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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Enemies and Bureaucracy Intro

People misunderstand the "enemy" because they fail to understand that thinking requires us to differentiate between individual, human, very personal "enemies" who are actors on the stage filling roles; and who can change those roles sometimes. Because they fail to understand that we have many "frenemies" in this world who are unreliable friends, unreliable enemies, and sometimes both; but need to be handled with strategy not naevity or anger.

An example of a "frenemy" are your religious Wahabi Arabs. They have a world model that draws its inspiration from the Caliphs of the 8th century. When you see a man dressing like the Prophet, who has memorized the Koran and Haddith, and who lives by those teachings, you are meeting an actor. He probably thinks he's just a religious muslim, but he's acting out an ideology that follows certain rules and demands certain behaviors. If you don't understand him he might send airliners crashing into towers. And he might do it even if you do understand him if your understanding is delusional.

We do have people in this country who think they understand Al Qaeda, and it didn't stop 9/11/2001 because they either saw the Wahabi as all terrorists or trusted them. We still have people who work with the same people who launched 9/11. We are doing it in Syria. Prince Bandar created Al Qaeda, there is no evidence he ever broke with them. There is no point getting paranoid. That is reality. Prince Bandar was stirring up things a little for his Oily friends every bit as much as he was living out 800 year old fantasies; Frenemies. Prince Bandar threatened the Russians in Sochi through his Chechen Clients. The Russians understand. They put millions of people in uniform to protect the place. It probably won't work perfectly. Al Qaeda was not a non-state actor. It works for the Saudis. The Saudis are our friends. Al Qaeda is our enemy. Same people. Who'd figure? We are allied with the Saudis so if A=B and B=C then we are A=C; allied with Al Qaeda. Some of our CIA is.

Certainly if our politicians were brighter folks like Senator McCain would be more careful about praising Jihadists fighting Assad if he knew they were controlled by the same folks who control Al Qaeda. But we humans aren't that simple or that smart. Two different plays by the same author. What the members of Al Qaeda did was personal. What Bandar is doing is treacherous and personal. What Chris Christie did with "Bridge-gate" is both personal and treacherous, and was essentially an act of war on New York City. But I'm sure he's a "loyal" friend. They are all "loyal" Friends. Like Brutus and Julius Caesar.

But the real enemy is never these individuals. Individuals can be corrupt, deluded, vicious, unreliable, friends one day and launching airplanes at buildings the next. But there are forces too. Forces like inertia, entropy, and human equivalents like greed, anger and bureaucracy. The Human equivalents are driven by human frailties and the way people are organized. One of those "forces" is an age-old set of human structures and organizing principles called "Bureaucracy."

Taming or Fighting Bureaucracy

The right is right to fear "large government" but they are delusional in that they don't identify what they mean. If they had a clear genuine intention to do something about "large government" they'd be pushing for less bureaucracy and more democratic government. But they are only against bureaucracy outside law enforcement and big business so you rarely hear them defining terms or clarifying targets. They know that they use bureaucracy and it's structures just as sharply as the left does. And many righties are themselves bureaucrats.

Bureaucracy has structural attributes: Hierarchy, lists, rules, top down direction, bottom down responsibility that make it an ideal vehicle for armies, police, tax collection, or any kind of administration. Bureaucratic governance is a feature of government, and if you see a bureaucracy anywhere you are seeing a government "not a person", but bureaucracy and it's attributes amplify the power and influence of those at the top of their hierarchy. When the right complains about "big government" they talk about features of bureaucratic government:

  • Laws listed and treated as sacred.
  • Laws interpreted arbitrarily and applied as regulations with no relationship to real world.
  • Officials who follow these "laws" and claim they can't use common sense because of the laws.
  • Common sense treated as corruption depending on who uses it, with those at the top of the hierarchy deciding
  • Those running hierarchies blaming subordinates for their bad decisions or taking credit for the decisions of subordinates
  • Corruption seen as perfectly okay by high status officials near top of hierarchy, who interpret the rules
  • Folks following lists and pursuing organizational objective without any regard to it's impacts on that mission, sometimes long after the organization has lost any resemblance to it's original purpose.

When the right demonize "government programs" they are talking about the particular and peculiar corruptions associated with bureaucratic governance. For example the Byzantines inherited a bureaucratic governance from the Romans that was inherited from Greek Kingdoms who inherited it from the Persians, who inherited it from Babylon! When Byzantium was reduced to one city it had the same bureaucracy and nearly the same numbers as it had had when the city of Constantinople (now Istambul) administered a vast empire. When it fell the Turks and Russians picked up it's bureaucratic organization. Before it fell the Vatican had already copied most of it's features. It influences from the USA to Russia to this day. Other countries have parallel structures and bureaucrats copy each other, but bureaucracy is eternal. There is no getting rid of it completely but it can be reduced from the size of a Brown bear to a Teddy bear with a little reforming. If the Right were talking about turning Brown Bear Bureaucracies to Teddy bear Bureaucracies they'd make sense and people would understand them better.

The way to reduce bureaucracy is by reducing hierarchy, and increasing the power of bottom up representative structures and also raising the accountability of the hierarchs who head bureaucracies. Bureaucrat hierarchs resist both accountability and anything that makes them consult with others and thus reduces their authority, and so there are a million ways that they frustrate or control efforts at reform, but it can be done. Bureaucracy can't be eliminated. Folks pretend to eliminate it all the time, but it doesn't even make sense to try. Al Qaeda is an Arab World that means sort of "the structure." It's a very flat, very loose, and very networked bureaucratic structure. Bureaucracy pops up everywhere, and the biggest bureaucrats are the folks who run giant companies. When we hear righties talking about "reducing government" they aren't talking about reducing bureaucracy, just transferring it's power to their rich patrons.

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