Reduction in bureaucracy can also be achieved through devolution—efforts to downsize the federal bureaucracy by delegating policy implementation to state and local governments.
|At which point in time did the federal bureaucracy first significantly increase in size?||the election of President Andrew Jackson|
|The spoils system had which of the following effects?||the expansion of the federal bureaucracy|
A bureaucracy is an organization, whether publicly or privately owned, made up of several policymaking departments or units. People who work in bureaucracies are informally known as bureaucrats.
While the hierarchical administrative structure of many governments is perhaps the most common example of a bureaucracy, the term can also describe the administrative structure of private-sector businesses or other non-governmental organizations, such as colleges and hospitals.
German sociologist Max Weber was the first person to formally study bureaucracy. In his 1921 book “Economy and Society,” Weber argued that a bureaucracy represented the most proficient form of organization, due to its possession of specialized expertise, certainty, continuity, and unity of purpose. However, he also warned that uncontrolled bureaucracy could threaten individual freedom, leaving people trapped in an “iron cage” of impersonal, irrational, and inflexible rules.
Bureaucracy in government emerged during the rise of money-based economies and their inherent need to conduct secure and impersonal legal transactions. Large financial institutions, such as public-stock trading firms, grew to prominence largely due to the unique ability of their bureaucratic organizations to deal with the intricate requirements of capitalist production more efficiently than small-scale, but less complex institutions.
Bureaucracy was borrowed from the French bureaucratie, which itself was formed by combining bureau (“desk”) and -cratie (a suffix denoting a kind of government). The English word can refer to an entire body of unelected government officials or to the problematic system (often filled with red tape) that may result from administration by bureaucrats. From its earliest appearances, bureaucracy has carried a distinctly negative connotation. An 1815 London Times article, for example, declares: “. . . it is in this bureaucracy, Gentlemen, that you will find the invisible and mischievous power which thwarts the most noble views, and prevents or weakens the effect of all the salutary reforms which France is incessantly calling for.”
In the early Byzantine period (4th to early 7th century) the system of government followed the model established in late Roman times under Diocletian and Constantine the Great, with a strict separation between civil and military offices and a scale of titles corresponding to office, where membership or not in the Senate was the major distinguishing characteristic.  Following the transformation of the Byzantine state during the 7th century on account of massive territorial loss to the Muslim conquests, this system vanished, and during the "classic" or middle period of the Byzantine state (8th-late 11th centuries), a new, court-centered system emerged. In this, the new titles derived from older, now obsolete, public offices, and dignities of a certain level were awarded with each office. A senatorial class remained in place, which incorporated a large part of the upper officialdom as every official from the rank of protospatharios (Literally "first sword-bearer" originally the head of the Emperor's bodyguards) was considered a member of it.  During this period, many families remained important for several centuries, and several Emperors rose from the aristocracy. Two groups can be distinguished: a metropolitan civil nobility and a provincial military one, the latter remaining regionally based and having large land-holdings, but apparently no military forces of their own, in contrast to contemporary Western Europe.
The 10th and 11th centuries saw a rise in importance of the aristocracy, and an increased number of new families entering it. The catastrophic losses in the latter 11th century again prompted a reorganization of the imperial administrative system, at the hands of the new Komnenos dynasty: the older offices and titles fell gradually into disuse, while an array of new honorifics emerged, which signified primarily the closeness of their recipient's familial relationship to the Emperor.  The Komnenian-led Empire, and later their Palaiologan successors, were based primarily on the landed aristocracy, keeping the governance of state tightly controlled by a limited number of intermarrying aristocratic families. In the 11th and 12th century for instance, some 80 civil and 64 military noble families have been identified, a very small number for so large a state.  Finally, in the Palaiologan system as reported by pseudo-Kodinos one can discern the accumulated nomenclature of centuries, with formerly high ranks having been devalued and others taken their place, and the old distinction between office and dignity had vanished. 
These were the highest titles, usually limited to members of the imperial family or to a few very select foreign rulers, whose friendship the Emperor desired.
Titles used by the emperors Edit
- Basileus (βασιλεύς): the Greek word for "sovereign" which originally referred to any king in the Greek-speaking areas of the Roman Empire. It also referred to the Shahs of Persia. Heraclius adopted it in 629, and it became the Greek word for "emperor." Heraclius also used the titles autokrator (αὐτοκράτωρ – "autocrat," "self-ruler") and kyrios (κύριος – "lord"). The Byzantines reserved the term "basileus" among Christian rulers exclusively for the emperor in Constantinople, and referred to Western European kings as rēgas, a Hellenized form of the Latin word rex ("king"). The feminine form basilissa referred to an empress. Empresses were addressed as eusebestatē avgousta ("Most Pious Augusta"), and were also called kyria ("Lady") or despoina (the female form of "despotes", see below). Primogeniture, or indeed heredity itself, was never legally established in Byzantine imperial succession, because in principle the Roman Emperor was selected by common acclamation of the Senate, the People and the Army. This was rooted firmly in the Roman "republican" tradition, whereby hereditary kingship was rejected and the Emperor was nominally the convergence of several offices of the Republic onto one person.  Many emperors, anxious to safeguard their firstborn son's right to the throne, had them crowned as co-emperors when they were still children, thus assuring that upon their own death the throne would not be even momentarily vacant. In such a case the need for an imperial selection never arose. In several cases the new Emperor ascended the throne after marrying the previous Emperor's widow, or indeed after forcing the previous Emperor to abdicate and become a monk. Several emperors were also deposed because of perceived inadequacy, e.g., after a military defeat, and some were murdered.
- Porphyrogennētos (πορφυρογέννητος) – "born in the purple": Emperors wanting to emphasize the legitimacy of their ascent to the throne appended this title to their names, meaning they were born in the delivery room of the imperial palace (called the Porphyra because it was paneled with slabs of purple marble), to a reigning emperor, and were therefore legitimate beyond any claim to the contrary whatsoever.
- Autokratōr (αὐτοκράτωρ) – "self-ruler": this title was originally equivalent to imperator, and was used by the emperors.
- Basileus Autokratōr ( βασιλεύς αὐτοκράτωρ ) was a combination of titles reserved for the senior of several ruling co-emperors (συμβασιλεῖς, symbasileis), and denoted the person who held substantive political power.
Titles used by the imperial family Edit
- Despotēs (δεσπότης) – "Lord": This title was used by the emperors themselves since the time of Justinian I, and was an honorific address for the sons of reigning emperors. It was extensively featured in coins, in lieu of Basileus. In the 12th century, Manuel I Komnenos made it a separate title, the highest "awarded" title after the emperor. The first such despotēs was actually a foreigner, Bela III of Hungary, signifying that Hungary was considered a Byzantine tributary state. In later times, a despot could be the holder of a despotate for example, the Despotate of Morea, centred at Mistra, was held by the heir to the Byzantine throne after 1261. The feminine form, despoina, referred to a female despot or the wife of a despot, but it was also used to address the Empress.
- Sebastokratōr (σεβαστοκράτωρ) – "Venerable Ruler": a title created by Alexios I Komnenos as a combination of autokratōr and sebastos (see below). The first sebastokratōr was Alexios' brother Isaakios. It was essentially a meaningless title, which signified only a close relationship with the Emperor, but ranked immediately after the despotēs. The feminine form was sebastokratorissa. The first foreigner to be called sebastokratōr was Stefan Nemanjić of Serbia, who was given the title in 1191. A Bulgarian aristocrat by the name Kaloyan also used the title.
- Kaisar ( καῖσαρ ) – "Caesar": originally, as in the late Roman Empire, it was used for a subordinate co-emperor or the heir apparent, and was first among the "awarded" dignities. The office enjoyed extensive privileges, great prestige and power. When Alexios I created sebastokratōr, kaisar became third in importance, and fourth after Manuel I created despotēs. The feminine form was kaisarissa. It remained however an office of great importance, and was awarded to a few high-ranking and distinguished officials, and was only rarely awarded to foreigners. Justinian II named Tervel, khan of the Bulgars, kaisar in 705 the title then developed into the Slavic term tsar or czar (from Latin through Bulgarian and then into Russian, Serbian etc.). Title was also awarded to George II of Georgia. Andronikos II Palaiologos also named Roger de Flor, leader of the Catalan Grand Company, kaisar in 1304.
- Nobelissimos (νωβελίσσιμος) – from the Latin Nobilissimus ("most noble"): originally a title given to close relatives of the Emperor, subordinate only to the kaisar. During the Komnenian period, the title was awarded to officials and foreign dignitaries, diluting its status. The title Prōtonobelissimos was created in its stead, until it too started to decline, only to be replaced by a further augmented form: Prōtonobelissimohypertatos. By the late Palaiologan era, the former had vanished, while the latter was a provincial official.
- Kouropalatēs (κουροπαλάτης) – from the Latin cura palatii, "charge of the palace": First attested in the time of Justinian I, it was the official in charge of the running of the imperial palace. However, the great authority and wealth deriving from this position, as well as the close proximity to the Emperor, meant that it accumulated great prestige. It was awarded to important members of the imperial family, but from the 11th century onwards, it declined, and was usually awarded to the vassal rulers of Armenia and Georgia.
- Sebastos (σεβαστός) – "August One" this title is the literal Greek translation of the Latin term Augustus or Augoustos, was sometimes used by the emperors. As a separate title it appeared in the latter half of the 11th century, and was extensively awarded by Alexios I Komnenos to his brothers and relations. The female version of the title was sebastē. The special title Protosebastos ("First Venerable One") was created for Hadrianos, Alexios' second brother, and awarded also to the Doge of Venice and the Sultan of Iconium. During the 12th century, it remained in use for the Emperor's and the sebastokratōr's children, and senior foreign dignitaries. However, the parallel processes of proliferation and devaluation of titles during the 12th century resulted in the creation of a bewildering array of often ridiculously large variations, by using the prefixes pan ("all"), hyper ("above"), prōto ("first"): examples include Pansebastos, Panhypersebastos, or hyperprōtopansebastohypertatos. Few of them actually survived past the 12th century, and all of them rapidly declined in importance.
In the 8th–11th centuries, according to information provided by the Taktikon Uspensky, the Klētorologion of Philotheos (899) and the writings of Constantine Porphyrogennetos, below the imperial titles, the Byzantines distinguished two distinct categories of dignities ( ἀξίαι ): the "dignities by award" ( διὰ βραβείων ἀξίαι ), which were purely honorific court titles and were conferred by the award of a symbol of rank, and the "dignities by proclamation" ( διὰ λόγου ἀξίαι ), which were offices of the state and were conferred by imperial pronouncement. The former were further divided into three subcategories, depending on who was eligible for them: different sets of titles existed for the "Bearded Ones" (βαρβάτοι from Latin barbati, i.e. not eunuchs), the eunuchs ( ἐκτομίαι ) and women. State officials usually combined titles from both main categories, so that a high official would be both magistros (an "awarded" title) and logothetēs tou dromou (a "proclaimed" office).
Titles for the "Bearded Ones" Edit
The "by award" titles for the "Bearded Ones" (non-eunuchs  ) were, in descending order of precedence:
- Proedros ( πρόεδρος ) – "president": Originally reserved for eunuchs (see below), it was opened up in the mid-11th century to "Bearded Ones" as well, especially military officials. 
- Magistros ( μάγιστρος ) – in the early Byzantine state, the magister officiorum was one of the most senior officials, but as his duties were gradually relegated to other officials, by the 8th century, only the title was left. It remained a high honour, and only rarely awarded until the 10th century.  By the early 10th century, there were 12, the first in precedence among them bearing the title of prōtomagistros. Thereafter the number of its holders was inflated, and the office vanished sometime in the 12th century. 
- Vestarches ( βεστάρχης ) – "head of the vestai", adopted in the latter half of the 10th century for high-ranking eunuchs, it was awarded to "bearded" senior military officers and judicial officials of Constantinople from ca. 1050 on. It disappeared in the early 12th century. 
- Vestes ( βέστης ) – senior honorific title, first attested under John I Tzimiskes. Awarded to both eunuchs and non-eunuchs, it survived until the early 12th century.  The term is etymologically connected to the vestiarion, the imperial wardrobe, but despite earlier attempts to connect the vestai and the related title of vestarchēs, the head of the class of the vestai (see above), with the officials of the vestiarion (see below), no such relation appears to have existed.
- Anthypatos ( ἀνθύπατος ) – "proconsul": Originally the highest rank for provincial governors, it survived the creation of the Theme system, until, in the 9th century, it too became a purely honorific title. The variant prōtanthypatos was created in the 11th century to counter its decline in importance, but both disappeared by the end of the 12th century.
- Patrikios ( πατρίκιος ) – "patrician": Established as the highest title of nobility by Constantine the Great, it remained one of the highest dignities until its disappearance in the Komnenian period, awarded to high-ranking officials, including eunuchs, and foreign rulers. The spouses of patricians bore the title patrikia (not to be confused with zōstē patrikia, see below). 
- Prōtospatharios ( πρωτοσπαθάριος ) – "first spatharios". As its name signifies, it originally was the title borne by the leader of the spatharioi ("swordbearers," the Emperor's bodyguards.) For instance, in the 6th century Narses bore this title.  It later became one of the most common high court titles, awarded to senior officials such as the logothetai, the commanders of the imperial tagmata or the strategoi in charge of a theme. The title of prōtospatharios also signified admittance to the Senate. The office survived until the Palaiologan period, but had declined to the 35th place of the hierarchy.
- Dishypatos ( δισύπατος ) – "twice consul". A very rare dignity, which originated possibly in the 8th century. 
- Spatharokandidatos ( σπαθαροκανδιδᾶτος ) – a portmanteau of the titles spatharios and kandidatos, both of which were types of palace guards in the 4th–6th centuries. The earliest references to the title occur in early 8th century and the title is clearly attested only from the early 9th century on. Its distinctive badge (brabeion) was a golden chain (maniakion) worn around the chest.
- Spatharios ( σπαθάριος ) – "spatha-bearer": As their name signifies, the spatharioi were initially a special corps of imperial guards (A spatha is a kind of sword.) They performed specific duties inside the imperial palace. The title survived until the early 12th century.
- Hypatos ( ὕπατος ) – "consul": As in the Roman Republic and Empire, the title was initially given each year to two distinguished citizens (the "ordinary consuls"), until Justinian I halted the practice due to the extraordinary expenditure it involved. The title continued to be occasionally assumed by emperors on accession until the end of the 7th century. Honorary consuls however continued to be named, as attested by seals bearing the titles hypatos or apo hypatōn ("former consul").  The title was often conferred to the rulers of south Italian city-states.
- Stratōr ( στράτωρ ) – "groom"
- Kandidatos ( κανδιδᾶτος ) – from the Latin candidatus, so named because of their white tunics. They were originally a select group of guards, drawn from the Scholae Palatinae. The title disappeared in the Komnenian period.
- Basilikos mandatōr ( βασιλικὸς μανδάτωρ ) – "imperial messenger"
- Vestētōr ( βεστήτωρ ), were officers of the imperial wardrobe (Latin vestiarium). 
- Silentiarios ( σιλεντιάριος ), originally a group of courtiers responsible for the maintenance of order (including respectful silence) in the palace.
- Stratēlatēs ( στρατηλάτης ), a translation of the Latin magister militum, and apoeparchōn ( ἀποεπάρχων or ἀπὸ ἐπάρχων ), a translation of the Latin ex praefectis. These two titles are listed as equal by Philotheos. Both were still high dignities in the 6th century, but were devalued afterwards. 
Titles for the eunuchs Edit
By descending order of precedence, the "by award" titles for the eunuchs were:
- Proedros ( πρόεδρος ) – "president": This was an entirely new rank introduced in the 960s by Nikephoros II Phokas and first awarded to Basil Lekapenos, the eunuch parakoimōmenos. The holder of this dignity was also the president of the Senate, and the term proedros was often used to denote precedence, e.g. proedros of the notarioi for the prōtonotarios. The title was widely awarded in the 11th century, when it was opened up to non-eunuchs, prompting the creation of the prōtoproedros to distinguish the most senior amongst its holders. It disappeared in the latter 12th century. 
- Vestarches ( βεστάρχης ) – adopted in the latter half of the 10th century for high-ranking eunuchs, it was awarded to "bearded" senior military officers and judicial officials of Constantinople from ca. 1050 on. It disappeared in the early 12th century. 
- Patrikios – The same as for the "Bearded Ones".
- Vestes ( βέστης ) – the same as for the "Bearded Ones". 
- Praipositos ( πραιπόσιτος ) – from the Latin praepositus, "placed before".
- Prōtospatharios – The same as for the "Bearded Ones"
- Primikērios ( πριμικήριος ) – from the Latin primicerius, "first in the list".
- Ostiarios (ὀστιάριος) – from the Latin ostiarius, "doorkeeper, usher"
- Spatharokoubikoularios ( σπαθαροκουβικουλάριος ) – "sword-chamberlain": a ceremonial sword-carrier assigned to the personal guard of the emperor.  It later became a simple court rank. 
- Koubikoularios ( κουβικουλάριος ) – from the Latin cubicularius, "chamberlain".
- Nipsistiarios ( νιψιστιάριος ) – from Greek νίπτειν, "to wash hands"), the nipsistiarios was tasked with holding a gold, gem-encrusted water basin and assisting the emperor in performing the ritual ablutions before he exited the imperial palace or performed ceremonies.
There is also a single special title reserved for women, that of zōstē patrikia ( ζωστὴ πατρικία , "Girded patrikia"). This title was given to the empress' ladies of honour, and, according to Philotheos, ranked very high in hierarchy, above even the magistros and proedros and just below the kouropalates. The title is known from the early 9th century, and disappeared in the 11th century.  Otherwise women bore the female forms of their husbands' titles.
Book of Offices ranks the order of command below the emperor: 
- Parakoimomenos – literally, "one who sleeps nearby", was the High Chamberlain who sleeps in the Emperor's bedchamber. Usually a eunuch, during the 9th–10th centuries, the holders of this office often functioned as de facto chief ministers of the Empire.
- Protovestiarios – usually a minor relative of the emperor, who took care of the emperor's personal wardrobe, especially on military campaigns. He was also sometimes responsible for other members of the imperial household, and the emperor's personal finances. The older term, from before the time of Justinian I, was curopalata (or kouropalates in Greek). This was derived from kourator (curator), an earlier official responsible for financial matters. The vestiarios was a subordinate official. The protovestiaria and vestiaria performed the same functions for the empress.
- Papias – great concierge of the imperial palaces, responsible for the opening and closing of the palace gates each day.
- Pinkernes – originally the emperor's cupbearer, later a senior honorific title.
- Kanikleios – the keeper of the imperial inkstand, one of the senior officials of the imperial chancery. In the Komnenian and Palaiologan period, some of its holders were de facto chief ministers of the Empire.
- Epi tes trapezes – Greek: ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς τραπέζης, "the one in charge of the table," official responsible for attending to the imperial table during banquets.
- Exarchos – The exarchs were governors of remote parts of the empire such as Italy or Africa. They enjoyed a greater degree of independence than other provincial governors, combining both civil and military authority, practically acting as viceroys.
- Domestikos – the domestikoi were originally imperial guards, who later functioned as senior staff officers in the Late Roman army. In the Byzantine period, they were among the highest military offices, and included:
- Megas domestikos (Grand Domestic) – the overall commander of the army.
- Domestikos tōn scholōn (Domestic of the Schools) – the commander of the Scholai, originally a number of guards units, later a Tagma. This was a very prestigious title, and by the late 9th century, its holder functioned as commander in chief of the army. In ca. 959, the post was divided, with one domestic for the East and one for the West.
- Domestikos tōn thematōn (Domestic of the Themes) – the commander and organizer of the military themes there was one for the European themes and one for Asian themes.
- Megas doux – The Megaduke or Grand Duke, was the basic equivalent of the modern Lord High Admiral. The office was created by Alexios I Komnenos, when he amalgamated the remnants of the imperial and thematic fleets into a single imperial fleet. By the end of the Palaiologos dynasty the megaduke was head of the government and bureaucracy, not just the navy.
- Amirales – The Greek version of "Admiral", introduced via Sicilian practice. An office founded in the late Palaiologan era for Western mercenary leaders and rarely held, the amirales was the deputy of the megas doux.
- Megas droungarios – Initially the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine navy, after the creation of the megas doux his lieutenant, in charge of the naval officers.
- Droungarios – The title existed both in the army and the navy. In the navy of the 8th–11th centuries, a droungarios headed a fleet, either the central imperial fleet or one of the thematic fleets in the army he headed a Droungos, roughly a battalion-sized grouping.
- Komēs or droungarokomēs – The commander of a squadron of dromons.
- Kentarchos or nauarchos – the captain of a ship.
Other military titles Edit
- Ethnarchēs – the ethnarch, commander of foreign troops.
- Konostaulos – Greek form of Latin Comes stabuli 'count of the stable' and various European feudal titles such as English "constable" – the chief of the Frankishmercenaries.
- Hetaireiarchēs – the chief of the barbarian mercenaries, the Hetaireia, successor to the Foederati. Initially subdivided into Greater (Megalē), Middle (Mesē) and Little (Mikra) Hetaireia.
- Akolouthos – "Acolyte," the chief of the Varangian Guard from the Komnenian era onwards.
- Manglavitai – A category of palace guards, armed with sword and cudgel (manglavion). Under the command of a Prōtomanglavitēs.
- Topotērētēs – meaning "place-holder", "lieutenant". Found at various levels of the hierarchy, as deputies to commanders of the imperial tagmata, deputy to a drungarios.
The vast Byzantine bureaucracy had many titles, and varied more than aristocratic and military titles. In Constantinople there were normally hundreds, if not thousands, of bureaucrats at any time. Like the Church and the military, they wore elaborately differentiated dress, often including huge hats. These are some of the more common ones, including non-nobles who also directly served the emperor.
- Praetorian prefect – The Praetorian prefect was originally an old Roman office used for the commander of the army in the Eastern and Western portions of the Empire. It was abolished in the 7th century owing to wide reaching civil and military reforms. The title evolved into the domestikos. After Diocletian's reforms, the functions of the Prefect embraced a wide sphere they were administrative, financial, judicial, and even legislative. The provincial governors were appointed at his recommendation, and with him rested their dismissal, subject to the Emperor's approval. He received regular reports of the administration from the governors of the provinces. He had treasuries of his own, and the payment and the food supplies of the army devolved upon him. He was also a supreme judge of appeal in cases which were brought before his court from a lower tribunal there was no further appeal to the Emperor. He could issue, on his own authority, praetorian edicts, but they concerned only matters of detail.
- Basileopatōr (βασιλεοπάτωρ)– "Father of the Emperor": an exceptional title, granted only twice in Byzantine history. Although a basileopatōr was not the emperor's actual father, and the title did not necessarily denote any familial relationship at all, both awardees were father-in-law to the emperor: Stylianos Zaoutzes under Leo VI the Wise and Romanos I Lekapenos briefly as regent for Constantine VII, before he raised himself to co-emperor. It ranked first among the "decreed" offices, and entailed wide-ranging administrative duties.
- Protasekretis – "First Secretary" an earlier title for the head of the chancery, responsible for keeping official government records and head of the class of senior secretaries known as asekretis. Other subordinates included the chartoularios (in charge of imperial documents), the kastrensios (a chamberlain in the palace), the mystikos (a private secretary), and the eidikos (a treasury official).
- Protonotarios – mainly during the middle Byzantium (8th to 10th c.), also "First Secretary" but chiefly employed as chief financial and executive officer of either each thema/province, directly under its governor-general, or as imperial secretary in various government ministries in the capital. Charged with the provisioning of the thematic troops, ahead of a campaign, the Protonotarios -at times- resembled a Commissar of the USSR answering only to the emperor. During the late Byzantine era, the title is only encountered at the Palaiologan court, as the emperor's private secretary. In post-imperial times the title was linked to a higher administrative position with the Orthodox Church authorities.
- Logothetēs – "one who accounts, calculates or ratiocinates", literally "one who sets the word." a secretary in the extensive bureaucracy, who did various jobs depending on the exact position. In the middle and late Byzantine Empire, it rose to become a senior administrative title, equivalent to a modern minister or secretary of state. Different offices of Logothetes included:
- Megas logothetēs (Grand Logothete) – the head of the logothetes, personally responsible for the legal system and treasury, somewhat like a chancellor in western Europe.
- Logothetēs tou dromou (Drome Logothete) – the head of diplomacy and the postal service.
- Logothetēs tōn oikeiakōn (Logothete of the oikeiakoi) - the exact functions of this office was unclear.
- Logothetēs tou genikou (General Logothete) – responsible for taxation. Also acts as a secretary in later cases.
- Logothetēs tou stratiotikou (Military Logothete) – a civilian, in charge of distributing pay to the army.
Logothetes originally had some influence on the emperor, but they eventually became honorary posts. In the later empire the Grand Logothete was replaced by the mesazōn ("mediator").
Other administrators included:
- Eparch of Constantinople – The urban prefect of Constantinople.
- Quaestor – Originally an accountant or auditor, the office eventually became a judicial one for Constantinople.
- Tribounos – translation of Latin tribune responsible for maintenance of roads, monuments, and buildings in Constantinople (which were the responsibility of the Aedile, not the Tribunes in earlier Latin speaking times.)
- Magister (magister officiorum, magister militum, "maistor" in Greek) – an old Roman term, master of offices and master of the army by the time of Leo III, these had become honorary titles and were eventually discarded. 
- Sakellarios – "Treasurer purse-bearer." Under Heraclius, an honorary supervisor of the other palace administrators, logothetes, etc. Later, the chief financial comptroller of the Empire.
- Praetor – Latin for "Man who goes before first man." One of the oldest of Roman titles, predating the Roman Republic, the title's use morphed considerably through the years. By the time of Theodosius I (379-395) it meant the leading municipal magistrate (like a modern Mayor) but from late 10th century until 1204, a civil governor of a theme.
- Kephale – "head", the governor of a small province, usually a town and its surrounding territory, in the Palaiologan period
- Horeiarios – in charge of distributing food from the state granaries.
The protasekretis, logothetes, prefect, praetor, quaestor, magister, and sakellarios, among others, were members of the senate.
Court life Edit
At the peaceful height of Middle Byzantium, court life "passed in a sort of ballet",  with precise ceremonies prescribed for every occasion, to show that "Imperial power could be exercised in harmony and order", and "the Empire could thus reflect the motion of the Universe as it was made by the Creator", according to the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who wrote a Book of Ceremonies describing in enormous detail the annual round of the Court. Special forms of dress for many classes of people on particular occasions are set down at the name-day dinner for the Emperor or Empress various groups of high officials performed ceremonial "dances", one group wearing "a blue and white garment, with short sleeves, and gold bands, and rings on their ankles. In their hands they hold what are called phengia". The second group do just the same, but wearing "a garment of green and red, split, with gold bands". These colours were the marks of the old chariot-racing factions, the four now merged to just the Blues and the Greens, and incorporated into the official hierarchy. As in the Versailles of Louis XIV, elaborate dress and court ritual probably were at least partly an attempt to smother and distract from political tensions. [ citation needed ]
Eunuchs also participated in court life, typically serving as attendants to noble women or assisting the emperor when he took part in religious ceremonies or removed his crown. Eunuchs in the early Byzantine Empire were usually foreigners, and they were often seen as having a low status. This changed in the 10th century, when the social status of eunuchs increased and members of the educated Byzantine upper class began to become eunuchs. 
However, even by the time of Anna Comnena, with the Emperor away on military campaigns for much of the time, this way of life had changed considerably, and after the Crusader occupation it virtually vanished. A French visitor [ who? ] was shocked to see the Empress going to church far less well attended than the Queen of France would have been. [ citation needed ] The Imperial family largely abandoned the Great Palace for the relatively compact Palace of Blachernae.
Burning Archive Podcast #6 – The true history of the bureaucracy gang
I have posted episode 6 of The Burning Archive Podcast, – the true history of the bureaucracy gang. You can listen to this podcast on Spotify, Apple and other platforms.
In this episode I discuss the history of the bureaucracy in the UK, USA and Germany, and its relationship to political decay. And I ask, is the bureaucracy to blame for our republics in distress?
I do so by discussing Francis Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay – Volume 2 From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, and his account of the importance of a capable state and relatively autonomous bureaucratic institutions to stable, successful political orders. Perhaps, I also practise Leo Strauss’ writing between the lines in talking about the bureaucracy from a historical perspective informed by my own lived experience.
Do please check out my podcast and if you find it interesting you might also like to read some of my other writings on bureaucracy such as:
Image Credit: Promotional Image for The True History of the Kelly Gang, movie based on a Peter Carey novel, based on the life of Ned Kelly, Victorian outlaw, and his gang
How Bureaucracy Killed Hundreds of Thousands of Americans
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media have spilled barrels of ink over mistakes by the federal government. We've heard endlessly about the failure to quickly ramp up testing, the confusion over mask-wearing and the debates over proper lockdown policy. But when the history of this time is written, the fundamental mistake made by the United States government won't be rhetorical excesses by the president or conflicting public health advice. It will be the same mistake the government always makes: trusting the bureaucracy.
We now know that the miraculous Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 had been designed by Jan. 13, 2020. That was just two days after the sequencing of the virus had been made public. As David Wallace-Wells writes for New York magazine, "the Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend. . By the time the first American death was announced a month later, the vaccine had already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health for the beginning of its Phase I clinical trial." Meanwhile, for six weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci assured Americans that there was little to worry about with COVID-19.
Fast-forward to the end of 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died. Tens of thousands of Americans continue to die every week. The Food and Drug Administration has still not cleared the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which costs a fraction of the other vaccines (about $4 per dose, as opposed to $15 to $25 per dose for Moderna's vaccine or $20 per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine). The FDA approval process cost us critical months, with thousands of Americans dying each day. As Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University told me this week, "Safety is their eternal excuse. They are entirely a broken federal bureaucracy. Why did we not have a combined Phase I-Phase II clinical trial for these vaccines?"
This is an excellent question, of course. Phase I trials involve small numbers of participants, who are then monitored. Phase II trials involve larger numbers. Huge numbers of Americans would have volunteered for a combined Phase I-Phase II trial. And even after we knew the vaccines were effective, the FDA delayed. Data was collected by late October that suggested Phase II/III trials had been successful. The FDA quickly requested more results, which it did not receive until November. It then took until Dec. 11 for the FDA to issue emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna vaccine wasn't cleared until Dec. 18, nearly a year after it had first been produced.
The disgrace continues. The government continues to hold back secondary doses of the vaccine, despite the fact that the first doses provide a significant effect. As Makary says, "We're in a war. The first dose gives immunity that may be as high as 80 to 90 percent protection, and we can probably give half the dose, as Dr. Moncef Slaoui suggested . We can quadruple our supply overnight."
Meanwhile, states continue to be confused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on how to tranche out the vaccines. It took until nine days after the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for the CDC to release its recommendations. Those recommendations were still complex and confusing and often rife with self-defeating standards -- even though it was perfectly obvious from the start that the solution ought to be based on age.
Like it or not, history shows that taxes and bureaucracy are cornerstones of democracy
Xu Xianqin, Vice-Minister of Rites, overseeing the imperial civil service exam circa 1587, during the Ming Dynasty. Credit: Public domain.
The media has been rife with stories about democracy in decline: the recent coup in Myanmar, the ascent of strongman Narendra Modi in India, and of course ex-President Trump's attempts to overturn the U.S. presidential election—all of which raise alarms about the current status of democracies worldwide. Such threats to the voices of the people are often attributed to the excesses of individual leaders.
But while leadership is certainly important, over the past decade, as established democracies like Venezuela and Turkey fell and others slid toward greater authoritarianism, political scientists and pundits have largely overlooked a key factor: how governments are funded. In a new study in the journal Current Anthropology, a team of anthropologists assembled data on 30 pre-modern societies, and conducted a quantitative analysis of the features and durability of "good governance"—that is, receptiveness to citizen voice, provision of goods and services, and limited concentration of wealth and power. The results showed that societies based on a broad, equitable, well-managed tax system and functioning bureaucracies were statistically more likely to have political institutions that were more open to public input and more sensitive to the well-being of the populace.
For more than a century, the accepted textbook account of democracy was that it was peculiarly modern, a purely Western phenomenon born of the "commercial restlessness" of European nations, with older agrarian/rural polities viewed as static and authoritarian. However, the current crises of democratic "backsliding" have prompted a deeper dive by anthropologists and political historians into the core features, origins, and sustainability of modern democracy.
"The decline we are seeing today in many democratic governments is difficult to get a handle on," says Richard Blanton, professor emeritus at Purdue University, and the study's lead author. "In a sense, there's a fundamental tension at the heart of every democracy: the greater good versus individual self-interest. We wanted to identify the factors that motivate both leaders and citizens to maintain more egalitarian systems, given the potential of power to corrupt. As archaeologists, we know that the past always has lessons for the present."
Blanton and his co-authors assembled data on 30 pre-modern societies, broke them down into numerically coded variables, and generated statistically significant scores for "good government" measures—public goods (like transportation infrastructure, wider access to water, and food security), bureaucratization (citizen voice, equitable taxation, official accountability), and controls over authorities (impeachment ability, limits on leaders' control of resources, institutions that checked each other's clout).
The researchers, including Gary Feinman of the Field Museum in Chicago, Lane Fargher of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional–Unidad in Mérida, Mexico, and Stephen Kowalewski of the University of Georgia, were initially surprised by the results. The case studies covered thousands of years of human history and spanned the globe, from the Venetian Republic (1290 to 1600) to the early-mid Ming Dynasty (15th century) to the Asante Kingdom in West Africa (1800 to 1873), but despite the great diversity of geographical, cultural, historical, and social contexts, there was a positive correlation between the three metrics. Capable bureaucracies, public goods, and limits on rulers tended to occur together in relatively good governments, and were largely absent in more autocratic regimes. As Blanton says, "although what we call good governments were not common—only 27% of our examples had relatively high scores—it's clear that it is both a global and trans-historical social process that existed well before Western history and influence." This unexpected finding led the authors to reconsider the broader and causal factors that shape democracy.
Today, we tend to equate democracy with elections, but electoral democracies are a fairly recent phenomenon. They are not the only way to assess the voice of citizens, and elections alone are not sufficient to ensure the public's voice in government, or that personal power of leaders is checked. "The key elements of democracies are not elections themselves," says the Field Museum's Gary Feinman, "but rather features like the rule of law, checks and balances on official power, and tools to assess the will of the governed."Ming Emperor Xianzong (reigned 1464 – 1487) presiding over the Chinese Lantern Festival. Credit: Public domain.
Economics are key, the authors argue. Evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that authoritarian regimes have broad discretion over a nation's wealth, for both personal and political gain. In the study's more authoritarian examples, there were few limits on self-serving leaders, and little incentive to ensure equitable distribution of public goods, or to monitor government administration. "It's no coincidence that the legend of Robin Hood arose in 14th century England," says Feinman, "where our coding identified ill-conceived and oppressive taxing schemes that diverted wealth into private hands." Conversely, the statistical models show that the more democratic systems were marked by broadly based tax revenues, which were responsibly managed by governments. In short, taxpayers generally comply if they see that the government is meeting expectations, and government authorities are incentivized to ensure that revenues will be used for the public good, and not for private gain.
In the United States, these realities were recognized during the founding of our country and that has contributed to the relative longevity of our democracy, Feinman observes. "James Madison put checks and balances in the Constitution because the Founders knew they could not rely on the virtue of leaders alone. One of the key changes in transforming the Articles of Confederation into the Constitution was to give the federal government a stronger foundation to raise funds."
This also underlines the authors' point that leaders, whether virtuous or selfish, are less important than the economic foundations of government, provisioning of public goods/services, and the bureaucratic institutions needed for both. "Look at Iraq after Saddam Hussein," says Feinman. "You could institute voting, and power-sharing agreements, but without an equitable means of financing and provisioning, it didn't matter how much shifting of leaders occurred. The system failed."
Likewise, although a majority of people in the U.S. and abroad see Donald Trump as a threat to American democracy and governance, the threats were four decades in the making, with the increasing inequity of the tax base, the devaluing of labor, the lack of infrastructure and public goods funding. "The market fundamentalism that was ushered in with President Reagan, Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s encouraged people to pursue financial self-interest with no restraint or regulation. Cutting taxes on the wealthy and starving government undermines democracy," says Feinman.
Like modern democracies, good governments have always been fragile and hard to maintain. Across time, neither monarchies nor democracies guaranteed good governance nor excluded its possibility. Rather, the main causal factor was the way that governance was fiscally funded. Above all, the authors of this article emphasize that politics and economics cannot be decoupled in understanding government quality. Nor can we assess by ideologies alone. Rather, we must look at the practice of governance and how it affects people. "Functioning bureaucracy and broad-based, equitable taxation are not stumbling blocks to good governance, as many on both the left and right have argued for years," says Blanton. "Rather, as our historical analysis illustrates, they are key legs of the stool."
For modern-day America and other faltering democracies, the implication is that the global turn toward market fundamentalism 40 years ago, which included reduced taxation rates and lowered values on labor, is likely a key cause of democratic backsliding over the same era. As Feinman notes, "in 1936 Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that 'political equality… [is] meaningless in the face of economic inequality." But in fact, extreme economic inequality and the monopolization of resources required to fund government may render political equality unsustainable."
What Are Some Examples of Bureaucracies?
A bureaucracy is any system of administration that uses policies, procedures and rules to function. Classic examples of bureaucracies include large corporations and government agencies.
The Characteristics of a Bureaucracy A bureaucracy has some key characteristics, including a clear power structure utilizing well-laid out rules and regulations. The leadership of a bureaucracy is usually concentrated within a few high-ranking officials. Employees within a bureaucracy are hired with an eye toward their skill level and their salaries are tied to a tiered system of pay.
Some of the negative characteristics of a bureaucracy include the inability by the system to adapt to change quickly, often leaving the institution or system unable to cope with changes in the environment or system. To try and counter this, many managers in a bureaucracy tend to micro-manage their employees, further adding to the rigid structure the bureaucracy puts forward.
Examples of Corporate Bureaucracy Examples of a corporate bureaucracy include the hierarchy, market, clan and adhocracy cultures. A corporation with a hierarchy culture follows formal rules and regulations with many layers of management. Larger businesses use this type of bureaucracy, especially those with a long chain of command. A business that uses a market culture emphasizes organization and control, placing great value on the external relationship that the company forms with the customer, suppliers or creditors. It's a belief by a corporation that uses a market culture that building such relationships helps to increase the company's competitiveness.
Companies that exhibit a clan culture strongly urge collaboration between employees and believe in using many teamwork and morale building exercises. The company that uses the clan culture usually has a single leader who mentors lower-ranked employees, helping to build a sense of loyalty, employee development and a shared vision, or goal. The adhocracy culture emphasizes the ability to adapt to a changing market. Corporations who adhere to this type of culture tend to employ risk taking as a strategy, with an eye toward the further growth of the company through the implementation of new ideas and innovation.
Shortly after the release of his second Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novel, with the money now pouring in and showing no signs of stopping, Douglas Adams moved from his dingy little shared flat in Islington’s Highbury New Park to a sprawling place on Upper Street. Later to be described down almost to the last detail as Fenchurch’s flat in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, the place had one floor that consisted of but a single huge L-shaped room that, coming complete as it did with a bar, was perfect for the grand parties he would soon be holding there.
There was just one problem: he couldn’t get his bank to acknowledge the fact that he had moved. For the rest of his life Adams swore up and down that he had done everything exactly as one was supposed to, had dutifully gone personally down to his local branch of Barclays Bank, filled out a change-of-address form, and handed it to a woman behind the counter. Barclays duly acknowledged the change — and sent said acknowledgement to his old address in Highbury New Park. Adams wrote them back, pointing out the mistake, which the bank promptly and contritely apologized for. Said apology was sent, once again, to Highbury New Park. This cycle continued, as Adams told the story anyway, for no less than two infuriating years. Toward the end of that period, having tried politeness, bluster, threats, and reason, he resorted to charm and outright bribery in a letter to one Miss Wilcox of Barclays, gifting her with a book and even holding out a tempting possibility of marriage to a hugely successful author — namely, him — if she would just change his damn address in her bank’s computers already.
My address is at the top of this letter. It is also at the top of my previous letter to you. I am not trying to hide anything from you. If you write to me at this address I will reply. If you write to me care of my accountant, he will reply, which would be better still. If you write to me at Highbury New Park, the chances are that I won’t reply because your letter will probably not reach me, because I don’t live there any more. I haven’t lived there for two years. I moved. Two years ago. I wrote to you about it, remember?
Dear Miss Wilcox, I am sure you are a very lovely person, and that if I were to meet you I would feel ashamed at having lost my temper with you in this way. I’m sure it’s not your fault personally and that if I had to do your job I would hate it. Let me take you away from all this. Come to London. Let me show you where I live, so that you can see it is indeed in Upper Street. I will even take you to Highbury New Park and introduce you to the man who has been living there for the past two years so that you can see for yourself that it isn’t me. I could take you out to dinner and slip you little change-of-address cards across the table. We could even get married and go and live in a villa in Spain, though how would we get anyone in your department to understand that we had moved? I enclose a copy of my new book which I hope will cheer you up. Happy Christmas.
History does not record whether this passionate missive was the one that finally did the trick.
Most writers collect interesting, humorous, and/or frustrating incidents as they go about their daily lives, jotting them down literally or metaphorically for future use, and Douglas Adams was certainly no exception. He tried to shoehorn this one into Life, the Universe, and Everything, his third Hitchhiker’s novel, via an extended riff about a change-of-address card that fouls up a planet’s central computer systems so badly that they initiate a nuclear Armageddon, but it just didn’t work somehow. The whole sequence ended up getting condensed down to a one-line gag in an extract from the in-book Hitchhiker’s Guide, listing “trying to get the Brantisvogan Civil Service to acknowledge a change-of-address card” as one of life’s great impossibilities. Still, he continued to believe the anecdote was worthy of more than that, worthy of more even than becoming just another of the arsenal of funny stories with which he amused journalists, fans, and party attendees alike.
It seems that it was the process of making the infuriating, subversive, brilliant Hitchhiker’s game with Infocom that first prompted Adams to think about making a game out of his travails with Barclays, along with the insane bureaucratic machinations of modern life in general. It was at any rate during Steve Meretzky’s visit to England to work on the Hitchhiker’s game with him that he first mentioned the idea. Meretzky, busy trying to get this game finished in the face of the immovable force that could be Adams’s talent for procrastination, presumably just nodded politely and tried to get his focus back to the business at hand.
Seven or eight months later, however, with the Hitchhiker’s game finished and selling like crazy, Adams stated definitively to Mike Dornbrook of Infocom that he’d really like to do a social satire of contemporary life called Bureaucracy before turning to the sequel. Asked by Electronic Games magazine at about this time whether he would “soon” be starting on the next Hitchhiker’s game, his answer was blunt: “No. I really feel the need to branch out into fresh areas and clear my head from Hitchhiker’s. I certainly have enjoyed working with Infocom and would very much like to do another adventure game, but on a different topic.”
The desire of this boundlessly original thinker to just be done with Hitchhiker’s, to do something else for God’s sake, certainly isn’t hard to understand. What had begun back in 1978 as a one-off six-episode radio serial, produced on a shoestring for the BBC, had seven years later ballooned into a second radio serial, four novels, a television show, a stage production, a pair of double albums, and now, so everyone assumed, a burgeoning series of computer games. Adams himself had a hand to a lesser or (usually) a greater extent in every single one of these productions, not to mention having spent quite some time drafting and fruitlessly hawking a Hitchhiker’s movie script to Hollywood. It had been all Hitchhiker’s all day every day for seven years.
Being the soul of comedy for millions of young science-fiction nerds had never been an entirely comfortable role for Adams. Sometimes the gulf between him and his most loyal fans could be hard to bridge, could leave him feeling downright estranged. Eugen Beers, his publicist, describes the most obsessive of his fans in terms that bring to mind a certain beloved old Saturday Night Live skit:
One of my abiding memories is how much he loathed book signings. It’s always a scary time for an author when you actually meet your fans, and Douglas had some of the ugliest and certainly some of the most boring people I’ve ever met in the whole of my life. They would come up to him to get their book signed and say, “I notice on page 45 you refer to…” and Douglas would say, “I haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about.”
Beers notes that Adams was “incredibly patient, in fact patient beyond anything I would have been.” Yet, and ungenerous as Beers’s description of the fans may be, the disconnect was real. Adams’s heroes growing up had been The Goon Show and later Monty Python, not Arthur C. Clarke or Robert A. Heinlein. He desperately wanted to prove himself as a humorist of general note, not just that wacky Hitchhiker’s guy that the nerds all like. Yes, Hitchhiker’s had made him rich, had paid for that wonderful Islington flat and all those lavish parties, but at some point enough had to be enough.
Infocom’s great misfortune was to have barely begun their own Hitchhiker’s odyssey just as Adams finally decided to bring his to an end. On the one hand, Adams’s desire to explore new territory must have sounded a sympathetic chord for many of the Imps they had after all refused to continue the Zork series beyond three games out of a similar desire to not get stereotyped. But on the other hand they all had, and not without good reason, envisioned Hitchhiker’s as a cash cow that would last Infocom for the remainder of the decade, a new guaranteed bestseller appearing like clockwork every Christmas to buoy them over whatever financial trials the rest of the year might have brought. For Mike Dornbrook it must have felt like a nightmare repeating. First he had been deprived far too soon of the Zork series, the first of which still remained Infocom’s best-selling game now it looked like something similar was happening even more quickly to the would-be Hitchhiker’s series, whose first game had become their second best-selling. In describing why he was “concerned” about making Bureaucracy Infocom’s Douglas Adams game for 1985 and pushing the next Hitchhiker’s game to 1986 at best, Dornbrook unconsciously echoes Adams’s own reasoning for wanting to move on: “The whole financial deal we had signed with him was based on a bestselling line of books that was very, very popular, very well-known. He hadn’t proved himself at anything else yet, for one thing. It was a little hard telling him that…”
It was a little hard to tell him, so Dornbrook and Infocom largely didn’t out of a desire to keep Adams happy. As his current contract with Infocom only covered Hitchhiker’s games, it was necessary to negotiate a new one for Bureaucracy. Dornbrook had some hopes of getting Adams at something of a discount, given that he’d be coming this time without the Hitchhiker’s name attached, but he was stymied even in this by Ed Victor, Adams’s tough negotiator of an agent. Infocom was left saddled with a game that they didn’t really want to do, which they would have to pay Adams for as if it was one that they wanted very badly indeed.
As Dornbrook and other staffers have occasionally noted over the years, there was nothing in Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s contract that technically prevented them from just going off and doing the next Hitchhiker’s game on their own, whether in tandem with or instead of Bureaucracy. The contract simply gave Infocom the right to make up to six Hitchhiker’s games for the cost of a certain percentage of the revenue generated thereby, full stop. They’ve stated that it was their respect for Adams as a writer and as a person that prevented them from ever seriously considering making Hitchhiker’s games without him. I don’t doubt their sincerity in saying this, but it’s also worth noting that to go down that route would be to play with some dangerous fire. While Adams may have been personally sick to death of Hitchhiker’s, he had shown again and again that he considered the franchise to be his and his alone, that if anything got done with it he wanted to do it — or at least to closely oversee it — himself. Not only would a unilateral Infocom Hitchhiker’s game almost certainly spoil their relationship with him for all time, but it risked becoming a public-relations disaster if Adams, never shy of stating his opinions to the press, decided to speak out against it. And could any of the Imps, even Steve Meretzky, really hope to capture Adams’s voice? An Adams-less Hitchhiker’s game risked coming off as a cheap knock-off, as everything that Infocom’s carefully crafted public image said their games weren’t. Thus Bureaucracy — and, for now, Bureaucracy alone — it must be.
In light of its being rather forced upon them in the first place and especially of the exhausting travail that actually making it would become, it’s difficult for most old Infocom staffers to appreciate Bureaucracy‘s intrinsic merits as a concept. Seen in the right light, however, it’s a fairly brilliant idea. Douglas Adams was of course hardly the first to want to satirize the vast, impersonal machines we create in an effort to make modern life manageable, machines that can not only run roughshod over the very individuals they’re meant to serve but that can also trample the often well-meaning people who are sentenced to work within them, even their very creators. What was the Holocaust but a triumph of institutional inertia over the fundamental humanity of the people responsible for its horrors? Years before those horrors Franz Kafka wrote The Trial, the definitive comedy about the banality of bureaucratic evil, a book as funny in its black way as anything Douglas Adams ever wrote. Just to make its black comedy complete, all three of Kafka’s sisters later perished in the Holocaust. Set against those events, Adams’s struggle with Barclays Bank to get his address changed seems like the triviality it truly was.
What, though, to make of this idea of a satire of the bureaucratic impulse as interactive fiction? I think there’s a germ of genius in there, a germ of something as brilliant and subversive as anything in the Hitchhiker’s game. Playing a text adventure — yes, even one of Infocom’s — is to often feel like you’re interacting with the world’s pettiest and most remorseless bureaucrat. We’re all only too familiar with sequences like this one, which as it happens is taken from the eventual finished version of Bureaucracy:
>put blank cartridge in computer
[This story isn't allowed to recognise the word "blank."]
[Your blood pressure just went up.]
You're holding an unlabelled cartridge, an address book, a small piece of laminated card, an airline magazine, $57.50, an envelope containing a memo, a power saw, a Swiss army knife, a coupon booklet, a damaged painting of Ronald W. Reagan, a flyer, a Popular Paranoia magazine, your passport, your Boysenberry computer (containing an eclipse predicting cartridge), a small case and a hacksaw. You're wearing a digital wristwatch, and you have a deposit slip and a wallet in your pocket.
>put unlabelled cartridge in computer
You'd have to take out the eclipse predicting cartridge to do that.
>get eclipse cartridge
You're holding too much already.
You drop the damaged painting of Ronald W. Reagan.
You're beginning to feel normal again.
>put unlabelled cartridge in computer
You'd have to take out the eclipse predicting cartridge to do that.
>get eclipse cartridge
You take the eclipse predicting cartridge out of your Boysenberry computer.
>put unlabelled cartridge in computer
The unlabelled cartridge slips into your Boysenberry computer with a thrilling little click.
One of Adam’s initial ideas was to have a blood-pressure monitor that would increase every time you got into a tussle with the parser like the one above. This idea made it into the finished game. Yet there are signs, fleeting clues, that that should only have been a beginning, that he would have gone much further, that his idea was to create a game that would end up as, among other things, a self-referential commentary on the medium of interactive fiction itself, a further venturing down the road that the Hitchhiker’s game had already started on with its lying parser and its willingness to integrate your typos into its story. Tim Anderson of Infocom recalls a puzzle involving a pile of boxes, of which you needed to specify one that the parser would obstinately refuse to recognize. How fun such a game could have been is very much up for debate it sounds likely to run afoul of all of the issues of playability and fairness that make Hitchhiker’s the last game in the world to be emulated by a budding designer of interactive fiction. Nevertheless, I would love to see that original vision of Bureaucracy. While some pieces of it survived into the finished game in the form of the blood-pressure monitor and the snooty, bureaucratic tone of the parser, for the most part it became a different game entirely — or, rather, several different games. Therein lies a tale — and most of the finished game’s problems.
Endeavoring as always to keep Adams happy, Infocom assigned as his partner on the new game no less august an Imp than Marc Blank, who along with Mike Berlyn had been one of the two possible collaborators Adams had specifically requested for the Hitchhiker’s game he’d had to be convinced to accept Steve Meretzky in their stead. Alas, Blank turned out to be a terrible choice at this particular juncture. He was deeply dissatisfied with the current direction of the company and more interested in telling Al Vezza and the rest of the Board about it at every opportunity than he was in writing more interactive fiction. Bureaucracy thus immediately began to languish in neglect. This precedent would take a long, long time to break. The story at this point gets so surreal that it reads like something out of a Douglas Adams novel — or for that matter a Douglas Adams game. Infocom therefore included it in the finished version of Bureaucracy as an Easter egg entitled “The Strange and Terrible History of Bureaucracy.”
Once upon a time Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky collaborated on a game called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Everyone wanted a sequel, but Douglas thought it might be fun to do something different first. He called that something Bureaucracy, and wanted Marc Blank to work on it with him. Of course, Marc was busy, and Douglas was busy, and by the time they could both work on it, they were too busy to work on it. So, Jerry Wolper [a programmer who had collaborated with Mike Berlyn on Cutthroats] got a free trip to Las Vegas to talk to Douglas about it before it was decided to let it rest for a while instead. Jerry decided to go back to school, so Marc and Douglas spent some time on Nantucket looking at llamas, drinking Chateau d'Yquem, and arguing about puzzles. Nothing much happened for a while, except that Marc and Douglas got distracted again. Paul DiLascia [a senior member of the Cornerstone development team] decided to give it a try, but changed his mind and kept working on Cornerstone. Marc went to work for Simon and Schuster, and Paul went to work for Interleaf. Jeff O'Neill finished Ballyhoo, and, casting about for a new project, decided to take it on, about the time Jerry graduated. Jeff got a trip to London out of it. Douglas was enthusiastic, but busy with a movie. Progress was slow, and then Douglas was very busy with something named Dirk Gently. Jeff decided it was time to work on something else, and Brian Moriarty took it over. He visited England, and marvelled at Douglas's CD collection, but progress was slow. Eventually he decided it was time to work on something else. Paul made a cameo appearance, but decided to stay at Interleaf instead. So Chris Reeve and Tim Anderson took it over, and mucked around a lot. Finally, back in Las Vegas, Michael Bywater jumped (or was pushed) in and came to Boston for some serious script-doctoring, which made what was there into what is here. In addition, there were significant contributions from Liz Cyr-Jones, Suzanne Frank, Gary Brennan, Tomas Bok, Max Buxton, Jon Palace, Dave Lebling, Stu Galley, Linde Dynneson, and others too numerous to mention. Most of these people are not dead yet, and apologise for the inconvenience.
Trying to unravel in much more detail this Gordian knot that consumed more than twice as much time as any other Infocom game is fairly hopeless, not least because no one who was around it much wants to talk about it. The project, having been begun to some extent under duress, soon become a veritable albatross, a bad joke for which no one can manage to summon up much of a laugh even today. Jon Palace is typical:
There may be some fun things left in the game, but it left such a bad taste in my mouth. At some point it became, the less I can have to do with it the better. It wasn’t fun doing that game. Bureaucracy is the only game I can remember that was just downright not fun to do.
The natural question, then, is just what went so horribly awry for this game alone among all the others. Infocom’s official version of the tale neglects only to assign the blame where it rightfully belongs: solidly on the doorstep of Douglas Adams.
Adams was a member of a species that’s not as rare as one might expect: the brilliant writer who absolutely hates to write, who finds the process torturous, personally draining to a degree ironically difficult to capture in words. Even during the seven-year heyday of Hitchhiker’s, when he was to all external appearances quite industrious and prolific indeed, he was building a reputation for himself among publishers and agents as one of the most difficult personalities in their line of business, not because he was a jerk or a prima donna like many other authors but simply because he never — never — did the work he said he was going to do when he said he was going to do it. The stories of the lengths people had to go to to get work out of him remain enshrined in publishing legend to this day. Locking him into a small room with a word processor and a single taskmaster/minder and telling him he wasn’t allowed out until he was finished was about the only method that was remotely effective.
It wasn’t as if Infocom had never seen this side of Douglas Adams before. His procrastination had also threatened to scupper the Hitchhiker’s game for a while. They had, however, as they must now have been realizing more and more, gotten very lucky there. With Infocom’s star on the ascendant at that time, the publishing interests around Adams had clearly seen a Hitchhiker’s Infocom game as a winning proposition all the way around. They had thus mobilized to make it part of their 1984 full-court press on their embattled author that had also yielded So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, the overdue fourth Hitchhiker’s novel. Infocom, meanwhile, had fortuitously paired Adams with Steve Meretzky, the most self-driven, efficient, and organized of all the Imps, who always got his projects done and done on time — as evidenced by his sheer prolificacy as an author of games, gamebooks, and lots and lots of fake memos. Even with Meretzky’s boundless creative energy on Infocom’s side, it had taken colluding with Adams’s handlers to isolate the two of them in a hotel in Devon to get Adams to follow his partner’s example and buckle down and work on the game.
With the industry now shifting under Infocom’s feet in ways that were hardly to their advantage, with Cornerstone threatening to sink the company even if they could find a way to keep selling lots of games, with the project in question a one-off that no one knew much about rather than another entry in the Hitchhiker’s line-up, Infocom lacked the leverage with Adams or his handlers to do anything similar for Bureaucracy. And Meretzky was staying far, far away, having apparently decided that he’d done his time in Purgatory with Douglas Adams and had earned the right to work on his own projects. Thus despite allegedly “working on” Bureaucracy personally for almost two years, despite all of the face-to-faces in Las Vegas, Nantucket, and London, Adams’s contributions at the end of that time amounted to little more than the rough idea he had brought to Infocom in the first place: the name, the blood-pressure monitor, and a few vague puzzles ideas like the boxes that sounded interesting but that no other than him quite understood and that he never deigned to properly explain. Meretzky:
Douglas’s procrastination seemed much worse than it was with Hitchhiker’s. That seems odd because he did the first game only grudgingly, since he had already done Hitchhiker’s for several different media, but Bureaucracy was what he most wanted to do. Perhaps the newness and excitement of working in interactive fiction had worn off perhaps he had more distractions in his life at that point perhaps it was that the succession of people who had my role in Bureaucracy didn’t stay with the project for more than a portion of its development cycle and therefore never became a well-integrated creative unit with Douglas perhaps it was that, lacking the immovable Christmas deadline that Hitchhiker’s had, it was easier to let the game just keep slipping and slipping.
Brian Moriarty is less diplomatic: “Douglas Adams was a very funny man, very witty, a very good writer, and also very, very lazy. Anyone who knew Douglas will tell you that he really didn’t like to work very much.” Just to add insult to injury, when Adams did rouse himself to work on a game project it turned out to be for a competing developer. In January of 1986 he spent several days holed up in London with a sizable chunk of the staff of Lucasfilm Games, contributing ideas and puzzles to their Labyrinth adventure game. That may not sound like the worst betrayal in the world at first blush, but consider again: he devoted more time and energy to this ad-hoc design consultation than he ever had to what was allegedly his own game, the one Infocom had started making at his specific request.
The succession of Imps who were assigned to the project were forced to improvise with their own ideas in face of the black hole that was Adams’s contribution. Details of exactly who did what are, however, once again thin on the ground. The only Imp I’ve heard claim specific credit for any sequence that survived into the final game is Moriarty, who remembers doing a bit where you’re trying to order a simple hamburger in a fast-food joint, only to get buried under a bewildering barrage of questions about exactly how you’d like it. The inevitable punchline comes when a “standard, smells-like-a-dog’s-ear burger with nothing on it” is finally delivered, regardless of your choices.
By late 1986, as the Bureaucracy project was closing in fast on its two-year anniversary, it was not so much a single big game as a collection of individual little games connected together, if at all, by the most precarious of scaffolding, each reading not like a game by Douglas Adams but a game by whatever Imp happened to be responsible for that section. Not only had Adams’s ideas for leveraging the mechanics of program and parser in service of his theme been largely abandoned, but at some point a fairly elaborate satire of paranoid conspiracy theorists — sort of an interactive Illuminatus! trilogy — had gotten muddled up with the satire of impersonal bureaucratic institutions in general. As the recent revelations about the National Security Agency have demonstrated, the two all too often do go together. Still, those parts of Bureaucracy had wandered quite far afield from everyday frustrations like trying to get a bank to accept a change-of-address form. It had all become quite the mess, and nobody had much energy left to try to sort it out.
If you had polled Infocom’s staff at this point on whether they thought Bureaucracy would ever actually be finished, it’s unlikely that many would have shown much optimism. The project remained alive at all not due to any love anyone had for it but rather out of what was probably a forlorn hope anyway: that getting this game out and published would pave the way to the next Hitchhiker’s game, to another potential 300,000-plus seller. Having done their part in getting Bureaucracy done, with or without Adams, Infocom hoped he would do his by returning to Hitchhiker’s with them. Few who knew Adams well would have bet much on that particular quid pro quo, but hope does spring eternal.
And then, miraculously, more than a glimmer of real hope did appear from an unlikely quarter. Marc Blank was long gone from Infocom by then, but had continued to keep in touch with his old friends among the Imps. At the November 1986 COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas, he bumped into Michael Bywater, a good friend of Douglas Adams and a fellow writer — in fact, a practitioner of his own brand of arch British humor that, if you squinted just right, wasn’t too different from that of Adams himself. Knowing the fix his old friends were still in with the game he had been the first to work on so long ago, a light bulb went off in Blank’s head. He hastily brokered a deal among Infocom, Adams, and Bywater, and the last arrived in the Boston area within days to hole up in a hotel room for an intense three weeks or so of script-doctoring. Infocom’s Tim Anderson, the latest programmer assigned to the project, stayed close at hand to insert Bywater’s new text and to implement any new puzzles he happened to come up with.
Jumbling the chronology as we’re sometimes forced to around here in the interest of other forms of coherency, we’ve already met Bywater in the context of his personal and professional relationship with Anita Sinclair and Magnetic Scrolls, and the salvage job he would do on that company’s Jinxter nine months or so after performing the same service for Infocom. As arrogant and quick to anger as he can sometimes be (one need only read his comments in response to Andy Baio’s misguided and confused article on the would-be second Hitchhiker’s game to divine that), everyone at Infocom found him to be a delight, not least because here at last was a writer who was more than happy to actually write. In a few weeks he rewrote virtually every word in the game in his own style — a style that was more caustic than Adams’s, but that nevertheless checked the right “British humor” boxes. Just like that, Infocom had their game, which they needed only test and publish to finally be quit of the whole affair forever. Right?
Well, this being the Game That Just Wouldn’t Be Finished, not quite. Janice Eisen, a current reader and supporter of this blog and an outside playtester for Infocom back in the day, recalls being given a version of Bureaucracy for testing that was largely the same structurally as the released version and that seemed to sport Bywater’s text, but that nevertheless differed substantially in one respect. The ultimate villain in this version, the person responsible for all of the bureaucratic tortures you’ve been subjected to, was not, as in the final version, a bitter computer nerd seeking to exact vengeance on the world and (for some reason) on you for his inability to get a date, but rather none other than Britain’s Queen Mother. As a satirical theme it’s classic Bywater. He was and remains a self-described republican, seeing the monarchy as setting “an appalling example to the whole nation by making clear that there’s at least one thing — head of state — that you can’t achieve but can only be born to.”
Some weeks after testing this version of Bureaucracy at home as usual, Janice, who lived close to Infocom’s offices, got a call asking if she could come in to test what would turn out to be the final version on-site. She was also told she could bring a friend of hers, another Infocom fan but not a regular tester, to join in. They spent a Saturday playing through the game, with a minder on-hand to give them answers to puzzles if necessary to make sure they got all the way through the game. It’s not absolutely clear whether Bywater was involved in the further rewriting made necessary by the replacement of the Queen Mother with the nerd, but the lavishly insulting descriptions of the latter — “ghastly,” “sniveling,” “ratty,” and “ineffectual” number amongst the adjectives — sound nothing like any of the Imps’ styles and very much like Bywater’s. When she asked why Infocom had made the changes — she had enjoyed the Queen Mother much more than the nerd — Janice was told that Infocom had feared that they were going too far into the realm of politics, that they were afraid that the Queen Mother, 86 years old at the time, might die while the game was still a hot item, making them look “terrible.” (This fear would prove unfounded she would live for another fifteen years.)
So, it was a tortured, cobbled, disjointed creation that finally reached store shelves against all odds in March of 1987, and apparently one that had been subject to the final violation of a last-minute Bowdlerization. For all that, though, it’s a lot better game than you might expect, a better game even than most of the Infocom staffers, having had it so thoroughly spoiled in their eyes by the hell of its creation, are often willing to acknowledge. I quite like it on the whole, even if I have to temper that opinion with a lot of caveats.
Bureaucracy shows clear evidence of the fragmented process of its creation in being divided into four vignettes that become, generally not to the game’s benefit, steadily more surreal and less grounded in the everyday as they proceed. The first, longest, and strongest section begins after you have just gotten a new job and moved to a new neighborhood. Your new employer Happitec is about to send you jetting off to Paris for an introductory seminar. You just need to “pick up your Happitec cheque, grab a bite of lunch, a cab to the airport, and you’ll be living high on the hog at Happitec’s expense.” Naturally, it won’t be quite that easy. It’s here that the game pays due homage to the episode that first inspired it: your mail had been misdelivered thanks to “a silly bit of bother with your bank about a change-of-address card.” Subsequent sections have you trying to board your flight at the airport dealing with the annoyances of a transcontinental flight, which include in this case something about an in-flight emergency that will force you to bail out of the airplane and finally penetrating the dastardly nerdy mastermind’s headquarters somewhere in the jungles of Africa.
Much of Bureaucracy‘s personality is of course down to Bywater (about whom more in a moment), but I’m not sure that he comprises the whole of the story. I’d love to know who wrote my favorite bit, which is not found in the game proper but rather in one of the feelies. Your welcome letter from Happitec is such a perfect satire of Silicon Valley’s culture of empty plastic Utopianism that it belongs on the current television show of the same name. The letterhead’s resemblance to Apple’s then-current Macintosh iconography is certainly not accidental.
From the cult of personality around Happitec’s “founder and president” to the way it can’t even be bothered to address you by name to the veiled passive-aggressive threat with which it concludes, this letter is just so perfect. All it’s missing is a reference to “making the world a better place.”
Bywater, for his part, acquits himself more than well enough as the mirror-universe version of Douglas Adams, almost as witty and droll but more casually cruel. His relentless showiness makes him a writer whom I find fairly exhausting to try to read in big gulps, but he always leaves me with a perfect little bon mot or two to marvel over.
This is the living room of your new house, a pretty nice room, actually. At least, it will be when all your stuff has arrived as the removals company said they would have done yesterday and now say they will do while you're on vacation. At the moment, however, it's a bit dull. Plain white, no carpets, no curtains, no furniture. A room to go bughouse in, really. Another room is visible to the west, and a closed front door leads outside.
This deeply tacky wallet was sent to you free by the US Excess Credit Card Corporation to tell you how much a person like you needed a US Excess card, what with your busy thrusting lifestyle in today's fast-moving, computerised, jet-setting world. Needless to say, you already had a US Excess card which they were trying to take away from you for not paying your account, which, equally needless to say, you had paid weeks ago.
The stamp on the leaflet is worth 42 Zalagasan Wossnames (the Zalagasans were too idle to think of a name for their currency) and shows an extremely bad picture of an Ai-Ai. The Ai-Ai is of course a terribly, terribly rare sort of lemur which is a rare sort of monkey so altogether pretty rare, so rare that nobody has ever seen one, which is why the picture is such a blurred and rotten likeness. Actually, come to think of it, since nobody has ever seen the real thing, the picture might in fact be a really sharp, accurate likeness of a blurred and rotten animal.
The machine says: "Jones here. I'm the new tenant of your old house. There's a whole bunch of mail been arriving here for you. Urgent stuff from the Fillmore Fiduciary Trust. You know what I thought? I thought 'Do the right thing, Jones. Forward the guy's mail.' Then I found out about the termites. Then I found out about the nightly roach-dance. So I thought 'Rats.' I've returned your mail to your bank. Sort it out yourself."
So, when the scenario gives him something to work with Bywater can be pretty great. He’s much less effective when the game loses its focus on the frustrations of everyday existence, which it does with increasing frequency as it wears on and the situations get more and more surreal. He seems to feel obligated to continue to slather on heavy layers of snark, because after all he’s Michael Bywater and that’s what he does, but the point of it all begins rather to get lost. His description of your fellow passengers aboard an African airline as playing “ethnic nose flutes” is… well, let’s just say it’s not as funny as it wants to be and leave it at that. And his relentless picking away at the service workers you encounter — “The waiter squints at his pad with tiny simian eyes, breathing hard at the intellectual effort of it all.” — doesn’t really ring true for me, largely because I never seem to meet so many of these stupid and/or hateful people in my own life. Most of the people I meet seem pretty nice and reasonably competent on the whole. Even when I’m being gored on the bureaucratic horns of some institution or other, I find that the people I deal with are mostly just as conscious as I am of how ridiculous the whole thing is. As Kafka, who was himself an employee of an insurance company, was well aware, this is largely what makes bureaucracies so impersonal and vaguely, existentially horrifying. Ah, well, as someone who sees nothing cute about someone else’s baby — sorry, proud parents! — I can at least appreciate Bywater’s characterization of same as a “stupid, half-witted” thing emitting “hateful little bleats.”
The puzzles are perhaps the strangest mixture of easy and hard found anywhere in the Infocom catalog. The first two sections of the game are very manageable, with some puzzles that might almost be characterized as too easy and only a few that are a bit tricky the best of these, and arguably the most difficult, is a delightful bit of illogical logic involving your bank and a negative check. When you actually board your flight and begin the third section, however, the difficulty takes a vertical leap. The linear run of puzzles that is the third and fourth sections of Bureaucracy is downright punishing, including at least three that I find much more difficult than anything in Spellbreaker, supposedly Infocom’s big challenge of a game for the hardcore of the hardcore. One is an intricate exercise in planning and pattern recognition taking place aboard the airplane (Bywater claims credit for having designed this one from scratch) one an intimidating exercise in code-breaking one more a series of puzzles than a single puzzle really, an exercise in computer hacking that’s simulated in impressive detail. None of the three is unfair. (The puzzle that comes closest to that line is actually not among this group it’s rather a game of “guess the right action or be killed” that you have to engage in whilst hanging outside the airliner in a parachute.) The clues are there, but they’re extremely subtle, requiring the closest reading and the most careful experimentation whilst being under, in the case of the first and the third of this group, time pressure that will have you restoring again and again. Bureaucracy raises the interesting question of whether a technically fair game can nevertheless simply be too hard for its own good. The gnarly puzzles that suddenly appear out of the blue don’t serve this particular game all that well in my opinion, managing only to further dilute its original focus and make it feel still more schizophrenic. I think I’d like them more in another, different game. At any rate, those looking for a challenge won’t be disappointed. If you can crack this one without hints, you’re quite the puzzler.
Although it’s Infocom’s third release in their Interactive Fiction Plus line of games that ran only on the “big” machines with at least 128 K of memory, Bureaucracy doesn’t feel epic in the way of A Mind Forever Voyaging and Trinity. A glance at the story file reveals that it doesn’t completely fill the extra space allowed by the newer Z-Machine, in contrast to the previous two games in the line that stuff the format to the gills. I would even say that quite a number of Infocom’s standard releases subjectively feel bigger. Bureaucracy became an Interactive Fiction Plus title more by accident than original intent, the extra space serving largely to give a chatty Michael Bywater more room to ramble and to allow stuff like that elaborate in-game computer simulation. And given the way the game was made, I’d be surprised if its code was particularly compact or tidy.
Despite all of the pain of its creation and the bad vibes that clung to it for reason of same, Infocom released Bureaucracy with relatively high hopes that the Douglas Adams name, still printed on the box despite his minimal involvement, would be enough to sell a substantial number of copies even absent the Hitchhiker’s name. Adams, showing at least a bit more enthusiasm for promoting Bureaucracy than he had for writing it, gave an interview about it to PBS’s Computer Chronicles television program, during which it becomes painfully apparent that he has only the vaguest notion of what actually happens in the game he supposedly authored. He also appeared on Joan Rivers’s late-night talk show she declared it “the funniest computer game ever,” although I must admit that I find it hard to imagine that she had much basis for comparison. None of it helped all that much. As was beginning to happen a lot by 1987, Infocom was sharply disappointed by their latest hoped-for hit’s performance. Bureaucracy sold not quite 30,000 copies, a bit better than the Infocom average by this point but short of Hitchhiker’s numbers by a factor of more than ten.
The game’s a shaggy, disjointed beast for sure, but I still recommend that anyone with an appreciation of for the craft of interactive fiction give it a whirl at some point. If the hardcore puzzles at the end aren’t your bag, know that the first two sequences are by far its most coherent and focused parts. Feel free to just stop when you make it aboard the airplane by that time you’ve seen about 75 percent of the content anyway. Whatever else it would or should have become, as Infocom’s only work of contemporary social satire Bureaucracy is a unique entry in their catalog, and in its stronger moments at least it acquits itself pretty well at the business. That alone is reason enough to treasure it. And as a lesson in the perils of staking your business on a single mercurial genius… well, let’s just say that the story behind Bureaucracy is perhaps worthwhile in its way as well.List of site sources >>>
Watch the video: Bureaucracy (January 2022).