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John Passant

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November 2008



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Stalinism and the Australian Public Service

Professor Leonie Bronstein is an acclaimed expert in Marxist behavioural analysis in a societal and organisational context. Her speciality is the Australian public service. I spoke to her recently at the National University of Australia and asked her what she was currently doing.

“The Prime Minister funded a project for me last year on relational decision making and hierarchical inspiration. It has been very rewarding both financially and intellectually.”

Why did the PM want the research done?

“He was particularly concerned that not every public servant understood their place and role in the decision making process. The PM wanted something rigorous yet accessible to provide information to all public servants that could easily explain that role. “

Where did you work?

“Across the whole gamut of the public service – from the big delivery agencies to the small policy oriented departments.

How did you find working with them?

“They are incredibly proactive organisations in a reactive context, a context driven from the relational nature of government, governance and economic fulfilment, all the time recognising we are dealing with human beings from particular and particulate sub-cultures.”

Where does a whole of Government approach fit in?

“It is essential. As an example, it only took seventeen weeks to get permission from agency heads to talk to staff. Every agency told me that they were so committed to this whole of Government project that they had sped up their decision making processes specifically for it.”

What did you find?

“Oh, that was amazing. The public service is based on the Stalinist model.”

What do you mean?

“Just look at it. Public service agencies have a supreme leader whose word is law. They gather around them a small clique of like minded people who govern ruthlessly. Their role is to develop and implement policies for governments and keep workers under tight control.”

What else was there in your findings?

“These Stalinettes and their Politburos” – she laughs at her little joke – “wield incredible power. Yet who elects them?”

“And of course they can hire and fire almost at will. They can re-organise tens of thousands of workers in their empire, always for efficiency reasons.”


“Well this was interesting too. The more efficient you are, the less work you can do. It makes standing in line in Siberia somewhere positively archaic.”

What about Government?

“Ah, yes. What we have is systems within systems. The top down command approach is replicated in Government; in the workforce generally; in civil society. All three interact in complex and little understood ways. “

Anything else in the study Professor?

“A few more key points. Each of the systems (eg Government, bureaucracy and civil society) is dynamic. Certain individual types struggle to become the new Stalin, but at each level and sub-level of the system.”

So where do the rest of us fit in?

“Just as Stalin could only survive with his chain of command built on fear and reward, from the politburo down to the apparatchiks and then on to the hoi polloi, so too my studies showed all public service systems are built on the reward/punish approach. Fascinating, and so simple.”

“But you know, it goes further than that. The modern day stakhanovites – those who are exemplary workers – do not become Stalins. They work hard certainly, but don’t have the special skills, talents and desires needed to rise to the top or near the top.”

But isn’t the public service based on merit?

Professor Bronstein laughs. “Nominally yes. But there are no Trotskyists leading any agency. The show trials, purges and banishments make sure of that.”

“The Public Service says it wants strategic thinkers at its senior executive level. But this is the truly Hegelian part. A survey of these apparatchiks showed that 92% did not meet this criterion. I forget which philosopher’s stone said you can’t always get what you want. But apparently you get what you need.”

How do the Stalinettes stay in power?

“To reinforce their rule, they need to manufacture an us and them mentality. The goodies are those who toe the party line. The baddies are those who question, contradict and disagree.

“But the best of all are those dialectical thinkers who question, contradict and disagree in order precisely to toe the party line. That is where your future Stalins lie.”

Do you see any other historical analogies here?

”Absolutely. The great purges of 1996 removed untrustworthy Stalinettes by painting them as Trotskyists and sent 25000 workers to Siberia. ”

“But purges are normal. They are done periodically to create enough fear and ensure the loyalty and hard work of those who do the day to day work.”

“I am predicting that future purges may well rival those of 1996. The need for enemies is just too great. Fear of the other carols us all into the circle of wagons.”

Is the stalinette system as you call it an historical certainty?

“Oh no, of course not. Stalinettism is but one small historical step on the road to the liberation of the public service. Every APS 3 shall govern.”

Are you doing any more public service work?

“Not since my book The WHADWITYY B Principle was released.”


I summarised this research I have been talking about into an acronym. WHADWITYY B. It means ”Work harder and do what I tell you, you bastards.”

Professor Leonie Bronstein “The WHADWITYY B Principle” Ninel Press Canberra November 2008 243 pp



Comment from Kowalskil
Time November 18, 2008 at 3:22 am

1) Google fetched the following for me: ”
”Absolutely. The great purges of 1996 removed untrustworthy Stalinettes by painting them as Trotskyists and sent 25000 workers to Siberia. ”

I have no idea about this episode. Please eleborate.

2) Perhaps some readers on this website will be interested in this:

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The term Stalinism is now used in so many contexts that one can be confused. Those who know very little about the true Stalinism might learn a lot from my short and easy-to-read 2008 book entitled “Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist Regime.” Excerpts are at:

Please share this URL with those who might be interested.

P.S. This is an educational book for those who know very little about tragic aspects of Soviet history. It mixes well-known facts, and descriptions by survivors of gulag camps, with comments and observations worth discussing.

As shown on the back cover, the book was not written to make money (royalties are committed to a scholarship fund); it was written to expose horrors of proletarian dictatorship. The book is dedicated to all victims of Stalinism, including my idealistic father. My goal is to place as many of its copies as possible in homes, libraries and bookstores. But that is a very difficult task, especially for a self-published author. Would you, or someone you know, be able to review my book for a local, or not-so-local, newspaper? A review would probably convince bookstores that the book is worth ordering.

Pasting the above book information into messages to potential readers, librarians and bookstore owners would be highly appreciated. The topic deserves it.

3) I also hope that someone will comment and rate my last week OpEdNews articles at:–by-Ludwik-Kowalski-081111-13.html

Thank you in advance,
Ludwik Kowalski, Ph.D.

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