Hiding Behind Bureaucracy
By: Reza A.A Wattimena
Bureaucracy is the rules of procedure to expedite the process of administrative work and to avoid leakage. Leakage could be the abuse of administrative authority that leads to economic losses and social losses in the form of a crisis of trust. It is clear that the existence of bureaucracy is positive. However, in practice, the bureaucracy is often become a barrier for change, as well as a killer of creativity.
Many people hiding behind bureaucracy to avoid change, both in law and in the practices of daily management. The real reason is fear of change and afraid to lose their positions. Bureaucracy becomes the justification for the cowardice and paranoia (fear of the unknown).
System and Instrumental Rationality
Where is the root of thinking for establishment a modern state bureaucracy and corporate business? According to Horkheimer and Adorno, the bureaucracy is the lifeblood of the system within the government and modern business. (1944) For Niklas Luhmann, the purpose of bureaucracy is to reduce complexity in the world (Luhmann, 1984). The way of thinking contained in the bureaucracy and the system is instrumental rationality, namely the ways of thinking that impersonal, and focus on control, efficiency, and effectiveness. Bureaucracy and system becomes the pillars of modern institutions.
It should be noted that the original purpose of the existence of instrumental rationality in the bureaucracy and the system is to reduce complexity. All of this culminated in the establishment of working procedures. In the legal process, procedures were made to ensure that a particular claim or case law can legitimately examine. In the sciences, procedures, in the form of the method, are a guarantor of validity of a research.
Errors arise when people treat the human world, which is very complicated, merely as a system and bureaucracy. The relationship between people loses its spontaneity, and becomes impersonal. Warmth and meaning of life lost and replaced by a dry and mechanical procedures. Spontaneity and creativity turns into something rare in the modern bureaucracy. No wonder many people suffering from mental disorder, because they felt alienated in their own homes. In extreme cases, people will commit suicide.
Spontaneous Life World
Jürgen Habermas, one of contemporary German thinkers, argues that the human world does not only consist of a mechanical system, but also life world. Life world is spaces that are not touched by the bureaucracy. In it, people find identity and meaning of their existence. Spontaneity and creativity existed. All of that gives color to human life. (Habermas, 1984)
In the modern state, life world increasingly eroded by the system and bureaucracy. Consequently, many people experience a crisis of meaning, because they did not have room to construct meaning and identity. Many people just live in a system that is mechanical and impersonal.
Living world is not moving with instrumental rationality, but with a communicative rationality (Habermas, 1984), which focuses on the communication conducted in a fair and just situations in order to find mutual consent. Human establish themselves through communication with their environment. As part of modern society, we must provide sufficient space for life world, and to limit the existence of the system. In straightforward language, spontaneity and creativity should be given a place, even in the most complex bureaucracy.
What are the implications of this reflection for Indonesia? Indonesia is a country that was on the path to creating the perfect modern bureaucracy. The government must continue reminded, that the bureaucracy was created to facilitate human life. So, when bureaucracy makes life harder, maybe it’s time to change or even eliminate the bureaucracy for the sake of spontaneity and creativity. Human life is much broader than the rules and bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy must be flexible enough to allow creativity develop freely. And, bureaucracy must be strong enough, so that corruption, in every form, can be broken from the beginning. In the implementation, bureaucracy can never be allowed to become a blanket that covered cowardice. These are big tasks that stay on our shoulder. ***
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