There's a common theme linking the shame of the 15 navy hostages, Jamie's talk of "institutional rot" and Theodore Dalrymple's complaint that good honest public servants have been supplanted by bullying toadies.
What we're seeing is the demise of autonomous professionals, who puruse internal goals.
Put it this way, traditionally armed forces have been distinguished from others by their courage and stoicism - the virtues necessary for success in battle. Today, they think they can blub like the rest of us, and pursue the external goal of cash rather than the internal goods of valiant solidering.
Likewise, teachers once pursued and imparted a love of learning for its own sake. Now they teach to the test and bully students into mere presenteeism.
Similar things can be said for civil servants and doctors.
In all cases, the goods of excellence - goods which are internal to particular practices - are being supplanted by the goods of effectiveness, the lust for mere money and power. In this MacIntyrean sense, Bryan Appleyard is precisely right - it's the death of virtue.
What caused this? You'll not be surprised that I reckon the root of the problem is managerialist ideology - the belief that all organizations can be managed from above by leaders. Though New Labour has pursued this ideology aggressively, it imported it from hierachical capitalists who have long recognized that the way to improve profits is to destroy craft traditions.
However, what might surprise you is that I reckon there was a bit of truth in the managerialist assualt on professional autonomy. Soldiers were sometimes bullies; teachers sometimes pederasts and alcholics, doctors arrogant charlatans (sometimes whilst being good soliders, teachers and doctors). And "professional judgment" can sometimes mean mere guesswork.
What's offensive about managerialism, however, is that it overweights this small truth and supplants professional judgment with spurious judgments of its own.
Worse still, there's a nasty totalitarian strand in managerialism - the belief that all areas of society should be subordinated to a single organizing ideology.
And worst of all, there's something deeply ignoble about the goods of effectiveness. There's nothing more pathetic or contemptible than seeing a grown man lust for money and power. Managerialism seeks to impose this contemptibility upon us all. And it seems to be succeeding.