This is a BBC2 documentary from 2003 and probably one of the best on Stalin. The archive footage is very good and it draws upon some excellent evidence from close witnesses, including Stalin’s own family.
Of the Bureaucrats, by the Bureaucrats, for the Bureaucrats
If anyone’s gonna find a text written by an obscure, largely forgotten Communist author, it’s NRO’s Jonah Goldberg. The statistics he cites, too, are telling: I knew Federal employee job security and unaccountability has gotten deeper and more entrenched in recent years, but I didn’t know it was this secure. Example: “In 2010, the 168,000 federal workers in Washington, D.C. — who are quite well compensated — had a job-security rate of 99.74 percent.” Read the whole thing here.
For understandable reasons, the IRS scandal has largely focused on the political question of whether the White House deliberately targeted its opponents. To date there’s no evidence that it did. That’s good for the president, but it may not be good for the country, because if the administration didn’t target opponents, that would mean the IRS has become corrupt all on its own.
In 1939, Bruno Rizzi, a largely forgotten Communist intellectual, wrote a hugely controversial book, The Bureaucratization of the World. Rizzi argued that the Soviet Union wasn’t Communist. Rather, it represented a new kind of system, what Rizzi called “bureaucratic collectivism.” What the Soviets had done was get rid of the capitalist and aristocratic ruling classes and replace them with a new, equally self-interested ruling class: bureaucrats.
“School-choice programs and even public charter schools are under vicious attack, not because they are bad at educating children but because they’re good at it.”
The book wasn’t widely read, but it did reach Bolshevik theoretician Leon Trotsky, who attacked it passionately. Trotsky’s response, in turn, inspired James Burnham, who used many of Rizzi’s ideas in his own 1941 book The Managerial Revolution, in which Burnham argued that something similar was happening in the West. A new class of bureaucrats, educators, technicians, regulators, social workers, and corporate directors who worked in tandem with government were reengineering society for their own benefit. The Managerial Revolution was a major influence on George Orwell’s 1984.
“Specifically, they are good at it because they don’t have to abide by rules aimed at protecting government workers at the expense of students.”
Now, I don’t believe we are becoming anything like 1930s Russia, never mind a real-life 1984. But this idea that bureaucrats — very broadly defined — can become their own class bent on protecting their interests at the expense of the public seems not only plausible but obviously true.
Read the rest of this entry »