By Ben Kafka
Since the center of the eighteenth century, political thinkers of all kinds--radical and reactionary, specialist and amateur--have been complaining approximately "bureaucracy." yet what, precisely, are they complaining about?
In The Demon of Writing, Ben Kafka bargains a severe background and concept of 1 of the main ubiquitous, least understood varieties of media: forms. States depend upon documents to tax and spend, safeguard and serve, self-discipline and punish. yet repeatedly, this bureaucracy proves to be unreliable. studying episodes that variety from the tale of a clerk who misplaced his task after which his brain within the French Revolution to an account of Roland Barthes's short stint as a college administrator, Kafka finds the powers, the disasters, or even the pleasures of bureaucracy. a lot of its complexities, he argues, were obscured by means of the comic-paranoid type that characterizes a lot of our feedback of forms. Kafka proposes a brand new conception of what Karl Marx referred to as the "bureaucratic medium." relocating from Marx to Freud, he argues that this idea of bureaucracy needs to comprise either a idea of praxis and of parapraxis.
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Additional info for The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork
If everyone agreed that M orizot deserved justice, why not simply grant it to him? Why make him produce so much paperwork? Why keep sending him down the hall to yet another clerk, yet another office? As he wrote in one of his pamphlets, he was led up with being told by these politicians and administrators “ that the problem does not belong to their departm ent. To their depart ment! Does truth have departments, where it can be suffocated? Can the confidence o f king be divided up into departments, like any other operation?
T he deputies w ere d eterm ined to ensure that they w ere properly cared for. A fte r ex p la in in g the c o m m itte e ’s stru ctu re , the Almanach advised its readers that the necessity of avoiding all pretext o f preference, the desire to bring the man living alone and retired in the provinces within range so that he can be heard as easily and promptly as those who live or have relations in the heart of the capital, have caused the committee to suspend, until October 1, the examination o f the memoirs that have been or will be brought to it.
France con sisted o f some 26 million people; not even a metaphorical tree would be able to accommodate them all at once. How could the general w ill express itself over such an extensive and populous territory without destroying its liberty, without endangering its very existence? 11 As societies became larger and more complex, he argued, they were forced to divide up tasks between members. Some cultivated grain, others wove cloth, still others exchanged these products. This division of labor led to greater levels of efficiency and prosperity; it was the foundation of social progress.