Saturday April 13th 2019Tim
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
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.