That bureaucracy has a negative connotation, I think many of us would agree. At least two dictionaries I consulted confirm this: This word has a disapproving subtext. This is of course not a coincidence. Anyone who has had to deal with it – as an outsider, a subject, or possibly even a conscientious insider who works for it – can probably attest to this fact. It’s stiff, inefficient, robotic,  and inhumane.

There’s understandably a perfect reason for it. Bureaucracy is a machine. Like any machines, it doesn’t have an awareness of itself. Its only interest – if indeed a machine can be said to have an interest – is its own life: how it works, how it functions, and how it can preserve itself. Any other issues contrary to this is out of the question. It cannot let itself be destroyed by any other interests that don’t sustain its functions and its own life.

It doesn’t matter how smart the people who run it. Its flows and procedures take precedence over people, agency, ingenuity and creativity. As such, they are made stupid or made to look stupid before its might. Thus, I think it is quite safe to say that bureaucracy generally consists of stupid people whose only interest is themselves. They have been made that way as a consequence of their absorption into its mighty power.

Machinery befriends machinery. Like a robot, bureaucracy doesn’t see humans for who they are. It sees humans as objects, numbers, paraphernalia of a system, and components of of machinery. It doesn’t care about our feelings, our thoughts, our ideas, our ingenuity and creativity, and our welfare and well being in general so long as they don’t have anything to do with its own life, its continuous existence, and its preservation of power.

We created bureaucracy in the first place. We invented them to help us deal with our fellow human beings, with our growing needs to organize ourselves with our growing challenges to advance or civilizations. Alas, as a tool it has now become a master who masters its masters. It’s a machine, a robot, an artificial being who has evolved to become a living being whose only interest, like any other living things, is the preservation of itself, never mind its masters who have now become its slaves.

~Eki Akhwan, 28 Augutst 2017


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