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Article

Abstract

Recently some U.S. scholars claim to have discovered the dark side of the force: bureaucracy. They tell us that "[b]ureaucracy is the primary form of organized power in America today, and.., is therefore a primary target of those who seek liberation from modem forms of human domination."' Bureaucracy oppresses its clients simultaneously by discretion misused and by precise rules overused. As an alternative, some critics of bureaucracy put forward roseate visions of participatory democracy, sometimes reduced to concrete proposals, and sometimes as a code-word for "the ideal under which the possibilities of joint transformation of social life are collected."' Whatever the future of participatory democracy in the United States, in today's Africa to abandon bureaucracy in pursuit of the chimera of participatory democracy will only ensure the perpetuation of poverty and vulnerability rooted in the economic, political, and social institutions inherited from colonialism. Unchanged despite independence, these institutions continue to grind out wealth and power for a tiny minority (mostly non-African and living overseas), and poverty and vulnerability for most Africans.

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