An English In Kentucky


















Saturday April 13th 2019Tim Candler9


    In my reading of Kafka I don't recall ever coming away with an understanding of bureaucracy. Rather I came away with an understanding of what it was like to be a cog in a machine, as familiar an experience for me as it would have been for anyone else unhappily employed by endlessly repeating tasks within the walls of a factory or an office. I say endlessly because there was no place or moment within the task where this side of getting too old to perform the task I could see a completeness. I was, and I have to admit this, a surly, uncooperative, pain in the neck cog who found solace in abject bolshevism until the shift was over and I could go home where if it was a Friday the bulk of my pay check went to the landlord. And, I suspect, Kafka's writing being associated with the dour hopelessness of bureaucracy lies somewhere within an experience of the dispirited cogs of a bureaucracy without any experience or appreciation by the observer of the purpose, possibilities and function of a bureaucracy.  



      Literature is replete with explorations of meaninglessness and how we cogs have managed. The Good Soldier Schweik, a series of stories by Jarolsav Hasek about a soldier in the Austro Hungarian army, is humor. Schweik was drafted into the military despite being classified as a congenital idiot, his common sense or enthusiastic incompetence revealed the farcical nature of a rule bound, unquestioning environment. Invariably the issue of bureaucracy and efficiency is rich with discord, and more recently the move of those in high places is toward reducing the bureaucracy of government by offering government functions up to the management of what for one reason or another is called the Private Sector. The issue of whether we cogs fare better in the Public Sector or the Private Sector is so far as I can see entirely avoided by those who currently dominate the high places, their philosophy is essentially 'Cogs should be powerless, because look at us, of course we know what's best.' And in this assertion are the foundations to the debate about whether government can manage healthcare. It's a mixed blessing, yet the current administration is a wonderful opportunity to observe the workings of and motivations behind a rampant Private Sector. 


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