Bureaucracy is the foundation of tyranny. What made old style Soviet Communism so onerous was having to wait in line for everything. Even worse, once you crushed your way to the front (when I was in Yugoslavia, they really didn’t take turns–they pressed forward and waved their hands until they’re called on)… you weren’t assured “permission” to build, buy, or operate what you waited in line for. The “permission giver” — let’s call him or her the bureaucrat — operated by whim, old-boy networking, mood, bribery, or lust.
You had no rights, except the right to persuade the bureaucrat to see things your way.
Tyrants do not work in a vacuum. They cannot sit a thousand miles away, issue a decree, and expect serfs in their fiefdom to fall in line. The dictates of tyranny require a vast, unseemly administrative architecture. Enter, the bureaucrat.
Lenin could not have enslaved millions without bureaucrats regulating every facet of Soviet life. Hitler could not have dominated the masses so completely without acquiescent clerks: “Your papers, please.”
The administrative architecture does not see itself as aiding and abetting a Tyrant. The bureaucrat rarely sees him- or herself as a cog in a dictatorial machine. No. “I’m just doing my job — my hands are tied… Permission denied.”
Bureaucrats see themselves as protectors of the public good (God save us from those who would protect us). They are “reasonable people” saddled with Herculean demands from nameless clouds of functionaries above them. Disembodied “aeons” who connect to higher ups who connect to higher ups who connect to higher ups… all they way to the Big Guy, whoever he or she may be.
They administer the beneficence of their protection through regulations so convoluted no two reasonable people could possibly agree on their interpretation.
Ask to see a a superior even once and you’re screwed forever. The scowl on the functionary’s face tells you so. Unelected. Serving for life. Gatekeepers of the blessings of power and permission. You will make this person your friend, or your trash will never be collected again.
Yes, bureaucracy is the foundation of tyranny.
Everyday life devolves from the happy exercise of liberty into the monotonous pursuit of permission. Permission from a person who knew somebody who knew somebody and got a job — the primary skill of which is knowing how to ink a stamp pad — and is thus qualified to have a say in your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
It’s not the Tyrant per se that alienates your inalienable rights. It’s the bureaucrat that won’t let you (or will charge you prohibitive “fees” to): fell a tree, build a deck, pave a driveway, dig a well, light a fireplace, obtain a license, expand a business, add a drive-through, build a warehouse, sing a Christmas carol, or preach the gospel. In vast stretches of modern, so-called civilization you must obtain a “license” to preach Jesus. In China you must obtain a license to conceive a second child.
The Tyrant is so far removed from the scene, we may not notice his or her tyranny. We may deem the Tyrant a Very Nice Person. The Tyrant never stamped “Denied” across our papers. We do not yet feel the need to throw off his or her shackles. It’s that damn clerk down at the permit office that drives us nuts. Remember, Haiti called its dictators “Papa.”
You will stand in line and you will learn to love it.
Welcome to the New World Order.