This essay is not just ... about bureaucracy. It is primarily about violence. What I would like to argue is that situations created by violence—particularly structural violence, by which I mean forms of pervasive social inequality that are ultimately backed up by the threat of physical harm—invariably tend to create the kinds of willful blindness we normally associate with bureaucratic procedures. To put it crudely: it is not so much that bureaucratic procedures are inherently stupid, or even that they tend to produce behaviour that they themselves define as stupid—though they do do that—but rather, that they are invariably ways of managing social situations that are already stupid because they are founded on structural violence.
David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules, p57