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ISAAC D E U T S C H E R

Roots of
Bureaucracy*

I

W e are presently witnessing an obvious tendency t o w a r d the
increasing bureaucratization of c o n t e m p o r a r y societies, regardless of
their social and political structure. Theorists in the W e s t assure us
t h a t the m o m e n t u m of bureaucratization is such that we now live
u n d e r a managerial system which has, somewhat imperceptibly,
come to replace capitalism. On the other hand, we have the huge,
stupendous growth of bureaucracy in the post-capitalist societies of
the Soviet bloc a n d especially in the Soviet Union. W e are justified
in attempting to elaborate some theory of bureaucracy which would
be more comprehensive and more satisfying t h a n the fashionable
and to a large degree meaningless cliche: "managerial society". It is
not, however, easy to come to grips with the problem of bureaucracy;
in essence it is as old as civilization, although the intensity with
which it has appeared before men's eyes has varied greatly over
the ages.
If I have u n d e r t a k e n to discuss the roots of bureaucracy, it is
because I believe we have to dig down to find the deepest causes
- t h e initial o n e s - o f bureaucracy, in order to see how a n d w h y this
evil of h u m a n civilization has grown to such terrifying proportions.
I n the problem of bureaucracy, to which the problem of the State is
roughly parallel, is focussed much of t h a t relationship between m a n
and society, between m a n and man, which it is now fashionable to
describe as "alienation".

* A t t h e b e g i n n i n g of 1960 I s a a c D e u t s c h e r d e l i v e r e d t h r e e l e c t u r e s on t h e
s u b j e c t of b u r e a u c r a c y to a g r a d u a t e s e m i n a r a t t h e L o n d o n S c h o o l of E c o n o m i c s .
T h e f o l l o w i n g t e x t , e d i t e d b y T a m a r a D e u t s c h e r , is a s h o r t e n e d v e r s i o n of
t h e s e lectures.

T h e term itself suggests the rule of the "bureau", of the apparatus, I
of something impersonal and hostile, which has assumed life and
reigns over h u m a n beings. I n common parlance we also speak about
the lifeless bureaucrats, about the m e n who form t h a t mechanism. T h e
h u m a n beings t h a t administer the State look as if t h e y were lifeless,
as if t h e y were mere cogs in the machine. In other words, we are
confronted here in the most condensed, the most intensive, form with
the reification of relationships between h u m a n beings, and with the
appearance of life in mechanisms, in things. This, of course, im-
mediately brings to mind the great complex of fetishism: over the
whole area of our m a r k e t economy m a n seems to be at the mercy of
things, of commodities, even of currencies. H u m a n and social relation-
ships become objectified, whereas objects seem to assume the force
and power of living elements. T h e parallel between man's alienation
from the State a n d the representatives of the S t a t e - t h e bureau-
c r a c y - o n the one hand, and between his alienation from the
products of his own economy, on the other, is obviously very close,
a n d the two kinds of alienation are similarly interrelated.
T h e r e is a great difficulty in getting beyond mere appearance to
the v e r y core of the relationship between State and society, between
the a p p a r a t u s t h a t administers the life of a c o m m u n i t y and the
c o m m u n i t y itself. T h e difficulty consists in this: the appearance is
not only appearance, it is also part of a reality. T h e fetishism of the
State a n d of the commodity is, so to say, "built into" the very
mechanism in which State a n d m a r k e t function. Society is at one
and the same time estranged from the State a n d inseparable from
it. T h e State is the incubus t h a t oppresses society; it is also society's
protective angel without which it cannot live.
H e r e again some of the most hidden a n d complex aspects of the
relationship between society and State are clearly and strikingly
reflected in our e v e r y d a y language. W h e n we say "they", meaning the
bureaucrats who rule us, "they" who impose taxes, "they" who wage
wars, who do all sorts of things which involve the life of all of us,
we express a feeling of impotence, of estrangement from the State:
b u t we are also conscious t h a t without the State there would be no
social life, no social development, no history. T h e difficulty in
sifting appearance from reality consists in this: the bureaucracy
performs certain functions which are obviously necessary and indis-
pensable for the life of society; yet it also performs functions which
might theoretically be described as superfluous.
T h e contradictory aspects of bureaucracy have, of course, led to
two contradictory and extremely opposed philosophical, historical
a n d sociological views of the problem. Apart from m a n y intermediate
shadings, traditionally there have been two basic approaches to the
question of bureaucracy a n d the State: the bureaucratic and the

anarchist approach. who is in a w a y a descendant.' Only in Prussia perhaps could these words have been written. P r o b a b l y the greatest philosophical apologist of the State was Hegel. This is. bureaucracy also s t a n d s . speed. con- tinuity. who generalize from the Prussian bureaucratic experience and project t h a t experience onto the stage of world history. just as the greatest sociological apologist of the State was M a x Weber. puts the same idea into his typically Prussian catalogue of the virtues of bureaucracy: Precision. its great prophets. G e r t h a n d C. W e all know the characteristic feature of t h a t old G e r m a n so-called historical school which could produce volumes and volumes on a n y particular industry. b u t never- theless there is something to be said for it. reduction of friction a n d of material a n d personal c o s t s . a n d eds. of course.. 214-15. and its celebrated sociologists. pp.t h e s e are raised to the o p t i m u m point in the strictly bureaucratic adminis- tration.) I a m quite p r e p a r e d to admit t h a t p r o b a b l y no one has studied the minutiae of bureaucracy as deeply as M a x Weber. 1 9 5 8 ) . . H a n s H . a simplification. M a x Weber. . ( N e w Y o r k . a n d especially in its monocratic f o r m . this catalogue of virtues can very easily be invalidated b y a parallel catalogue of vices. he catalogued the various peculiarities of its development. unity. u n d e r the principle of sine ira e studio. knowledge of the files. including the bureaucratic industry. F r o m M a x W e b e r : E s s a y s i n Sociology. in fact. a grandson of Hegel (perhaps a dwarf grandson). B u t to me it is all the more surprising and in a sense disquietening t h a t M a x W e b e r has recently become the intellectual light of so much of western sociology. 1. b u t failed to u n d e r s t a n d its full meaning. T h e bureaucratic approach has h a d its great philosophers. strict subordination. Of course. W r i g h t M i l l s . T o Hegel the State and bureaucracy were both the reflection and the reality of the moral idea. unambiguity. . the metaphysicians of the Prussian bureaucracy. T h e Webbs liked to divide people into those who evaluated political problems from the bureaucratic or from t h e anarchist point of view. t r a n s . the reality of the Weltgeist. (Professor R a y m o n d Aron's gravest reproach in a polemic against myself was t h a t I write a n d speak "as if M a x W e b e r never existed". . . It is therefore necessary to keep in mind the basic tenets of this school of thought. b u t could rarely see the mainstream of its development. each in a different w a y a n d on different levels of theoretical thinking are. and it is therefore not a m a t t e r of accident t h a t the greatest apologists for the State and for bureaucracy have come from Prussia. t h a t is the reflection a n d the reality of supreme reason. Both Hegel and Weber. T h e r e is no doubt t h a t old Prussia was the paradise of the bureau- cracy. the manifestation of god in history. discretion.

of course. the Jacobins. when you look at it closely. It is here t h a t we have the first glimpse of the gulf t h a t was about to open in . represents the intellectual revolt of the old F r a n c e of the bourgeoisie and of the old Russia of the muzhiks against their bureaucracies.P r o u d h o n . or even older. W h e n the tribe or the clan begins to learn t h a t divi- sion of labour increases man's power over nature and his capacity to satisfy his needs. the organizers a n d the organized. with which the first hierarchy of functions appears as well.a n d with the various derivative liberal and anarcho-liberal trends. t h e y are seen as the very e m b o d i m e n t of all evil in h u m a n society. more intense t h a n a n y other institution. It is there t h a t we find the remotest a n d yet the very distinct ancestry of the massive. B a k u n i n and K r o p o t k i n . evil which cannot be eradicated other t h a n b y the abolition of the State and the destruc- tion of all bureaucracy. This school of thought specializes. every advance t h a t m a n m a d e has been bought at the price of regress. w h a t vitiated the re- volution was bureaucracy and the State. T h e division of labour begins with the process of production. W h e n Kropotkin w a n t e d to show the depths of the moral deterioration of the F r e n c h Revolution. into the managers and the managed. with its most eminent r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . T h e y have indeed represented the virtues a n d the vices of h u m a n society and its historical develop- m e n t in a m a n n e r more concentrated. in composing catalogues of bureaucratic vices. T h e State a n d the bureaucracy are seen as the p e r m a n e n t usurpers of history. I think. he described how Robespierre. T h e roots of bureaucracy are indeed as old as our civilization. for t h e y are buried on the border between the primitive communistic tribe a n d civilized society. T h e y show themselves a t the m o m e n t when the primitive c o m m u n i t y divides into the leaders and the led. elabor- ate bureaucratic machines of our age. very striking in the development of bureaucracy throughout all social a n d political regimes. State and bureaucracy focus in themselves this character- istic duality of our civilization: every progress achieved so far has been accompanied b y retrogression. Now this school. I n fact each of these approaches contains an element of t r u t h because in practice the State and bureaucracy have been the Jekyll a n d H y d e of h u m a n civilization. then we see the first germs of bureaucracy which become also the very earliest signs of a class society. Danton. changed from revolutionaries to statesmen. At the other extreme we have the anarchist view of bureaucracy a n d the State. a n d the Hebertists. every unfolding of h u m a n creative energy has been paid for with the crippling or stunting of some other creative energy. This duality has been.. In his eyes.

subordinated to the owners of property. T h e n it pretends to rise above the possessing classes. I n Athens the first police force was recruited from among the slaves because it was considered beneath the dignity of the free m a n to deprive another free m a n of freedom. of the E g y p t i a n priest. of course. In the feudal order the bureaucracy is more or less eclipsed be- cause the administrators either come directly from the feudal class or are absorbed into it. Administration has been. or trade and craft or seafaring. between agriculture a n d fishing. T h e division of society into classes followed in the course of fundamental processes of historic development. bureaucracy acquires a far more respectable status a n d its agents become "free" wage earners of the owners of property. and this division absorbed into itself or overshadowed the former one. or the modern capitalist bureaucrat. so m u c h so t h a t in Athens. And in some respects and up to a point bureaucracy indeed acquires t h a t supreme status. "All m e n are e q u a l " . no longer exists. in capitalism. a n d indeed above all social classes. T h e great separation between the state machine and other classes comes. and there is no need for a special hierarchical machine to manage public affairs and to discipline the propertyless masses. where the earlier clearly m a r k e d hierarchy and dependence of m a n on man. to the possess- ing classes. the fourth would be the post-capitalist type.t h e bourgeois fiction . in most epochs. so characteristic of feudal society. the basic division has been not so m u c h t h a t between the administrator and the worker as between the owner and the m a n without property. Later. "built into" the feudal order. I n the first three types. T h e first one might call the Egyptian-Chinese type. and especially in the feudal and slave-owning societies. W h a t a sound instinct! H e r e you have the almost naively striking expression of the dependence of the b u r e a u c r a t on the property owner: it is the slave who is the b u r e a u c r a t because bureaucracy is the slave of the possessing class. then we have the western E u r o p e a n capitalist type of bureaucracy. One could broadly categorize the various types of relationship between bureaucracy and basic social classes. then comes the Roman-Byzantine type with its derivative of an ecclesiastic hierarchy in the R o m a n Church. I n society. Social hierarchy is. so to say. in R o m e a n d in E g y p t it is usually from among the slaves that the bureaucracy is recruited.the course of civilization between mental work a n d m a n u a l labour. T h e organizer of the first primitive process in cattle breeding might have been the forbear of the mandarin. from the threshold of civilization to our own day. the administrator is completely subordinate to the m a n of property. T h e p r i m a r y division between brain and b r a w n brought with it the other manifold sub-divisions. much later.

." H e describes the process of the emergence of the State from the primitive commu- nity: T h e y [the officials] are not content with the free a n d willing respect t h a t h a d been paid to the organs of a tribal commu- n i t y . E v e n the welfare State.of equality before the law makes it essential that there should func- tion an apparatus of power. t h e y . after all. T h e r e grows a hierarchy of orders. is. It is r a t h e r the product of society at a certain stage of development. . as a political hierarchy. (Inci- dentally. scale. the divinely inspired. we are told. . Engels saw things in a more realistic and objective light: T h e state is b y no means a power imposed upon society from the o u t s i d e . not far re- m o v e d from the E g y p t i a n priesthood with its magic secrets. W h a t characterizes the bureaucracy at this stage? T h e hierarchical structure in the first instance. Holders of a power estranged from society. It is a n admission t h a t this society has involved itself in an insoluble contradiction with itself. after all. a power t h a t has to keep down the conflict a n d keep it within bounds of "order". a power h a d become necessary which seemingly stands above society. . should see to it t h a t society does not take the appearance of equality at its face value. indeed. T h e tre- mendous scope. I n order t h a t . with its mystifying lingo which is to a very large extent a m a t t e r of its social prestige. T h a t power emerging from society but rising above it and becoming more a n d more estranged from it is the State. which perpetuates the fiction of equality and yet enforces inequality. administrative levels. is it not also very close to the Stalinist bureaucracy with its obsessive secrecy?) M a n y decades before M a x Weber. t h a t it has become split in irreconcilable c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . . . only the power t h a t emerges from society but rises above it a n d becomes more and more estranged from it. Self- i m p o r t a n t bureaucracy. a state machine strictly hierarchically organized. Engels goes on to say: "In possession of public force a n d power and of the right to levy taxes. we m a y add. so the bureaucracy. then the seemingly self-sufficient character of the apparatus of power enclosed within itself. only skilled experts who possess the secrets of administration are able to perform the organizing functions. classes with conflicting economic interests should not consume themselves and society in fruitless strug- gle. interests. is. and complexity of our social life make the m a n a g e m e n t of society more and more difficult. . the officials now stand as the organs of society above society. . . we have not moved a v e r y long w a y from the time when the E g y p t i a n priest guarded the secrets which gave him power and m a d e society believe t h a t only he. No. Like the hierarchy of economic power on the market. . could manage h u m a n affairs. who was himself so impressed by the esoteric wisdom of bureaucracy. .

1 9 6 2 ) . W e r k e ( B e r l i n . the division of labour between intellectual work and m a n u a l labour. which lies in its division between the vast majority of m a n u a l workers and a small minority which specializes in brain work.2 However. a n d t h e y still survive in post-capitalist society. E n g e l s . I have already pointed o u t . T h e O r i g i n of t h e F a m i l y ( L o n d o n . 194-95. but in further social develop- m e n t t h a t prologue seems to become submerged b y the more funda- m e n t a l division between the slave owner a n d the slave. between the serf owner and the serf. p p . 1 9 4 2 ) . W h a t favoured the spread of a modern bureaucracy was m a r k e t economy. T h e intellectual pauperism from which no nation has yet emancipated itself lies at the roots of bureau- cracy. . M a r x . m u s t be placed in a position of respect by means of special laws which assure t h e m the enjoyment of a special halo a n d immunity. I a m not interested in the general history of bureaucracy. the gulf between the organizers and the organized. a State machine rises like Phoenix from the ashes. 165-66. or a feudal lord. a n d it did so for a variety of reasons. T h e real. between the m a n of property a n d the propertyless. or even eighteenth centuries was some- 2. E n g e l s . T h e focus of m y subject is this: W h a t are the factors t h a t have historically been responsible for the political power of bureaucracy? W h a t are the factors t h a t favour the political supremacy of bureaucracy over society? W h y has no revolution so far succeeded in breaking down a n d destroying the might of the bureaucracy? On the morrow of every revolution. T h e tax collector of the sixteenth. This contradistinction is in fact the prologue to class society. economic a n d political.t h e pe- rennial factor working in favour of bureaucracy. the b u r e a u c r a t was not yet a bureaucrat. massive ascendancy of bureaucracy as a distinct a n d separate social group came only with the development of capitalism. there is no use being angry with bureaucracy: its strength is only a reflection of society's weakness. Other fungi have grown over those roots. regardless of its character a n d the ancien r6gime which preceded it. but the roots them- selves have persisted in capitalism and welfare capitalism. or an auxiliary of a feudal lord. As long as the servant of the state was a tax farmer. nor do I wish to give a description of the varieties and modalities of bureau- cratic rule t h a t can be found in history. II I would like to redefine m y subject of discussion more rigorously. namely. seventeenth. m o n e y economy a n d the continuous a n d deepening division of labour of which capitalism is itself a product.w i t h some over e m p h a s i s . X X I : D e r U r s p r u n g d e r Familie.

Feudalism was already too weak to continue its supre- macy. If one were to seek certain general rules about the rise and de- cline of bureaucratic influence in capitalist society. the striking fact t h a t England. Only on the basis of a national m a r k e t could na- tional bureaucracy m a k e its appearance. T o these questions one should seek an answer not in economic changes but in socio-political structures. T h e real cradle of mo- dern bureaucracy was. the capacity for self-government of the strata constituting a given bourgeois so- ciety. between feudalism a n d capital- ism left room for the absolute m o n a r c h y to act as the umpire be- tween the two opposed camps. On the other hand. T h e stronger the opposition of feudal and bourgeois interests and the more paralysing the stalemate between them. also held a middle position with regard to the strength of bureaucracy in political life. T h e formation of bureaucracy into a distinct group was m a d e possible only b y the spread and the universalization of a m o n e y economy. as it were. or the Ho- henzollerns in P r u s s i a . was the least bu- reaucratic of all capitalist countries. the more scope . but also as the power imposing its political will on society. was the most bureaucratic. while Germany. France. the country of classical capitalism. when in highly developed bourgeois societies class struggles have reached something like a deadlock. B y themselves these general economic causes of the growth of bureaucracy explain only how bureaucracy in its m o d e r n form became possible. the Bourbons in France. a stasis in the class struggle. T h e growth of bureaucracy was further stimulated b y the break- ing down of feudal particularism and the formation of a m a r k e t on a national scale. one would find t h a t the political power of bureaucracy under capitalism has always been in inverse proportion to the maturity. for instance.t h e T u d o r s in England. W e have. it has acquired its political importance.t h e m o n a r c h y which was maintaining the uncertain equilibrium between a decaying feudalism a n d a rising capitalism. until the last quarter of the nineteenth century the underdeveloped capitalist coun- try. or else he was a servant of the feudal lord or part of his retinue. b u t t h e y do not yet explain w h y it has grown and why. of course. in some definite historical circumstances. I n such situations the bureaucracy establishes itself not only as the a p p a r a t u s regulating the functioning of the State. when contending classes have lain as if prostrate after a series of exhausting social a n d political struggles. which held a middle posi- tion. then political leadership has almost automatically passed into the hands of a bureaucracy. the vigour. the pre-bourgeois absolute mon- a r c h y .thing of an entrepreneur. capitalism was still too weak to establish its domination. in which every state employee was paid his salary in money.

and I fear t h a t in the process I shall clash with several established historical schools. now impeding and thwarting it. where the great power of State and bureaucracy resulted from the u n d e r d e v e l o p m e n t of both social strata: neither the feudal element nor the bourgeoisie were ever strong enough to manage the affairs of the State. merchants or shipowners. T h e feudal-bourgeois notables. the u r b a n paupers. I n this w a y its bureaucracy became not only an umpire but also the manipulator of all social classes. the plebs. W h a t did t h e y achieve? U n d e r the leadership of "gentlemen farmers" (in E n g l a n d ) a n d lawyers. the strife which acted as a stimulus for the growth of bureaucracy. Incidentally. It was the State that. If I were to give a sub-title to m y further remarks it would probably be a very general one: on bureaucracy and revolution. the lower-lower middle classes were in the forefront of the battle. In a sense. I shall pose the problem in its most provocative form: Was the English P u r i t a n Revolution a bourgeois revolution? W a s the great F r e n c h Revolution bourgeois in character? At the head of the insurgent battalions there were no bankers. T h e process of the revolution with all its crises a n d antagonisms. the great aristocratic Eng- lish families assumed some of the functions which on the continent were exercised by the bureaucracy. I n the process of the revolution the bourgeoisie was driven forward b y the plebian m a s s e s . with the constant shifting of power from the more conservative to . Quite a different a n d peculiar case was Russia. T h e sans culottes.o n the morrow the bourgeoisie a t t e m p t e d b y itself to rule society a t large. created social classes. As this is unavoidable in any case. it w a n t e d to rule society b y itself. E n g l a n d ( a n d also the U n i t e d States) was the least bureaucratic of all capitalist countries precisely be- cause very early in history t h a t feudal-capitalist antagonism was resolved through the gradual merger of the feudal a n d capitalist interests.was there for the bureaucracy of the absolutist m o n a r c h y to play the role of arbiter. It no longer w a n t e d to accept the tutelage a n d the dictates of the absolutist monarchy. T h e bour- geoisie h a d become strong enough and sufficiently aware of its power to aspire to political self-determination. the embourgeoises feudal elements administered the State without becoming a distinct and separate social group. now in- ducing their formation a n d expansion. like the demiurge. At this point I would like to clear up some confusion. T h e U n i t e d States too was in its history free from t h a t strife between feudal and capitalist interests. doctors and jour- nalists (in F r a n c e ) they abolished the absolutist m o n a r c h y a n d its courtier bureaucracy and swept a w a y feudal institutions which were hindering the development of bourgeois property relations.

yet the character of the bureaucracy had completely and thoroughly changed. the u r b a n poor were tired and weary. this occurred under Napoleon. 32-41. b y S t u a r t G i l b e r t ( N e w Y o r k . as it were. this time it is the interest of the established bourgeoisie and t h a t of the nascent proletariat.a national bureaucracy. H e n c e in the a f t e r m a t h of bourgeois revolution we see the rise of a new bureaucracy somewhat different in char- acter: we see a military dictatorship. and this "national soil". In 1848 we find a situation in which different class interests are again opposed to each other.' This was the a r g u m e n t of a m a n who had his eyes fixed on the political aspect of the development only and completely ignored its social back- ground a n d deeper social motives. Instead of the courtier-bureaucracy of the ancien regime. he saw the shape but not the texture or the colour of society. T o this d a y nobody has described this process of m u t u a l exhaustion better t h a n K a r l 3. which required a national market. b u t the victorious. the sans culottes. pp. F r a n c e now had the bourgeois bureaucracy recruited from different layers of society. T h e after- m a t c h of the revolution brings renewed centralization. which outwardly looks almost like the continuation of the pre-revolutionary absolutist m o n a r c h y or an even worse version of it. exhausted from the revolutionary struggle and incapable of governing society. T h e next phase in which we see another rise of bureaucracy and a further promotion of centralistic tendencies of the State occurs again at a m o m e n t of political paralysis of all social classes. T h e bourgeois bureaucracy established under Napo- leon survived the Restoration and in the end found its proper h e a d in the Citizen King. 1 9 5 5 ) .the more radical and even to the Utopian wings of the revolutionary c a m p .w a s also internally divided. and h a d the revolution not t a k e n place this t r e n d would have gone on all the same.t h e b o u r g e o i s i e . for example. fed the bour- geois forces which in their turn produced the revolution. H e argued t h a t what the F r e n c h revolution had done was merely to carry fur- ther the work of the ancien regime. . This was so under Cromwell. T h e process of centralization a n d national unification and the rise of a new bureau- cracy was so striking that Tocqueville. frag- mented. saw in it nothing more t h a n the continuation of pre-revolutionary tradition. T h e revolu- tion's first d e m a n d was the decentralization of this machine. Alexis de T o c q u e v i l l e . Y e t this centralization h a d not been due to the evil intentions of the ruler but reflected the evolution of the economy. T h e O l d R e g i m e a n d the French Revolution t r a n s . T h e pre-revolutionary regime had its centralized state m a c h i n e . Political centralization after the revolution went on as before.a l l these led to a new political stalemate between the classes which came freshly to the fore: the plebian masses. now do- m i n a n t c l a s s .

a n d I would be the last to d e n y t h a t there are certain common features between bureaucracy in a capital- ist a n d in a post-capitalist system. (Inci- dentally. T o m y mind it is part of "Capitalism and bureaucracy. a n d ordinary capitalist bureaucratic spirit permeates all industries including the nationalized ones. A n d this "alienation". presents from m y viewpoint very little theoretical in- terest. especially in the l 8 t h Brumaire. W h a t sort of personal relationship was there between the footplate m a n and the boss of one or another of the five huge railway companies? B u t politically it was i m p o r t a n t t h a t this rail- w a y m a n really believed t h a t in the Southern or M i d l a n d or Western Railway he was more than a mere cog.Marx. very little or nothing of the B o n a p a r t e in Bismarck. a n d the new working class. a figment of the worker's imagination. no m a t t e r w h a t their broader social framework. under Napoleon III. This "personal link" was. especially in England. This. I am not going to deal with reformist socialism a n d bureaucracy. At the time this situation was characteristic not only of F r a n c e b u t also of Germany. or rather of its military arm." T h e bulk of the economy remains capitalist whether or not fifteen per cent or even t w e n t y five per cent of industry is nationalized. i m p o r t a n t though it is politically. N o w I would like to touch upon those special problems of bureau- cracy which arise in a fully nationalized industry after a socialist . M a r x a n d Engels described Bismarck's government as a "Bonapartist" regime. "Things are not as t h e y used to be": before the nationalization of the railways they could maintain a more personal relationship between themselves and their employers. T h e whole background of social life is capitalist. where the deadlock was many- sided: between the feudal and semi-feudal interests of the Junkers. a n d here quantity also determines quality. for which he h a d to work. W e hear a lot of grumbling about "bureaucracy on the railways" or in the coal mines. as the word goes. while now the industry has become so anonymous t h a t there is no personal link between the workingmen and this vast nation-wide enterprise. the bourgeoisie. During a recent strike television presented some railway- m e n who said that. although outwardly there was. of course. especially Prussia. of course. A n d in Prussia it re- sulted in the rule a n d dictatorship of Bismarck's bureaucracy. is a problem c o m m o n to all sorts of bureaucratic establishments. H e also d e m o n s t r a t e d how the prostration of all social classes secured the t r i u m p h of the bureaucracy. Now he felt "alienated" from t h a t vast entity into which he had to fit.) III I a m well aware t h a t because of the vastness of the subject I can do no more t h a n indicate schematically the main points which need further elaboration.

F. is in every sense a proletarian dictatorship. B u t the modern working class. at least in its beginnings. p. m a t u r e enough to overthrow capital- ism. Clearly this problem affects one third of the world. when it be- comes truly representative of society as a whole. and especially in Anti-Duhring. Engels himself in various of his works. If you assume a society in which there is no class supremacy. of the objective 4. T h e slaves of antiquity. A n t i . there will be no need to keep m e n a n d labour in subjection. will not allow a bureaucracy to rise on its back. serfs.M a r x i s t s approached the problem. I n T h e Foundafions of Christianity K a u t s k y discusses the process by which the Christian Church was transformed from a faith of the oppressed into a great imperial bureaucratic machine. This was not just an individual j u d g m e n t of Kautsky. maintained Kautsky. puts a n end to a l l . In socialism the State. 308. E n g e l s .D ü h r i n g ( L o n d o n . class a n t a g o n i s m . . As I looked through some of the classical Marxist writings on bureaucracy I was struck b y how relatively o p t i m i s t i c a l l y . . B u t in doing this it puts a n end to itself as proletariat. " F o r m e r societies needed the State as an organization of the exploit- ing class. . . under a regime which. T o give one illustration: Karl K a u t s k y once asked himself whether a socialist society would be threatened with all the evils of bureaucracy.revolution. devoid of a n y active class consciousness. committed himself to a view which almost ruled out in advance the possibility of bureaucracy under socialism: T h e proletariat seizes the State power a n d turns the means of production in the first instance into State property.o n e might say l i g h t m i n d e d l y . as a means of holding down the class t h a t was e x p l o i t e d - slaves. and I am p r e t t y sure t h a t it will acquire validity over at least two thirds of the world. with the a b u n d a n c e a n d superabundance of goods. This trans- formation was possible against the background of a society which lived on slave labour. . who for over two decades between Engels' d e a t h and the outbreak of the First World W a r was the most authoritative spokesman of M a r x i s m a n d was considered a real successor to M a r x a n d Engels. I think it was Trotskii who used a very plain but very telling metaphor: the policeman can use his baton either for regulating traffic or for dispersing a demonstration of strikers or unemployed. so it is weighty enough. were liable to become slaves of bureaucracy. or wage labourers. . makes itself super- fluous. And with the full development of modern productive forces. the bureaucracy's role is reduced to the administration of things. 1 9 4 3 ) . I n this one sentence is s u m m e d up the classical distinction between administration of things and administration of men.

I think. socialism and bureaucracy. they also thought of socialist or post-capitalist society in the abstract. that of disentangling traffic jams. which in this respect was not the original . If one considers t h a t they carried out their analysis so m a n y decades before the actual attempt. spreading at least over E u r o p e more or less simultaneously. T h e other reason is. in other words. so to say. in the same w a y as M a r x in D a s Kapital analysed not any specific capitalist system but capitalism in the abstract. psychological. T h e r e were. T h e Commune. This should have abolished all privileges of a bureaucratic group. as 1848 was. H e expressed his idea of the State in t h a t famous aphorism: under socialism or even in a proletarian dictatorship the administration should become so simplified t h a t every cook should be able to manage State affairs. T h e y an- alysed revolution.social and productive process. T h e y could not help viewing the future revolution on the p a t t e r n of the greatest revolutionary ex- perience in their own life. every m e m b e r of which could be deposed at a n y time at the d e m a n d of the electorate. b y then almost forgotten. two reasons for this. set the example of a State which was to begin to wither away as soon as it was established. they stressed. had taken a n u m b e r of precautions which should serve as a pattern and a model for future socialist transformations: it was elected in a general election and established an elected civil service. I n the light of all the painful experience of the last decades it is all too easy to see how very greatly the representatives of classical M a r x i s m had indeed u n d e r r a t e d the problems of bureaucracy.b u t we are concerned with reducing the policeman's baton to its proper role. T h e original founders of the Marxist school never really a t t e m p t e d to p o r t r a y in advance the society which would emerge after a socialist revolution. capitalism p e r se. T h e C o m m u n e abolished the standing a r m y and replaced it by the people at arms. We are not concerned with the elimina- tion of all administrative f u n c t i o n s . W h e n M a r x and Engels analysed the experience of the C o m m u n e of Paris t h e y were as if half-aware of the bureaucratic t h r e a t t h a t could arise in the future. so to say. ( H e r e was the germ of the idea of p e r m a n e n t revolution. I t was no m a t t e r of chance t h a t only a few weeks before the October revolution Lenin m a d e a special effort to restore this. T h e y saw it as a chain reaction of revolutions. their m e t h o d was scientifically justified. in the abstract. it also established the principle t h a t no civil servant could earn more t h a n the ordinary worker. a n d they were at great pains to underline the measures that the C o m m u n e had taken in order to guarantee a socialist revolution against the recrudescence of bureaucratic power. T h e Commune. t h a t of 1848.t h i s would be absurd in an industrially developing s o c i e t y . part of Marxist teaching about State.

at least in the highly in- dustrialized societies of western Europe. T h e y also trusted t h a t once the majority of the E u r o p e a n working class had been won for the revo- lution it would. but guaranteeing to all the free deve- l o p m e n t and exercise of their physical and m e n t a l f a c u l t i e s . an existence not only fully sufficient m a t e r i a l l y . This.. . the very considerable pro- portion of the working class would provide a strong mass support for the revolutionary government. 311. T h e r e was u n d o u b t e d l y in Marxism an ambivalent attitude to- w a r d the State. W h e n we are t e m p t e d to reproach the founders of the Marxist school with underrating the dangers of bureaucracy in post-revolu- tionary society. as it were. Ibid. through social production. a pre-condition and raison d'etre of a socialist revolution. a n d without wars of intervention there would have been no need for the re-creation of standing armies which are an i m p o r t a n t factor of bureaucratization. On the one h a n d . I t is only in the middle of this century t h a t we are faced with attempts at socialist revolu- tion in countries where a desperately insufficient production makes a n y decent material existence quite impossible. p. would form the strongest guarantee against any revival of the bureaucratic machine or the formation of a new one. . "The first act by virtue of which the state really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of s o c i e t y " . the real producers of society's wealth. "The possibility of securing for every m e m b e r of society. for the first time in history. . W i t h v e r y little social tension there would be hardly any civil strife.t h e taking possession of the means of p r o d u c t i o n .) An all-European socialist revolution would have been relatively secure immediately after its victory."'' stated Engels emphatically in his Anti-Diihring nearly ninety years ago. Zbid. p. . .creation of Trotskii. . would represent the interests not of a privileged minority but of the mass of toilers. to break the old capitalist system a n d create its own state machine t h a t would exercise the proletarian dictatorship. 5. 6. T h e y also assumed that." i s at the same time its last independent act as a state.t h i s possibility is n o w . together with the existing democratic tradition. to smash. on the other.. . we must bear in mind the fact t h a t t h e y took the abundance of goods as the first condition.a n d this Marxism had in common with a n a r c h i s m . h e r e . there was the conviction t h a t the socialist revolution has need of a State for its own pur- pose.."' F r o m then on the interference of the State in social relations becomes superfluous. i t is here. . 309. remain faithful and loyal to the revolu- tion. B u t that machine.t h e r e was a conviction based on a deeply realistic historical analysis t h a t all revolutions are frustrated as long as they do not do away with the State. it was indeed very deeply e m b e d d e d in the thought of classical Marxism.

it was not an all-European upheaval. it remained isolated in one country. aristocracy. poverty-stricken country where the problem immediately facing the revolutionary govern- m e n t was not to build socialism. It was certainly not revolution in the a b s t r a c t . the oldest split between the organizers and the organized. it will slowly "wither away. It occurred in a nation where the proletariat was a tiny minority and even t h a t minority disin- tegrated as a class in the process of world war. are either destroyed or completely exhausted politically. All this resulted in at least two political developments which inevitably led to the recrudescence of bureaucracy. bourgeoisie. revolution. F o r the first time in history b u r e a u c r a c y seems omnipotent and omnipresent. T h e political function of the State disappears. T h e old cleavage between the m e n of property and the propertyless masses gives place to another division." T h e reality of the Russian revolution was in every single respect a negation of the assumptions m a d e b y classical Marxism. If under the capital- ist system we saw t h a t the power of bureaucracy always found a counterweight in the power of the propertied classes. However.i t was real enough! It did not follow the 1848 pattern. It was also an extremely backward. but to create the first pre-condi- tions for any modern civilized life. T h e bureaucracy is . w h a t remains is the direction of the process of production. civil wars and industrial devastation no social class is capable of asserting itself. After all the trials of a decade filled with world war. landlords. peasants. Moreover. after the revolution it acquires a far greater force t h a n it h a d before when it was as if submerged by class distinction and class discord.T h e government of persons is replaced b y the administration of things. workers. revolution and civil war. W h a t again comes to the fore is the perennial. cela change et ce n'est plus la m 6 m e chose: society as a whole has undergone a f u n d a m e n t a l change. mutatis mutandis. I have described how the political supremacy of bureaucracy always followed a stalemate in the class struggle. here we see no such restrictions and no such limitations. as the anarchists imagine. T h e State will not be abolished overnight. Now. different in character but no less noxious a n d corrosive: the division between the rulers a n d the ruled. an exhaustion of all social classes in the process of political and social struggles. in- tellectually. T h e pre- lude to class society appears now as the epilogue. F a r from "wither- ing away" the post-revolutionary state gathers into its hands such power as it has never had before. W h a t is left is only the machine of the Bolshevik p a r t y which establishes its bureaucratic supremacy over society as a whole. morally. after the Russian revolution we see the same situation again: in the early 1920's all classes of Russian society.

I n their famous Critique of the Gotha P r o g r a m m e M a r x a n d Engels speak about two phases of communism. T h e new society has not developed on its own foundations. whereas between the revolution and socialism there was b o u n d to lie a terribly long and complicated period of transition. 106 . which takes the form of an almost p e r m a n e n t orgy of bureau- cratic violence over all classes of society. then it has to reward skill a n d offer incentives. Some prognosis of t h a t tension can be found in Marxism. a n d as long as everyone has to be paid according to his work the bureaucracy will r e m a i n the privileged group. more t h a n ever before it appears independent. T h e division between the organizers a n d the organized acquires more a n d not less importance precisely because. T o p u t it in a nutshell: it seems t h a t the thinkers and theoreticians of the nineteenth century t e n d e d to telescope certain stages of future development from capitalism to socialism. the lower and the higher. N o m a t t e r w h a t the pseudo-Marxist terminology of present Russian leaders. W h a t classical M a r x i s m "telescoped" was the revolution-and-socialism as it were. F a r from withering away the State reaches its apothe- osis. Russian society t o d a y is 7. Obviously. C r i t i q u e of t h e G o t h a P r o g r a m m e ( L o n d o n . the respons- ibility for running the national economy rests now with the organ- izers. to reward everyone according to his needs. Let us now go back for a m o m e n t to the Marxist analysis of the revolution in the abstract and see where a n d in w h a t w a y the pic- ture of post-revolutionary Russia contradicts this analysis. p. but is emerging from capitalism and still bears all the birthmarks of capitalism. It is not yet ripe economically. T h e b u r e a u c r a t is in a sense the skilled worker. H a d there been a E u r o p e a n revolution in which proletarian majorities would have won swiftly and decisively and spared their nations all the political and social turmoil and slaughter of wars a n d civil strife. however. and there is no doubt t h a t he will place himself on the privileged side of the scale. indeed set high above society. separated. then very probably we would not have seen t h a t fear-inspiring apotheosis of the Russian State. 1 9 3 3 ) .the manager of the totality of the nation's resources.' In the lower one there still prevails the "narrow horizon of bourgeois rights" with its inequality and its wide differentials in individual incomes. K a r l M a r x . Nevertheless the problem would still have existed to a degree which classical M a r x i s m did not en- visage. still needs to secure the full development of its productive forces until a real economy of wealth and a b u n d a n c e is created. the means of pro- duction having passed from private to public ownership. morally a n d intellec- tually. E v e n under the best of circumstances that period would have been characterized by an inevitable tension between the bureaucrat and the worker. according to Marx. if in socialism society.

according to which the functionary should not earn more t h a n the ordinary worker's wage. T h e dynamic balance between the official a n d the worker will find its counterpart in the authority of the State a n d the control of the masses over the State. a n d because the abolition of capitalism was inspired by a longing for egalitarianism. local governments a n d self-governments. T h e socialist State was to have been a State of elected communes. T h e worker and the bureaucrat are equally necessary for the transition toward socialism. which Russia at the beginning of the century was not. T h e tension between the bureaucrat a n d the workers is rooted in the cleavage between brain work and m a n u a l labour. the principle extolled again b y Lenin on the eve of October. P a r t of the Marxist theory of the withering away of the State was based upon a certain balance between its centralistic organization and the universal element of decentralization. no m a t t e r how high his function. In the post-revolutionary Russian state with its p o v e r t y a n d its inadequate development of productive forces the scramble for rewards was b o u n d to be fierce and ferocious. yet they were all to form a unified organism which was necessary for a rational national- ized mode of production. This will also assure the necessary .i t has only m a d e the very first step on the road of transition from capitalism toward socialism.still far from s o c i a l i s t . a n d socialism is the workers' a n d not the bureaucrats' business. As long as the work- ing masses are still in t h a t stage of intellectual pauperism left over from the centuries of oppression and illiteracy. On the other hand. It was also inequality on an abysmally low level of existence. In practice it proved impossible to establish and maintain the principle proclaimed by the C o m m u n e of Paris which served M a r x as the guarantee against the rise of bureaucracy. local municipal coun- cils. or r a t h e r inequality below subsistance level. This concept also presupposed a highly developed society. In the development of post-capitalist society the tension between the worker and the b u r e a u c r a t m a y yet prove to have some essen- tially creative elements.a n d here is p a r t of an important contradiction in the thought of M a r x and his disciples. This principle implied a truly egalitarian s o c i e t y . m u s t not earn more t h a n an ordinary worker cannot be reconciled with the other a r g u m e n t t h a t in the lower phase of socialism which still bears the stamp of "bourgeois rights" it would be utopian to expect "equality of distribution". the m a n a g e m e n t of the processes of production m u s t fall to the civil servant. E v i d e n t l y the a r g u m e n t t h a t no civil servant. I t simply is not true t h a t today's Russian State can be run b y any cook (although all sorts of cooks t r y to do it). the inequality was even more revolting and shocking. in a truly post-capitalist society the basic social class are the workers.

It is true t h a t Soviet bureaucracy dominates s o c i e t y .s t a t e of affairs with an extreme swing of the p e n d u l u m in the other direction and the workers' passionate. yet t h e y cannot b e q u e a t h their prosperity a n d wealth to their children. absolutely to the side of bureaucracy. Yet. yet with all the privileges which the b u r e a u c r a t defends brutally a n d stubbornly. N o t only can it not p e r p e t u a t e itself. W h a t we have seen in H u n g a r y and Poland in 1956 was a reaction against t h i s .m o r e obviously and to a greater extent t h a n does any modern possessing class. but one which in its consequences led again to a grave and dangerous imbalance.S t a l i n i s t . decisively. I think t h a t basically a n d f u n d a m e n t a l l y this view helps to cope with the problem of bureaucracy far better t h a n a n y other I have encountered. he lacks the essential privilege of owning the means of production. Y e t it is also more vulnerable. T h e bureaucrats enjoy power and some measure of prosperity.e c o n o m i c a l l y . b u t it has been unable even to secure for itself the continuty of its own position. whose apotheosis after the revolution I have described. W h a t we have seen in Russia has been an utter dis- equilibrium. U n d e r Stalin one leading group of bureaucrats after another was beheaded. the balance swung heavily. H o w t h e n do I see the prospects a n d how do I see the further development of t h a t tension between the worker and the bureaucrat? I have indicated before all the faults of the historical perspective in the classical Marxist view of bureaucracy. T h e n came Khrushchev and dispersed the most powerful centre of that bureaucracy: all the economic ministries in the capital were scattered over wide and far flung Russia. politically and c u l t u r a l l y . T h e y cannot accumulate capital.a revolt no doubt justified b y all their experiences and grievances. yet it lacks the cohesion a n d unity which would make of it a separate class in the M a r x i s t sense of the word. T h e question we have to answer is this: has the bureaucracy. constituted itself into new class? Can it perpetuate itself as a privileged minori- ty? Does it p e r p e t u a t e social inequality? I would like first of all to point out one very obvious a n d i m p o r t a n t but often forgotten fact: all the inequality t h a t exists in today's Russia between the worker a n d the b u r e a u c r a t is an inequality of consumption. irritating a n d painful. As a result of objective historic circumstances and sub- jective interests. Until this d a y the Soviet bureaucracy has not m a n a g e d to acquire t h a t . violent. or invest it for the benefit of their descendants: t h e y cannot p e r p e t u a t e themselves or their kith a n d kin. Officialdom still dominates society and lords over it. This is un- d o u b t e d l y very important. the continuity of management.equilibrium between the principle of centralization and t h a t of de- centralization. one leading group of managers of industry after another was purged. unreasoning revolt against bureaucratic d e s p o t i s m .

and competence m a y come u n d e r close scrutiny. Soviet managers have to be on their guard: as more a n d more workers receive more a n d more education. E v e n the luxuries of the small minority high on top of the p y r a m i d are not especially . but on the whole the "betrayal of one's class" does not work so very simply. very paltry. and it has to p a y homage to t h a t victory. a n d law. it has to acknowledge ever anew t h a t it manages industry and finance on behalf of the nation. property. This m a y be so in individual cases and in abstract theory. Over the last decades Soviet bureaucracy has all the time been in a process of stupendous expansion. This continuous expansion militates against the crystallization of the bureaucracy not only into a class but even into a cohesive social group. B u t this is a precar- ious position. Soviet bureaucracy is also hamstrung b y a deep inherent contra- diction: it rules as a result of the abolition of property in industry and finance. It has been something like a huge amoeba covering post-revolutionary society with itself. the old bourgeoisie came forth after the F r e n c h revolution. T h e r e is also another reason for the lack of stability a n d cohesion in the managerial group no m a t t e r how privileged it has become. W e m u s t also realize t h a t the privileges of the great majority of the bureaucrats are very. T h e y thrive on the a p a t h y of the workers who so far have allowed t h e m to run the state on their behalf. economic and psychological identity of its own which would allow us to describe it as a new class. as a result of the workers' victory over the ancien regime. an incomparably less stable foundation t h a n t h a t sanctified b y tradition. T h e Russian administrator has the standard of living of our lower middle classes. not a historic force t h a t comes on the scene in the w a y in which. All surveys show convin- cingly t h a t in no other country is there such a rapid m o v e m e n t from m a n u a l to non-manual and to w h a t the Americans like to call "elite strata". it is not a formed entity. in the working class. the m o m e n t m a y easily come when the managers' skill. Millions of people from the work- ing class and to a lesser extent from the p e a s a n t r y were recruited into its ranks. he himself becomes a bureaucrat. Privileged as t h e y are. T h e conflict between the liberating origin of bureaucracy's power and the use it makes of t h a t power generates constant tension between "us" the workers a n d "them" the managerial a n d political hierarchy. I know. as there is in the Soviet Union. that once a m a n from the lower classes is m a d e to share in the privileges of the hierarchy. for example.social. of course. on behalf of the workers. honesty. I t is an amoeba because it lacks a social backbone of its own. W h e n the son of a miner or a worker becomes an engineer or an administrator of a factory he does not on the morrow become completely insensitive to w h a t goes on in his former environment.

enviable. when the cook is no longer the old scullion. free from the un- controllable forces of the whimsical m a r k e t of private economy. free from slumps a n d booms. in spite of some similiarities which on closer examination would prove to be only very superficial. in which working hours are short and leisure civilized ( a n d completely unlike our stultifying com- mercialized mass entertainment!). not of social status. bureaucracy will m a r k the fierce. then indeed the gulf between the b u r e a u c r a t and the worker can disappear. W h a t will remain will be the division of functions. but we should not mistake t h a t tension for a class antagonism. between the engine driver and a less expert railwayman. particularly if one considers the r i s k s .a n d we all know how terrible these were under Stalin. T h e old Marxist prospect of the "withering away" of the state m a y seem odd to us. ferocious epilogue to class s o c i e t y . a n d so will the division between the organizers a n d the organized.i n such a society the antagonism between brainwork a n d m a n u a l labour really will wither away. between. a n d o r t h o d o x i e s . a n d only then. because it is the material and intellectual wealth of society t h a t leads to the softening of the age-old d i v i s i o n .l a s t but not l e a s t . a skilled miner and an unskilled one. I t can be resolved b y the spread a n d improvement of education. And I think this will become possible only in a society based on nationalized means of production. dogmatism. even small privileges contribute to the tension between the worker a n d the bureaucrat. free from speculations and speculators. W h a t we observe here is rather the hostility between m e m b e r s of the same class. It can be resolved only b y the growth of the national wealth in the first instance. Then.b e t w e e n the organizers and the organized. Isaac D e u t s c h e r World Copyright R e s e r v e d . Of course. b u t one t h a t cannot be resolved b y a n y upheaval in society. in which automation in industry is not h a m p e r e d b y fear of investment on the one side and fear of r e d u n d a n c y on the other. W h a t M a r x really m e a n t was t h a t the state should divest itself of its oppressive political functions. a n d .n o w renewed and s h a r p e n e d . This hostility a n d this tension contain in themselves a tremendous political antagonism. W h e n the organized is no longer the d u m b a n d dull a n d helpless muzhik.n o more than an epilogue.i n a society free from cults. B u t let us not play with old formulas which were p a r t of an idiom to which we are not accustomed. In a society in which all the miracles of science and technology are t u r n e d to peaceful and productive uses. a growth which would make it possible to satisfy the m i n i m u m needs of the broadest masses of the population and more t h a n that. say. it will be seen t h a t if b u r e a u c r a c y was a faint prelude to class society.