February 25, 2006

On Liberty, on bureaucracy

John Stuart Mill also warns against the growth of government and it's required bureaucracy
Every function superadded to those already exercised by the government, causes its influence over hopes and fears to be more widely diffused, and converts, more and more, the active and ambitious part of the public into hangers-on of the government ... not all the freedom of the press and popular constitution of the legislature would make this or any other country free otherwise than in name.
He then warns of all the things that could be taken into the maw of government. Things many of which where subsequently sucked government control, principally by the post war Labour governments; the roads, the railways, the great joint-stock companies. We did not even need the efficient and intelligent bureaucracy that he feared, just that they where under central control.
Under this regime, not only is the outside public ill-qualified, for want of practical experience, to criticize or check the mode of operation of the bureaucracy, but even if the accidents of despotic or the natural working of popular institutions occasionally raise to the summit a ruler or rulers of reforming inclinations, no reform can be effected which is contrary to the interest of the bureaucracy.
Not even violent revolution would be enough to shake off the clinging hands of the bureaucracy since any revolutionary taking the centre of power would still need the leavers of state to wield that power. With the bureaucrats the only people that knew how to operate them they would be to useful to him to get rid of and so the system of rule by the bureaucrats behind the thrown would continue unabated.


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