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Most think of Frank Herbert’s Dune series as stories of prescience and the spice, of waring Fremen charging out of the desert. The second trilogy, however, has some interesting perspectives on government and its excesses. These quotes on bureaucracy are from the final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune.*
“Surely you know bureaucracies always become voracious aristocracies after they attain commanding power.”
“A top-heavy bureaucracy the electorate cannot touch always expands to the system’s limits of energy. Steal it from the aged, from the retired, from anyone. Especially from those we once called middle class because that’s where most of the energy originates.”
Power attracts the corruptible. Absolute power attracts the absolutely corruptible. This is the danger of entrenched bureaucracy to its subject population. Even spoils systems are preferable because levels of tolerance are lower and the corrupt can be thrown out periodically. Entrenched bureaucracy seldom can be touched short of violence. Beware when Civil Service and Military join hands!
“These are political questions,” Odrade said. “They demonstrate how motives of bureaucracy are directly opposed to the need for adapting to change. Adaptability is a prime requirement for life to survive.”
He also includes some good advice for governance.
“We should grant power over our affairs only to those who are reluctant to hold it and then only under conditions that increase the reluctance.”
*Note that the books by Brian Herbert are so awful that they don’t qualify as part of the Dune series.Published in