Bureaucracy, Violence, Coercion, Imagination and Art

Bureaucracy is everywhere and it is anathema to artistic thinking, freedom and to people with an imaginative turn of mind.  Everything is regulated, controlled, cross-referenced, aggregated, profiled, correlated and analysed.  Our every keystroke and mouse click is dissected and no matter what we do, in real life or on line, we need licenses, permits, registrations, authentications, authorisations and permissions.  Every last thing we do, even with art, is subject to endless form-filling, administration, background checks and rules.

Despite its mind-numbing properties, something that would ordinarily consign such a ridiculous and wasteful thing to obsolescence, leading it to vanish completely, as a feature of modern life, instead bureaucracy is a growth industry.  It’s booming.  The growth in bureaucracy is simply staggering.  There is more bureaucracy now than ever before, fuelled by the magic of the Internet, web sites and on-line processing.

Every damned software application (web, mobile or desktop) is actually a bureaucratic form in disguise.  Using it is an exercise if form-filling and administration.  You press the buttons, select options and check the boxes.  Sometimes, you have to type in some information.  Even the process of making movies, or music, has been reduced to the filling in of a number of forms on a software programme.  Yes, you make recordings and film scenes, but count the number of forms you wind up filling in, in order to edit, mix or master anything.  It’s sobering, when you stop to notice it.

The on-hold voice tells you that your call is important, while simultaneously confronting you with undeniable proof that it actually isn’t.  Meanwhile, a pastiche knock-off of a U2 tune plays in the background, avoiding a royalty payment to the artists, while creating a sub-standard near-copy of a song that would drive you to distraction, like a slow form of water torture, even in the original rendition.  It drips into your ear holes, drop by drop, ostensibly to soothe and calm you, but inevitably serving only to agitate and annoy.  You can feel your life whittling away.  There are so many more enjoyable and worthwhile things you could be doing, with this wasted time, but here you are, stuck on hold, waiting.  Waiting for who knows how long?

You spend fifteen minutes waiting in a virtual line, whose other members you can’t see.  Is there really a line, or are they making you wait needlessly?  There’s no stepping around it or avoiding it.  These are the arbitrary rules, laid down as if law, by some faceless bureaucrat, who loves this kind of thing.  Rules, they insist (as if it’s a law of physics, not a human choice), must be obeyed, whether or not they make any sense.  You are under their power and there is no escape.  You must comply.

The myriad people that you have spoken to, so far, have had no idea who you are or what you needed, so they have asked you to explain the whole story, from the very beginning, to each and every new person you encountered, like a broken record player.  Some of these people don’t speak your language with the same fluency you do, but any hint of impatience or testiness on your behalf leads to your call being terminated abruptly and unapologetically.  This is our reality.  This is the world we inhabit and tolerate, as if no other worlds are possible.

How did we get here?  Why are we in this predicament of wasting our lifetimes, doing nothing substantial or meaningful, while being capable of genuine acts of innovation and creativity, of real value to others?  How is it that we continue to sacrifice our lives to the worship of imaginary trading tokens, while being fully aware that we could be doing something much better with our time on Earth?  Why aren’t we making art, instead of making mountains of useless paperwork?

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?  Are you doing what you believe in, or can you believe you are settling for what you are doing?  Bureaucrats are more worried about doing things right, than doing the right things.

We’re trapped in jobs created by the ruling classes to feed into their debt-extraction schemes. In other words, we’re working dead-end bullshit jobs so that we can be mined for profit. 

We’re just like farm animals being farmed for someone else’s monetary gain.  Corralled, controlled, captive, commoditised.  You will spend the greater portion of your working life making vastly more money for someone else, playing your designated part, than what you will make for yourself.  This is the very point of the arrangement and at the heart of the reason why you are doing things you don’t like.  You’re the very foundation of the rentier economy.

Can artists with imaginative, creative powers be mined for profit?  Not so easily.   Independent minds want to exercise them and this is often not in alignment with the agenda of our present owners, the largest multi-national corporations.  It cuts into their ability to profit from us, either through our labour, or our consumption.  We’re easier to mine, when we’re under control, obedient and doing their bidding, without question.  Start asking questions, or straying off the prescribed, orthodox path, and you become a problem.  That’s why there are such violent sanctions for being this way.

The sanctions extend to starvation, homelessness and removal of access to health care – the very things necessary to sustain life.  In other words, they will kill you, slowly, unless you do what they say.  That’s pretty violent, wouldn’t you say?  Considering it’s for the sin of trying to live an independent life that doesn’t prey on the lives of other people, so that you can create something worthwhile and meaningful, I suggest that the sanction is disproportionate to the offence of making it harder for somebody privileged to milk you for profit.

Bureaucracy is like society’s guiding spirit, except it doesn’t always have our best interests at heart.  The bureaucracies we construct often turn out to be oppressive doomsday machines, seemingly out of control.  Yet, they always serve a purpose, but usually a purpose whose interests are not aligned with ours.  Bureaucracy is a tool of coercion, constructed and controlled by people who need you to know your place, so that theirs can be exalted.  They exist for no other reason than to entrench the illegitimate, unearned privilege of a tiny minority of human beings, at the expense of the rest of us.  That’s its only effective purpose.

Beneath its single-mindedness, bureaucracy is metastatic.  It spreads like cancer.  Bureaucracy begets bureaucracy.  People refuse to acknowledge that it’s founded on the threat of force.  Refuse to play ball with the police officers, tax auditors, or any other official who supports the big government system of spying and threatening, and basically you’ll have the shit kicked out of you—either literally, in the case of armed bureaucrats (a.k.a. the police), or with a crippling fine.

Every time you try to escape bureaucracy, it finds you.  It hunts you down like a dog.  If you stray, you will be brought back into line.  They have to hunt each breakaway down relentlessly, because if they don’t, the game is over.  All of the captives will disperse.  The profit mining arrangement that uses bureaucracy as a tool of coercion and control will simply fall apart.  They can’t allow that to happen.  It would remove their unearned, illegitimate privileges and they could no longer live lives of idle opulence and detachment.  They’d have to join the rest of humanity and try to spend their lives doing things that really matter, that benefit all and which are worth doing, with their own two hands and whatever skills they can learn through struggle, instead of living like royalty.

Living in a Western capitalist state means spending more of our lives filling out paperwork, re-submitting internet forms, standing in lines and waiting on hold.  Our parents and grandparents didn’t have to do this to quite the same degree, though it was beginning to take root at least a century ago.  What is remarkable about the two world wars is the amount of record keeping that accompanied both.  Edifices of State were created and funded, to document the atrocities they committed.  Every last bean, spent on destruction and crimes against humanity, was carefully accounted for; often mechanically tabulated.  Engines of bureaucracy came into existence.  What are international business machines other than engines of bureaucracy, after all?  Nobody ever got fired for buying engines of bureaucracy, right?

The violence of bureaucracy is meted out to and inflicted on the most vulnerable.  Even if—particularly if—you rely on welfare, you spend your life dealing with accountability professionals, who demand you fill out forms, every day, all of the time, to ensure the money keeps coming.  Those forms become your life line.  Those forms become your life.

The accountability professionals have no heart, no conscience and no soul.  They’re only doing it for the money, after all.

People on the street will tell you that they don’t really “do” anything in their jobs.  The sense of frustration at the futility of their occupations is readily evident.  In the past fifty to a hundred years, large firms have begun employing hundreds of thousands of people in “make-work” jobs, but when you go into these places of work, all people do, once out of earshot of their managers, is complain about their jobs.  They’d love to be making art, or doing something meaningful, but they’re compelled to turn up to waste their lives away, each and every day, to keep on the right side of the bureaucratic money game.  If you fall behind, violent things happen to your life.

The inefficiency of it all, of bureaucracy, is what seems so paradoxical.  It’s precisely what a capitalist society should not do.  It feels like someone is out there making up these jobs to keep us employed.  And, in fact, they are.  While you are in “work”, you pay your debts.  In other words, you are useful as a tool of wealth redistribution upward.  You create no value, you don’t retain any value you do create for yourself, but you consume and become indebted, so that enriches an idle, privileged elite, who have to do nothing more than wait for the interest payments to come in, for the use of money they created, out of nothing, granting you permission to exist and to consume, which could not even have been created out of thin air, were it not for your pledge to pay it back and pay a premium for having rented money.  You’re paying to use the value you yourself create, because you need to convert that value into trading permission tokens that only certain “magic” people are permitted to create and issue.

Between 1910 and 2000, clerical administrative work has gone through the roof—it’s something insane, like going from 25 percent to 75 percent of total employment.  Bureaucrats, middle management, and pen pushers—these people have nothing to do.  When John Maynard Keynes predicted the 15-hour working week, back in the 1930s, he didn’t really perceive that people would spend 15 hours a week working and a subsequent 35 bunking off.  Some don’t work at all, of course, but the majority spend their days looking busy, while producing nothing substantial, of benefit to humanity.  Instead, they write reports, file, organise papers, fill in forms, administrate, copy, staple, apply, lodge and shred.  They do meta-work; work that is supposed to be about productive work, but in reality produces nothing.

We’ve got a system that nobody likes and everybody thinks sucks.  Nobody ever said that they were excited about filling out a form, and yet, somehow, form-filling grows and grows and people spend more and more time doing it.

People in power want people working, even if they’re not doing anything.  They say, “How do we create more jobs?” and not “How do we create more jobs that actually do something worth doing?” They don’t care.  Worse, they do care, but they actively choose to create the jobs that don’t do something worthwhile, because it suits their purposes better.  Their purposes are to maintain their privileges.

We live in Hell.  Hell is this place where loads of people spend all their time doing something they don’t like doing, that doesn’t need to be done, for no meaningful purpose, which does nothing to benefit humanity, while being obsessed with the idea that somebody else is getting away with doing less administration than they are.  But that’s our reality.  We live in Hell.  Why don’t we snap out of this?  What stops us standing up to the humiliation and degradation and calling a halt to it, once and for all?

Society tells you that labour makes you a better person.  The prevailing attitude is that you’re not a proper adult unless you’re slaving in a job you hate.  The other side of that coin is that anybody who doesn’t do that is a deadbeat and a rotten scrounger.

Artfully, even occupations that involve a great deal of hard work, courage, determination, discipline and which benefit other people enormously are consigned to the category of “not real work”, because they differ from the stereotypical slave job that is so praised for making you into a worthwhile and worthy occupant of your space on planet Earth.  Musicians, painters, carers, educators that challenge the orthodox agenda, whistleblowers, writers and even those compliant, docile, lap dogs of mainstream media’s elite owners and advertisers, journalists are lumped in with the unemployed; labelled scroungers, parasites and a burden on society.  It’s not because they produce nothing, it’s because they produce something challenging to the privileged.  Often, the more work they do, to produce challenges to privilege of even higher potency, the more they are reviled as lazy layabouts.  Can you see the pattern yet?

A related problem is that the more unpleasant the work, the more redemptive it is considered to be. You can see why this might serve the interests of the privileged.  It encourages more obedient people to accept having to do the unpleasant work that none of them want to do.  By this weird logic, even having useful work becomes a problem.  When a job’s unpleasantness is seen to be valuable, then anything that makes another job worthwhile is irritating.

Why do people resent artists, for example?  It’s because they don’t have to sit in front of a computer all day, filing reports that nobody will ever read and filling in forms.  Artists serve an obviously useful social function, in delivering beauty, pleasure and alternative ways of looking at things.   In contrast, most other people, who aren’t practising artists, feel like they’re doing worthless bullshit all day.  Some are painfully aware of their own unexpressed, atrophying artistic talents, which compounds their resentment.  Artists get to enjoy their work and to deliver something that benefits a great many people in making their lives feel aesthetically more pleasing and giving them joy.  That’s real work, if work is defined as creating value by improving the lot of humanity.  It’s certainly a type of work of more tangible value to living creatures than alphabetising consent forms.  Art spreads happiness.  Alphabetising consent forms does not.

This explains why people in the city get paid six figure salaries and artists live off boiled cabbage and rice.  It’s almost as though the more your work benefits other people, the less you get paid for it. (Obviously there are some exceptions, though, like doctors.  Even privileged elites, detached and out of touch with most of humanity as they are, require health care.)

The reason your work is paid less, if you benefit more people, is that your work is not benefiting the right people.  In diverting your productive powers away from enriching the privileged owners of everything, in order to benefit the larger body of humanity, you are seen as “stealing from the system”.  You are a drain on the official money mine, just so that other ordinary people can benefit.  This cannot be sanctioned by those that make the rules and run the bureaucracy.  It’s unacceptable to them.  That’s right.  Spreading joy, or caring for the sick and disabled, is unacceptable to the rentier profiteers.  Read that sentence again and absorb it deeply.

Don’t imagine that we’re not all complicit in this, however.  People are being bought off.  Cheaply, as it happens.  Large corporations are raking in such huge amounts that they create these meaningless bureaucratic jobs to redistribute some of the loot, to people who’ll then be on their side.  These humble functionaries will willingly uphold the whole edifice of the money mine just to obtain the few crumbs bestowed upon them by the owners of everything.  They have no qualms about keeping the rest of humanity (and themselves) in misery.  As long as they have temporarily and partially alleviated their fear of unemployment and starvation, they’ll settle for this arrangement as “good enough”, even though the cost to them will be to spend their one precious lifetime doing things they hate doing.  We are none of us blameless in keeping this broken system, which consumes hope and returns only despair, running.  Our own fear is all that prevents us from dismantling it and replacing it with something far more satisfactory, which nurtures, celebrates and values our incredible potentials.

When profits go up, the owners of these corporations do not expand, or redistribute the profits as higher wages, or reinvest in their work places, to make them safer or more acceptable to the people that have to work in them.  Usually, the profits go into employing middle managers, who have nothing meaningful or useful to do, so instead have bright ideas like moving production to places where the workers are cheaper.  They fire all the workers that made the huge profits and take their plant elsewhere.  The unemployed then end up keeping all those people who won’t employ them employed, by running around applying for jobs, filling out paperwork, registering on websites, and taking phone calls.

What jobs ultimately now come down to is a hyper-fetishism of paperwork (ironically, even in paperless environments). We trick ourselves into thinking the value comes from the money itself and not from the work that got you there.  We’ve lost sight of the fact that money has no intrinsic value and only represents permission to trade, given by some higher authority that you uphold.  In fact, you don’t need that permission, there are many other ways to trade, including with cryptocurrencies issued at the point of value creation and by implication then, there is no need to uphold the current money-issuing authorities.  Their place in society is based on a perpetuated fraud, which we are complicit in perpetuating.  Burst that bubble and it is value-creating activities that suddenly matter most.  Instantly, paperwork comes to be seen, quite rightly, as an enormous waste of resources that could be used for much better purposes.  We might want to keep records as a means of preserving collective memory, but we won’t need all the authorisations, bean counting and permissions.

The ultimate bureaucracies, for waste and inefficiency, have to be the banks.  The public has already had to bail them out (more than) once and still they report they cannot make a profit.  They don’t produce anything of value to humanity, but instead administer the elaborate, byzantine system of permission-to-trade tokens we call money.  They charge a premium for this administration, too.  In that sense, they are a value destroyer, not creator.  In the 1970s, the top layer of corporate bureaucracies switched sides. The banks were especially represented in this top layer.  They gave up their tenuously weak allegiance to the workers in favour of unbridled, unapologetic, unashamed profit-making.

A bank executive will always defer responsibility for a terrible rule by saying, “It’s government regulation.”  But if you investigate how that regulation gets written, you’ll discover that the banks actually write it.  They make up rules they know we can’t follow and then tell us it’s our fault when we break them.

In 2009, JP Morgan Chase announced that something like 87 percent of their profits came from fees and penalties.  People breaking the arbitrary rules of this bureaucracy are fined for it.  The entire system is designed to have you over a barrel.  This is the basic business model of JP Morgan Chase, the largest company in America and of countless other banks, the world over.  They create punitive bureaucracies, whose rules you cannot possibly comply with, to mine you for profit.

Our governments are in on the racket, since they pass and enforce the laws which the banks draft, which are used to coerce us into parting with value and passing it up the chain to the wealthiest in society.  It’s “torrent up” economics, as opposed to “trickle down”.  To add insult to injury, we fund the activities of the governments that act only in the interests of bankers, through our taxes.  We live in a thoroughly bureaucratic society, but we’re unwilling to admit it or to confront it.  The bureaucracy is a tool of control and a very effective one, evidently.

This “torrent up” property of bureaucracies is the reason why inequality is rampant and there is no countervailing pressure to it.  It’s the very mechanism of action which causes inequality and allows it to accelerate, unabated.  Our all-pervasive, saturation bureaucracies and our fear of challenging them is the root cause of inequality and all of its well-documented, detrimental effects to the biosphere and humanity.

Money has moved elsewhere, away from productive activities that produce meaningful, creative occupations, fair rewards and products and services that improve living conditions for the majority, into fields such as information technology.  Now, every intimate aspect of your life is under potential bureaucratic scrutiny, which means fines and violence.  We build these large machines not to provide you with a better on-line shopping experience (though consumption is your designated role) or to provide instant access to the world’s information, but to control and coerce you some more.  What’s remarkable about Internet search engines is the information you know exists, but which you can’t access, because it is controlled in some way.  The ultimate purpose of all this information technology is manipulation.  The data they gather is used to keep you in line, like a good consumer.  These gigantic IT systems are not much more than a huge engine of bureaucracy, purpose built for domination.

Some people still insist that equating bureaucracy to violence is hyperbolic.  Bureaucracy imposes petty inconveniences, but it is really benign, because it keeps order in society.  To hold this view is to fundamentally underestimate and misunderstand the extent of bureaucratic power and how easy it is to abuse that power.  What happens if you step out of line, in a bureaucracy?  Bureaucratic societies rely on the threat of violence.   If there is no punishment to coerce us into following arbitrarily made rules, the bureaucracy ceases to function.  We follow their rules because if we don’t, there’s a chance we’ll get killed.

A good way to think of this is through libraries.  Say you want to go get a book by Foucault from the library, describing why life is all a matter of physical coercion, but you haven’t paid an overdue fine and therefore you don’t have a currently valid personal ID.  You walk through the gate illegally.  What’s going to happen?  Men in uniform, with heavy sticks, badges and other weapons, will eventually show up and threaten to hit you.  If you don’t comply, they will hurt and maim you.  Ultimately, they’ll lock you in a cage and abuse you at will.  You don’t think this actually happens?  Check out the UCLA Taser incident in 2006. They tasered the guy, told him to get up, then tasered him again.  What’s the point in that?   The point is bureaucracy.  They don’t care who he is or why he’s there.  It doesn’t matter who you are.  You just apply the same rules to everybody, because that’s “fair.”  An example must be made of anybody that steps out of line, to prevent everybody else from stepping out of line.  It’s not about punishment; it’s about ensuring that everybody else is too terrified to defy the bureaucracy.

If you’re at the top of the bureaucratic tree, however, those rules don’t apply.  Seeing who gets away with defiance of bureaucracy, without sanction, is a pretty good way of separating those that control from those that are controlled.  It’s a very reliable litmus test.  Bureaucracy provides an illusion of fairness.  Everyone is equal before the law, but the problem is it never works like that.  However, to advance in a bureaucratic system, the one thing you cannot do is point out all the ways the system doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.  You have to pretend it’s a meritocracy.

Most people have the goal of simply advancing up the bureaucratic tree, not of dismantling it or of making it work for most people in a way that means they can live meaningful, joyful, fulfilling lives, filled with hope and accomplishment.  Politicians are an especially stark example of this kind of thinking.  The reason people opt for this tactic is that they fear the retribution of the bureaucracy more than they hate what the bureaucracy imposes on all of us.  It’s a species of cowardice.

Art is often subverted to support the prevailing orthodoxy.  The point about stories is that they reinforce belief systems, stereotypes and moral choices.  Yes, stories can be written to challenge all of these, but the mainstream media doesn’t choose those stories.  It promotes and distributes stories that are consonant with the prevailing arrangements.  The stories we tell ourselves are all about work making us whole and worthwhile through subservient labour, even if the work we do is nonsensical work, for no discernible purpose.

We uphold the ideal of sterile consumption and laud minds that think so overly sceptically and so conservatively, that they can’t see the reality and hence cannot imagine an alternative, better reality.  They display their conservatism with pride, as if it equates to wisdom, reason and moderation, but in reality it is pig-headed stupidity.

In a cartoon, comic world, anyone who is imaginative is a danger. This is the ultimate message of the superhero genre.  The only characters in superhero movies that are really imaginative are the bad guys, because they’ve got a vision.  It might be a dystopian vision, but that’s more of a reflection of the limitations of the author’s own world views.  The message is clear.  Any alternative to the status quo is evil and to be feared.

The church works in exactly the same way.  An all-powerful God could easily remove Satan and therefore evil, at a stroke, but that never happens, because that would mean the story religions tell their faithful flocks would end.  There would be nothing more to fear and so the necessity of the church and its powerful leaders would evaporate.  There would be no souls so save or sins to forgive.  Evil would be a distant memory.  But the God we construct and tell ourselves about never takes this step.  It’s as if the whole edifice is a merely human construct.

Superheroes are the most unimaginative creatures, ever.  Bruce Wayne can do anything he wants, but chooses to round up gangsters.  He could create cities out of mountains or solve world hunger.  The same applies for our present privileged elites.  They could transform living conditions for all of humanity, while nurturing the biosphere, but they lack the imagination to do so.  Instead, they make weapons and plan wars, in clandestine secret societies.  The most creative act they can envisage is total destruction and annihilation.  At least they can see a clear way of making a profit from both the demolition and the rebuilding.  Why can’t they see a way to profit from setting humanity’s potential free?  They can’t see it because they can’t conceive of the very notion.  It goes against all their ingrained, settled ideas and their own propaganda.  They lack minds capable of freedom of thought.  Their own mental models are so constrained and limited, that they aren’t even able to entertain alternative notions, let alone enact them.  It’s a gross failure of imagination.

Bruce Wayne, in common with our privileged elite that own and run everything, is basically a super-bureaucrat.  He upholds something that sucks and lives by consumption.  Batman is imaginative with cars, clothes, and houses, but imagination must be relegated to realm of consumption.  This is bureaucracy.  Express yourself in our terms, and don’t let it get into politics, or madness will ensue.  Leave the money mine in operation, unchanged.

Defying the bureaucracy, more often than not, means you will wind up having no money.  When you have no money, you are expected to disappear and move on.  The very sight of you is disturbing to those that still adhere to the bureaucracy.   Take the fake shopping mall welcome that is extended to you, when you have money to spend, as a salient example.  You can sit at the nice tables and enjoy the heating or air conditioning provided, if you are spending money in the stores.  However, if you have no money, you’re not welcome.  There are no benches to sit on.  The lack of public amenities extends even to the streets outside the mall.  Local governments are starved of cash, so cannot provide places to sit or shelter for the poor, in public places, arguing that this has been provided by private interests inside the shopping mall.  Of course, the mall owners have done nothing of the sort.  They have provided facilities only to those people willing and able to spend money and consume, in their mall.  The lack of these free public facilities is used to discipline the poor into going somewhere else, outside the mall and to be invisible, rather than an uncomfortable reminder to everyone else of their complicity in the situation.  The poor have some value in showing the obedient what happens if they disobey, so they must be treated with indignity and cruelty, for the scare tactics to be effective.

The assumption underlying our bureaucracy-driven, torrent up, rentier economy, is that any amount of violence and destruction can be absorbed by life and the biosphere and we will just make another, to replace the one we destroy.  Profits only grow if we can wreck more stuff and discard more broken people.  The ethos underpinning consumption is that resources are exploitable, without limit.  This, of course, is a risible idea.  The resources are finite and there are opportunity costs, often very severe ones, for using resources wastefully.

Yet, the goods we make, which we then buy, are purposefully made to siphon the most profit upward, so they break prematurely, in ways that are considered “uneconomic” to repair.  This leads to us throwing them away, burdening the biosphere with the toxic waste and further depleting resources to make their replacements.  Meanwhile, humanity has its nose kept to the grindstone, trying to afford to buy things they already bought, but which failed, so they have to buy them again.  This cycle of preventable waste and destruction only benefits the privileged owners of everything, who imagine the damage to the biosphere won’t materially affect them.  They all think they have an escape plan, but they really don’t.

Those maimed and killed by war do not live heroic lives, unless you consider spending every last ounce of energy just to do the things that used to be easy, before they were injured, to be heroic.  I think it’s wasteful, not heroic.  These veterans don’t go on to spend their energies more beneficially, to the betterment of themselves and to humanity.  Instead, they burn it all just surviving and existing.  The older they get, the harder it becomes, until it’s too much to bear.  Old age is hard enough when you’re whole.  When you have been rendered disabled, it’s even harder, but we pretend such people and their problems don’t exist at all.  They’re invisible people.  Why did they put themselves in harm’s way in the first place?  They did it to uphold a bureaucracy whose interests are not aligned with our own.  It may have seemed like their only option to get the few crumbs the privileged dole out to keep the money mine running.

We lie to ourselves that our collective life force can withstand one more swindle, one more indignity, one more atrocity, one more requirement to rebuild from the ashes, starting with nothing.  We lie to ourselves that we can throw away and discard the things we made, as if putting them in the bin makes them magically disappear, instead of polluting the environment with things that might have been salvageable and repairable, if only we would give up playing our imaginary, collectively hallucinatory money game.  We love and cherish our bureaucracies and all they do in return is poison and diminish us.

Young people are currently suing governments over climate change: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/world/young-people-are-suing-governments-over-climate-change/news-story/e327a797ab048ba2013f7f96c2d3ffbc

That’s all very laudable, but will it halt climate change, or simply create another massive amount of bureaucracy and administration for overpaid bureaucrats to do?  Is it a creative act that will have a positive and beneficial impact on what’s being done to the biosphere, or is it just a make-work distraction, to give the impression of doing something, while accomplishing nothing?  I wonder.

Under a bureaucracy, the substantial payment into your account has been made, but delayed somewhere in the system, so your debit card has been declined at the checkout.  Somewhere in the (broken) system, funds belonging to you exist, but you cannot access them.  Why?  Because bureaucracy.  There’s a club and you don’t belong to it.  You never will.

Compliance with stupidity is demanded and enforced by bureaucracies, through coercion and violence.  This is hard to do, when you don’t happen to be stupid.  Creative, imaginative, artistic people tend not to be stupid, in general.

Therein lays the dilemma.


(N.B:  This post was heavily influenced by, quotes extensively and paraphrases this extremely good read and compact statement of thoughts, by David Graeber, on this subject matter.  I’ve enlarged on many of the points made in it, tried to clarify the issues and brought them into relevance to artists.  I commend it to you:  http://www.vice.com/read/the-dark-side-of-bureaucracy-190 )


About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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