The Principles of The Portland Declaration
compiled by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
compiled by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
13. Good government rests on a variety of premises. Needless to say, the formula of Campbell-Bannerman -- "Self-government is better than good government" -- is senseless. Is medical self-treatment better than the services of a good doctor? The formula "the first right of a nation is to be governed well" comes much nearer to the truth. What we need is minimal government of the highest quality instead of what we now have in the Western world, maximal government of the lowest order.
This, however, means that the administration must consist of people of the highest possible quality. Administrative careers must be open to everybody who, as in the ancient Mandarin system, passes an entrance examination giving evidence, primarily, of wide knowledge and culture. During a probationary period the new administrator must prove that his theoretical knowledge can also be used practically, and that in applying the laws he will not permit (as a petty person would) the letter of the law to kill the spirit. Only when he can show that he understands his task as a public servant, that he has the common good as much in mind as the needs and problems of individual persons, should he be incorporated permanently into the hierarchy of the administration. China flourished for thousands of years (Taiwan still does) under the socially non-discriminatory, non-hereditary, but truly elitist mandarinate. Prior to 1918 the European nations benefited from a similar system, which in many countries excluded public servants from all political activities (including voting). He who served the Common Good had no business to participate in party strife.
14. There is no escape from "bureaucracy" or "technocracy." In a scientific and technological age one cannot dispense with a skilled administration, which ought to have prestige and a level of remuneration minimizing the temptation of bribery. A body consisting of experts should have a positive share in the government. The precept of Plato still stands: Unless the kings are philosophers and the philosophers become kings, there is no hope for a well-governed nation.
A mixed government consisting of a "head," a group of men of knowledge and experience, and the representatives of the people, is the standard, traditional political arrangement in the West. We would add a supreme court judging debatable issues not only from a purely constitutional point of view but also from a moral one.
The representatives of the people are not supposed to form a policy-making body. This is the task of the administrative government. Parliaments or legislatures should be merely legislative assemblies producing laws which, however, need a higher confirmation. The parliaments, moreover, ought not to be based on party lines (though factions will inevitably be formed), but should honestly strive to represent the country as a whole, not only by regions but also by layers, interest groups, occupations and professions, so that the government can know what the various segments of the population desire (or reject). Majorities and minorities can both be right or wrong. Parents would be stupid to lord it over their adolescent offspring and never listen to them; they would be equally stupid to defer to the wishes of three or four children because, in the family, they form a majority. A sound and frank dialogue between ruler and ruled is, similarly, of the utmost necessity.
Whether the head of state is identical with the head of the government, whether he is hereditary or selected, are matters of tradition and historical development. So are his (or her) prerogatives. He or she should, however, be properly trained and stand above all factions. The supreme court should be strictly nonpolitical and perhaps be elected by scholarly bodies (law schools, etc.).
The amateurism which has prevailed in the past can no longer be borne. We have to find new formulas combining first-rate expertise with personal freedom. There must be areas free from government intervention, personal "kingdoms" designed and protected for the development and fulfillment of the personality; the State must have boundaries which it will not be permitted to transgress.