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January 29, 2014

Power to "the People": Dune Author Frank Herbert in 1984

In all the marching in the streets in the '60s, the people who were shouting "Power to -the People" didn't mean power to the people.
They meant "power to me and I'll tell the people what to do." When you questioned them it was confirmed at every turn.... I don't think there's a fucking bit of difference between a bureaucracy that is instituted by a democratic regime, a state; socialist regime, a communist regime or a capitalist regime. Take a look at us right now. We have created a bureaucracy in this country which is completely out of the hands of the people. Your votes do not touch it. FUTURISTIC MEDITATIONS FROM DUNE FRANK HERBERT

Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 29, 2014 10:24 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

No you don't understaaaaaaand, when the republicans are in charge government is soooooo much better.

Posted by: G.O.Pee at January 29, 2014 10:29 AM

Max Webber, you were partly right.

Posted by: tripletap at January 29, 2014 10:47 AM

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy absolutely applies here.

But when you have a federal government that is left to define the limits of the federal government's power, the effects of that law are amplified by several orders of magnitude.

Posted by: goy at January 29, 2014 11:38 AM

Actually, when the Republicans are in charge things are better - if only to the extent that the Left is too busy trying to get back in power that the more lunatic of that side shuts the fuck up occasionally.

That having been said, Frank Herbert: whoda thunkit.

"Charismatic leaders -- not necessarily Messiahs, but Messiahs included -- tend to create explosive upheavals in human societies which are very dangerous to individuals and to the societies themselves, because they create power structures. So you get these centers of power and it doesn't matter a damned bit how pure and good the hero is. By just being he creates a power structure and so it's like a magnet: the iron filings, the corruptible, come in and things are done in the name of the leader -- as they were done in Christianity, in Islam, in Buddhism, in all major religions and lesser religions. Things done in the name of the leader are amplified by the members, who follow without thinking, without questioning, and you wind up in Guyana drinking poisoned Kool-Aid."


Posted by: Rob De Witt at January 29, 2014 11:42 AM

This is the thing that's the problem that we cannot fix in government now. No amount of voting or new people in office will make a damn bit of difference.

Because the people who aren't elected are the ones doing most of the governing and actual running things, and they last through administration after administration. They are the drones and workers behind the scenes, the staffers who move from congressman to congressman, the agency workers, the people who always seem to end up in some government position no matter who is in power - or at most wait a few years and get back in.

Those bureaucratic drones are ticks burrowed into the system and nothing will get them out but fire.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at January 29, 2014 11:46 AM

Chris - you're absolutely right. The existing federal establishment is rotten top-to-bottom, beyond repair and will only take the rest of the nation down with it when it finally collapses, which it will as soon as the monetary house of cards falls.

I think we need a re-boot.

Posted by: goy at January 29, 2014 5:09 PM

"Those bureaucratic drones are ticks burrowed into the system and nothing will get them out but fire." Tweet worthy!

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at January 29, 2014 5:45 PM

Mr. Taylor - Precisely. BTW, we in the UK have the same problem only worse, because at least in the USA the top levels get turned over if the elected part of government changes colour.

Solution? Simple. As well as term limits for elected officials, there should be a provision that the total time one can be employed by government - anywhere, no going from a swivel chair in local government to another swivel chair in national government - is limited by law.

The precise length of time to be determined, but maybe in the USA two senatorial terms, which I believe is 12 years. And that's it. 12 years at the government teat and then another job. For jobs that really need experience, the ones running big sections of government? Well, there are people in the private sector, you know.

And the 12 years should be a lifetime limit. No coming back two years later for another go.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at January 30, 2014 1:25 AM

Fletcher, it's pretty clear that entrenched "representation" begets cronyism and other ills. But the imposition of term limits in the U.S., I think, will only lead to a behavioral change among the wannabe ruling class that involves ideological 'dynasties'.

As Jefferson implied, from time to time, the whole thing just needs a thorough housecleaning. So I'm thinking about something like the following, the last bit of which addresses the 'tick' issue...

An Amendment to Re-Establish the Integrity of the General Government

Whereas the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants;

Whereas it is understood that the aforementioned is a metaphor for the re-establishment of integrity within and throughout the general government;

Whereas the general government has repeatedly exceeded the constraints placed upon it by the several States, which are the sole grantors of its limited authority;

Be it resolved that, when 3/5ths of the several sovereign United States shall so affirm,

- a snap general election will be held on April 19th soonest;

- EVERY federal elected office will be replaced (no re-election).

Upon the July 4 inauguration of the newly elected general government, the first order of business will be,

- ALL supreme court justices will be replaced;

- ALL cabinet-level secretaries will be replaced;

- ALL government departments receiving a vote of no confidence from 3/5ths of the States will be eliminated.

Posted by: goy at January 30, 2014 5:55 AM

I don't mind the long-term supreme court justices in theory, but its clear that their lofty position being unswayed by popular opinion is not working.

That was the theory, that if someone was in until they retired, they wouldn't need to worry about making people mad or happy because their position was assured.

Except as Roberts proved (and others before him), justices are swayed by popular opinion anyway. Its just not the popular opinion of the general public, its the opinion of the legal academia and pundits.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at January 30, 2014 10:22 AM

Term limits are only going to grant more power to the entrenched bureaucrats, as politicians become more of a figure head.

And what kind of person are you going to get working for the government if they have to find a new career after only a few years?

The solution is the one the founders envisioned: limited power spread widely. We don't need new ideas, we need to go back to the original one.

Posted by: B Moe at January 30, 2014 1:05 PM

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