September 4, 2020

On Bureaucracy

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Introduction

an apparatus for policy (=reviewing and correcting relations between classes), and not a policy for the apparatus!

(A good) bureaucracy in the service of policy, and not a policy in the service of (a good) bureaucracy.”  Lenin, Notes for a Speech at the 10th Congress of The, Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 535-537.

As in most terms used in order to confuse the minds and throw dirt on the Soviets and the Stalin, the term bureaucracy has been used for the same purpose. Bourgeois liberals, right opportunists used the term in its bourgeois context borrowed from and in aligned with the Trotskyites distortion, left opportunists used it in its anarchistic, anarcho-Trotskyites context. It is not surprising that both right and left opportunist borrow from Trotskyites, for Trotskyism is the mixture of both.

Being two sides of the same coin, in essence, both sides are the enemy of socialism with “socialist` mask.” An old and often repeated objection to socialism” says Lenin, is that socialism means “barracks for the masses” and “mass bureaucracy””. Lenin, The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), APRIL 24–29, 1917

Bureaucracy, as Marx takes up Hegels definition; “executive is nothing but the administration, which he develops as the bureaucracy... The official function is the duty and the life's work of the civil servants… indeed, the bureaucracy is merely the formalism of a content which lies outside the bureaucracy itself… The bureaucracy is the state formalism of civil society… The bureaucrats are the Jesuits and theologians of the state… The aims of the state are transformed into aims of bureaus, or the aims of bureaus into the aims of the state. The bureaucracy is a circle from which no one can escape. Its hierarchy is a hierarchy of knowledge…. The abolition of the bureaucracy can consist only in the universal interest becoming really particular interest; and this is possible only through the particular interest really becoming universal.” Karl Marx, 1843 From Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Lenin defines as “the civil service, the bureaucracy, as representing a special category of persons who specialise in the work of administration and occupy a privileged position as compared with the people. We see this institution everywhere, from autocratic and semi-Asiatic Russia to cultured. free and civilised England, as an essential organ of   bourgeois society.” Lenin, From, The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats

Bureaucracy - officialdom, Bureaucrats – administrators has a history goes back to old monarchy, feudal systems. Explaining the first appearance and its class base, Lenin says that “ the bureaucracy was the first political instrument of the bourgeoisie   against the feudal lords, and against the representatives of the “old-nobility” system in general, and marked the first appearance in the arena of political rule of people who were not high-born landowners, but commoners, “middle classand from the very conditions of the formation and recruitment of this class, which is open only to bourgeois “offspring of the people,” and is connected with that bourgeoisie by thousands of strong ties. …. every bureaucracy, by its historical origin, its contemporary source, and its purpose, is purely and exclusively a bourgeois institution Lenin, The Economic Content of Narodism and the Criticism of it in Mr. Struve’s Book, (The Reflection of Marxism in Bourgeois Literature)

Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, the bureaucracy remains an administrative arm of the ruling class as Lenin puts it;  “in a capitalist state which is centralized, not by the arbitrary will of the bureaucracy, but by the inexorable demands of economic development, that organisation must find expression in a single force welded together throughout the state.”    Lenin, The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905-1907, Local Self-Government as a “Bulwark Against Reaction”

As Engels gives a particular example “where the bourgeoisie was, politically, far less educated, the Liberal bureaucracy walked into office, and professed to hold power in trust for them. We have further seen, how the parties and classes of society, that were heretofore all united in opposition to the old government, got divided among themselves after the victory, or even during the struggle; and how that same Liberal bourgeoisie that alone profited from the victory turned round immediately upon its allies of yesterday, assumed a hostile attitude against every class or party of a more advanced character, and concluded an alliance with the conquered feudal and bureaucratic interests.” Frederick Engels, Revolution and Counter-revolution in Germany

Marx giving another example “under Napoleon, the bureaucracy was only the means of preparing the class rule of the bourgeoisie. Under the Restoration, under Louis Philippe, under the parliamentary republic, it was the instrument of the ruling class.” Karl Marx, From The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

Although bureaucracy obtains its motives from the bourgeoisie, but its action is with a tendency and a form that is purely and solely feudal”. Lenin explains this as following;

“Only people who have never given a thought to the new brought by the first decade of the twentieth century, who understand nothing about the interdependence between the economic and the political relations….But it is not enough to concede that the connection exists, it is necessary to point out what exactly is the actual nature of this connection. The step taken toward the transformation into something new by no means eliminates the   old, say, “bureaucratic” regime with its vast self-sufficiency and independence, with its “peculiar nature” .., and with its uncontrolled finances…..While it “obtains the motives for its activity” largely from the upper ranks of the bourgeoisie the bureaucracy lends its bourgeois activity a tendency and a form that is purely and solely feudal.` Lenin, Plan Of The Pamphlet, The Tax In Kind

Anarchist utopia that expects the building of socialism in the morning of revolution and withering away of state in the following days, expects the self-administration of the masses – meaning the elimination of bureaucracy – officialdom. What is destroyed with the bourgeois state is the bourgeois bureaucracy. As Stalin explains; “with the abolition of the old apparatus of state administration, bureaucracy was smashed, but the bureaucrats remained.” Stalin, Speech at the Opening of the, First All-Russian Conference of Responsible Personnel of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, October 15, 1920

Lenin’s words “Do not defend but rectify the bureaucratic excesses. The fight against bureaucracy is a long and arduous one” tells more in one sentence than a thousand page academic book with terms only the writer can understand.

Since the transformation into something new by no means eliminated the   old” in all aspects, and especially the old bureaucrats remained and the class struggle against the bourgeois remnant continues, the other question is related to combining this struggle with the struggle against bourgeois bureaucrats. As Lenin puts it;

control over the capitalists is impossible if it remains bureaucratic, for the bureaucracy is itself bound to and interwoven with the bourgeoisie by thousands of threads. “Lenin, The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It

And thus;

“it is clear that the old executive apparatus, the bureaucracy, which is connected with the bourgeoisie, would simply be unfit to carry out the orders of the proletarian state.” Lenin, State and Revolution Housing Question

As Stalin puts it bluntly and sincerely;

“our state apparatus, which is bureaucratic to a considerable degree, exerts a certain amount of pressure on the Party and the Party workers. In 1917, when we were forging ahead, towards October, we imagined that we would have a Commune, a free association of working people, that we would put an end to bureaucracy in government institutions, and that it would be possible, if not in the immediate period, then within two or three short periods, to transform the state into a free association of working people. Practice has shown, however, that this is still an ideal which is a long way off, that to rid the state of the elements of bureaucracy, to transform Soviet society into a free association of working people, the people must have a high level of culture, peace conditions must be fully guaranteed all around us so as to remove the necessity of maintaining a large standing army, which entails heavy expenditure and cumbersome administrative departments, the very existence of which leaves its impress upon all the other state institutions. Our state apparatus is bureaucratic to a considerable degree, and it will remain so for a long time to come” Stalin; The Party's Tasks

This confirms Marx’s and Lenin’s assessment that “the transformation into something new by no means eliminates the   old” in all aspects overnight. Like the bureaucracy from feudal society remained and changed in context after the bourgeois revolution, some of the “old”, like “state” and “bureaucracy” will remain in different class context and form till the transition to communist society in its scientific meaning -at its higher stage. Lenin puts this fact bluntly by saying that “The economic foundations for the withering away of the state”: in this case we also have the “economic foundations” for the withering away of bureaucracy,Lenin, Plan of The Pamphlet, The Tax in Kind

Stalin, repeating Marx and Lenin puts the question and solution at the fifteenth congress; 

“The Party's task is to continue along the line of isolating the new bourgeoisie and to strengthen the bond between the working class and the working Soviet intelligentsia in town and country.

d) The state apparatus and the struggle against bureaucracy. So much is being said about bureaucracy that there is no need to dilate on it. That elements of bureaucracy exist in our state, co-operative and Party apparatus, there can be no doubt. That it is necessary to combat the elements of bureaucracy, and that this task will confront us all the time, as long as we have state power, as long as the state exists, is also a fact.” Stalin, The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

The question is not only a question of state – from top down, but of masses -bottom up. As Stalin states,” It will be impossible to reform the state apparatus, to alter it thoroughly, to expel elements of bureaucracy and corruption from it and to make it near and dear to the broad masses unless the masses themselves render the state apparatus constant and active assistance. But on the other hand, active and continuous assistance of the masses is impossible unless the best elements of the workers and peasants are drawn into the organs of government, unless direct and close connection is established between the state apparatus and the "rank and file" of the toiling masses.” Stalin, Questions and Answers

Only the opportunist kinship of right and left use the terms in its bourgeois meaning and context disregarding the fundamental differences after “the transformation to the new “and “the struggle waged, precautions and steps taken in preparation of the foundation for its withering away.

What is purposely overlooked and never mentioned is that unlike in bourgeois society, in socialist society - the bureaucrats - all officials and every kind of all deputies are not only elected by the workers, but displaceable by them at any moment. The salaries of bureaucrats do not exceed that of a competent worker.

“Officials” says Lenin “appointed” from above to “direct” the local population have always been a sure step towards the restoration… What the people need is a really democratic, workers’ and peasants’ republic, whose authorities have been elected by the people and are displaceable by the people any time they may wish it.” Lenin, What the Counter-Revolutionary Steps of the Provisional Government Lead To

In general, as Marx asks the question “What is the "social question" as understood by the civil servant?” and responds; “It is the maintenance of his salary and his present position, which is superior to the people… ambitious professors, lawyers and similar persons, who can only hope to obtain respectable posts in a state where betrayal of the people's interests to the government is a lucrative business.” Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung 

As Engels well explains for the capitalist society “The bureaucracy is beginning more and more to despise embezzlement as the sole means of improving its income; it is turning its back on the state and beginning to hunt after the far more lucrative posts on the administration of industrial enterprises.” Frederick Engels, The Housing Question

“Tendency to become bureaucrats, i.e., privileged persons divorced from the people and standing above the people.” Says Lenin, “That is the essence of bureaucracy; and until the capitalists have been expropriated and the bourgeoisie overthrown, even proletarian functionaries will inevitably be “bureaucratized” to a certain extent.” Lenin, State and Revolution

In socialism where there is no industrial private enterprises and “embezzlement “is a risky business, Lenin states;

the bureaucracy, are either similarly replaced by the direct rule of the people themselves or at least placed under special control; they not only become elected officials, but are also subject to recall at the people’s first demand; they are reduced to the position of simple agents; from a privileged group holding “jobs” remunerated on a high, bourgeois scale, they become workers of a special “arm of the service”, whose remuneration does not exceed the ordinary pay of a competent worker.” Lenin, The Dual Power, Collected Works, Volume 24, pages 38-41.

Thus, as opposed to the bourgeois context and class character of bureaucracy in where they were a class or strata, in socialist society where they are workers of a special “arm of the service”, the question is related to the approach and practice of “bureaucrats” in their “administrative” work in general and continuing struggle against the capitalist remnants , including the intelligencia  in particular. As Lenin puts it:

 “It is clear, I think, that the cries about this celebrated bureaucracy are just a screen for dissatisfaction with the personal composition of the central bodies, a fig-leaf to cover up the violation of a pledge solemnly given at the Congress. You are a bureaucrat because you were appointed by the Congress not in accordance with my wishes, but against them; you are a formalist because you take your stand on the formal decisions of the Congress, and not on my consent; you are acting in a grossly mechanical way because you cite the “mechanical” majority at the Party Congress and pay no heed to my wish to be co-opted; you are an autocrat because you refuse to hand over the power to the old snug little band who insist on their circle “continuity” all the more because they do not like the explicit disapproval of this circle spirit by the Congress.

These cries about bureaucracy have never had any real meaning except the one I have indicated.

They talk of bureaucracy. The word bureaucracy might be translated into Russian as concentration on place and position. Bureaucracy means subordinating the interests of the work to the interests of one’s own career; it means focusing attention on places and ignoring the work itself; it means wrangling over co-optation instead of fighting for ideas. That bureaucracy of this kind is undesirable and detrimental to the Party is unquestionably true,” Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, After the Congress. Two Methods of Struggle

“The characteristic feature of the present period” says Stalin, is the intensification of the struggle between the capitalist countries and our country, on the one hand, and between the socialist elements and the capitalist elements within our country, on the other.” Stalin, The Opposition Bloc in the C.P.S.U.(B.)

And explains further;

“The wrecking activities of the bourgeois intelligentsia are one of the most dangerous forms of resistance to developing socialism. ….what does the resistance offered by the capitalist elements of town and country to the socialist offensive represent? It represents a regrouping of the forces of the class enemies of the proletariat for the purpose of defending the old against the new. It is not difficult to understand that these circumstances cannot but lead to an intensification of the class struggle. But if we are to break the resistance of the class enemies and clear the way for the advance of socialism, we must, besides everything else, give a sharp edge to all our organisations, purge them of bureaucracy, improve their cadres and mobilise the vast masses of the working class and labouring strata of the countryside against the capitalist elements of town and country.” Stalin, The Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U.(B.)

Aside from the continuing class struggle, “The chief defect of these institutions “says Lenin “is that they are overburdened with trivial matters. As a result, they are floundering in bureaucracy instead of fighting it. “Lenin, To:   A. D. Tsyurupa

It is clear that the question of “bureaucracy” during the phase of proletarian dictatorship-socialism has nothing to do with its bourgeois contexts but with the continuing class struggle and with the means and methods of -such as application of socialist ethics and norms, complains, criticism, self-criticism- preventing its hindering functions and preparation for its withering away.  One striking example Lenin criticize;

 “We must not delude ourselves with lies. That is harmful. It is the main source of our bureaucracy…failure to study practical experience. This is the root of all evil, and the root of bureaucracy.” Lenin, To Comrade Molotov For The Members Of The Political Bureau, 16 March, 1922, Collected Works, Volume 33, pages 237-242

And for self-criticism;

 “We cannot do without self-criticism. We simply cannot...Without it, stagnation, corruption of the apparatus, growth of bureaucracy, sapping of the creative initiative of the working class, are inevitable. Of course, self-criticism provides material for our enemies. You are quite right about that. But it also provides material (and a stimulus) for our advancement, for unleashing the constructive energies of the working people, for the development of emulation, for shock brigades, and so on. The negative aspect is counterbalanced and outweighed by the positive aspect.

“It is possible that our press gives too much prominence to our shortcomings, and sometimes even (involuntarily) advertises them. That is possible and even probable. And, of course, it is bad. You demand, therefore, that our shortcomings should be counterbalanced (I would say: outweighed) by our achievements. You are, of course, right about that too. We shall most certainly repair this defect, and without delay. You need have no doubt of that.” Stalin, Letter to A. M. Gorky, January 17, 1930

On the hindrance of bureaucracy in the industrial development Stalin says;

“what is required to make the policy of reducing industrial production costs and wholesale prices of commodities possible and quite practicable? For that it is essential to have a radical improvement of the technology of production, a radical improvement of the organisation of labour in the factories, a radical improvement and simplification of the entire economic apparatus and a determined fight against bureaucracy in this apparatus.Stalin, Speech Delivered at the Fifth-Union Conference of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League

Analyzing the concept of Bureaucracy within the party organizations Lenin says;

“Perhaps the only attempt to analyse the concept bureaucracy is the distinction drawn in the new Iskra (No. 53) between the “formal democratic principle” and the “formal bureaucratic principle”. This distinction contains a grain of truth. Bureaucracy versus democracy is in fact centralism versus autonomism; it is the organisational principle of revolutionary Social-Democracy as opposed to the organisational principle of opportunist Social-Democracy. The latter strives to proceed from the bottom upward, and, therefore, wherever possible and as far as possible, upholds autonomism and “democracy”, carried (by the overzealous) to the point of anarchism. The former strives to proceed from the top downward and upholds an extension of the rights and powers of the centre in relation to the parts. In the period of disunity and separate circles, this top from which revolutionary Social-Democracy strove to proceed organizationally was inevitably one of the circles, the one enjoying most influence by virtue of its activity and its revolutionary consistency…. Thus you have, in a different environment, the same struggle between the opportunist and the revolutionary wing of the Party on the question of organisation, the same conflict between autonomism and centralism, between democracy and “bureaucracy”, between the tendency to relax and the tendency to tighten organisation and discipline, between the mentality of the unstable intellectual and that of the staunch proletarian, between intellectualist individualism and proletarian solidarity… attempts to analyse and precisely define this detestable “bureaucracy” inevitably lead to autonomism; attempts to “lend profundity” to their stand and vindicate it inevitably lead to justifying backwardness, to tail-ism..” Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Stalin takes the question of bureaucracy and struggle against it very seriously. “If it were only a question of the old bureaucrats” he says, “the fight against bureaucracy would be very easy. The trouble is that it is not a matter of the old bureaucrats. It is a matter of the new bureaucrats, bureaucrats who sympathise with the Soviet Government, and finally, communist bureaucrats. The communist bureaucrat is the most dangerous type of bureaucrat. Why? Because he masks his bureaucracy with the title of Party member.” Stalin, Thirteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B)

However, Stalin shows that he neither hides the facts of bureaucracy nor is he a utopian. He does not just point the question but points the solution. “Lenin’s slogan about the cultural revolution.’ He says, “The surest remedy for bureaucracy is raising the cultural level of the workers and peasants. One can curse and denounce bureaucracy in the state apparatus, one can stigmatize and pillory bureaucracy in our practical work, but unless the masses of the workers reach a certain level of culture, which will create the possibility, the desire, the ability to control the state apparatus from below, by the masses of the workers themselves, bureaucracy will continue to exist in spite of everything. Stalin, The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

In this respect for the initiated.  bureau named “Complaints Bureau” Stalin says;

The work of the Complaints Bureaus is of tremendous importance in the struggle to remove shortcomings in our Party, Soviet, economic, trade-union and Komsomol apparatuses, in improving our administrative apparatus.

Lenin said that without an apparatus we should have perished long ago, and that without a systematic, stubborn struggle to improve the apparatus we should certainly perish. This means that resolute and systematic struggle against conservatism, bureaucracy and red tape in our apparatus is an essential task of the Party, the working class and all the working people of our country.

The tremendous importance of the Complaints Bureaus consists in their being a serious means of carrying out Lenin's behest concerning the struggle to improve the apparatus. “Stalin, The Importance and Tasks of the Complaints-Bureaus

In conclusion, aside from few criticism and self-criticism writings on the question, most writings are bourgeois and revisionist, anarchist, anti-Marxists writings banking on the ignorance and lack of historical, theoretical knowledge of the masses. Or at best utopian, anarchist writings by those who believes that after the political revolution, society will be transformed into the communist society overnight. In the proletarian state representative organs are real working institutions, built and acting as “...a working body, executive and legislative at the same time.” Marx

And, “between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”

“The political system of “socialist self-administration” has not only nothing in common with the dictatorship of the proletariat but is even opposed to it.” Marx

As preparing the economic foundations for the withering away of the state is a precondition so is the “economic foundations for the withering away of bureaucracy,” Lenin, Plan of The Pamphlet, The Tax in Kind

Anarchist, revisionist cries over (most commonly Stalinist’) “bureaucracy” historically anti-Marxist disguised with insidious right and/or left deviations. As Stalin notes at his 13th Conference speech;

“Trotsky affirms that groups arise because of the bureaucratic regime instituted by the Central Committee, and that if there were no bureaucratic regime, there would be no groups either. This is an un-Marxist approach, comrades. Groups arise, and will continue to arise, because we have in our country the most diverse forms of economy—from embryonic forms of socialism down to medievalism. That in the first place. Then we have the NEP, that is, we have allowed capitalism, the revival of private capital and the revival of the ideas that go with it, and these ideas are penetrating into the Party. That in the second place. And, in the third place, our Party is made up of three component parts: there are workers, peasants and intellectuals in its ranks. These then, if we approach the question in a Marxist way, are the causes why certain elements are drawn from the Party for the formation of groups, which in some cases we must remove by surgical action, and in others dissolve by ideological means, through discussion.” Stalin, Thirteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B)

In almost all cases the outcry against bureaucracy by either left or right opportunists end up supporting and defending the bureaucracy in different form. Enver Hoxha, in his “Memoirs from my Meetings with Stalin” writes;

“The enemies of communism, ranging from international bourgeois reaction down to the Khrushchevites and all the other revisionists, have striven with every means to blacken and distort all the virtues, pure thoughts and just actions of this great Marxist-Leninist, and to discredit the first socialist state set up by Lenin and Stalin. With great cunning the Khrushchevites, these new disciples of Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev and Tukhachevsky, incited conceit and the feeling of superiority in those who had taken part in the war. They encouraged privileges for the élite, opened the way to bureaucracy and 'liberalism in the party and the state, violated the true revolutionary norms, and gradually managed to implant the defeatist spirit among the people.” Enver Hoxha, Memoirs from my Meetings with Stalin

Marxist Leninists are not utopians to believe that bureaucracy will wither away overnight by force. They do take the necessary steps to fight against it and prepare the conditions for its withering away.  One of  the first which is  , as Lenin puts it, bureaucrats  “are reduced to the position of simple agents; from a privileged group holding “jobs” remunerated on a high, bourgeois scale, they become workers of a special “arm of the service”, whose remuneration does not exceed the ordinary pay of a competent worker.”

One cannot and should not take the question of “bureaucracy” in the same manner, same context, within the same basket as they take in a capitalist country. 

Erdogan A
September 2020

Contents

Karl Marx, From Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right - P22

Karl Marx, in Neue Rheinische Zeitung - P31

Engels, Revolution and Counter-revolution in Germany – P39

Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. - P41

Karl Marx, The Civil War in France – P43

Engels, From The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party – P44

Marx and Engels, “Stirner” Delighted in His Construction – P48

Frederick Engels, The Housing Question – P50

Lenin, From; The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats – P51

Lenin, From; One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – P53

Lenin, Old and New – P60

Lenin, Controversial Issues – P65

Lenin, What the Counter-Revolutionary Steps of the Provisional Government Lead To – P70

Lenin, From State and Revolution – P74

Lenin, To: The All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions -P78

Lenin, From; The Party Crisis – P79

Lenin, To: G. Y. Sokolnikov – P81

Lenin, From; To: A. D. Tsyurupa – P83

Stalin, From; Three years of Proletarian Dictatorship – P85

Stalin, From; The Party's Tasks – P85

Stalin, From; The Discussion, Rafail, the Articles by Preobrazhensky and Sapronov,and Trotsy's Letter – P88

Stalin, Thirteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B) – P95

Stalin, The Results of the 13th Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) - P106

Stalin, From; The Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) -P109

Stalin, From; Questions and Answers – P112

Stalin, from; Reply to the Discussion on the Report on “The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party” – P114

Stalin, From; The Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U.(B.) – P118

Stalin, The Opposition Bloc in the C.P.S.U.(B.)  - P128

Stalin, From; The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) – P146

Stalin, from; Speech Delivered at the Eighth Congress of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League - P151

Stalin, Against Vulgarizing the Slogan of Self-Criticism - P156

Stalin, Letter to the Members of the Party Affairs Study Circle at the Communist Academy – P167

Stalin, The Right Danger in the C.P.S.U.(B.) – P170

Stalin, From; Political Report of the CC to the 16th Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) – P186

Stalin, The Importance & Tasks of the Complaints-Bureaus- P191

Stalin, From; Report to the Seventeenth Party Congress on the Work of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) – P193

Kollontai, The Workers Opposition, On Bureaucracy – P205

Enver Hoxha, Yugoslav “Self-Administration” – P223