Bureaucrats are often seen like smal grey gears that make the world around us working. And this is true, the job of the bureaucrat is to implement rules in the society to make it work smooth and with some degree of certainty. As a public servant I know that more then many more and Im proud to serve a democratic elected government independent of what policies they implement.
How ever there is times when the human inside the bureaucrat needs to take action to prevent the unthinkable to happened. The extreme wrongdoing of a bureaucrat is well described in Hannah Arendts book Eichmann in Jerusalem showing up a man who feel no guilt because he just did what he was supposed to do.
But how is it today, for sure the Holocaust will never happened today so we who work for the democratic governments don’t need to to think on human rights or wrongdoing, Well Im not sure, what I do now is that there is a lot of bureaucrats world over who see it otherwise. It could be those working for the executive bransch in USA under Trump where many now more or less openly struggle to stop their presidents politic because they consider it to dangerus, and have done so for a while.
But it could also be Swedish environmental bureaucrats who combine their interest for nature and climate with their job as public servants at mostly local and regional level. As described in Fronesis by Jan Olsson and Eric Hyssing their strategy is more to influence the politician before the make the decision then rejecting to follow the policies the often have been co-creator to.
So what is my personal approach, Im a new Eichmann just following order or a brave silent resister. I would say neither of it. My work is mostly about helping people and create their opportunity to become their best me. But in the same time I do recognize that the increasing extrem nationalistic right in the future could be a threat to those value Im as a public servant keeps high. We have seen in countries as Polen and Hungary where the politicization of the bureaucracy becomes a threat to the liberal state. So in every decision I take I in the following of Rawls ask my self is this a fair justice or not. And that day when I cant find that I as a professional works according to the principle behind justice as fairness and the veil of ignorance I will resign. Because for me as a grass root bureaucrat my work is to defend humanity, to stop racism, to stand up for peaceful solutions by increasing the opportunity and liberty for as many as possible.