Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 B - Bureaucracy


Bureaucracy: Administrators, civil servants - group of men and women, normally highly privileged (though they usually deny this, falsely), who do the paper and legal work for a government, whether this is a state or city, and who are often the real holders of power, because they make most decisions, and prepare the materials and information on the basis of which parliaments or city-councils decide.

One of the greatest mistakes of Max Weber is his inaccurate diagnosis of bureaucracy and bureaucrats, as the administrators are probably best called:

These men and women are
not an innocuous, objective group who do the work of a state or government, but a group of the - usually, normally, on average, in effect, if not immediately then after some years - morally and intellectually unqualified who, through their usual lack of all human excellence, because of their function, find themselves in positions of great effective power and considerable remuneration, which moreover is mostly totally uncontrolled and without sanction.

It also is a group of people that, in the interest of a well-run state or government, should be almost wholly removed, and replaced by persons who do a similar job for some years only, and as a kind of social service, because they already do similar work in society, and who get replaced after some years of social service, by others.

This seems the only way to achieve good government, government that can be controlled, and indeed government that is a real democracy, for only when the people as a matter of social service for some years of their lives do the work bureacrats do now all their lives, as a career, in the midst of tenthousands like-minded life-long careerists, usually as grey, as average, as common as the tenthousands others, is the power of the state, the government or the city, no longer in the hands of a caste of grey and devious servants, clerks, and fountain-pen murderers, but in the hands of the actual people who do the actual work, and who have no actual interest in corruption, a government-career, or in doing dirty deeds to retain pension-rights, perks, or promotions.

Much of what goes wrong in modern societies, states and cities goes wrong because the real power is in the hands of the bureaucracy, and these are persons who are not fit to have such power, but who achieve it because as things work the real power falls in their hands by default, through their being the nominal - very improperly named - 'civil servants' in a life-long career, and because, as said, in fact their group - their colleagues, friends, family-members who also are 'civil servants' - execute the decisions of those in nominal power, and also prepare these decisions, and also, as a rule, deal with whatever firms are supposed to do the actual work the state or city does.


See also: Bureaucracy Plan, "On "The Logic of Moral Discourse""


Edwards, Mills, Weber


 Original: Dec 12, 2004                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top