Six Reasons for Bureaucracy

The six reasons for bureaucracy are;

  1. It Digitises Uncivilisation is founded on ego which can only conceive of reality in terms of that which can be isolated, measured, defined, controlled and possessed; in other words, written down. The first rule of all market transactions is to get it in writing. If it is not recorded on paper — if it is spoken or, even more dangerously, implied — it is a threat.
  2. It Controls once people have been put into writing they can not only be controlled, but will control themselves; partly through the enormous amount of time and money it costs to come up with the correct bits of paper, partly through the stress engendered by the excessive abstract planning and mystifying formality that bureaucracy demands, but mainly through the self-regulating schizoid self-consciousness (anxiety about low marks, unlikes, official judgements and the like) that kafkaesque bureaucratic surveillance engenders.
    Bureaucracy also serves a useful secondary function of selection. Because paperwork is nearly always profoundly useless and very often stupid to the point of absurdity, it tends to be rejected by people with integrity and intelligence; which is to say by those who are the greatest threat to the uncivilised system. If, in other words, you refuse to fill out your forms or write your assignments, you cannot be trusted and must be rejected.
  3. It is Indirect bureaucracy, like debt, is indirect (a.k.a. polite) violence; if you stop filling out the correct forms, the police will soon be on their way. In addition the world would fall apart if first-impression were to govern decision-making. Spontaneous intelligence and soft perception (of physiognomy, vibe and context) cannot be controlled, but forms, money and other bits of paper can.
  4. It is Professional those who seek an indirect relationship with their fellows (who are stiff, awkward or uptight in their face-to-face interactions, and in their face), or who, through fear of life, seek to control it, and thereby gain power, through controlling the flow of information, are automatically promoted to the upper world of paperwork; i.e. management.
  5. It Justifies the central management of a vast institution can only wield distant control through bureaucracy. Because of this distance the manager does not know what is going on and needs paperwork to justify his irresponsible position (as well as, like medieval inquisitors, the recorded facts of your communication to justify his sadism) and to give the impression of useful activity
  6. It is ‘Necessary’ when physical work is separated from the intention and conception of the craftsmen and his autonomous actions are handed over to management, when systems and societies grow beyond the capacity of their members to freely and directly shape their environments — largely through addiction to enormous and unnatural quanta of energy and forced dependency on usurious financial systems — when land is owned (and therefore monopolised) by other people and chains of communication, or production, extend upward beyond the capacity of ordinary people to communicate with each other laterally, paperwork rushes into the breach, filling it with facts and laws.


Number 2 is from Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.
Number 3 is from David Graeber’s Utopia of Rules.
Number 5 is from John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards.
Number 6 is from Joseph’s Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies and Ivan Illich’s Energy & Equity.

And the whole thing is from my Apocalypedia.(which explains the unusual uses of ‘ego’, ‘digitise’, ‘psysiognomy’, ‘vibe’, ‘context’, ‘professional’ and ‘uncivilisation’ above).

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