Monday, February 09, 2015

Heroism and Bureaucracy

I feel vaguely unworthy, sometimes, reading the blog Crooked Timber.  It's mostly by and for academics, and the topics discussed are often ones where I have only a Cliffs Notes level understanding.  This one, by Corey Robin, is about Hannah Arendt and the history of bureaucracy.   I want to bookmark it.  Does a hero have to burst the bonds of bureaucracy, or institutions generally?  Or can a hero operate, even luxuriate, within a bureaucracy?  The post concludes:

Ever since Weber, probably Tocqueville, we’ve tended to think of the soulless bureaucrat as the very opposite of the impassioned political actor. In her sharpest and darkest moments, Arendt saw otherwise: not only would the political aspirant have to work with and in a bureaucracy, but in his desire to be remembered for all time, to do something that no future could ever forget, he would happily find himself basking in paper, festooned in red tape.