Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Imperialist, Expansionist Bureaucratic State

Here is an interesting piece about the relationship between government bureaucracy and imperialist expansion. It seems that, throughout history, regardless of culture, when a state reached a certain level of development, it developed a bureaucracy and, once that bureaucracy was created, the bureaucratic state became expansionist.

This raises some very interesting questions, which could make for an interesting research program for someone who studies institutions.

The most obvious question is, why does this happen? It may be that it is because bureaucracies are inherently expansionist. They expand to continue to justify their existence. When extended beyond the bureaucracy per se, we get expansionist policies. Those expansionist policies may be into the economy of the state itself, or it may be into other countries. It may also be due to the fact that when there is a bureaucracy, nobody is in charge, meaning nobody is responsible, meaning many more unethical actions may be undertaken.

Now, considering that government bureaucracies inevitably result in corporate bureaucracies -- mostly to deal with the government's rules -- the next question to ask is: do corporate bureaucracies cause corporations to act the same way? In other words, do corporations with large bureaucracies engage in things like corporate takeovers more often than those with small or no bureaucracies? Might this then be the main contributing factor to the creation of megacorporations -- including those that are infamously "too big to fail"?

Finally, as the U.S. government becomes ever more bureaucratic, does that mean the U.S. will become ever more prone to imperialistic expansion? Might imperialistic expansion be seen as a way to solve our debt problem? Such policies are not unprecidented in history.
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