by Fred W. Riggs
Dwight Waldo has treated public administration as an inherently political process ever since he wrote about it in The Administrative State. In that tradition, I attempt here to open a new chapter in the same narrative by recognizing that the greatest accomplishments of contemporary public administration and bureaucracy can be attributed to the triumphs of modernity and to its three proudest achievements: industrialization, democracy, and nationalism. Moreover, during the past two centuries these interdependent achievements have linked the whole earth into a single world system.
Until recently we have taken pride in this remarkable evolutionary story, largely ignoring its negative side-effects. Now, however, just as our astronauts discovered the dark side of the moon, so have we also become increasingly aware of the tragic costs of our greatest successes. However, we are not moving beyond modernity, as our post-modernists demand -- rather, the dreadful implications of our achievements are becoming apparent. We need to think seriously about them and their implications for the future. I shall use the term, para-modernism to pull together the sorry story of what our greatest successes have bred and the crises that we must now confront, with special reference to the role and power of public bureaucracies.1
To read this paper, jump to Part I of PARA-MODERN.