Friday, 22 November 2013

Bureaucracy - A Bureau of Bureaucratic Bureaucrats

"Bureaucracy is the epoxy that greases the wheels of progress."
James Boren


Noun. Plural bureaux, bureaus. Late 17th century.
[French (Old French burel), originally = woollen stuff, baize (used for covering writing-desks),
probably from bure variant of buire dark brown from Proto-Romance alteration of Latin burrus fiery red from Greek purros red.]

1(a) A writing desk with drawers for papers etc. L17

1(b) A chest of drawers. N.American. E19

2 An office, especially for the transaction of public business;
a department of public administration. L17

2(b) An office or business with a specified function;
an agency for the coordination of related activities, the distribution of information, etc. E20

2(b) information bureau, marriage bureau, etc.
bureau de change [French, lit. 'office of exchange'] an establishment at which customers can exchange foreign money.

"Some third person decides your fate - this is the whole essence of bureaucracy."
Kollantai Alexandra


Noun. Also (obsolete) bureaucratie. Early 19th century.
[French bureaucratie: -CRACY.]

(Government by) a central administrative group, especially one not accountable to the public etc.;
officials of such a group collectively; excessive official routine.

"The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."


Noun. Mid-19th century.
French bureaucrate: see BUREAU, -CRAT.]

An official, especially an unimaginative or doctrinaire one, in a bureaucracy;
a person who endeavours to centralize administrative powers.

bureaucratese noun the language or jargon of bureaucrats or bureaucracy. L20
bureaucratic adjective of or pertaining to bureaucracy; excessively concerned with official routine. M19
bureaucratically adverb M19
bureaucratization noun transformation into a bureaucracy; making bureaucratic E20
bureaucratize verb trans. transform into a bureaucracy; make bureaucratic L19

I hate bureaucracy - hate it in all its form-filling, rubber-stamping, paper-filing, put-on-holding, creativity-crushing, work-duplicating, application-denying banality. Even the word irritates me, with bureau, bureaucracy, bureaucrat and all the bureau-derivatives being unfathomably difficult to spell fluidly. As for its derivation, it's beautifully appropriate in the ugliness of its implications - bureau 'desk' and kratia 'power' - the power wielded by faceless, encubicled bureaucrats from their ugly, faux-maple desks. I hate bureaucracy - I hate the way it keeps doctors from their patients, police from the streets and anyone from getting the same answer twice.

Are you a bureaucratizing bureaucrat?

What are the alternatives? Is there an alternative?

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  1. Put a face on a faceless bureaucrat:
    'Ah, so you can't help me. Oh dear. In that case I think I need to speak to your manager. What was your name again?'

    1. Maybe you can give them a face, maybe you can give them a name, but can anyone ever give a bureaucrat a soul, Sally?

  2. Earlier this year, and I am genuinely not making this up, my wife and her sister had to go to an embassy and sign an affidavit to declare that they exist.


    1. Well, C, I know we've joked about whether or not this "wife" of yours really exists, but extending such incredulity to the existence of *her* family is really a bit much indeed ...

    2. I find it quite funny how their physical presence in front of the officials, complete with movement, pulses and fully functional respiratory systems, wasn't enough to prove that they were alive, but signing a piece of paper clinched it.

      (I've kept a copy of the piece of paper in case my wife ever tries to get out of something by telling me that she just isn't)


  3. Haha! That's brilliant! :) Chlobo

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