A long time ago when Bill Gates was still the CEO of Microsoft and not pretending to be a doctor, he explained that Microsoft’s greatest competitor was not some other computer company, but Goldman Sachs. Gates said the real competition is for “talent” – people.

This is the American Managerial system (only libertarian ideological nutjobs pretend it is ‘capitalism’) – see the Managerial Revolution, etc. The bureaucracies are what runs things, and bureaucracies are made of people.

So if you are a very, very intelligent young person and proved yourself through university, etc., you will be recruited by both Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. It hardly matters. If you’re a math genius, you can come up with trading algorithms or computer progams. You may need some training in the specifics, but that goes for any job.

Former CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, did an interview where he explained his job. He said he gets paid the big bucks to make a small number of high-quality decisions. He comes in at 10, meets with some people, talks to people over lunch, then does a 2:00 and makes some decision, then goes home.

Micromanagement is generally considered poor practice.

The CEO is supposed to set a broad agenda, to use the tacky term: “a vision.” The staffers come up with specific proposals. The staffers are assumed to be competent. They may need to get the sign off from the CEO on some specific proposal. Conflicts can be mediated by the CEO, and the CEO makes the final decisions.

Since at that level you are managing people, not things, is almost doesn’t matter if your experience is in “computer programming” or “investment banking” or “electoral politics.” Because all of those things are managed via bureaucracies, and bureaucracies are made of people.

The CEOs of an investment bank, a technology company, a defense contractor, or indeed the Pentagon, all do the same thing – they manage people, they manage a bureaucracy. Their underlings deal with the specifics, and they choose among the staffer’s agendas, their projects, their proposals. They mediate conflicts, they build consensus, the make a very limited number of decisions, hopefully of very high quality.

Of course that is the theory and in practice, it helps – a lot – to know what your business is and have experience in that business. The CEO of Coke can move to Pepsi and people would hardly notice. Bill Gates moving from CEO of a technology company to … whatever it is he thinks he is doing now … is a lot more fraught.

But you could see, say, Steve Jobs moving from Apple to a Hollywood Studio.

Look how easily Eric Schmidt moved from CEO of Google to running Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign – or for that matter, how Google’s Larry Page helped the Obama administration stage the “Arab Spring.”

The recent articles by Scott Alexander and Curtis Yarvin make some interesting points about these issues, and Yarvin seems to imply that the real difference between the “right” and the “left” is how these bureaucratic structures are organized.

When asked if the terms “right and left” even mean anything anymore, Adam Smith of the Myth Of the 20th Century podcast said, “sure, right means order and left means freedom.” Yarvin recently said it’s all just fascism vs. communism.

The “right” – monarchy, fascism – is rule by person. The CEO makes the decisions, the underlings execute those decisions. You know that the CEO is really in charge of things because he has hire and fire power. If he can’t choose his own team, he isn’t really in charge of anything.

The “left” – communism, oligarchy – is decision by mechanism. The conservatives hate the “permanent bureaucracy” in Washington DC because the President doesn’t really have hire and fire power. So the bureaucrats just ignore what the President says and do what they were going to do anyway.

So the new DOD is making all US service personnel take their oaths again. While both officers and enlisted men swear loyalty to “the Constitution” the enlisted swear to follow orders, while the officers swear to faithfully execute their duties. Obviously offices have to obey their superior officers, but the point is they are officers – they do not get micromanaged like the enlisted. They are given far more autonomy.

Of course, swearing to uphold “the Constitution” is meaningless. It’s just a piece of paper. People argue over it’s “true meaning” all the time.

America was an English Protestant country. What did the Protestants do? They ignored the Church and swore to follow the Bible. What does that mean in practice? Anyone who could quote the Bible convincingly got his way. Everyone was a little dictator with the Word of God behind them.

So it is in America. The Constitution is decision by mechanism which really means, in practical terms, kritarchy – rule by judges. We let the judges decide what the Bible – I mean the Constitution – “really means” because otherwise Private First Class Timothy McVeigh says, it’s my Constitutional duty to overthrow the Federal government who isn’t “really” following the Constitution.

The Constitutional system has the separation of powers. The Supreme Court can declare the President’s actions unconstitutional, but then President Andrew Jackson can say, “you and what army?” As the Democrats have proven to us, Congress can impeach the President for wearing the wrong color tie if they want.

As this writer pointed out before the election, the Presidential candidate with the support of the state governments with 270 electoral college votes win. Following this process – this mechanism – is what gives American government legitimacy.

Well, traditionally, that is how it is supposed to work. But what would happen if the TV and the social media companies like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia just declared someone else President, and broadcast their speeches to the public?

Imagine if Oprah Winfrey declared herself Queen of America, and was broadcast on all channels, all websites, 24/7. She named Doctor Phil her VP. They announced decisions, and gave money and prizes to people who executed on those decisions.

They start off slowly, never interfering with the “real” government, the military or the police.

But eventually, in some sort of emergency situation, everyone is paying attention to Oprah Winfrey and not some general. What if the chiefs of police in various cities said, “we follow what Oprah says because that is what our people want.”

What if those “Constitutional Sheriffs” that believe they are the ultimate legitimate authority all decide to go along with Queen Oprah – and they arrest people who complain too much?

Queen Oprah would be smart enough not to interfere with whatever Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are doing. In fact, Bill Gates would probably appear on Queen Oprah’s show and say, “God Save The Queen.”

But then what would happen if, say, the management of the utility company providing electricity to Oprah’s headquarters just decided to shut it off, and Ricki Lake starts broadcasting on all the channels – and gets sent to the top of Google and Facebook.

Lots of grumbling, but what if the next time a hurricane hits, Ricki Lake actually gives really good advice and people just sort of start obeying her?

After all what is a border but an imaginary line in the sand?

Explaining Authority, Influence, and Power