BUREAUCRACY AND RESISTANCE TO AUTHORITARIANISM

This presentation explores the extent to which bureaucracy can be a site of resistance to authoritarianism in contemporary public law. Liberal legal thought has traditionally viewed administrative agencies and the executive branch as a source of threats to public liberties and rights. While legislatures and courts are equated to democracy and law, administrative institutions are sometimes linked to technocracy and authoritarianism. When we think in terms of checks on arbitrary power we usually imagine judges and courts. In contrast to these ideas, however, this presentation examines bureaucracy as a tool to resist populist authoritarianism. I suggest that bureaucratic organisations are a key component of the rule of law ideal. Well understood they serve ideals of deliberation, rationality and incremental change. I claim that the erosion of bureaucracy in contemporary neoliberal governance has facilitated the emergence of authoritarian populism.