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Political Science in Europe

Bureaucracies of Intelligence

International Relations
Political Sociology
Comparative Perspective
Sophia Hoffmann
Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient
Sophia Hoffmann
Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient

In his brilliant book “The Demon of Writing”, Ben Kafka argues that bureaucratisation is connected to democratisation. With the end of personal rule and the beginning of popular rule, abstract processes, based on democratic laws, replace personal processes, based on despotic laws. These abstract processes require documentation, for example to ensure transparency, and thus rely on increasingly endless paper trails. In this paper, I compare the bureaucracies of intelligence agencies of democratic and dictatorial governments and thus problematise Kafka’s argument. Bureaucracies may have to do more with the emergence of particular assemblages of artefacts, rather than democracy, and work to produce certain modes of governance that both democratic and dictatorial governments find useful when it comes to their intelligence agencies.
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