Thursday, March 09, 2006

Michael Collins, Revolutionary as Bureaucrat

Found this New Republic review of the new biography of Michael Collins, an IRA leader after WWI, interesting because of the use of "bureaucrat" throughout. (Free registration required.)

Who was the real Michael Collins?:
"Irish nationalism had always had a surplus of dreamers, poets, visionaries, rhetoricians, and idealists. What it lacked was bureaucrats. Collins became the indispensable man of the Irish revolution because he knew how to run things.

The guerrilla chief who demanded that his subordinates supply reports 'done in tabular form and furnished in duplicate' was simply a grown-up version of the boy in the Post Office Savings Bank, where hundreds of thousands of transactions had to be recorded accurately every day and clerical errors were not tolerated. The earnest, punctual Collins who earned a reputation as 'the speediest young clerk in the Savings Bank' was, in embryo, the leader whose favorite terms of castigation were 'lazy,' 'inefficient,' and 'unbusinesslike.' Obscured by the legend of the trickster-terrorist is the real Collins story: the literal treason of the clerk. "

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