Magazine article Insight on the News

Dickens Put His Finger on Government Bureaucracy

Magazine article Insight on the News

Dickens Put His Finger on Government Bureaucracy

Article excerpt

One of this column's favorite satires about government bureaucracy comes from Chapter 10 of the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit. The chapter title is: "Containing the Whole Science of Government," and it includes the following:

"The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart....

"This glorious establishment had been early in the field when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving -- HOW NOT TO DO IT.

"Through this delicate perception, ... and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public departments, and the public condition had risen to be -- what it was. …

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