Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: February 2018

12 - Expert Failure in the Entangled Deep State



The Austrian school of economics made an epistemic critique of Soviet-style central planning (Mises 1920; Hayek 1935; Boettke 1998). The theory of expert failure also leads to an epistemic critique of central planning, which is an extreme form of the rule of experts. Central planning entailed many of the causes of expert failure discussed in this volume. The planning committee had a monopoly on planning advice. The state was the monopsonistic buyer of expert opinions on planning. There was often a leader who was a Big Player with a parochial interest in the planning advice given. There was no entry, rivalry, simple redundancy, or synecological redundancy. Planning experts chose for the people rather than merely advising them. These experts were generally more interested in avoiding perceived error – or execution – than in providing good advice. Therefore, their sympathies and incentives were not aligned with the general welfare. The planning process was a complex, tightly coupled system, and the economy being planned was complex, uncertain, and indeterminate. The failure of Soviet-style central planning is a direct implication of information choice theory.

Considering the largely “Austrian” origins of the theory I have tried to develop in this volume, it not surprising that it leads to an epistemic critique of central planning. It may be less obvious that it leads to an epistemic critique of what I shall call the “entangled deep state.”


I will argue that the “military–industrial complex,” “national security state,” or “deep state” in the United States is a real phenomenon. It is a form of the rule of experts and thus invites expert failure. Unlike some other salient discussions of the deep state, however, I will emphasize here the multiplicity of competing, parochial, and inconsistent interests at work in the American deep state.

My critique of the deep state will be epistemic. Although I uphold the values of freedom and equality, the theory of expert failure is meant to be value-free in the Weberian sense that it does not require, assume, propound, or advocate any values. Like any other human product, it is, of course, value-motivated. Writing this book had for me a value greater than the activities it displaced. And, unsurprisingly, the value system supporting my preference includes a preference for liberty over tyranny, equality over hierarchy.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO