supported American hegemony. But, in short order, that binding sense of a united vision has been replaced by factionalised ideologies that threaten the viability of the American experiment.
The fundamental issue is that the notion of Americanism has been allowed to wither. Vivek believes that to combat China and meet the other great challenges of our age, America must find again a shared national identity that eclipses current partisan divisions. In essence, the US must retrace its steps before venturing forward.