Monday, May 18, 2015

Bureaucracy and Violence

This essay is not just ... about bureaucracy.  It is primarily about violence.  What I would like to argue is that situations created by violenceparticularly structural violence, by which I mean forms of pervasive social inequality that are ultimately backed up by the threat of physical harminvariably 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 stupidthough they do do thatbut 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

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