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Quotes About Bureaucracy

Quotes tagged as "bureaucracy" (showing 1-30 of 75)
Douglas Adams
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

C.S. Lewis
“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."

[From the Preface]
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Roger Zelazny
“A totally nondenominational prayer: Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that I be forgiven for anything I may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness.  Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which I may be eligible after the destruction of my body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.”
Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness

Simone Weil
“Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”
Simone Weil

Frank Herbert
“Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?”
Frank Herbert, Heretics of Dune

Robert A. Heinlein
“Government! Three fourths parasitic and the other fourth Stupid fumbling.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Kim Harrison
“I sighed. I hated the maze of bureaucracy with a passion, but I've found the best way to deal with it is to smile and act stupid. That way, no one gets confused.”
Kim Harrison, Dead Witch Walking

Christopher Hitchens
“Very often the test of one's allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience. I first became involved with the Czech opposition in 1968 when it was an intoxicating and celebrated cause. Then, during the depressing 1970s and 1980s I was a member of a routine committee that tried with limited success to help the reduced forces of Czech dissent to stay nourished (and published). The most pregnant moment of that commitment was one that I managed to miss at the time: I passed an afternoon with Zdenek Mlynar, exiled former secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who in the bleak early 1950s in Moscow had formed a friendship with a young Russian militant with an evident sense of irony named Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev. In 1988 I was arrested in Prague for attending a meeting of one of Vaclav Havel's 'Charter 77' committees. That outwardly exciting experience was interesting precisely because of its almost Zen-like tedium. I had gone to Prague determined to be the first visiting writer not to make use of the name Franz Kafka, but the numbing bureaucracy got the better of me. When I asked why I was being detained, I was told that I had no need to know the reason! Totalitarianism is itself a cliché (as well as a tundra of pulverizing boredom) and it forced the cliché upon me in turn. I did have to mention Kafka in my eventual story. The regime fell not very much later, as I had slightly foreseen in that same piece that it would. (I had happened to notice that the young Czechs arrested with us were not at all frightened by the police, as their older mentors had been and still were, and also that the police themselves were almost fatigued by their job. This was totalitarianism practically yawning itself to death.) A couple of years after that I was overcome to be invited to an official reception in Prague, to thank those who had been consistent friends through the stultifying years of what 'The Party' had so perfectly termed 'normalization.' As with my tiny moment with Nelson Mandela, a whole historic stretch of nothingness and depression, combined with the long and deep insult of having to be pushed around by boring and mediocre people, could be at least partially canceled and annealed by one flash of humor and charm and generosity.”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

Mikhail Bulgakov
“Remove the document—and you remove the man.”
Mikhail Bulgakov

José Saramago
“Confidential matters are not dealt with over the telephone, you'd better come here in person. I cannot leave the house, Do you mean you're ill, Yes, I'm ill, the blind man said after a pause. In that case you ought to call a doctor, a real doctor, quipped the functionary, and, delighted with his own wit, he rang off.
The man's insolence was like a slap in the face. Only after some minutes had passed, had he regained enough composure to tell his wife how rudely he had been treated. Then, as if he had discovered something that he should have known a long time ago, he murmured sadly, This is the stuff we're made of, half indifference and half malice.”
José Saramago, Blindness

Laurence Gonzales
“Bureaucracies force us to practice nonsense. And if you rehearse nonsense, you may one day find yourself the victim of it.”
Laurence Gonzales, Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things

“If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won't.”
Hyman G. Rickover

Jerry Pournelle
“In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control, and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.[Pournelle's law of Bureaucracy]”
Jerry Pournelle

Alain de Botton
“The true nature of bureaucracy may be nowhere more obvious to the observer than in a developing country, for only there will it still be made manifest by the full complement of documents, files, veneered desks and cabinets - which convey the strict and inverse relationship between productivity and paperwork.”
Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Chaim Potok
“In our time... a man whose enemies are faceless bureaucrats almost never wins. It is our equivalent to the anger of the gods in ancient times. But those gods you must understand were far more imaginative than our tiny bureaucrats. They spoke from mountaintops not from tiny airless offices. They rode clouds. They were possessed of passion. They had voices and names. Six thousand years of civilization have brought us to this.”
Chaim Potok, Davita's Harp

Andy Weir
“Just three words? Nothing about his physical health? His equipment? His supplies?'

'You got me,' she said. 'He left a detailed status report. I just decided to lie for no reason.'

'Funny,' Venkat said. 'Be a smart-ass to a guy seven levels above you at your company. See how that works out.'

'Oh no,' Mindy said. 'I might lose my job as an interplanetary voyeur? I guess I'd have to use my master's degree for something else.'

'I remember when you were shy.'

'I'm space paparazzi now. The attitude comes with the job.”
Andy Weir, The Martian

“Some third person decides your fate: this is the whole essence of bureaucracy.”
Kollontai Alexandra, La Oposición Obrera

China Miéville
“While yes we can both agree the sudden recovery of this footage smells not a little, and that we appear to be bits of tinfoil-on-string to some malevolent government kitten, yes yes yes but, Borlu, however they've come by this evidence, this is the correct decision.”
China Miéville, The City & the City

Henry Hazlitt
“private loans will utilize existing resources and capital far better than government loans. Government loans will waste far more capital and resources than private loans. Government loans, in short, as compared with private loans, will reduce production, not increase it.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

Nick Harkaway
“This, not incidentally, is another perfect setting for deindividuation: on one side, the functionary behind a wall of security glass following a script laid out with the intention that it should be applied no matter what the specific human story may be, told to remain emotionally disinvested as far as possible so as to avoid preferential treatment of one person over another - and needing to follow that advice to avoid being swamped by empathy for fellow human beings in distress. The functionary becomes a mixture of Zimbardo's prison guards and the experimenter himself, under siege from without while at the same time following an inflexible rubric set down by those higher up the hierarchical chain, people whose job description makes them responsible, but who in turn see themselves as serving the general public as a non-specific entity and believe or have been told that only strict adherence to a system can produce impartial fairness. Fairness is supposed to be vested in the code: no human can or should make the system fairer by exercising judgement. In other words, the whole thing creates a collective responsibility culminating in a blameless loop. Everyone assumes that it's not their place to take direct personal responsibility for what happens; that level of vested individual power is part of the previous almost feudal version of responsibility. The deindividuation is actually to a certain extent the desired outcome, though its negative consequences are not.”
Nick Harkaway, The Blind Giant

Bonnie Jo Campbell
“It occurred to Susan that men were always waiting for something cataclysmic--love or war or a giant asteroid. Every man wanted to be a hot-headed Bruce Willis character, fighting against the evil foreign enemy while despising the domestic bureaucracy. Men just wanted to focus on one big thing, leaving the thousands of smaller messes for the women around them to clean up.”
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage

“The obvious pollution occurring in many places - worst of all, in the planned societies- has encouraged the growth of the environmental movement, which, however, as shown in previous chapters, has an agenda that goes far beyond clean-up and beautification, far beyond the stewardship of nature that is commanded by ancient religious tradition. Embracing the "biospheric vision" in the "spirit of deep ecology", the movement sees human beings as the chief enemy in the struggle on behalf of a deified Nature. The environmental movement, therefore, is the perfect vehicle for population control. It is popular - people do love trees and animals and beautiful scenery - and it is unequivocal in its devotion to reducing human numbers. The environmental agencies of the United Nations, with their chilling blueprints for "demographic transition" and a standardless, undefined but totally planned and controlled "sustainable development", combine the fervor of nature worship with the lack of accountability of an unelected, international bureaucracy.”
Jacqueline Kasun, The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of Population Control

J.M. Coetzee
“Wie es im Zeitalter der Könige naiv gewesen wäre zu glauben, dass der erstgeborene Königssohn der zum Herrschen Geeignetste wäre, so ist es in unserer zeit naiv zu glauben, dass der demokratisch gewählte Machthaber der Geeignetste sein wird. Die Nachfolgeregelung ist kein Rezept für die Bestimmung des besten Machthabers, sie ist ein Rezept für die Legitimierung dieser oder jener Person und somit für die Vermeidung von Bürgerkriegen. Die Wählerschaft - der Demos - glaubt, es sei ihre Aufgabe, den Besten auszuwählen, doch in Wahrheit ist ihre Aufgabe viel schlichter: einen Mann zu salben [...], gleichgültig welchen.”
J.M. Coetzee, Tagebuch eines schlimmen Jahres

Tahir Shah
“But in Africa bureaucrats are usually too proud to accept a bribe, something I admire when I'm not the one being arrested.”
Tahir Shah, In Search of King Solomon's Mines

Hank Quense
“To him, one of the most fascinating historical aspects of governments was their complete disregard for governing. Governments were single-minded and interested only in increasing their control and any governance that came out of the government's actions were purely coincidental. .... The lowest flunky as well as the most powerful bureaucrat was more interested in protecting his sinecure than in helping the citizens who coughed up tax money to pay the government worker's salaries.”
Hank Quense, Zaftan Entrepreneurs

J.M. Coetzee
“Den Staat kümmert nicht, ob der Bürger lebt oder stirbt. Wichtig für den Staat und sein Archiv ist, ob der Bürger am Leben oder tot ist.”
J.M. Coetzee, Tagebuch eines schlimmen Jahres

Mikhail Bulgakov
“What is all this? Get him out of here, devil take me!” And that one, imagine, smiles and says: “Devil take you? That, in fact, can be done!” And—bang!”
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita

Christopher Hitchens
“One also hears a great deal about how this awful joint tenure of the executive mansion was a good thing in that it conferred 'experience' on the despised and much-deceived wife. Well, the main 'experience' involved the comprehensive fouling-up of the nation's health-care arrangements, so as to make them considerably worse than they had been before and to create an opening for the worst-of-all-worlds option of the so-called HMO, combining as it did the maximum of capitalist gouging with the maximum of socialistic bureaucracy. This abysmal outcome, forgiven for no reason that I can perceive, was the individual responsibility of the woman who now seems to think it entitles her to the presidency.”
Christopher Hitchens

P.D. James
“Unnatural death always provoked a peculiar unease, an uncomfortable realization that there were still some things that might not be susceptible to bureaucratic control.”
P.D. James, The Lighthouse

“We . . . go out into the Waste Land of Experts, each knowing so much about so little that he can neither be contradicted nor is worth contradicting.”
G.M. Young, Victorian England: Portrait of an Age

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