BureaucracySee also: BureaucraticIncoming LinksFebruary 25th, 2021But on the other hand, there is also an element of enjoyable Bureaucracy in these worlds, exemplified by the nerdy rule systems of Dungeons and Dragons:March 1st, 2021One reason I have seen fit to spend so much time on fantasy worlds is because the topic opens up some fundamental questions about the nature of play, games, and freedom—all of which, I believe, lie at the core of Bureaucracy’s covert appeal. *What ultimately lies behind the appeal of Bureaucracy is fear of play. *📰 Deep LazinessIt’s possible to clean the bathroom lazily and with an open heart, but it’s harder to imagine going to the DMV, doing taxes, or navigating medical Bureaucracy in such a joyous and mellow mindset. Perhaps it is not that we’re too stupid to please ourselves, but rather that we are effectively forbidden from doing so by the demands placed on us. 📙 After VirtueWeber’s account of Bureaucracy notoriously has many flaws. But in his insistence that the rationality of adjusting means to ends in the most economical and efficient way is the central task of the bureaucrat and that therefore the appropriate mode of justification of his activity by the bureaucrat lies in the appeal to his (or later her) ability to deploy a body of scientific and above all social scientific knowledge, organized in terms of and understood as comprising a set of universal law-like generalizations, Weber provided the key to much of the modern age.📙 Reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s After VirtueMacIntyre marked a sharp distinction between the bureaucratic Marxism of Stalinism and the classical Marxism of Karl Marx. MacIntyre saw Marx, as he saw Trotsky,21 as a champion of human freedom and agency. MacIntyre saw Stalinism, as Trotsky had, as a betrayal of Marxism and the victory of Bureaucracy over human freedom.I take it that Stalinism has five salient characteristics. Stalinists (1) believed in the possibility of “socialism in one country”, rather than in the making of socialism as a world-revolutionary enterprise; (2) made the working class serve the needs of the party and the Bureaucracy rather than vice versa; (3) were guilty of “the cult of personality”; (4) believed that the end of achieving communism justified unlimited terror and unlimited deceit as means; (5) accepted Stalin’s crude mechanistic versions of dialectical materialism and historical materialism.📙 The Utopia of RulesWe have seen how the European Middle Ages produced the vision of a virtual celestial Bureaucracy, based distantly on that of ancient Rome, which was seen as the embodiment of cosmic rationality, in a time when real Bureaucracy was particularly thin on the ground. Over time, of course, it grew considerably less so. But as new bureaucratic states did emerge, and particularly as bureaucratic rationality became the predominant principle of governance in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe and America, we witness a kind of countermovement: the rise of an equally fantastic vision of the Middle Ages, full of princes, knights, faeries, dragons, sorcerers, and unicorns; and eventually, hobbits, dwarves, and orcs. In most important ways, this world is explicitly antibureaucratic: that is, it evinces an explicit rejection of virtually all the core values of Bureaucracy.Where one developed a self-effacing Bureaucracy that offered predictable stability, the other organized public life around charismatic egomaniacs in a never-ending struggle for supremacy.These books are not just appealing because they create endless daydream material for the inhabitants of bureaucratic societies. Above all, they appeal because they continue to provide a systematic negation of everything Bureaucracy stands for.Fantasy literature then, is largely an attempt to imagine a world utterly purged of Bureaucracy, which readers enjoy both as a form of vicarious escapism and as reassurance that ultimately, a boring, administered world is probably preferable to any imaginable alternative.One reason I have seen fit to spend so much time on fantasy worlds is because the topic opens up some fundamental questions about the nature of play, games, and freedom—all of which, I believe, lie at the core of Bureaucracy’s covert appeal.What ultimately lies behind the appeal of Bureaucracy is fear of play.