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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

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Moreover, it would be unduly optimistic to expect
that governments, even if democratic, will always do
what is best in the public interest. I have spoken
before of some evils connected with bureaucracy; I
wish now to consider those involved in the relation
of the official to the public. In a highly organized
community those who exercise governmental func-
tions, from Ministers down to the most junior
employees in local offices, have their own private
interests, which i>y no means coincide with those
of the community. Of these, love of power and
dislike of work are the chief. A civil servant who says
"no" to a project satisfies at once his pleasure in
exercising authority and his disinclination for effort.
And so he comes to seem, and to a certain extent to
be, the enemy of those whom he is supposed to serve.
Take, as an illustration, the measures necessary for
dealing with a shortage of food. If you possess an
allotment, the difficulty of obtaining food may lead
you to work hard if you are allowed to use your
produce to supplement your rations. But most
people must buy all their food unless they are engaged
in agriculture. Under laissez-faire, prices would soar,
and all except the rich would be seriously under-
nourished. But although this is true, few of us are
adequately grateful for the services of the ladies in
food offices, and still fewer of them can preserve
through fatigue and worry a wholly benevolent atti-
tude to the public. To the public, the ladies appear,
however unjustly, as ignorant despots; to the ladies,