A principle of periodic reduction of bureaucracy should be built into every social organism

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

The deep state is no myth, Camille Paglia says, “but a sodden, intertwined mass of bloated, self-replicating bureaucracy that constitutes the real power in Washington and that stubbornly outlasts every administration”:

As government programs have incrementally multiplied, so has their regulatory apparatus, with its intrusive byzantine minutiae. Recently tagged as a source of anti-Trump conspiracy among embedded Democrats, the deep state is probably equally populated by Republicans and apolitical functionaries of Bartleby the Scrivener blandness. Its spreading sclerotic mass is wasteful, redundant, and ultimately tyrannical.

I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies. The current atrocity of crippling student debt in the US is a direct product of an unholy alliance between college administrations and federal bureaucrats — a scandal that ballooned over two decades with barely a word of protest from our putative academic leftists, lost in their post-structuralist fantasies. Political correctness was not created by administrators, but it is ever-expanding campus bureaucracies that have constructed and currently enforce the oppressively rule-ridden regime of college life.

In the modern world, so wondrously but perilously interconnected, a principle of periodic reduction of bureaucracy should be built into every social organism. Freedom cannot survive otherwise.

(Hat tip to Neovictorian.)


  1. Bob Sykes says:

    Both Republican and Democrat politicians benefit personally and substantially from a runaway bureaucracy. By transferring their legislative powers to bureaucrats, they also transfer the blame for any onerous regulations, and they can pretend to be defenders of the masses against the bureaucrats. They also get to benefit special interests, who in turn pay for their political campaigns and who make sure the politicians have very comfortable retirements.

    It is a notable that an incumbent cannot be unseated and that men and women go to Washington as run-of-the mill middle class lawyers with modest assets and leave Washington as multi-millionaires. The Clinton’s are the best modern example.

    We are not quite as corrupt as Mexico, and the cartels do not openly run large swathes of our territory (Chicago and LA being exceptions), but we are getting there.

  2. Jeff R says:

    On the plus side, in my experience the bureaucracy is at least partially checked by the indifference, laziness, and inefficiency wrought by that very lack of accountability. Being evil is hard work, and not many people are taking jobs in the federal government because they want to put in long hours.

  3. Kirk says:


    What you leave out is the inimical and ennervating effect of bureaucracy on virtually everything. Once a “permission culture” is put in place, it’s damn hard to throw off. Look at Germany, for examples down the years. Even Kaiser Wilhelm complained about it…

    My take on the whole thing is that our approach to civilization itself is fundamentally flawed. Our conceptual model is such that we all assume and think that civilization is something imposed from above, and from outside the individual.

    The reality is that such an entity is ephemeral and entirely imaginary. True civilization resides not in the institutions or the organizations which express it, but from within the individual. We focus on the externals, and ignore the internal conditions that those externalities of civilization actually arise from. You can’t create a worthy “artifact of civilization” at the point of a gun. Such things arise because of willing cooperation by individuals acting in their own self-interest and/or altruistic impulses.

    Such artifacts of civilization would be the ad-hoc little groups of people you find at every accident or disaster site, each individual willingly subordinating their interests for the greater good. You couldn’t get the same results by rounding those people up at gunpoint, and forcing them to fill sandbags–You might solve the problem, somewhat, but the moment you turn your back, they’re going to scatter and actively work against you and your interests, however benign and well-meaning they might have been.

    True civilization does not live in the institutions; it lives in the hearts of its members. Kill civilization there, and no institution can keep it alive.

  4. Wan Wei Lin says:

    Well said Kirk in response to Jack. Although laziness does have a way of destroying a civilization.

    My view is the civil society is the basis for modern civilization as opposed to a few people in a primitive village which can be considered a civilization in some respects.

    America and the Western world is de-civilzing in my opinion and for multiple reasons. As you said it fundamentally falls to the individual. Since we have told our overlords to manage the ‘business’ of America we have lost touch with what it means to be a civilized community or country. Whatever traditional Western culture remains is being quickly diluted by the invasion of 3rd world non-civilized cultures of corruption, crime, dictators and 7th century tribal religion.

    Maybe I’m a pessimist, but from observing the course of history I don’t see how this gets fixed short of a revolution.

  5. CVLR says:

    Wan Wei Lin,

    To fix it is very simple: audit the Fed.

Leave a Reply