Fighting power with power: The administrative state as a weapon against concentrated private power

Social Philosophy and Policy 38 (1):220-243 (2021)
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Contemporary critics of the administrative state are right to highlight the dangers of vesting too much power in a centralized bureaucracy removed from popular oversight and accountability. Too often neglected in this literature, however, are the dangers of vesting too little power in a centralized state, which enables dominant groups to further expand their social and economic advantages through decentralized means. This article seeks to synthesize these concerns, understanding them as reflecting the same underlying danger of state capture. It then articulates a set of heuristics for the design of public and administrative institutions, which aim at minimizing the risks of capture from both public and private sources. By following these heuristics, it claims, we can successfully employ the administrative state as a weapon against concentrated private power, rather than allowing it to serve as a tool of dominant groups.
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