The Rise of the Expertocracy

At the beginning of the first lockdown, some vapid newspaper columnists welcomed it as an opportunity to spend more “quality time” with our families. But as Dr Sinéad Murphy points out in an original essay for Lockdown Sceptics, families had long been eroded by the expertise of institutions of care and education. So much so that many were unable to function when those institutions closed and the experts withdrew. Many families, particularly those living cheek by jowl in social housing, found it very difficult to cope. Here’s an extract from Sinéad’s piece:

If we have marvelled this year at the indifference of expert advisers to the Government towards the conditions they have consigned the UK population to, conditions in which the only options are to cope or not to cope, we may now cease to marvel. Experts in any field of human interest inevitably lose sight of the subjects of their enterprise, for the sake of faster results, latest methods and higher, or lower, numbers.

Experts have staged something of a political coup this year. We are addressed by them with pomp and ceremony, and we live by their guidelines as though they were carved into stone. But if this coup has been spectacular, it has long been prepared for behind the scenes, where even very intimate aspects of our personal lives have been gradually and quietly taken over by expertise.

Well before their armies took to our streets, the experts had already won our hearts that care and our minds that educate.

Dr Murphy is a Research Associate in Philosophy at Newcastle University and her essays are always worth reading in full.

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