Technocrats: the Waiters of Austerity

The debt problem in the European Union has led to the ousting of prime ministers from two countries, Italy and Greece. With George Papandreou and Silvio Burlusconi stepping down amid a toppling house of cards made of debt that threatens the integrity of the EU,  a new class of leader appointed by elite interests has emerged as a hope for stability: the technocrat.

Both the successors of these elected politicians have been called technocrats by newspapers all over the world, but the idea of a technocrat in charge looks more like a reliance on mysticism than a commitment to democracy. A recent Slate article notes that a technocrat is:

“An expert, not a politician. Technocrats make decisions based on specialized information rather than public opinion. For this reason, they are sometimes called upon when there’s no popular or easy solution to a problem (like, for example, the European debt crisis). The word technocrat derives from the Greek tekhne, meaning skill or craft, and an expert in a field like economics can be as much a technocrat as one in a field more commonly thought to be technological (like robotics).”

So, the technocrat is appointed and all of the problems of these countries are solved, right? These men are considered experts in the systems which dominate world relations, namely free-market capitalism. But what if the system is the problem? Working under the assumption that no expert can fix a flaw deeply embedded in the ideology, in the very fabric, of our globalized market system the adventure of the technocrat could be a folly without end. The technocrat isn’t concerned with giving voice to the of the Greek or Italian people, that isn’t his job. In this case his only job is to avoid default. Unfortunately for the people of these two Mediterranean countries default is exactly what is going to save them from the market’s heavy handed dish of austerity, a dish best served to the unrefined palate of the middle class.