We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Don’t talk to me about Partygate. Don’t talk to me about Suella Braverman’s emails. Talk to me about the fact that a 28-year-old man with devastating injuries was left in unimaginable pain and terror as fire engines drove in the other direction and ambulances stayed away. Talk to me about the fact that our emergency services step back from horrific incidents because of ‘safety fears’. Talk to me about this institutionalised cowardice, where the emergency services now make bureaucratic safety assessments rather than behaving with courage and bravery to assist people in dire need. Avoiding risk is a completely surreal principle for the emergency services to adopt. These people should take risks. They should be rushing into danger to help the men, women and children facing that danger.”

Brendan O’Neill, writing about the descriptions of shocking slowness by emergency services around the time of the Manchester terrorist attack of 2017. (Here is a link to the second report into the brutal attacks, and how services did, or did not, respond.)

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • exasperated

    There is no situation that bureaucracy cannot make worse.

  • Steven R

    “First order of business: go home at the end of your shift” and ” Everybody wants to be a gangster until it’s time to do gangster shit” meet bureaucratic rulebooks and chain of commands not commanding. Stuff like this and Uvalde are the results.

  • Kirk

    The problem isn’t necessarily “bureaucracy” but how we “do” bureaucracy.

    If you go looking deep into it, the idea that we’ll solve problems via bureaucracy is an ancient impulse. The Chinese had it, and it periodically drives Chinese civilization straight into the ground. The Egyptians had it, and so did everyone else.

    Root problem isn’t so much the bureaucracy itself, but how we set them up and organize them. Their management isn’t even a lost art; we’ve never, ever been good at it, as human beings.

    The typical life-cycle is that we identify a problem, decide to deal with it via some organization, set said organization up, and deal with the problem. Within a few short years, the power we imbue that organization with attracts the power-hungry the way rotting carrion attracts vultures and flies. So, they arrive, they take over, and pretty soon you see full-on implementation of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

    There’s usually a finite period where bureaucracies are productive and positive things, but that’s generally early in their lifespan. Before the careerists show up to slobber up all that lovely power and authority.

    Some nations can do these things without creating instantaneous disasters. Their bureaucratic structures seem to last longer before the corruption sets in, but it always, inevitably does set in, everywhere.

    I speculate that humans just don’t do bureaucracy well, and that we need to find another means of managing our affairs. Something that doesn’t set up the perverse incentives for all the mandarin-wannabes and power-thirsty bastards who are one with their inner Karen.

    No idea what that might be, but I think it will require a deep cultural rethink, and an adoption of a mentality that’s more “ad-hocracy” than “permanent floating bureaucracy” as a solution to things.

  • Clovis Sangrail



    is spot on.
    It’s not that human beings can’t do this stuff, it’s that institutions need to be destroyed regularly before the creeps take over.

    Can we start with the British Civil Service?

  • Steven R

    I think every agency needs some bureaucracy to function. Give an agency like NASA the task of putting a man on the Moon, let them hire every engineer and test pilot they can, and get out of the way sounds great, but somebody must be around to manage budgets, hire janitors, issue parking passes, etc. The problem comes when the people whose sole skill is to move paper from one pile to another end up replacing the guys who do what the mission is. NASA replaces engineers with guys with MBAs from Wharton. Police departments vote in a guy to be chief who never walked a beat or rode in a patrol car. That’s when agencies start to become rule-bound monstrosities where thinking is replaced with regulations and training to adhere to those regulations.

    Cops are trained to wait for backup and do what the commander on scene tells them to do instead of rushing in where angels fear to tread. The result is dead kids in a school, but the regulations were followed so all is well. Firefighters are trained to follow the chief’s orders to stage miles away from a terrorist attack instead of rushing in to help victims, but it’s not the bureaucracy at fault because it is a leviathan of laws that MUST be followed. Engineers are overridden by administrators and shuttle crews perish, but these things happen. At worst, someone will be compelled to fall on his sword, but not to worry; he’ll be protected and given a job by the same system.

    If tearing down and rebuilding these bureaucracies is not an option, I think the next best thing is to put people who do the mandated job back in charge. Firefighters and not administrators in charge of fire departments. Engineers in charge of NASA. Cops and not politicians with a badge in charge of police departments. Let them go through the rules and regulations and ask “how does this help us do our mandated job?”

  • Tim Worstall

    One of my grandfathers was awarded the GM for his work as a doctor/emergency etc in WWII. From the file of nominations letters, two stories.

    1) Woman in labour, bombs had destroyed much of the house. In fact, necessary to use a ladder to climb up to the now two walls holding a bit of floor upon which the couching bed laid. So, ladder used, baby delivered, mother and baby hauled down by the firemen, all, doctor, firemen, baby and mother off down the street – at which point those two remaining walls collapse.

    2) Cellar used as bomb shelter, bad luck, house bombed directly, collapses onto cellar and fire rages. One woman trapped down there – a beam has crushed her leg, not possible to haul her out and she’s going to burn alive. Solution is doctor lowered down the firemen’s hole. Feet tied to the rope so the firemen can pull him out again, he goes down hands and face first. Amputates the trapped leg, hauls the woman up out of the hole with him.

    He oft said that it wasn’t actually his medal at all, just someone representative to pin it on.

    “Talk to me about the fact that a 28-year-old man with devastating injuries was left in unimaginable pain and terror as fire engines drove in the other direction and ambulances stayed away.”

    Well, I’ve never done anything dangerous or famous. But how in buggery fuck did we go from one to t’other in only two generations?

  • Kirk

    @Tim Worstall,

    Well, I’ve never done anything dangerous or famous. But how in buggery fuck did we go from one to t’other in only two generations?

    Thing is, you and I didn’t. Most people didn’t, either. What changed was the set of idiots running things, and the “social restraints” they put in place.

    The “public commons” of culture, if you will, is a tricky thing. If there’s a mob surrounding something, looking on at a situation, the way it coalesces into action is very often reliant on one or two key people serving as social catalysts. Once they act, then everyone else follows their lead.


    There has to be an engrained habit of “Yeah, we’re people of good will, and just need a bit of prodding…” for all that to happen. And, you have to have those initial “seed” agents, willing to act. And, of course, acting properly.

    What’s kinda sorta chilling is to recognize just how random it is; if the mob sees the right people looting, then looting it’s gonna be. If those initial actors are moving to try and put out the fires, then the mob, like any other half-obedient animal, will move with them to act selflessly and put out the fires.

    What’s changed, I think, is that the various numpties and luvvies of the Western world have managed to get well along on their domestication project for the rest of us. They’re uncomfortable with people who are self-motivating and actually selfless; we’re unpredictable and scary to them, because we do not behave as they would. If you’re a coward, and you see men running towards the sound of the guns, well… You take rather more fear from that, than from those guns. Why? Because the worst that the guns can do is kill you; those guys running towards the gunfire could destroy your carefully-constructed and entirely unjustified self-image.

    Which is why the numpties and luvvies always act to suppress the active impulse; their war-cry isn’t “Save the children!!” but “Fill out the form, before doing anything…”

    Once they’ve reduced it to paper-shuffling, they’re comfortable. They also don’t have to act, because they can always find new and more extraneous BS paperwork to shuffle, until all the bodies finally hit the floor.

    I can just about guarantee you that if any of those vaunted “First Responders” at Uvalde had actually, y’know… Responded, by acting? They’d have gotten screwed by the management. Which is why none of them acted; the ones that would have were already culled from the departments, leaving the poseurs and half-ass wannabes on the job. Why? Because those creatures are easier to manage. The guys who would have been “Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!” were also the ones who “made trouble” for their supervisors, and were long ago fired or driven out of the organization.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    On the topic of bureaucracy, I offer the following passage from Joseph Tainter’s ‘The Collapse of Complex Societies’

    “Sociopolitical organizations constantly encounter problems that require increased investment merely to preserve the status quo. This investment comes in such forms as increasing size of bureaucracies, increasing specialization of bureaucracies, cumulative organizational solutions, increasing costs of legitimizing activities, and increasing costs of internal control and external defense. All of these must be borne by levying greater costs on the support population, often to no increased advantage. As the number and costliness of organizational investments increases, the proportion of a society’s budget available for investment in future economic growth must decline. Thus, while initial investment by a society in growing complexity may be a rational solution to perceived needs, that happy state of affairs cannot last (…) Ever greater increments of investment yield ever smaller increments of return.”

    Pay ever more in, get ever less out. Sound familiar?

  • Barbarus

    Besides the rise of bureaucracy generally, there is the rise of risk aversion in society. This is being driven at least in part by a well reported tendency for courts to award large compensation for what might once have been seen as minor accidents and injuries. No more ‘ouch, stubbed my toe, must watch where I’m going’, instead ‘ooh aagh injured my foot, must sue the Council’.

    How that applies legally in the case of emergency services staff I don’t honestly know, but there has to be a lot of pressure for leadership to evaluate a situation and perform a risk assessment before sending their staff, to whom they owe a duty of care, into it.

  • Bruce


    From the memory hole:

    “Remember, remember,
    The Fifth of November.
    Gunpowder, Treason and Plot!”

    The question remains:

    “Was Guido Fawkes the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions?”

    The REAL “untouchable” problem is the armies of unaccountable “Civil Serpents”.

  • Paul Marks

    I respectfully disagree Kirk.

    The problem is, not is not, bureaucracy itself.

    If something needs to be done – do it. Do not set up an administrative structure – as, contrary to Hegel and the Cameralist thinkers who came before him, this does not make things more “rational”, it distracts attention from the thing that needs to be done. People send their energies on the administrative structure – not on doing what needs to be done.

    Nor is this really about a terrorist incident. Ambulances often take hours to arrive – without any terrorist incident.

    By the way, administrative structures are particularly bad in science and medicine.

    Science depends upon the free exercise of the individual human mind – the antithesis of administrative structures.

    Medicine depends on the relationship between the doctor and the individual patient – again the antithesis of administrative structures.

    And, contrary to Hegel, if you mix thesis and anti-thesis you do not get some wonderful new thing – you get a mess, a horrible mess.

    I knew all this in THEORY – but the last few years have still been a terrible shock.

    To witness nonsense decision after nonsense decision, not in just one country but in a vast number of countries, with brave medical doctors and medical academics abused and persecuted – all this has been enlightening experience. And that persecution is continuing – the “crime” of telling the truth about Covid is not forgiven, and nor is the “crime” of telling the truth about any other major scientific or medical matter.

    We cannot reform the administrative structures – it is not in their nature to be reformable, any effort to reform them actually makes them worse than they were before. Their power must be removed – or they will destroy society.

  • Myno

    The inevitable ossification of bureaucracy is the partial reason why small companies can out-compete large ones, tending to a rotation upwards of new talent. The application of such free market principles to government is the difficulty of casting services in a way that fosters competition, wherein the evils of bureaucracy tend to retire the organizations that exhibit it badly.

  • Eric Tavenner

    Bloody fucking cowards!
    They knew the the job was dangerous when they took it!

  • Roué le Jour

    They do it because they know there will be no consequences, the system will cover for them. Their faces will not appear in the newspapers under the headline “COWARDS!”, They will not be sacked for negligence, they will not face criminal charges.

  • John


    I give you Sir Craig Mackey QPM.

    May his name live on forever in infamy and shame.

    And the official response;-

    Subsequently, at the inquest, the chief coroner of England and Wales, Mark Lucraft QC, described Mackey’s actions as “sensible and proper and intended to protect others in the car”. Lucraft said Mackey did not flee the scene. “You may well think that it was important for the most senior police officer in the country to be at New Scotland Yard, where he could take command and control of what, at that time, could potentially have been part of a much larger attack.”

  • James Strong

    ‘the Manchester terrorist attack’

    Thank you for writing this .

    I have been very annoyed by media refereances to those who ‘died in the explosion’, which is not false. But the better truth is those who ‘were murdered by a muslim terrorist who exploded a bomb.’
    ‘ .

  • Paul Marks

    Again – seem to be assuming that it was just about a terrorist incident. In reality ambulances often do not turn up for hours – the bureaucratic system “does not work”, or rather it DOES work – the function of an administrative structure being to create and follow various administrative practices. Not to mend the roads, or deliver the sick to hospital, or to do anything that the public might (wrongly) think an administrative structure is for. Again, if something needs to be done – DO IT, do not waste your energies on creating or changing an administrative structure. If you believe that something needs to be done – DO IT.

    It does not take a terrorist incident to mean that you will be left for hours (in great pain – or dying) before an ambulance turns up. And it is NOT because the staff are not working hard – they are working hard, they are working hard on administrative procedures, that is the nature of administrative structures.

    Nor is this just a matter of government – Corporate Medicine is a total mess in the United States, with doctors and nurses forced to follow demented “guides” which are utterly wrong about Covid and many other matters. If the doctors and nurses point out that the “guides” are rubbish, indeed dangerous rubbish, they lose their jobs – and their “licenses” (“licensing” was the most important invention of administrative structures).

    Even mending the roads is not what a corporation (a “private business”) is really about – as anyone who has sat through meetings (that last for hours) in which the corporation will carefully explain how they are “reaching out to the community” and have quotas for various groups in terms of employment and follow all sorts of very complex procedures (and work very hard doing so) – anything apart from mending-the-roads.

    “Victory! we have created lots of new forms and organised lots of new conferences and meetings” is not just how government administrators think, it is how private (Corporate) ones think as well – and it is not laziness, they work very hard indeed.

    Power corporations (“private companies” again) will work very hard indeed on their various “policies” – but they will not get your account right. They will accept payment and then ask for the same payment again – why should a corporation care about providing goods and services at a good price, when “fighting racism” or “saving the planet” are far more interesting things to talk about. Money comes, directly or indirectly, from the Central Bank and the commercial Credit Bubble banks anyway – customers are just annoying.

    The entertainment corporations (such as Disney) do not care that most people do not find their shows entertaining – they know that soon people will have no real choice in entertainment anyway, all sources of films and television shows will follow the same “guides” and “policies” and money will be digital and programable (which means how it is spent will be “guided” or “nudged”).

    As for this terrorist incident – note that none of the comments even mention the CAUSE of it.

    We would not like to lose our jobs, or go to prison, for “Islamophobia” now would we?

    As all the television shows (not just the pathetic American shows) tell us, this or that doctrine is a “misinterpretation” of Islam – which means that Muhammed must have been the first “Islamophobe” as he “misinterpreted” the doctrines in this way.

    It is pointless to discuss any of this further – as it will just attract PUNISHMENT. And most certainly not punishment from Muslims – punishment from our non-Muslim Western administrative structures.

  • Paul Marks

    Elon Musk has spent around 40 Billion Dollars buying Titter – to try and save what is left of Freedom of Speech.

    But the European Union has told him that he will not be allowed to save what is left of Freedom of Speech – and the Biden/Harris regime (and the word “regime” is fully justified) is “investigating” Mr Musk to see how they can destroy him on fake charges – with the support of the media. But more importantly Twitter is now subject to an advertising boycott (on “Woke” grounds) that has led to the company losing three million Dollars a day. And look how even GB News is reporting this – they report the losses, but they carefully edit out the REASON for the losses – it is just nasty Mr Musk sacking lots of workers.

    I could have warned Mr Musk that this is what “Woke” Corporate business would do to him – but why should he believe me, a poverty-stricken nonentity.

    Mr Musk is a billionaire – he MUST know more about the world than a poverty-stricken nonentity.

    And I am sure he does, in many ways, but he made his money before he started offending the left (indeed Tesla was the darling of the left – not so long ago) – now he is learning about their power, and the left means Corporate Big Business and the government bureaucracy – such as the vicious scum (and they are vicious scum) who make up the FBI and the “Justice” Department. I wish Mr Musk good luck – he is going to need it.

    We live in a world where the Credit Bubble banks (they are not about Real Savings – they create money from nothing) and the Corporations interfere in theology – for example the removal of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 and his replacement by Pope Francis – “that is paranoid Paul – it could not have happened”.

    It did happen – it was financial pressure, from the banks and other such, that forced Benedict out – and that pressure was put on because they did not like his theology (his “intolerant” teachings on various matters – abortion, Gay Marriage, and-so-on) – and the “St Gallen mafia” (a silly name – but there we are) were only too happy to put forward an alternative candidate, a candidate who would fudge things nicely. NOT openly break with two thousand years of teaching – just make things unclear with a mist of words, and start making various appointments (such as appointing pro-abortion people to the very bodies in the Vatican that are supposed to be fighting abortion) and welcoming various politicians (hello Nancy Pelosi and Joseph Biden – these are now considered Catholics in good standing) and Corporate figures in relation to various international objectives. Long live the United Nations and other such bodies – and international governance.

    If anyone doubts that this can not be done, I would refer them to what happened in the United Kingdom quite recently. The Conservative Party elected a new leader – because of “Partygate” – where Mr Johson and Mr Sunak went to various social events with people they worked with all day anyway (if these people had Covid Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak had already been exposed to it).

    The new Prime Minister, Elizabeth Truss, was removed in much the same way that Benedict was removed in 2013 – there was a “financial crisis” (created by the handful of big, Central Bank players who dominate “the markets” – which are NOT markets as Adam Smith and the others would have understood the term) – and a media lie-campaign (just as there was with Benedict). The resignation followed (just as with Benedict) and the new person was already standing waiting for the position.

    Now there is a new Prime Minister – who is a very nice man, he did what Mr Johnson did (and got the same Covid fine), but it was never really about “partygate”.

    It is silly to say “it could not happen” when we have all just watched it happen – and, I repeat, I am sure the new Prime Minister is a very nice man.

  • Paul Marks

    When a conspiracy operates in the open – it is NOT a conspiracy. And things are very much out in the open now. The Central Banks back various big Corporate players – and these players are totally open about their political and cultural agenda. “BlackRock” alone controls ten trillion (trillion) Dollars – look at the Board of Directors, their activities and public statements. All backed up by the Federal Reserve. And the other big Corporate players (also backed by the Central Banks – Cantillon Effect) are much the same.

    This is no conspiracy – just blatant, out in the open, “Woke” (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Environmental and Social Governance) power. People can stick their heads in the sand, or put their fingers over their eyes – but the power is there, whether you choose to look at it or not.

    Donald John Trump is no intellectual – but he says what he likes (not what the Corporate State demands people say and not say), and he does not resign when he is told to resign.

    I will not live to see him return as President in January 2025, assuming they do not kill him or imprison him, – but it is a nice thought, that he will return. And return with revenge as his objective – justice not only for himself, but for all those who have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer till January 2025. “Revenge is not justice” – in this context it is.

    President Trump is most certainly not a very nice man – and I am told he has become a lot less nice since the blatantly rigged election of 2020. He knows them now – he knows that they cannot be appeased, they must be defeated.

    “But the economy…” the international Western economy cannot be saved, not now – it is too late for that.

    By January 20th, 2025, the collapse of the international Western economy will be horribly obvious – one cannot prevent what will have already happened. It will be a matter of delivering justice to the people and organisations that have done this to the world.

    The alternative is to allow them to impose their world governance, their digital currency, their Social Credit system, and-so-on. To accept that one will be a serf, and that one’s children will be serfs.

    So, make your choice – and remember, defeating them means not allowing them to rig elections.

    And I used the words “not allowing” them to rig elections quite deliberately – the first test will be on Tuesday (no “count” going on for days afterwards with lots of votes “found”).

    They must not be allowed to rig the Midterm elections – for example impose a brain damaged man as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, or a Communist “Social Gospel” type as a U.S. Senator from Georgia.

    No more election rigging – no more of it.

  • Kirk

    One of the observations I’ve made, over the years, is that organizations exhibit traits much the same way organisms do. They have life cycles that can be clearly made out, and it is fascinating to watch the impact that the collective organizational influences have on the individuals.

    Due to schizophrenic US Army personnel policies, I served in several units multiple times separated by years, which isn’t… Normal. What I found striking was that the same inimical organizational dysfunctions that were present during my first tour were still there and still observable ten years later, with totally different people running the show and taking part in all the madness. It was like there was a separate collective consciousness for the organization that sucked everyone in, and no matter what they’d been like elsewhere, they’d wind up being “part of the problem” for the duration of their time with that unit. It was really bizarre to watch… “Oh, this is the 44th, that’s right… They always do X, Y, and Z…” Which they’d then confirm by demonstrating those issues.

    Every organization has this going on, if you observe carefully enough. It’s not always so noticeable with low-stress and low-involvement ones like school activity groups, but if you’re in a high-stress and intense-involvement environment like a police or fire department…? There will be clearly observable organizational personalities entirely separate from the individuals involved. The more you hammer on the members, the more this shows up.

    What’s amazing to me is how little study this actually gets. Few people seem to recognize this phenomenon, and even fewer study it. I think it’s a field that deserves a lot more attention than it gets.

    Of course, there is the “fish doesn’t know it swims in water” aspect to it all. Nobody notices this because they’re immersed in it. You have to teach yourself to go looking for it, and to pay attention to it.

    Similarly, if you ever stop to analyze why things in an organization don’t go according to the stated desires and goals of said organization, or why the commandments sent down from on high within are ineffectual, you have to go out and look at the other things nobody ever pays attention to, like “What situational cues are actually telling people…?”

    You can tell someone not to “do that thing”, but if the conditions obtaining out in the field are such that they’re positively encouraged to “do that thing”, then… They’re gonna do that thing. If you don’t address those conditions, you’re never going to make headway with modifying their behavior. Yet, nobody is ever taught to go examine those conditions, or even to look for them. It’s all just “Problem still exists? Write another memo…”

  • Steven R

    It’s also easier to do stuff like form a committee to study a problem and never get around to doing anything. Decisive action is risky and can lead to getting fired if it goes wrong, and it is easier to simply say “no” or keep kicking that particular can down the road. I used to do AV support for a number of high level meetings is a hospital system and the administrators would meet, discuss the issue at hand, form subcommittees and agree to meet again in a month. This went on for years and nothing ever was accomplished.

  • Also from Brendan’s article:

    Abedi was skulking in and around the arena for an hour and a half before he blew himself up. This shifty looking young man was weighed down by a massive, bulging rucksack and still no one in security challenged him. And in part they didn’t because they feared being thought of as racist. This is where the obsession with ‘Islamophobia’ gets us – to a situation where people are reluctant to challenge a man with a giant rucksack at an event packed with children and teenagers lest someone think them a Muslim-hater. … And in the years after the bombing we failed, this time morally, by allowing this atrocity to fade from the collective memory, by refusing to ‘look back in anger’. Don’t dwell on it, don’t fret over Islamist violence, for that might be thought ‘Islamophobic’ too.

    The two points both related to Brendan’s theme, not just to the Manchester bombing event. The fear of being called something-phobic is another form of that ‘risk-aversion’ that an earlier age would have called cowardice.

  • sonny wayz

    The fear of being called something-phobic is another form of that ‘risk-aversion’ that an earlier age would have called cowardice.

    IIRC, the first punishment doled out over Rotherham was a bureaucrat who pointed out some inconvenient truths about the perps. Off to reeducation camp for her.

  • Laird Minor

    “And in part they didn’t because they feared being thought of as racist. This is where the obsession with ‘Islamophobia’ gets us – to a situation where people are reluctant to challenge a man with a giant rucksack at an event packed with children and teenagers lest someone think them a Muslim-hater.”

    “Islamophobia” is not an insult; it is entirely rational. Islamists want to kill me. I am right to fear them. I don’t care if you call me racist.

    First responders are paid to take those risks. Of course they want to get home safely that night; everyone does. They’re human. But if that desire overcomes their job function they should be fired.