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  • The civil servant is primarily the master of the short-term solution.

  • ... administrative purpose usually outruns the facts. Indeed the administrative official's ardor for facts usually begins when he wants to change the facts!

  • The monstrosity of bureaucracy, I thought: always the pint-pot judging the gallon, the scribe's, the door-keeper's world. Always the stupidity of people who feel certain about things they never try to find out. A world that educates people to be ignorant — that is what this world of ours is ...

  • Institutions which have too much security ... tend to become bureaucratic. They add layers of people and layers of rules in order to assure the security of not making mistakes.

  • ... bureaucracy, the rule of nobody ...

  • ... the rule of Nobody ... is what the political form known as bureaucracy truly is.

  • Today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of ... dominion: bureaucracy or the rule of an intricate system of bureaus in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called rule by Nobody. (If, in accord with traditional political thought, we identify tyranny as government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs, making it impossible to localize responsibility and to identify the enemy, that is among the most potent causes of the current worldwide rebellious unrest, its chaotic nature, and its dangerous tendency to get out of control and to run amuck.

  • ... the greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one can argue, to whom one can represent grievances, on whom the pressures of power can be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.

  • ... all autonomous agencies and authorities, sooner or later, [turn] into self-perpetuating strongholds of conventional thought and practice.

  • Tell a thousand people to draft a letter, let them debate every phrase, and see how long it takes and what you get.

  • The speed with which bureaucracy has invaded almost every branch of human activity is something astounding once one thinks about it.

  • The whole evolution of present-day society tends to develop the various forms of bureaucratic oppression and to give them a sort of autonomy in regard to capitalism as such.

  • The whole of our civilization is founded on specialization, which implies the enslavement of those who execute to those who coordinate ...

  • Officialdom is hostile to inquiring outsiders.

  • ... bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

  • The thing that is most interesting about government servants is that they believe what they are supposed to believe, they really do believe what they are supposed to believe.

  • ... bureaucracy, safely repeating today what it did yesterday, rolls on as ineluctably as some vast computer, which, once penetrated by error, duplicates it forever.

  • It's the nature of bureaucracies to detest and repel wave-makers.

  • How clerks love refusing. It salves them for being clerks.

  • Paper is perhaps the bane of our organizational existence, because paper is ubiquitous. Every day we are bombarded with, surrounded by, and submerged in an ever-increasing influx of printed material ...

  • What gets me is you work all your life like a dog, you pay into these government programs. But still, when you need help, the people that's paid to help you they act like it's coming out of their own pocket.

  • I'm a novelist, and idle speculation is what novelists do. How odd to spend one's life trying to pretend that non-existent people are real: though no odder, I suppose, than what government bureaucrats do, which is trying to pretend that real people are non-existent.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "Canadian-American Relations: Surviving the Eighties," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • We're bureaucrats here, Mr. Patterson. We like doing paperwork. It gives our lives meaning.

  • But of all the 'cracies — Democracy, Plutocracy, Autocracy, Aristocracy, and Bureaucracy — it is the last one at whose door must lie the largest portion of the harm done in our day.

  • ... incompetence is a heavy contender with greed as prime motivator of the bureaucracy. ... any time there's money to be had, every manner of opportunist crawls out for a piece. Combined, these fundamentals form the basis of public policy.

  • [Social] workers have this attitude that the welfare is coming right out of their pockets — an outlook the hierarchy likes to cultivate.

  • ... dealing with a counter clerk at the phone company who had all the customer service skills of a homicidal sociopath on work release.

  • Batista wondered at the purpose of a bureaucracy which could not be subverted.

  • Power is sweet, and when you are a little clerk you love its sweetness quite as much as if you were an emperor, and maybe you love it a good deal more.

  • In government and out, there are vast realms of the bureaucracy dedicated to seeking more information, in perpetuity if need be, in order to avoid taking action.

  • You give bureaucrats power over others, and when the others are poor and helpless, nothing matches government. More than any single exploitive tyrannical force, the possibility of what government can do is absolutely terrifying.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in Peggy Lamson, In the Vanguard: Six American Women in Public Life ()
  • ... our government system has become so complex, so specialized, and so varied that it is slowly but surely being taken over by the trained specialist and the professional civil servant who are just as apt to obstruct progress as to further it ...

  • Bureaucracy is based on a willingness either to pass the buck or to spend it.

  • [Officials responsible for the poorly run badger control program in England explained to critics that 'the badgers were moving the goalposts':] Because the Badgers are moving the goalposts. / The Ferrets are bending the rules. / The Weasels are taking the hindmost. / The Otters are downing tools. / The Hedgehogs are changing the game-plan. / The Grass-snakes are spitting tacks. / The Squirrels are playing the blame-game / The Skunks are twisting the facts.

  • ... the city official had been affable without being at all forthcoming, a most desirable attribute in a man who wants to hold a position without taking one.