Bureaucracy is one of the most contradictory subjects in political theory. One can explain these contradictions by the positive and negative opinions about bureaucratic system. Bureaucracy is an administrative system that presupposes hierarchy in the community, division of work, impersonal relationships, an official record, official rules, and the existence of the administrative class. The benefits of bureaucracy are that it gives the opportunity for promotion and develops consistency. The disadvantages are related to the excessive reliance on regulations and rules, invalidity of their assumptions, rigid hierarchy.
This essay intends to explain the theme of bureaucracy in Civilizations and Discontents by Zigmund Freud and The Castle by Franz Kafka. Moreover, this paper reveals the presence of Freud's theories in the novel The Castle by Franz Kafka. This essay proves that Freud's theories can also be related to the political theory. Freud's approach is can be applied for explaining the bureaucracy in the community.
Freud's Approach in Civilization and Discontents
First of all, Freud's approach in Civilizations and Discontents concerns such themes as aggression, relation of an individual to civilization, Eros, death-drive concept, happiness, psychological heritage, consciousness and the super-ego. According to Freud, aggression is the result of the instincts of human beings. In modern society, the aggression is restrained to the imposition of authority, the rule of law, ensuring happiness and security. However, subduing of aggression and destruction can lead to psychological neurosis. Moreover, the aggression is related to rebels and dissatisfaction of the community. Zigmund Freud's theories prove that the evolution of civilization influences on the development of the individual. Character-formation benefits a personal identity. Sublimination includes channeling of energy from psychological and physical activities. Non-satisfaction is the result of burying of aggression and imposing of rules of the order and law.
Personal happiness can not be achieved due to the interest for the cohesion and social unity. Freud insists on the pleasure principle that is crucial for achieving happiness in the context of civilization. The “death drive” theory of Freud is opposed to his Eros theory. Both theories are balancing to avoid destructive and violent behavior. Zigmund Freud states that civilization presupposes the struggle between the death drive and Eros.
Another aspect of Freud's theory in Civilizations and Discontents deals with the super-ego and consciousness. Modern society is under the threat of an overwhelming sense of guilt. The super-ego or conscience keeps the aggressive instincts. The super-ego promotes rebellions against authority. Conscience puts severe demands not only on the individuals but forceful leaders. However, Freud also distinguishes a collective super-ago typical for men of great achievement and forceful leaders.
According to Freud, civilization is inimical to human happiness; therefore, rebellion and aggression are inevitable. Participation in civilized life presupposes the renunciation of the aggressive impulses. A person should satisfy his violence and sex desires to become civilized.
“If civilization requires such sacrifices, not only of sexuality but also of the aggressive tendencies in mankind, we can better understand why it should be so hard for men to feel happy in it. In actual fact primitive man was better off in this respect, for he knew nothing of any restrictions on his instincts.” wrote Freud. It means that sexuality and aggression are natural instincts that are subdued.
Freud's theory in Civilizations and Discontents insists that love is the only way of defense against violence and aggressiveness. However, the main issue is that the civilization does not pay attention to this feeling. Civilization wants to overcome brutal violence, but the law and regulations only reinforce it. Civilization expects to prevent the worst atrocities of brutal violence by taking upon itself the right to employ violence against criminals, but the law is not able to lay hands on the more discreet and subtle forms in which human aggressions are expressed, writes Freud in Civilizations and Discontents. It means that he accuses not only the government but people in the enormous cruelty and violence.
Moreover, Freud believes that the evolutionary development is a dangerous process for the humanity. First of all, the evolutionary development reinforces danger from a human being. Secondly, danger is provoked by consciousness.
Relationship between the individual and community is a leading theme in Civilizations and Discontents. However, one can say that this topic is alarming for the modern society that provokes aggression and cruelty. Civilization is based on the relationships among individuals. According, to the statistics the rates of crimes and violence are increasing. Freud proves that the process of gaining civilization does not protect people from the weakness of bodies, dangers of the world. The demands of civilization do not result in happiness for an individual.
Zigmund Freud believes that it is impossible to control the aggression and the desire for love. It means that aggression is the desire to satisfy any personal interests in any way. As a result, he defines the external world, the weakness of body and violation of the code of civilization as enemies against happiness. An interesting fact is that any social and political issues in Freud are related to the notion of “love”.
Freud's Influence on the Theme of Bureaucracy in the Castle by Franz Kafka
Analyzing The Castle by Franz Kafka, one should say that the theme of bureaucracy influenced by Freud's theories is evident here. First of all, Kafka does not fully name his character Joseph K implying that he is unimportant in the bureaucratic system. The governmental system described in the novel relies upon the rulers with rich residences of the rulers and major church. The castle is symbolic in this novel as it is situated at the top of the hills and proves the superiority of the higher classes. As the bureaucracy presupposes division of the community in classes, this novel shows the consequences of such division for people of the lower class. It is evident that Kafka is inspired here by Freud as The Castle reveals such issues as imposition of authority that provokes dissatisfaction. However, the population of villages does not have the driving forces to wake up their consciousness.
In The Castle Kafka attacks modern bourgeois society implying the castle as the entire bureaucracy that is contrasted with the whole village implying the people. Bureaucracy has not written laws, but the regulations that are very vague. The castle communicates with people indirectly and unclearly. “Why couldn’t the gentlemen communicate with one another directly? Did K. still not understand? Such a thing had never before happened to the landlady, she said—and the landlord conﬁrmed it for himself—even though they had been obliged to deal with all kinds of recalcitrant persons”, writes Franz Kafka. However, people do not show their attitude to their relation. According to Freud's theory, people bury their aggression, and this is their instinct behavior. A tavern-hotel is the location for the communication between the castle and people. This place proves about useless negotiations and empty words that are characteristic features of bureaucracy.
The meeting between the emissaries from the castle takes place at night. Kafka wants to reinforce the indirectness and deceptive character of these negotiations. This is Joseph K, who is mad notices that something strange takes place. The character of the illness is clearly influenced by Zigmund Freud. Nobody denies that fact that even at the present time The Castle can be the description of the state of affairs in any state and government.
The Castle is a satire on bureaucracy and social governance that are tied to the useless laws and regulations. The surreal world is a symbol of the community divided into the classes, where conscious sleeps and do not desire to rebel for the proper rights. Kafka supposes a bureaucratic system mad and inefficient. However, The K in The Castle plays the role of a super-ago whose conscious wants to rebel and suppress to the castle. He hopes to defeat the bureaucracy trying to follow their rules and understand the situation. However, soon even he can not stand this system and leaves his efforts sending everything to hell. This means that the bureaucratic system is rooted in the society, and it is extremely difficult to change the situation.
The main challenges of K are dealing directly with the authorities who are indirect, insincere and unclear. These are invisible and remote gentlemen that solve invisible and distant cases. K is sure that their organization is not influential factor as their empty words and promises ruin everything making utopia. This is the effects of bureaucracy that are like the incurable diseases. Here one deals with the “death drive” theory by Freud that makes another his Eros theory inefficient.
The main character of The Castle K wants to fight for something more vital. This is his free will, but he feels that he is forceless before the authorities and their bureaucratic system and the chairman’s position. “It amuses me,” said, K, “only because it gives me some insight into the ridiculous tangle that may under certain circumstances determine a person’s life.” These words prove that the bureaucracy is like madness that is revealed through unpredictable and hidden symptoms. K confronts the castle with his courage and boldness. However, he does not have the support from other people who are victims of the bureaucratic system. They are afraid of K. Without doubt, it is ridiculous and senseless to persuade them as they are like zombies. According to Freud, one can say that there is no struggle between the death drive and Eros.
Franz Kafka concludes that those who belong to the castle have phenomenal power. As a result, his character K decides to conduct himself as other people, be indifferent, and live his life knowing about the absolute power of the castle. It is evident that indifference of people makes the bureaucratic system more powerful. According to Freud's theory, it is difficult to control aggression. The aggression of the castle is evident in their desire to fulfill their interests ignoring people's interests. K is sophisticated as he understands that the castle is an evil to the community that is blind and inactive. Moreover, K knows about bureaucrats, resists them and wants to fight for the changes. Not without a reason, Franz Kafka presents K as a mad person because his actions are crazy not only for the representatives of the castle but also for people who surround him. Franz Kafka describes the community as a surrealistic to prove that bureaucracy is an issue of all times.
In The Castle K, tries to do something but he can not without the support and help of the residents. K is not scaring as he starts doing what it is impossible. He is discouraged, frustrated but determined. K is wise as he understands immediately that bureaucracy is an evil to the state and its residents. As a result, K is the symbol of the modern time that is unable to make politics work efficiently. Franz Kafka relies upon Freud's theories. He reveals the relationships between people and the government that are one-way. Another issue is that people have no motivation to fight, therefore, they are indifferent.
In The Castle Kafka acts according to Freud's theories implying that they are known for him. First of all, he presents the aggression as the instincts through the activity of the castle. Secondly, his protagonist K deals with psychological neurosis that is the result of subduing destruction and aggression. However, when K tries to release his aggression, he is unable to do this due to the lack of support from the residents.
K corresponds to the character-formation approach of Freud's theory as he is determined, wise and sophisticated. His Sublimination begins when he decided to change the community and defend its from bureaucracy. According to Freud, his final stage is non-satisfaction. K is disappointed with his efforts and residents' indifference and leaves everything. Such psychoanalysis is used by Franz Kafka to define the challenges provoked by the bureaucratic system. Moreover, through Freud's theory of “the dream work”, Franz Kafka emphasizes readers' attention to the sharpness of the issue for the modern society.
One should mention that The Castle violates the themes of love and humanism. As a result, Freud's theory about love importance is confirmed. However, one person is unable to express so much love and humanism to save the community from bureaucracy and aggression. It is evident that Kafka only offers the way of solving political and social issues. A deep involvement with people of the village shows K's positive attitudes, but the social context does not benefit him. “We will turn, therefore, to the less ambitious problem: what the behaviour of men themselves reveals as the purpose and object of their lives, what they demand of life and wish to attain in it”. Freud insists that people define the level of their life, their behaviour, therefore, they should not complain.
It is obvious that the castle also defines such domestic goals as the achievement of personal objectives, family, home and job. As a result, people feel fear to deal with them to avoid bigger challenges. Again, one can say that indifference is like a defensive reaction to bureaucracy. The villagers can not fulfill their interests; therefore, the castle is above them. Overcoming obstacles is not possible for the villagers. Consequently, this creates the gap between them and the castle.
Contemporary Politics and Its Relation to Freud's Civilizations and Discontents and Kafka's The Castle
The political environment of the contemporary times depends in many social and cultural factors. One can say that nowadays bureaucracy is a usual political phenomenon. Moving towards the industrial economy was related to a sharpening class division, alienation and wealth accumulation. As a result, Civilization and Discontents by Freud does not lose its actuality. Brutal violence, aggression and useless regulations and laws are the leading methods for the politicians and governors. One can say that that Freud is right stating that civilization is a way of the expression of aggression.
Modern bureaucracy presupposes the accumulation of money that is unavailable for people of the lower class. Politicians insist on the equality between people. However, it is only their theoretical intention. Division of the community in two classes is evident. Only some people from the community can be rich, others work for them. Nothing has changed from Kafka's time, and he predicted this in the Castle. Both Kafka and Freud believe that humanism and love are the ways of controlling aggression. However, the external world, the weakness of body and violation of the code of civilization remain enemies for the modern society.
The upper class ran the society, and this remains a natural phenomenon for the contemporary world. The lower class worked and could satisfy only some of their needs. Lack of money and fear to lose their job made them more obedient. The elite received the products of their work and that social gap made them “the castle” of Kafka. Bureaucracy is a result of the class division and social inequality in the contemporary community. “The impression forces itself upon one that men measure by false standards, that everyone seeks power, success, riches for himself and admires others who attain them, while undervaluing the truly precious things in life”, writes Freud in his Civilization and Discontents. Zigmund Freud predicts the steadiness of the values of Kafka's castle.
The conflict between the lower and uppers classes remain unsolved even now as it is reinforced by the social inequality, aggression, cruelty and desire to rebel. Traditionally, bureaucracy is the exploitation of the lower class by the elite and, class struggles are the driving forces of all historical developments. The class feudal society gave birth to class antagonisms. However, nowadays, modern bureaucracy has a bit different character, and this is its operating within the economic system. Contemporary bureaucrats include the modern bourgeois, leaders of armies and industrial millionaires. It is evident that the modern bourgeois can not exist without the improvement of the instruments of production and the relation of production. As a result, the lower class creates these conditions for the bourgeois.
In conclusion, one should say that the theme of bureaucracy is present in Civilizations and Discontents by Zigmund Freud and The Castle by Franz Kafka. Freud reveals it through the notions of super-ego, consciousness and rebellion against of authority. Kafka presents bureaucracy through the division of the community into two classes: the upper class (the Castle) and the lower class (the Villagers). According to Freud's theories, one can characterize the community according such criteria as the character-formation, Sublimination and non-satisfaction. However, people try to hide all their feelings to such negative phenomenon as bureaucracy.
In The Castle Kafka attacks modern bourgeois society implying the castle as the entire bureaucracy that is contrasted to the whole village implying the people. Kafka characterizes bureaucracy as the system has not written laws, but the regulations that are very vague. The Castle is a satire on bureaucracy and social governance that are tied to the useless laws and regulations. The surreal world is a symbol of the community divided in the class, where conscious sleeps and do not desire to rebel for the proper rights. The bureaucratic system is rooted in the society and it is extremely difficult to change the situation.
The bureaucracy of the present times defines the political environment, sharpens class division, alienation and wealth accumulation. As a result, Civilization and Discontents by Freud does not lose its actuality. Brutal violence, aggression and useless regulations and laws are the leading methods for the politicians and governors. One can say that that Freud is right stating that civilization is a way of the expression of aggression.