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Dosadi Bureau Of Sabotage

by Ken Manheimer last modified Jun 22, 2023 12:29 PM
An excerpt from Frank Herbert's _The Dosadi Experiment_, one of my favorite Science Fiction books.

The Dosadi Experiment is one of my favorite reads. The story is a combination of outrageously capable people surmounting monumental challenges involving privileges of power, law, and the tension between individual and social prerogative. I think it's my personal, philosophical antidote to what i feel are rampant distortions of such issues in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I may be deluding myself with another form of idealism, but I find Frank Herbert's (Dosadi's author, better known for the Dune series) indulgences to be much more credible.

This excerpt describes the emergence and purpose of The Bureau of Sabotage, for which the hero is an agent - a sort of James Bond, for an agency designed to keep governmental and corporate power from running amok rather than expediting it.

Centuries had passed since the great convulsion out of which BuSab had originated, but the ConSentiency had never been allowed to forget that birth. It was taught to the young of every species.

"Once, long ago, a tyrannical majority captured the government. They said they would make all individuals equal. They meant they would not let any individual be better than another at doing anything. Excellence was to be suppressed or concealed. The tyrants made their government act with great speed 'in the name of the people.' They removed delays and red tape wherever found. There was little deliberation. Unaware that they acted out of an unconscious compulsion to prevent all change, the tyrants tried to enforce a grey sameness upon every population.

"Thus the powerful governmental machine blundered along at increasingly reckless speed. It took commerce and all the important elements of society with it. Laws were thought of and passed within hours. Every society came to be twisted into a suicidal pattern. People became unprepared for those changes which the universe demands. They were unable to change.

"It was the time of brittle money, 'appropriated in the morning and gone by nightfall,' as you learned earlier. In their passion for sameness, the tyrants made themselves more and more powerful. All others grew correspondingly weaker and weaker. New bureaus and directorates, odd ministries, leaped into existence for the most improbable purposes. These became the citadels of a new aristocracy, rulers who kept the giant wheel of government careening along, spreading destruction, violence, and chaos wherever they touched.

"In those desperate times, a handful of people (the Five Ears, their makeup and species never revealed) created the Sabotage Corps to slow that runaway wheel of government. The original corps was bloody, violent, and cruel. Gradually, the original efforts were replaced by more subtle methods. The governmental wheel slowed, became more manageable. Deliberation returned.

"Over the generations, that original Corps became a Bureau, the Bureau of Sabotage, with its present Ministerial powers, preferring diversion to violence, but ready for violence when the need arises."

They were words from McKie's own teens, generators of a concept modified by his experiences in the Bureau. Now, he was aware that this directorate composed of all the known sentient species was headed into its own entropic corridors. Someday, the Bureau would dissolve or be dissolved, but the universe still needed them. The old imprints remained, the old futile seeking after absolutes of sameness. It was the ancient conflict between what the individual saw as personal needs for immediate survival and what the totality required if any were to survive.

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