Friday, June 4, 2010

"our secret weapon against the Nazi war machine was . . . bureaucracy"

In January 1944, the Office of Strategic Services created a secret document entitled “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” (available here as a free audio book) to assist operatives in disrupting the Axis war effort.


I don’t want to oversell the point that the Manual basically recommended being bureaucratic; there are parts of the Manual that advocate conduct that bureaucracies do not actually encourage, such as “Work slowly,” “Act stupid,” “Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion,” and my personal favorite, “Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.” But it is at least mildly amusing that such readily identifiable bureaucratic behavior as “insist[ing] on doing everything through ‘channels’” used to be regarded as destructive behavior.

This apparently has been the source of mirth among CIA types for two years