Saturday, May 15, 2004

Working for a psychopath

It's well worth comparing this story from the Economist to this one from USS Clueless. The Economist points to a documentary called "The Corporation" that, through interviews etc., concludes that if the corporation was a person, it would be a psychopath, caring for nothing but higher profits. My time working both in, and for, corporations means that I can only wish that was true. Sadly, corporations are not solely afflicted with psychosis, they are also laden with schizophrenia, paranoia, neurosis, delusions, bi-polar disorder, and probably several others I can't think of right now. Anytime you have people trying to organize themselves to do a task so complex that no one person can keep it all in their head, you will find poor decisions and restricted responsibility. The Economist takes the documentary to task for not comparing it to how government bureaucracies work, which brings us to the Captain and It turns out that if you stumble upon a piece of truly asinine Belgian administration, you can tell them about it on a website and, presumably, it will then go to committee.
The object of his chronic dismay is something far more prevalent and insidious: at the heart of his obsessive and horrifying narratives is an unfathomable bureaucracy, one that has emerged through a combination of inertia, default, and the institution of political power, perpetuating itself by feeding upon the rights of the people it was ostensibly designed to serve.

... Itself devoid of selfhood, this bureaucracy nevertheless creates scenarios in which selves become increasingly irrelevant--hardly more than feckless dreams flickering on and off in the crepuscular shadow of machines that mean nothing in themselves, but paradoxically in meaning that nothing, intend that nothing and no one else should ever mean anything, or have meaning . . . or deviate in any way from the absolute meaninglessness of their tyrannical power.
Corporations struggle with this but can go out of business--bureuacracies are forever.


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