The Culture of Complicity

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Amazon.com

“But I think there is something deeper going on here, and it turns on the very nature of bureaucratic systems. Such institutions always create a culture of complicity. It’s not just that some people get to break the rules—it’s that loyalty to the organization is to some degree measured by one’s willingness to pretend this isn’t happening.”

“Career advancement is not based on merit, and not even based necessarily on being someone’s cousin; above all, it’s based on a willingness to play along with the fiction that career advancement is based on merit, even though everyone knows this not to be true. Or with the fiction that rules and regulations apply to everyone equally, when, in fact, they are often deployed as a means for entirely arbitrary personal power.”

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber

Voice Depends on Wealth

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Amazon.com

“Journalism is one of many fields of public influence—including politics—in which credentials function as de facto permission to speak, rendering those who lack them less likely to be employed and less able to afford to stay in their field. Ability is discounted without credentials, but the ability to purchase credentials rests, more often than not, on family wealth.”

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber

Higher Education and the Caste System

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Amazon.com

“As anyone who has been to graduate school knows, it’s precisely the children of the professional-managerial classes, those whose family resources make them the least in need of financial support, who best know how to navigate the world of paperwork that enables them to get said support. For everyone else, the main result of one’s years of professional training is to ensure that one is saddled with such an enormous burden of student debt that a substantial chunk of any subsequent income one will get from pursuing that profession will henceforth be siphoned off, each month, by the financial sector.”

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber

The Iron Law of Liberalism

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Amazon.com

“This apparent paradox—that government policies intending to reduce government interference in the economy actually end up producing more regulations, more bureaucrats, and more police—can be observed so regularly that I think we are justified in treating it as a general sociological law. I propose to call it “the iron law of liberalism”: The Iron Law of Liberalism states that any market reform, any government initiative intended to reduce red tape and promote market forces will have the ultimate effect of increasing the total number of regulations, the total amount of paperwork, and the total number of bureaucrats the government employs.”

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber

Name Needed for System of Regulatory Abuse

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Amazon.com

“This process—the gradual fusion of public and private power into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations whose ultimate purpose is to extract wealth in the form of profits—does not yet have a name. That in itself is significant. These things can happen largely because we lack a way to talk about them.”

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber