There is a basic assumption in Central Europe, stemming perhaps from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and refined to an art form by the Communists (because it is as prevalent in Austria as it is in Slovakia, Hungary, or Poland), that men must be controlled. Not because they are bad or good, but because they are there. The purpose of man is to be measured and categorized. Perhaps this stems from a Roman Catholic view of man, or the more modern approach of salvation by numbers.
Remember, getting through the bureaucratic jungle is a relationship thing. Central Europe runs on connections and relationships. It does not really matter what the rules are, because falling back on your "rights" does not help you. The bureaucrat will not get fired. A brief glance at the architecture of the bureaucratic establishment reveals the value placed on human life. The small, low window forces the humiliated supplicant to bend down to speak. The living permit, the working permit, the import permit, the export permit, the building permit, the destroying permit, the business permit, the transport permit. All forms of life are legislated, regulated, registered, and manipulated. If it can be named, measured, or labeled, it can be taxed or registered.
Marsh Moyle is director of Central European Foundation, Bratislava, Slovakia. Excerpt reprinted with permission. Copies of the full paper, intended for newcomers to East Central Europe, may be obtained by sending a check for $7 in U.S. currency, made payable to CEMF, to Box 2191, La Habra, CA 90632, USA; or Mission Forum, Kerngasse 4, 2353 Guntramsdorf, Austria; or CEMF, 3 Springfield Road, Hinkley, Leics LE10 1AN, England.
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© 1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report