December 10, 2005Aside

Sunday Levity: Douglas Adams on how to tell an ex-colony

The bureaucracy survived

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

In addition to his famous five-book H2G2 trilogy and the two Dirk Gently books, Douglas Adams wrote the Liff books with John Lloyd and Last Chance To See with Mark Carwardine. The two Liff books boldly closed the gaps that had emerged in English vocabulary. Last Chance to See is about human beings and the animals it has sent to the brink of extinction. But here’s a snippet on something else that he observed on one of his expeditions:

Like most colonies, Zaire had imposed on it a stifling bureaucracy, the sole function of which was to refer decisions upwards to its colonial masters. Local officials rarely had the power to do things, only to prevent them being done until bribed. So once the colonial masters are removed, the bureaucracy continues to thrash around like a headless chicken with nothing to do other than trip itself up, bump into things and, when it can get the firepower, shoot itself in the foot.

You can always tell an ex-colony from the inordinate numbers of people who are able to find employment stopping anybody who has anything to do from doing it. [Douglas Adams in Last Chance To See]It’s a losing battle, but they are not giving up easily in this ex-colony.

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