Thursday, May 20, 2010
I have received a damp, soil-streaked letter from my friend the Mole, here pictured, perhaps his final communiqué from the belly of the beast.
Dear Failed Hermit,
I have been happy to provide you with Underground Missives from my cubby hole in the lowest level of the giant state bureaucracy that rules what is absurdly called the United States. Here I have learned that the longer one stays in any kind of bureaucratic position, the less one is able to understand what bureaucracy does to the mind, as my previous posts demonstrate. One is less and less able to see anything truly—and for a mole, that is a precarious position indeed. What seemed absurd to one’s mind last week becomes gradually normal, then tenable, then “true.”
Not really true, for as St. Thomas Aquinas, a famed Dominican mole of some note, truth is correspondence of what is in the mind with the real thing. I had the Latin for that here somewhere, but my bosses have no doubt purloined it. Since there is no reality in Bureaucracia, and no mind as well, the best we can say is that the person shaped by bureaucracy has become numbed to the truth, and dwells with Milton’s fallen angels in a lake of self-deception. “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.” Indeed.
In the analyses already posted on your blog—love that word, so earthy—I have tried to suggest that bureaucracy is the perfect expression of the modern state, which is the perfect incarnation of the statist frame of mind, easily opening into national socialism, Marxist socialism, Maoism, Pol-Pot-ism, and all the rest. Your local file drawers in the nearest State office can, with a slight tweaking, serve for those in Dachau.
Living in such a society increasingly fashions the person as a bureaucratic integer. Pass any citizen on the street and you will see a person rapidly forgetting he is a person and, for that matter, what a person is. He has become such a tangled bundle of scraps of media, restrictions, statutes, laws, processes, numbers, codes, plastic cards, contradictions, prohibitions, inhibitions, that he is unable to see or think.
Let’s take an example. Last week this poor scrivener was called on the carpet to answer the charge that he had had the effrontery to render an opinion. The case? He was accused, before God and mole, of having written a comment on the section of a form entitled ”comment.” Ehhh? You say?
The form in question reports the result of testing for job suitability back to the employment counselor who sent the client to me. In the case in question, the client had performed remarkably well and had what is called above ground a “good attitude.” A bit effervescent for my taste, but nevertheless a good candidate for receptionist. So I wrote in the Comment section, “very enthusiastic person,” and that was enough to bring Olympus down on my head.
“You do not write comments in the comments section!”
“What do I write?"
“Well, you may write ‘no show’ if the client does not show up for an appointment.”
Well, you say. So what? Don’t take it so seriously, Mole.
I would not if it were not part of an insidious pattern. Go ahead, recommend Prozac, send me off to bureaucrat rehab to learn form logic.
Try this one: each client is asked to place his initials on some twenty places on the forms to indicate agreement. No initialee, no testee. Several of the places which the client must initial ask him to agree that he has received certain handbooks—which he has not. One indicates permission to be photographed and waives the right to inspect the photograph for any use whatsoever. One allows our agency to access all medical information, And so on. Thus in order to be tested, and therefore in order to be referred for possible employment, the client must both lie and cede any right to confidentiality or privacy.
In my experience, only a few clients resist this mockery. Most sign as merrily as druggies on the way to the electric chair—but those who mildly protest, too, after some genteel mumbling behavior on my part—for which I am sure I will have to answer in a purgatory court-realize that it is better to submit to insanity than not have a job. Welcome to what Hilaire Belloc called The Servile State.
One more and I am done, this old mole, down here burrowing for the roots of things. The clients take three computerized tests. Each test passed is graded by the computer as GOLD, SILVER, or BRONZE. If the client scores three GOLDS, his score is GOLD. If he earns two GOLDS and a SILVER, his score is SILVER. If he earns two SILVERS and a BRONZE, his score is BRONZE. So a person who earns two GOLDS and a BRONZE is ranked on the same level as a person who earns three BRONZES.
When this dumb mole protests that this is unfair and unreasonable, the answer is shrugged shoulders, smirks, strange giggles, incoherent remarks, or the five-thousand-mile bureaucrat stare, for the first law of the bureaucratic state is that no individual has any power, authority, or right to think about anything whatever. OR, YOU GET NO RAT PELLETS! Or in my case, you do get mole pellets, i.e., you are allowed to take the cyanide.
So, Sir Hermit, I am withdrawing deeper and deeper into the basements of bureaucracy, mumbling more and more uncontrollably, losing my mole-soul piece by piece. I dream of escape but am more and more unable to move my muscles. I cry. I scream. I pray much. Benedicite!