The Tyranny of Experts

Friday, June 6, 2014
There's a great review in the L.A. Review of Books of "The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor" by renowned economist and NYU Professor William Easterly.

The book focuses on international development experts, but it's akin to some Cuba policy "experts" and their recent initiatives, e.g. the Council of the America's "timbiriche project."

Excerpt from the L.A. Review of Books:

William Easterly has struck the development establishment where it is weakest: its appalling human rights record.

The main service of the development establishment to oppressors of the poor is a relentless effort to recast moral and political problems as technical problems with technical solutions. In global or local discussions, the development technocrat can be counted on first to change the subject from oppression to solely material concerns and then to be a reliable source of legitimacy. The tyrant has little to fear from the technocrat’s abstract, decontextualized language, or his belief, in Easterly’s words, “that poverty is a purely technical problem amenable to such technical solutions as fertilizers, antibiotics or nutritional supplements.” Even the most human issues, like government itself, are technicalized, becoming matters only of expertise and capacity.

The technocrat does not wrestle with raisons d’├ętat or ally with tyrants out of some tortured moral calculus (though he is used as cover for the former); he is simply above politics.