Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chapter 6 - The Psychological Consequences of Bureaucratization

After sharing the social and political implications of bureaucratization, we now approach its psychological consequences. Ludwig von Mises discussed this in Chapter 6. He identified at least five results: misdirected youth, crisis of progress and civilization, elite paternal government, increasing violence leading to endless civil war, and disappearance of the critical sense. Let us consider the first result. 

Misdirected Youth

The first consequence that Mises mentioned was related to the youth. In order to grasp the strength of this argument, we need to identify the situation prior to the growing influence of bureaucratization. And this is best summarized in "Horatio Alger's philosophy" (p. 93) about a capitalist society. For Mises, this philosophy emphasized the most distinguishable feature of a capitalist society:
"Capitalism is a system under which everybody has the chance of acquiring wealth; it gives everybody unlimited opportunity. Not everybody, of course, is favored by good luck. Very few become millionaires. But everybody knows that strenuous effort and nothing less than strenuous effort pays. All roads are open to the smart youngster. He is optimistic in the awareness of his own strength. He has self-confidence and is full of hope. And as he grows older and realizes that many of his plans have been frustrated, he has no cause for despair. His children will start the race again and he does not see any reason why they should not succeed where he himself failed. Life is worth living because it is full of promise." (ibid.). 
The truthfulness of this philosophy was illustrated in the successful experiences of Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford in America. Many young men and women of the same generation as Edison and Ford confirmed this through their less known stories. These people were characterized with vision, energy, and personal responsibility. Mises described them as follows:
". . . the rising generation are driven by spirit of pioneer. They are born into a progressing society, and they realize that it is their task to contribute something to the improvement of human affairs. They will change the world, shape it according to their own ideas. They have no time to waste, tomorrow is theirs and they must prepare for the great things that are waiting for them. They do not talk about their being young and about the rights of youth; they act as young people must act. They do not boast about their own 'dynamism'; they are dynamic and there is no need for them to emphasize this quality. They do not challenge the older generation with arrogant talk. They want to beat it by their deeds" (p. 94). 
However, such mindset and attitude changed with the increasing influence of bureaucratization. Young men and women lost their vision and initiative. Their only dream was to secure a job in government bureaus. Referring to a typical young man that time, notice how Mises described this shift:
"The routine of a bureaucratic technique will cripple his mind and tie his hands. He will enjoy security. But this security will be rather of the kind that the convict enjoys within the prison walls. He will never be free to make decisions and to shape his own fate. He will forever be a man taken care of by other people. He will never be a real man relying on his own strength. He shudders at the sight of the huge office buildings in which he will bury himself" (ibid.).
This trend was especially true in the most bureaucratized country, Germany. Prior to World War 1, a "youth movement" emerged who was hostile to anything connected to the past. They were proud of their "revolutionary radicalism". However, they never criticized government bureaucracy. Mises gave us a clear picture of the ugly features of this movement: 
"Turbulent gangs of untidy boys and girls roamed the country, making much noise and shirking their school lessons. In bombastic words they announced the gospel of a golden age. All preceding generations, they emphasized, were simply idiotic; their incapacity has converted the earth into a hell. . . the brilliant youths will rule. They will destroy everything that is old and useless, they will reject all that was dear to their parents, they will substitute new real and substantial values and ideologies for the antiquated and false ones of capitalist and bourgeois civilization, and they will build a new society of giants and supermen" (pp. 94-95).
For Mises, the young people of this movement did not actually possess any concrete plans. Their boldness "was only a poor disguise for their lack of any ideas and of any definite program" (p. 95). "In fact they espoused entirely the program of their parents. They did not oppose the trend toward government omnipotence and bureaucratization. Their revolutionary radicalism was nothing but the impudence of the years between boyhood and manhood; it was a phenomenon of a protracted puberty. It was void of any ideological content" (ibid.). 

As to the leaders of this movement, Mises portrayed them as "mentally unbalanced neurotics," "profligate or homosexual," and "none of them excelled in any field of activity or contributed anything to human progress" (ibid.). About the followers, many of them, their only aim was to be a bureaucrat. Similar goal could be seen among new converts as the movement spread outside Germany. 

From its birth, the movement was bound to fail because it was not able to detach itself from the dominance of government control. Instead, whatever its dissatisfaction was with the system could only be appeased if the members of the movement could secure a government job. That's why Mises called this movement a "counterfeit rebellion" (p. 96), and considered dead during his time among countries, which were highly bureaucratized for the followers of the movement were already "integrated into the all-embracing apparatus of state control" (ibid.). 

Crisis of Progress and Civilization

As we have seen so far, the youth was the most affected sector of society due to bureaucratization. They felt uneasy, dissatisfied with what was going on, wanted change, but they did not know how. The reason for this was due to the success of the bureaucratization of the mind by means of education. The youth either due to absence or distorted understanding of the economy, all their cries for reform were actually vain efforts to beat the air. The youth movement failed for they did not possess the quality of mind to see the evil of socialization brought about by bureaucratization. 

Ludwig von Mises saw bureaucratization as a revival of caste system that characterized the age of feudalism. Under that age, the youth "are deprived of any opportunity to shape their own fate" (p. 97). He further described the similarity of adverse condition of the youth both under the caste system and the bureaucratic system. For the youth, "there is no chance left. They are in fact 'lost generations' for they lack the most precious right of every rising generation, the right to contribute something new to the old inventory of civilization" (ibid.). This is the reason why Mises stated that the kind of crisis brought about by bureaucratization was not only confined among the youth. He claimed, "This is more than a crisis of the youth. It is a crisis of progress and civilization" (pp. 100-101). 

Socialism is the ideology that caused this crisis by way of Marxism. The bondage broken by classical liberalism was subtly restored through Marxism's contrary interpretation of the achievements of classical liberalism. In Marxism, "the irreconcilable conflict of economic classes" (p. 98) is regarded as the central dogma. For Marxists, in capitalism, an offspring of classical liberalism, the interests of the two economic classes were hostile to each other. To remove this hostility, the goal is to establish the socialist classless society. And achieving this goal is exactly where bureaucratization serves as the most useful tool.

Elite Paternal Government

Elite parental government is the third psychological outcome of bureaucratization. In antiquity, Plato conceptualized this idea of paternal government as managed by the elite without ulterior motives. See how Mises described this class of leaders: 
"Plato's ideal and perfect state is to be ruled by unselfish philosophers. They are unbribable judges and impartial administrators, strictly abiding by the eternal immutable laws of justice" (p. 101). 
The problem with Plato's concept of ideal state was any departure from the ideal was perceived as deterioration. No change was allowed in order to protect the perfect society from degradation. This Platonic idea served as the pattern for all utopians who formulated their master plans. 

Mises further explained this error in Plato's philosophy: 
"It does not pay any attention to the evolution of social and economic conditions and to changes in human ideas concerning ends and means. . . The notion of progress in knowledge, in technological procedures, in business methods, and in social organization is foreign to Plato's mind" (ibid.). 
The Roman Catholic Church applied Plato's idea "under the Tridentine organization as it emerged from the Counter-Reformation" (p. 101). It was described as a model of "perfect bureaucracy" (ibid.) for it did not limit access to high offices of the church just to members of noble families, but provided equal opportunity even to those who came from peasant families. Potential candidates for these offices equally compete with each other withour regard for ancenstral origins. Out of this system, the best church officers were selected, which Mises considered as "worthy rivals of the most brilliant scholars, philosophers, scientists, and statesmen" (p. 102). Through this form of ecclesiastical bureaucracy, the Catholic Church has provided an example in choosing the best men for the most important church offices, which Mises thought was "the most delicate problem of every nondemocratic government" (p. 101). 

For all modern socialist intellectuals, the above ecclesiastical bureaucracy provided them a successful model for future utopias. Mises mentioned Count Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte as among those who pioneered this idea in their writings. Other socialist thinkers shared similar anticipation though they failed to mention the Catholic example. However, for Mises, besides this Catholic model, no other precedent can be found for a successful bureaucracy.

Mises argued that the appeal to the Catholic example is erroneous due to the failure to distinguish the difference between the nature of Catholicism and the nature of human society and civil government. Catholicism was successful in establishing such perfect bureaucracy for the creed where it was based was believed to be immutable (I do not know for sure if this creedal immutability still remains the official position of the Catholic Church as described by Ludwig von Mises). Such creed generated stable "set of rules and regulations" that made the selection process very efficient.

Turning to the realm of civil government and human society in general, such idea of immutable body of doctrine that generates stable regulations has not yet been reached. Instead, what mankind has found so far was constant innovation that explains the ongoing progress of human civilization. For Mises, "the forces that brought about our present civilization are not dead" (pp. 102-103), and in fact if not bound by bureaucratic system, will still produce continuous growth. The case of Catholic bureaucracy cannot serve as a model in managing society for in that system, the most important quality that a candidate for high office must posses is fidelity to unchangeable dogmas. Innovators and pioneers of new ideas have no place in a rigid system. This is the inherent nature of bureaucratic management that makes it inappropriate for social and economic affairs.

Bureaucratic management, due to its rigidity and strict compliance to regulations, unavoidably results into dehumanization and strangulation of life. So in order to achieve the socialist paradise, it is a prerequisite that human nature must be changed. In fact, Mises claimed, "In an all-round bureaucratic system neither the bureaucrats nor their subjects would any longer be real human beings" (p. 103). 

Increasing Violence Leading to Endless Civil War

In the most matured state of bureaucratization, increasing violence leading to endless civil war is its fourth psychological result. Mises explained how this came about. For those who advocate political salvation through an elite class of men, there is no doubt in their mind that a society must be governed in authoritarian fashion. However, the problem with dictatorship is that many are potential competitors. "If the decision between various candidates is not left to majority vote, mo principle of selection remains other than civil war" (pp. 103-104). Mises backed up this assertion with a historical example.

The German "Fuhrer principle" is as old as the Roman Empire. The Emperor embodied "the most able and eminent man" (p. 104). However, the Empire started to collapse through "continuous civil war, anarchy, and rapid decay" (ibid.) when no one was qualified to replace the most perfect among men. "The rule of the worst was substituted for the rule of the best" (ibid.). "Treachery, rebellion, and murder became the selective principle" (ibid.). For Mises, "a system that can be wrecked by the fault of only one man is a bad system. . ." (ibid.). It is in this way that "a Fuhrer system must necessarily result in permanent civil war. . ." (ibid.). Here Mises seems to equate the Fuhrer system with the bureaucratic system in which violence is the ultimate basis. 

Disappearance of the Critical Sense

This outcome was surprising in an age that boasted about revolutionary ideas. Mises described this result as the absence of "common sense and self-criticism" (p. 105). Before enumerating examples of such lack of critical sense, Mises introduced first the socialists' interpretation of capitalism and their proposed alternative. For socialists, capitalism degrades human dignity, "weakens man's intellectual abilities," "spoils his moral integrity," discourages "benevolence and companionship," and promotes "hatred and a ruthless striving for personal success at the expense of other people" (ibid.). And so the replacement of capitalism with socialism is the only way to "restore the virtues of human nature" such as "amicableness, fraternity, and comradeship. . ." (ibid.). To accomplish this, competition, the mother of all evils must be eliminated. 

Competition. The idea that competition can be completely eliminated is the first concrete example of the absence of critical sense. For Mises, "competition can never be eliminated" (ibid.). Under socialism, capitalist competition is just being replaced with another kind of competition. Mises distinguished between the two: 
"The capitalist variety of competition is to outdo other people on the market through offering better and cheaper goods. The bureaucratic variety consists in intrigues at the 'courts' of those in power" (ibid.). 
Other historical examples for the disappearance of critical sense include the adulation of the masses, the glorification of Stalin and the Soviet system, and the assumed superiority of bureaucratic management over the free market. 

Adulation of the masses. Compared to the previous age, despite the fear of dictators, there were still few who raised their voices of disagreement. But Mises described a different time, which I think remains true up to the present. Everyone competes in praising the new sovereign, the common man, and no one dares to advocate ideas contrary to public opinion. By doing so, it becomes a convenient way to be the champion of the masses. This is the essence of good politics in our time. 

Glorification of Stalin and the Soviet system. Mises expounded the glorification of Stalin and the Soviet system by a quote from certain Avdyenko and the manner of public reception to Soviet's accomplishment in terms of railroad construction and musical achievement. Here's how Avdyenko praised Stalin: 
"Centuries shall elapse and the communist generations of the future will deem us the happiest of all mortals that have inhabited this planet throughout the ages, because we have seen Stalin the leader genius, Stalin the Sage, the smiling, the kindly, the supremely simple. When I met Stalin, even at a distance, I throbbed with his forcefulness, his magnetism, and his greatness. I wanted to sing, to shriek, to howl from happiness and exaltation." 
Public reception to Soviet's accomplishments was compared to the credit given to an Emperor about railroad construction and to the skepticism that an absolutist government under Marie Therese and her grandson Francis could produce immortal music that came from a Mozart and Beethoven. In the case of these two examples, the people did not receive them favorably. But the Soviet accomplishments were different. The people accepted them as proofs of the superiority of the Russian system. 

Superiority of bureaucratic management. Bureaucratic system was considered superior over the free market. The growth of bureaucracy and government operation of industries in Europe, the emphasis on the importance of identification papers, the popularity of government services, and the concept that personal freedom can be preserved under full-grown bureaucracy were used as proofs for this statement. 

1. Growth of bureaucracy and government operation of industries in Europe. Here Mises used the tobacco industry both in France and Greece as an example. He said that either public's dislike or smokers' delight of cigarrete as goals is not a valid argument for government monopoly of the industry. In Germany, the example used by Mises was the public's uncritical acceptance "that universities, railroads, telegraphs, and telephones be operated by the government" (p. 107). 

2. Identification papers and the need to report any change of address. Fighting criminal elements of society is the typical reason used by the government to justify these requirements. For Mises, this does not provide enough reason to restrict the freedom of most law-abiding citizens. 

3. Popularity of government services. Unlike the private sectors, which voluntarily gain customers through good service, government bureaus coercively acquire their "clients." A public office "approached by many people is not proof of its satisfying an urgent need of the people" (p. 108). Instead, "It only shows that it interferes with matters that are important to the life of everyone" (ibid.). 

4. Freedom under bureaucracy. Finally, the lack of critical sense is fully displayed in the belief that freedom is possible in full-grown bureaucracy. Mises described how people think. They "imagine a regime in which all means are owned by the state and the government is the sole employer as a realm of freedom. They never take into account the possibility that the almighty government of their utopia could aim at ends of which they themselves entirely disapprove" (ibid.). It never entered their mind that a conflict of interest exist between them and the ruling power. 

In concluding the 6th chapter, Mises identified that the intellectuals were the most vulnerable sector of society that unreservedly embraced the bureaucratic propaganda:
"The most enthusiastic supporters of Marxism, Nazism, and Fascism were the intellectuals, not the boors. The intellectuals were never keen enough to see the manifest contradictions of their creeds. It did not in the least impair the popularity of Fascism that Mussolini in the same speech praised the Italians as the representatives of the oldest Western civilization and as the youngest among the civilized nations. No German nationalist minded it when dark-haired Hitler, corpulent Goering, and lame Goebbels were praised as the shining representatives of the tall, slim, fair-haired, heroic Aryan master race. Is it not amazing that many millions of non-Russians are firmly convinced that the Soviet regime is democratic, even more democratic than America?" (ibid.).

Source: Mises, L. (1944). Bureaucracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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