September 7, 2005


Rules, rules, rules: Germans fed up (Judy Dempsey, 9/07/05, International Herald Tribune)

What Germans of all political stripes seem to want is action to reduce the battery of 90,000 laws and regulations and curb the powers of the 4 million bureaucrats that economists say stifle initiative and motivation.

But tell that to the managers of small businesses who have heard such promises before.

Indeed, just mention the word "bureaucracy" to Patricia Ferer and her eyes roll, the hands go up and the frowns set in. Ferer, 53, an enterprising American who has lived in Germany for many years, thought she had seen it all with German bureaucracy until she applied to open a small restaurant in Berlin a few months ago.

"Bureaucracy? It is just terrible here," she said Tuesday. "I go into those administration buildings in fear as if I am going to be arrested. You are passed from department to department, from bureaucrat to bureaucrat."

As Pound put it:
What, gentle reader, are bureaucrats? Hired janitors who think they own the whole building. The French, being more given to speculation than we, have recently produced several students of bureaucracy, several authors who have studied the fonctionnaire as one studies other poisonous insects, and even tried to explain and account for his actions, his inhibitions. The result is not encouraging. One can sympathize with a tyrant, led on by some megalomania or some dream of ultimate benefit to the race or some decoration of his own personal glory; one can sympathize with the crook who does it for excitement, or the poor devil who steals to feed himself or his family; but for the rond-de-cuir who sits in an office devising, in perfect safety, some inane means of annoying others, one can have no tolerance.
-Ezra Pound, The Passport Nuisance (The Nation, 11/30/1927)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Kafka wrote in German. Evidently it's no coincidence.

Posted by: at September 7, 2005 11:11 AM


Not sure it's a good idea to quote Pound when you recently hammered Perlstein for quoting Gramsci.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 7, 2005 11:54 AM

Interesting that Pound's quote is fundamentally anti-fascist.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 12:42 PM

Too bad Pound didn't read his own quote then.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 7, 2005 1:09 PM


Well, he was insane.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 1:13 PM