The Generalist

Weekly Word: Bureaucracy

We have all heard the word, but do we really know what it means? It certainly has a negative connotation, but for me this word was a little fuzzy – so I looked it up in my trusty Dictionary of Difficult Words.

Here is what I think is the typical use of the word with it’s negative connotation:

excessively complicated administrative system

but there is another meaning, probably less known:

a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by appointed or career officials rather than by elected representatives.

Below is the passage from Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley.

“The landed oligarchy which arose in England differed from the landed aristocracy of continental Europe in the three points already mentioned: (1) it got control of the government; (2) it was not opposed by a professional army, a bureaucracy, or a professional judicial system, but, on the contrary, it took over the control of these adjuncts of government itself, generally serving without pay, and making access to these positions difficult for outsiders by making such access expensive; and (3) it obtained complete control of the land as well as political, religious, and social control of the villages.

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