St. Anthony’s Fire and a Problem of Bureaucracy

In August of 1951, in the French village of Pont-Sant-Esprit, bakers received several loads of flour. It had a greyish cast, and smelled a little off. The government depot in charge of distribution ordered them to use it anyway. By August 11, customers complained of feeling ill after eating the bread, and other bakers reported trouble getting their dough to behave properly. Multiple complaints about the flour fell on deaf ears, even though, as it later proved, more bakers in other villages complained about the products of that one specific mill. On August 17, the first local people began to suffer hallucinations. Their feet burned as if they walked on coals. Physicians had no idea what was wrong, until someone realized: St. Anthony’s Fire had struck for the first time in hundreds of years.

Ergot poisoning, or St. Anthony’s Fire, was a disease that afflicted people who ate wheat or rye contaminated by the fungus ergot. In mild cases, people get queasy, sweat a lot, have low blood pressure and a weak pulse, feel elated or giddy despite their illness, and smell like dead mice or other unpleasant things. Severe cases include terrifying nightmare hallucinations that include compulsions, terrible burning pain and swelling in the extremeties, and nerve damage or gangrene. People may kill themselves trying to escape what chases them, or die of other causes. In the French case, four people died and three hundred fell very ill.

In Schwabische Hall, I saw a painting of St. Anthony that showed people approaching him for aid with flaming feet. I’d never seen that in art before, and have not seen it since. The museum did not allow photography and did not sell postcards with that painting on them, alas.

Below is a more common painting of St. Anthony, although the style is rather different than most Renaissance paintings. (H. Bosch aside.)

A detail from the “Temptation of St. Anthony” by Mathias Gruenewald, part of the Eisenheim Altarpiece. The little demon in the corner is a victim of severe ergotism and has gangrene.

The bureaucrats in the French government, which oversaw the distribution of flour, refused to take the blame for forcing the bakers to use contaminated flour. Instead they punished the bakers for selling bad bread. The book The Day of St. Anthony’s Fire by John G. Fuller tells the tale. It is an excellent book that uses interviews, accounts written by the people of the time, court and other testimony and a little imagination in places to describe the events. I happened to find a copy as I was cleaning a corner of a bookshelf this past weekend. My parents got it out of curiosity, because medical history fascinates them. I read it as a young teen, and it left an impression. It’s a great read, if depressing because it doesn’t have a happy ending.

That lack is probably where my distrust of bureaucracies came from, even before personal experience confirmed my suspicion that large governmental or corporate entities are not necessarily your friend. Granted, the post-war French government wasn’t exactly in great shape itself, and that year had not been good for wheat in France and surrounding countries because of the wet weather and cool temperatures. Looking back, I can sort of understand why the central flour depot’s managers might have been reluctant to try to see what was going on. The miller and one wheat grower later confessed that they had broken the law by selling and accepting dirty grain that had rye, bugs, and dirt greater than the official limits. But still, there’s a sense in the book that justice was not done for the bakers or their customers.

Some people disagreed that ergot caused the outbreak. Theories range from mercury-treated wheat that should have been used only for seed, other chemicals that were used to bleach the wheat, the US government conducting tests on using LSD as a weapon [who needs the Internet to have a conspiracy theory?], or something else. The symptoms matched ergot, the weather fit ergot, and most people agree that ergot probably was the culprit.

I’d not thought of the book for a very long time, but I still remember the story.

(Interestingly, in Italy, St. Anthony’s Fire is the term for shingles. The emphasis is on the burning pain and risk of infection, not the hallucinations.)


31 thoughts on “St. Anthony’s Fire and a Problem of Bureaucracy

  1. The bureaucracy has learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.

    (Creepy/odd observation. Otto tried to Korrect “bureaucracy” into “resurrecting”. I misspelled the word, but looking at the keyboard, I can’t see how the jump was made. )

      • And remove its head. Staking isn’t enough to kill it permanently. 😈

  2. I read this book when it was first published. It was my introduction to the idea that Nature could be both helpful and harmful.
    It also put me off bread for a while.

  3. 1950-51 was some of the coldest, wettest weather in western Europe for a century, if not more. Seeing “flour” made me think of ergot poisoning as a likely source. Another sorrowful case of bureaucrats applying the procedure but not the law.

  4. Interesting, it is a wonder that we, as a civilization have progressed as much as we have considering the number of obstacles such as bureaucracy we place in our paths.

  5. [Begin Sarcasm]

    But but… what would happen if bureaucrats admitted that they could be wrong!

    It might cause the world to end!!!!

    [End Sarcasm]

  6. In a just world, the bureaucrats would be forced to eat the bread they inflicted on others.

  7. I know that this is not a palatable opinion to most of the readers of this blog, but bureaucrats have a role in the human ecosystem.
    Like intelligence services, we hear more about the failures than the successes.
    I had a professor who had worked as a USDA meat inspector. Some of his stories would gag a maggot. I’m sure the meat packers cursed the bureaucracy .

    • Oh, I am very clear that bureaucracy has uses, and that for some cases the costs of doing without are unaffordable.

      But, it very much definitely has tendencies towards certain forms of malfunctions.

      bureaucracies have some advantages in scaling costs, but scaling costs do still cause problems for bureaucracies.

      Also, ultimately bureaucracies are limited in effectiveness by the qualities of the population bureaucrats are recruited from, and the population that the bureaucracy deals with. Sorta like how ruling by force alone is impossible.

      Several American national bureaucracies have horrible scaling issues, inherently. That alone would be enough to cause frustration. Like with flour contaminated with Ergot, the American population is contaminated with communists, whose differences in behavior make the problems of American bureaucracy substantially worse.

      • Hmmm
        Does the current generation of young people see a Communist under every bed the way mine tens to?

        • Communism is one of the major world religions. PEople who identify as Christian or Atheist or Neo-Pagan or Paint-Blue-Polka-Dots-All-Over-The-Body tend to syncratize that with some flavor of socialism or communism.

          There is a lot of belief in holy magical bureaucracy, or holy magical state power, or holy magical consensus.

          Forex, ‘international cooperation to address climate change’. You break the proposed behavior down into elements, and ask yourself if the sub-elements of behavior have ever before showed up in history over any significant length of time. This analysis rather directly leads to an answer of ‘nope’. Yet, very few people are doing that analysis, or at least not admitting to it in public.

          The inference is that a lot of people have put communist fetters on their minds, and are not living an unfettered ‘life of the mind’.

          • And you don’t see your own fetters? The terms you use make assumptions about individuals that may not be warranted.
            My personal bias is that individuals should be judged by their actions, not by heavily-loaded terms . . such as christian, communist, fascist, etc.

            • Mild point of order. Bob’s looking at things from a VERY different take on the world. His writing style takes a bit of getting used to and sometimes some parsing based on experience.

              His point about some religious people absorbing some elements of Communism and Environmentalism-as-religion into their own practice without realizing it is valid. I’ve seen it. For some, that -ism eventually displaces the original faith. In others it becomes part of what it means to be a good believer (like the Protestant denominations that encourage Social Justice and Environmentalism as “what Jesus would do,” and some not-official-Catholic-doctrine things I’ve seen about “St. Francis would want you to be a vegan” and “Jesus was Communist.” [aka Liberation Theology at its worst]) And some folks remain devout to the original faith but incorporate a bit of the other thing in a mild way that’s pretty harmless or even beneficial.

              You’re right, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Which is what Bob is leading to, just in his own way. (Assuming I’m reading things correctly.)

            • TXRed summarizes my view on this point.

              Labels get used, and they may or may not be meaningful uses.

              If you can practice the exact sort of introspection, you can identify with some assurance the fetters in your own mind. Maybe those are somewhat chosen, etc.

              Fetters in someone else’s mind are a guess.

              But, if you have a group, and know about behaviors by the group, you can make a statistical inference about presence or absence of certain fetters that correspond to some labels.

              In the case of America, you would have to be mentally incapable, or lying to yourself to do a behavior sort, and then statistically infer that there are no cultists of state power present in the American population or American public offices.

              Summer of 2020, the blackshirt arsons. That is one element of the behavior. The other two important elements of the behavior are the specifics of the locations reported, and to whether the blackshirts were immediately arrested or charged. There is reasonable confidence in in the existence of people who believe in that tactic for political ends.

              Well, what about matching those mental fetters to labels?

              Neo-Nazi and Fascist are fetter sets that do do those things, but I dislike automatically classifying Americans as those flavors of national socialist. The people who do so tend to overlook that America had a perfectly good set of national socialist ideology and organization before and after defeat of the NSDAP, the Italian fascists, and the imperial Japanese. As Americans had no need for importing foreign flavors in order to sell national socialism, and as after the war those flavors became very bad marketing, the first two should no more be an automatic classification default than the Imperial Japanese system is.

              The reason we can strongly infer communists is a bigger set of behaviors, and a much more involved set of inferences. But it does involve people getting pissy about the simple fact that bureaucracies are a means of getting things done that is necessarily imperfect.

        • In high school it seems to be “H8ers” in general, ranging from “anti-trans” to “racists” to . . . I’m not sure. College campi seem to be more “Down with haters and neo-Nazis.”

          • I think that part of the high schoolers’ attitudes is rebellion against adults/authority figures, part is tribalism. The sad part is when the attitudes become so intrenched that they carry over into adulthood.
            Generally, college selects for a different ideation. Also, exposure to people who are not members of the “tribe” helps to widen their viewpoints. Exposure to “others” doesn’t change everyone, but it does help.

            • LOL 😆

              In “modern” universities, the Instructors/Professors love to get their students to Hate the “Proper Groups”.

              IE If the student doesn’t “Hate” Conservatives, Christians, Whites, “Straights”, then the Professors will make sure that the student “Hates” those groups before they leave the university.

              Of course, if the student is a member of such groups, then he/she is the target of the Professors’ Hate.

            • Oddly enough, most professors have more important tasks that teaching their students to hate the “out” groups. Such as teaching their students to think!
              “Check your assumptions at the door.”

            • It depends on where you are, unfortunately. I’ve seen both sides – profs who have a bias, admit it, and don’t impose it on the students or punish disagreement. And profs who told me I’d fail a course if I took it, because of my take on the world. Or profs who harangue students about politics and report kids to the administration if the student questions something.

              The good ones, the encouragers, tend to keep a lower and lower profile in a lot of colleges, alas. I wish there was a good cure for the trend.

            • I admit that I am not in the best position to judge how much of a problem this is in colleges and universities today. i concentrated on science and technology courses, not liberal art courses. Plus I was old enough to know how to work the system in my favor . . . if a professor had ever flunked me, the professor would have had to justify it in front of the administration (easier to prove/disprove in science/technology courses).

            • I had a recent graduate come in and thank me for being unbiased. She had an unhappy encounter with a prof who said, “My way or F, even if you can support your argument with facts.” It made me angry for her and the other students. And it was blatantly unprofessional, which further steamed me.

              Alas, I hear more about that sort of professor now than I hear about the really good ones. Which worries me greatly.

            • Yes. “My parents say Communists are bad, so Communists must be cool.” Or the fascination with Nazis and the SS there for a while – it was evil, it was forbidden, so everyone poked at it to shock others. (Or the kid who tried to shock everyone at school by reading *Mein Kampf.* I congratulated him on taking up the challenge and encouraged others to read it, and Marx, and Mao, as well.)

            • I was the student who read “Mein Kampf” in high school (checked it out from the public library). I also read William Scherer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. I never was one to believe something just because it was in writing. (I had a teacher who thought that because he gave me pamphlets on Creationism written by a doctor of theology, that should be immediately convinced that Creationism was correct. No)

            • Yeah, if you aren’t collecting intelligence from a modern university, and analyzing it for finer tells, you have no idea what is going on with modern universities, and what they are doing for and to students.

              One, some faculty are okay to good as generalist thinkers. However, broadly speaking, you cannot count on a faculty to be anything but a specialist thinker, or to know how to teach anything but specialist thinking. Goodhart’s law. The basic measures involved reward very specialized thinking skill, generalism can be very heavily punished, and there is very little time available to spend on generalism if you are very active with your graduate students.

              The basic test to examine generalism levels in faculty involves the higher leadership commission accreditation. HLC is the private organization whose approval allows American tertiary schools to receive federal funding. (With federal funding comes the general education requirements for undergraduate degrees.) The first criteria there is the institution’s formal alignment with the public good.

              One of the possibilities that a solid generalist thinker can notice is that maybe the general trend of academia is in the exact opposite direction from the public good. The level of visible activity to mitigate these risks points firmly in the direction of very many faculty being extremely blinkered, assuming that the academic community is the whole of American society, and being entirely unwilling to see the academic relationship to the public from a PoV more closely approximating the public’s views.

              Two, the specialists in academic fields break down into about four categories on generalist examination.

              i) humanities, and some others where there are decent sane scholars who work with sound theory, like our hostess, but where for decades the mainstream of theory has gradually developed in the direction of being incorrect, insane, and useless. This did not bother the general publci very much, because if they know it is wrong, they can avoid studying it, study the still sane bits of theory in the field instead, and either way mostly ignore the destructive effects.

              ii) Education, which has screwed up primary and secondary education, and which is now is seemingly in the process of ruining tertiary education with ‘evidence based teaching methodology’. Education’s theory is based off of invalid statistical thinking, and designs ‘experiments’ that have directly conflicting assumptions. Education’s results can at best be very noisy. The policy made on those results treats the results as if they are noise free, with zero error, and entirely trustworthy. There are extremely few masters or doctors in Education that know what they do not know. This did not bother the general public very much, because they did not understand how useless and abusive the current methods really are.

              iii) Medicine and Law are cases where the faculty are mostly nuts, the professional organizations (ABA and AMA) have done some very bad things with their control over accreditation, and the public has just recently started to realize how enraging the situation is. The public trust, and the professional reputation, has been metaphorically kidnapped, raped, tortured, murdered, dismembered, and dumped at various locations. The public has not found the ‘dump sites’ yet, but generalists with close ties to a university, who have found the correct information, and studied the right questions, have found the sites and identified the body parts.

              iv) Certain engineering disciplines and some other fields where the specialist professors know useful theory that is verifiably a degree of true, which are still being hurt by the general university environment, and with how badly the public schools have abused the incoming students. Frankly, those are the faculty who don’t deserve to be hung, drawn, and quartered, and their coming plight is one of the enraging elements of it all.

              Three, what exactly are the schools doing to the students?

              The public schools were absolutely a bit abusive when I was an inmate. Every sign points to them being much more so now.

              At least one university has in the last ten years expelled students, and disciplined faculty, merely for saying the N-word. One of these schools is also one of the schools saying ‘muh academic freedom of speech principles’ when it comes to the state legislature banning CRT instruction. (Critical theory, and CRT, is one element that is screwing over schools of applied math, and may easily hurt black outcomes when it comes to study of applied math. CRT and mathematics both have theories for truth of statements, the theories are not identical, and they seemingly conflict. Applying the critical theory model to mathematics seems to break mathematics in weird and unpredictable ways, so a mathematician may conclude that critical theory is disproven by contradiction. The critical theory answer is definitely that mathematics is a conspiracy. CRT’s claim that mathematics is a racist conspiracy might possibly deter black students from studying mathematics. CRT’s claim that there is an invincible conspiracy preventing blacks from learning mathematics might also demoralize black students, or deter math instructors.)

              Fundamentally, in primary school, you are quite a bit physically weaker than your instructors. Even if, from an adult perspective, one can infer that they can’t afford to kill very many students for crossing them, and for being acceptable targets, it is not reasonable to expect the students to be certain of this. If the guiding philosophy of the instructors is abusive to any degree, it is very likely that some instructors are effective in convincing some students that if the students do not say exactly what the instructor requires, that the students will be killed. The teachers were often very clear that going through the hoops they set up was the way to succeed in life. (They were wrong, but they would not have necessarily known. I still regret trusting them so much about the hoops.)

              A situation has been created where the school cohort is almost the entirety of some student’s lives, and that teachers are absolutely shaming students in front of that cohort if the students are not very careful only to say the approved things.

              The students who go to tertiary, and have internalized ‘the teacher is always right, no matter if it is not what the teacher was saying five minutes ago’, seem to largely be communists and have no social contacts outside of that cult. There model is that everyone else in the united states is a fascist, or a neo-nazi, because for them the primary meaning of fascist is ‘not a communist’. They don’t apply narrower criteria, like the ‘among other things, has a theory of state power’ or ‘everything inside the state, nothing outside the state’. These folks are very confident that the arsons of summer 2020 were committed by white supremacists, who are in their view a completely separate phenomena from anything that communists do.

              There are moderates, who have a philosophy towards information war, and for personal defensive mindset in information sources that I have zero understanding of. I assume that they go to tertiary school, and are stressed and confused.

              Then there are people who go to university, and have due prudence with their information sources. Who are conservative, because of carefully rejecting the weak pro-communist arguments that have been pushed on them. What do they know? They may explicitly know that their university will expel them for unwelcome speech, or they may only strongly infer it. There is always a strongly or weak inference that a public statement in favor of X, is actually an indication that the organization will strongly oppose X. They know to be careful about taking gen ed courses from relatively sane instructors, relative to those fields. They know that instructors or bureaucrats may at any point make intolerable demands in terms of required speech, and so that one should always be ready to abandon the degree, and walk away, in order to preserve one’s own integrity, which is more important.

              (My basic philosophy comes from avoiding pedophiles during my elementary years. If you do not have the integrity of your own mind, you are basically a dead man walking. Nothing can possibly be worth the price that is the integrity of your own mind.)

              What a conservative may see at some universities, is that the administration definitely prefers some statements over others, and there are statements that will see you ‘somehow’ unable to finish your degree. The meta at a university is always to avoid broadcasting any views that could be controversial to those university bureaucrats who are strangers. Strangers who have no information about you beyond the university records may only choose to screw you over at random. If your university has very many hands on records and processes, you must let the strangers continue to know nothing about you. Among other things, ‘anonymous’ surveys probably aren’t, responding is an unnecessary risk. The bureaucrats you personally deal with, are folks you should always be polite to, including if possible filling out paper work early, and asking nicely what you should do.

              The universities are very clear in hinting what speech they prefer, and on what side of issues they are pushing. Some universities were very clearly signalling that they were in favor of carrying out the arsons of the summer of 2020. Broadly, universities are in favor of the causes that they get federal research funding for being in favor of. The ‘academic freedom’ is basically captured by the federal funding, which is to say factions in federal government, which means factions in the federal bureaucracy, and factions in congress. So, on economic issues, you will be punished for too openly or too publically saying that the research in that field focusing /only/ how government spending might change the economy is bankrupt, corrupt, and missing the forest for the sake of the branch of a single tree. The consensus of the field does not strongly enough consider degree to which government spending and bureaucratic policy can manage to be profoundly useless or counterproductive. Because there is no faction within academia being funded in doing research that opposes those interests. The only federal research is for causes that favor the summer 2020 arsons, so there is no money opposing that speech on the record. Now, in theory historical research into how it was bad to burn down black neighborhoods a hundred years ago, say in Tulsa, might be argued as opposed the 2020 arsons. However, the historians clearly got marching orders in advance of 2020 that they would be pretending that the Tulsa Race Riots were a completely different thing from anything that anyone might be doing today.

              Maybe the moderates think that nobody in government is running a domestic terror organziation, again, I don’t know. Moderation seems profoundly alien to me, and I do not know how anyone can hold such positions today and still be a mentally competent adult. The communists definitely think that everyone else is fascist, because it is basically dogma for them that everything else is facist. Again, there is a very clear line between being a conservative at a university, and having some evidence to extrapolate from to seeing that an American political faction in US governments was very likely engaged in a domestic terrorism campaign.

        • It seems to be projective modeling that breaks down across truly alien differences in religion and culture.

          The communists think everyone believes in a holy magical czar, holy magical state power, and a holy magical set of bureaucracies. Since Christians cannot be truly ‘religious’, they must really be motivated by a theory of state power, and the theory of state power that opposes communism is classified as fascism/Nazism. (Partly, to a communist everything that opposes communism is fascism. Regardless of whether the taxonomy makes sense in terms otherwise clustering like behaviors with like.) One of the consequences is a drastic overestimate of the numbers of fighters available for attempting to carry out ‘ethnic cleansing’. Another is that when communists get pushed out of the orthodoxy of the party, they can go ‘neo-nazi’ for a period.

          Christians, on the other hand, tend to think that communists are really Satanists.

          Anyway, you can apply a fruit test, and see some of this by direct observation.

          For lots of religions, the internal magical theories of the religion have a strong effect on the broader behaviors. Forex, the state cult of the Aztec Triple Alliance. The ordinary practice of those Mexica nobility was a lot of pain magic, which synergized extremely well with all of the more famous death magic rituals. What you do from moment to moment in your ordinary daily life, is how you think that the big events in life should also be handled.

          This is one reason for the massive divide in reaction to ‘thoughts and prayers’. Those who practice Judaism and Christianity know by experience that it is a tremendously powerful means of managing psychological state. You use it long enough, and you find yourself solving problems with very little energy wasted in feeling stressed and upset about it. Sorta like Zen no-mind. But, without that experience it all seems like an empty and useless magical ritual, and you can get upset at the Christians refusing to participate in your own preferred magical ritual.

          The reason for inferring communists is that you can directly observe that there are wildly different results in fruits between people, and that some of the people have fruits that point to a magical theory of destruction. That is a magical theory that supposes that in order to get /anything/, there is something else that has to actively be destroyed. Which magical theory is fundamental to the notion that humanity can be strictly divided into oppressors and victims.

          You clearly have some people who cannot touch anything without trying to set it on fire. They have their own thing that they are trying to achieve, they are sure they need to sacrifice by destruction to accomplish it, and the stuff that others make is not their own desired thing. They are sure that others can only create by causing them harm in some important way.

          This is in direct conflict with magical theories where the creations of others, and preserving what others have done in the hands of others, can be morally neutral or even morally good.

  8. My problem with your analysis is when an individual is identified as a member of a particular group, and then the generalized characteristics of that group are assumed to describe the individual.
    Descriptors such as communist, fascist, socialist carry baggage far beyond their foundational philosophies.
    The majority of the comments at the beginning of this discussion are an example. When do we transition from “Bureaucracies are bad” to “Bureaucrats are bad”?

    • Bureaucracies are essentially dehumanizing by their role: to operate along a rigid set of predictable rules. It is a necessary thing for any group of people to operate beyond the point that each individual can know and assess all of the other individuals, but that does not mean it’s nature is not to become inhumane over time.

      And based on that, one can argue there is no such thing as a “good” or “evil” bureaucrat. Instead they are either operating according to the rules or they are operating against them.

      Ultimately, I would argue any bureaucracy requires a responsible and accountable executive who both has the authority to make moral judgements and therefore deviations from the rules of the machine, and also accept the responsibility for the errors that result. Unfortunately that also runs contrary to human nature, so one should not expect that to be the norm or even remotely likely. More likely any who attain that sort of power will get it because they want power, and will seek to expand it, rather than wield it with just restraint.

      As such the reality is, like a thorn rose, a bureaucracy may be useful in certain specific contexts, but it’s living nature means it will also aggressively seek to expand beyond those contexts to claw at any who cross it’s path, and think it good.

    • Humans are fallen creatures, and every sort of aggregate behavior by humans is prone to problems of one sort or another.

      Organizations rot from the moment people get together to create them, and any people who wish the organization to continue to serve its original or official purpose must constantly be working to offset the rot.

      You will kill a business fast if you and everyone else blindly trust that the job is being done, simply because positions are filled, and the reports are filed.

      Bureaucracies collect and distribute information, store decisions and allow decision making at a distance. Bureaucracies allow a predictable decision to be made on about the minimum necessary information. The point of the bureaucracy is that you can hire people to work in it who do not need to have the complete information set that the whole bureaucracy works on. However, that virtue can also be a vice; the bureaucrats hired do not necessarily do a constant assessment of the organization’s mission, and sanity checking of whether organization activities match up to the mission in any real way.

      Bureaucracy is everywhere, and some of it functions. Pretty much all Americans are bureaucrats to a degree. A sign up sheet for bringing refreshments to a Bible study is bureaucracy. Grousing about large bureaucracies is basically a sign that someone is observant, thoughtful, or both. If someone sees no issues to address, they very likely are not doing much to fight whatever rot is occurring in their own organizations.

      As for your first point, the answer is treat individuals as individuals, and keep aggregate understandings distinct.

      One of the potential ills of bureaucracy is treating the reduced data aggregates as necessarily real, and driving how individuals are to be treated. Like a group of N individuals has an average height. Another person is added, and the old average no longer holds. The aggregate motivated crazy answer is to add people in balanced groups to preserve the average. The sane answer might be instead to calculate a new average.

      Statistics is a powerful tool, but also easy to misuse, there are a lot of nonsense aggregate categories that people should not be treating as real. Treating them as being real amounts to being a mental magical ritual, that can absolutely drive a person nuts. Sane is culture dependent, and the behavior classified as sane is rooted in a specific group of mental ‘rituals’. (Much of communist behavior is a result of the repeated results of pretending that strict victim/oppressor categories are real. )

      Religions and cultures are somewhat realish categories. In that they actually do have trends that align to theory, and absolutely also have nominal members of the set that are not trending to theory.

      There are quite a lot of communists who haven’t gone full murdering psycho. The ones I’m personally familiar with were also acculturated to the old American culture, and so that still limits them even if their religious practice is clearly communist.

      None the less, communists also clearly lack the capacity for peace. You get them in pure groups, and their values have clearly sucked when it comes to delivering on even internal peaces. They have trouble grasping that someone can be wrong on some point, not be a bad person, and still deserve their protection. Peaceful communists seem to mostly be an artifact of protection resulting from being mixed in with a larger group of non-communists, who can enforce norms that allow for factional minorities to be tolerated.

      Follow the Christian religious imperative to treat individuals as individuals, and specifics as specifics. That seems to result in useful behavior.

      And seeing bureaucracy as an at best necessary evil is the analytical view that is needed to have hope to get any good out of a bureaucracy. Blind faith in bureaucracy seems to mainly result in waste or mass destruction.

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