So, let’s say tech people are samurai.

Samurai were more than a class. They were a magisterium. That word is often used for priests, but also scientists, scholars, doctors... A magisterium is a professional class marked by obfuscation. Unlike aristocracies, magisteria do things. They rule practically more than legally. You can’t get around a magisterium if you want things. They hold purse and authorize movement. Magisteria pretend to merit whilst enforcing loyalty.

Tech is magisterial.

Indeed, the Chinese imperial literati were a magisterium. And broadly speaking, liberal. They believed in reform above punishment. They believed laws should serve humanity, and humans for the greater good. Morality was to be the baseline of merit, and merit tested for civilization.

The only touchstone for modern magisteria is the naked use of power. It’s little wonder that some would rather liberal or literati rule.

Morality is a figleaf, but one which must at times spare refugia.

It might surprise the Anglo left, but there are people in greater China who seriously long to return to an imperial system. And they are not always Rightist in temperament. The literati, like the liberals, hold out hope that power can be transmuted, reformed, refashioned: silk fetters on the beast. When I look at the collapsing liberal West and the corrupt regime in China, I have little cogent to offer in response. And I have no real taste for the thanatos of apocalyptic creeds.

If the magisteria are wrong, that power can never be truly tamed, where does that leave us? Even anarchists say “all power to all people”, a maximal formulation yet to work for long durations. I say, let them have a go, if we can afford it. But I suspect out jaded seeds. Resentment and disillusion have never yet been sturdy enough soil for homes that last. They are in some way the symptom of empire, of power. The liberal magisteria feel this. But they too offer only trinkets of “maybe”.

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