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Among the Rank and File: Gogol in the Twilight of Empire (thenation.com)
27 points by lermontov 9 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments





> No spirit sparkles in the people, everyone here is a clerk or official, everyone talks of their departments or ministries, everything is suppressed, everything is steeped in the trivial, insignificant labor in which their lives are pointlessly wasted

Nothing ever changes about working in a bureaucracy.


The table of Ranks wasn't Peter's innovation. He borrowed it from Sweden.

His biggest mistake though was omission of regular 1:1's, annual perf reviews, goal settings from the established HR practices... ah, and "values" of course.


I hope that you're wrong in the sense that I hope that it turns out it is possible for it to change for the better... but that line definitely reminded me of the software industry in a strong way.

I don't believe it's possible. Given that bureaucracy entails extreme labor alientation, it's only natural that neither workers nor managers don't give AF about anything they do and they mostly put on a show and do a minimum that will get them promoted or not fired. That minimum does not need to further the organization's goal or even make a slightest amount of sense, as that's not the goal of the individual - they just want to be promoted or not fired.

We've had bureaucracies for thousands of years and this "problem" was never solved, because it's an innate trait of bureaucracy and not something that can be addressed and fixed. I'm sometimes amazed that, given that I've seen how they function from inside, the bureaucracies (be it government, military or large companies) manage to accomplish anything at all. They're basically soul killing constructs for achieving (albeit very inefficiently) large scale goals that couldn't be achieved otherwise. We should avoid them if at all possible - i.e. we probably need a military, as uncoordinated defense by local militia will not do against a foreign invasion, but the welfare state or medical care does not really need a large central bureaucracy and could very well be decentralized. Similarly for shopping - instead of getting goods from Wallmart, Aldi, Amazon it's better to get them from a local store, whose workers are not mired in a computerized and automated Kafkeque bureucracy they can do nothing about.


I think you would be surprised to find out how many local stores simply resell from Cosco.

Still, it's better than buying in a chain. The local store owner can decide whether to buy from Costco or not, can decide which products he carries etc., while for example a 7/11-like franchise operator is basically a glorified manager - a puppet of his corporate overlords, which control every aspect of the store for him, fine him if the products are placed on shelves in the wrong order etc.

Such a poorly researched article. The author doesn't know much about Russian or Ukrainian culture or history. But spares no opportunity to throw in the word 'Ukrainian'.

Gogol's letters to his parents, relatives and friends are published and well-known, you can go and read them here:

http://gogol-lit.ru/gogol/pisma-gogolya/index.htm

They are written in perfectly understandable if slightly archaic Russian. Zero Ukrainian influence can be seen, unlike in his Dikanka/Mirgorod collection of short stories. This makes me think that Gogol wasn't 100% fluent in his supposedly native Malorossian dialect.

Not sure about Gogol's contemporaries, but there is almost no linguistic distance between modern Russian and Gogol's prose. The reason is simple -(in the later half of 20th century) every single Russian had to read Gogol in middle/high school.

His influence on later Russian prose was also immense. Basically, the Russian of Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Gorky was built on foundations laid down by Gogol, with Pushkin thrown in for a good measure.

If that defines Gogol as a Ukrainian for you, you are welcome. Why not call him a Polish writer then?

[To clarify: My opinion is that he was born, was citizen of and lived in Russian Empire. He was thinking and writing in Russian language. Thus he was a Russian of Polish/Ukrainian descent, not a Ukrainian.]




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