Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Real Problem

The greatest allies of a failing bureaucracy are not the bureaucrats; they are the common people who believe that the bureaucracy could be used for good if only it was steered in the right direction. Bureaucracy isn't a big ship with a bad captain. It's an oil slick. It isn't a productive machine that is just going the wrong direction. It is the juggernaut that systematically destroys all productive ideas because it is in its very nature to do so. The man who tries to harness a wild bureaucracy for "good" is as foolish as the various heroes of story and legend who--in their hubris--thought that they should try to control the mighty cave beast rather than just slay it.

"Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work"
-Albert Einstein

"Bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."
-Oscar Wilde

"Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism."
-Mary McCarthy

"You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing."
-Thomas Sowell

"Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies."
-Honre de Balzac

"Bureaucracies are inherently antidemocratic. Bureaucrats derive their power from their position in the structure, not from their relations with people they are supposed to serve. The people are not masters of the bureaucracy, but its clients."
-Alan Keys


Dan said...

I read this and immediately began asking if most institutional churches have become bureaucracies. The LCMS certainly has lately. I just don't know if slaying the beast is the best option, though. I wrote and scheduled a post about this for Thursday, August 12th.

Mike Baker said...

I think that mankind is inherently bureaucratic. Even as a kid I couldn't just hang out my friends... we had to organize and form a "club" and make rules for our club.

Even back in history, you look at pastors like Krauth who battled this same bureaucratic impulse. It is possible that we "set ourselves up for failure" by seeing a bureacracy as an anomoly.

It would be better to recognize it as a part of the human condition.... and battle against it by upholding individual human value and dignity over and above the importance of "the system".

Dan said...

Doesn't that go against everything you just wrote and every quote you just posted?

Mike Baker said...

1. Bureaucracy is bad. It squashes creativity, degrades human dignity, and is counter to productivity.(original post)

2. Bureaucracy is built into human nature so it is a constant. We shouldn't see the existence of bureaucracy as unique. (my comment)

I don't see how these two things contradict each other.