The world has undergone a transition from the management of society vested in a hereditary aristocratic ruling class, to one that was based on a more democratic trend of parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary democracy has as its primary source of power, the middle class composed of business people, artisans and a middle class that arises from the leverage provided by business development. This power base tends to take the reins and maintain labour as an underclass. At the same time, the intellectual elite who represent the thinkers and visionaries of society find a middle-class oriented society too constraining and slow to adapt to changing needs and conditions.
During the period of the 1920’s to 1950’s we can trace the development of a self-consciousness among the labour class and a rise in the demands for power and fair treatment in the society. The rise of the labour union movement brought new respect and financial well-being to labour at the expense of the control exercised by the bourgeoisie.
Various movements took place around the world to see if a new more egalitarian social order could be developed. At the same time, a new management class has emerged to deal with the ever-increasing technology and complexity of modern life and the needs of addressing the problems of production, distribution, and environmental balance, health, safety and implementation of new technologies and their impact. This management class includes technocrats, engineers, computer professionals, scientists and management professionals. The rise of this class corresponds with the inability of a representative democratic social order to understand and respond promptly to changing circumstances and technologies. Even with an increasing voter base, this management class wields unshakable power in the modern world, by virtue of its essential role.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “The government of a modern society is now growing an exceedingly complicated business in each part of which a special knowledge, special competence, special faculties are required and every new step towards State socialism must increase this tendency. The need of this sort of special training or faculty in the councillor and administrator combined with the democratic tendencies of the age might well lead to some modern form of the old Chinese principle of government, a democratic organisation of life below, above the rule of a sort of intellectual bureaucracy, an official aristocracy of special knowledge and capacity recruited from the general body without distinction of classes. Equal opportunity would be indispensable but this governing elite would still form a class by itself in the constitution of society. ”
Given the technology and complexity of modern society, we find that the citizenry can be controlled and manipulated by a relatively small but powerful group of technocrats under the management and direction of a business elite. The middle class is losing ground as these forces continue to transition humanity into a technological future without precedent.
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 23, Forms of Government, pp. 201-202