High Tech

To put it bluntly, the result is the irrelevance of moral standards for the technical success of the bureaucratic operation. The instinct of workmanship, which according to Thorstein Veblen is present in every actor, focuses fully on proper performance of the job in hand. The practical devotion to the task may be further enhanced by the actor’s craven character and severity of his superiors, or by the actor’s interest in promotion, the actor’s ambition or disinterested curiosity, or by many other personal circumstances, motives, or character features – but, on the whole, workmanship will suffice even in their absence. By and large, the actors want to excel; whatever they do, they want to do well. Once, thanks to the complex functional differentiation within bureaucracy, they have been distantiated from the ultimate outcomes of the operation to which they contribute, their moral concerns can concentrate fully on the good performance of the job at hand. Morality boils down to the commandment to be a good, efficient and diligent expert and worker.

—Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989), 101.

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