In Lieu of Red Tape
What I’m dubbing the “Good Bureaucracy” (hereafter, GB) is a theme that occurs in Frank Herbert’s writings. When I say this, don’t get all, “there wasn’t anything like that in Dune”, because Dune, while a delightful and worthwhile book, is not at all representative of Herbert’s writing. The GB occurs most predominently in the ConSentiency stories (Whipping Star, The Dosadi Experiment, “The Tactful Saboteur”, {FILL}), but also in books like Dragon in the Sea, and in various stories, such as {FILL}.
There are several versions of the GB, and Herbert also includes a number of ortho-B’s and some where there are mixed attributes. In general, a GB is a governmental or para-governmental (the Bene Gesserit are the closest Dune comes to a GB) institution which differs from traditional B’s in that it is the outcome of critical scrutiny and planning designed to take into account the systemic flaws and possibilities associated with such institutions; i.e., B’s as we have them in real life tend to be inhuman (esp. in the [Arendt]ian sense of human), oppressive, and stultifying. A GB is intimately concerned with humanity and politics (again in the [Arendt]ian sense), and is designed to have an invigorating influence on both society and those whose lives it touches. Indeed, one can simply say that a GB is one which is centrally concerned with preserving the human.
There are other elements; Herbert is concerned not merely with B’s but with their agents; he has a fondness for making heros of them. (Jorj X. McKie being the obvious example.) These are social engineers who are deeply trained in a wide range of disciplines (linguistics is vaunted in the ConSentiency stories; likewise psychology in Dragon in the Sea, ecoloy in {FILL}) making them qualified to intervene in extremely complex situations. They are also usually portrayed as being in some way ruthless, cruel, or machiavellian, that last adjective being perhaps the operative one in that one of the tasks of a GBcrat is often to be bad so that others can be good. And as with [Machiavelli], it would be wrong to regard this instrumentalism and the actions it sanctions immoral; they are the outcome of a carefully considered moral analysis. The GBcrat should be distinguished from ortho-Bcrats not only in their training, skill, and sex appeal, but also in their paradoxical and troubled relationship with the authority they represent, for essential to the GB concept is the recognition (on the part of the GB, its founders, its GBcrats, the writer, and the reader) that institutionalized organizations of this sort, and political authorities of this sort, are necessary and full of both positive and negative potential.
h2. Specific cases:
Bu Sab: see entry under same.
Others: {FILL—from DitS, the bit about city planning, the bit about the “troubleshooter, the Bene Gesserit and other parallels from Dune, etc.}
h2. Parallels in other writers:
h3. Bester
We find something very like the GB in certain of Alfred [Bester]’s writings, especially The Demolished Man, where we find the Esper Guild, which is something like a cross between the AMA and NAACP, only for telepaths, conceived as being both a birth minority and a professional class plagued with ethical difficulties. The Guild invests heavily in training its members, engages in considerable social engineering, and is intensely but not necessarily typically ethical—all primary GB traits. It is represented by a GBcrat hero, Lincoln Powell, who is sort of a Besterian anti-anti-hero (in the sense that Bester vastly prefers anti-heros to heros, and Powell’s straight-laced good citizenship has something of the tongue-in-cheek about it), and who stands in for the emerging Esper-led society in its conflict with a Last Great Criminal Mastermind.
h3. Foundation
Perhaps the prototypical GB is Asimov’s Foundation series (Asimov’s work on the foundation stories began not long before Herbert’s Dragon in the Sea was published), which is engaged in the characteristic GB social engineering, but which ultimately (and especially, here, in the form of the Second Foundation) is an outsider manipulating history, and thus exerts a sort of para-tyrannical influence very unlike the more democratic and public GBs that are representative. Indeed, Foundation probably has more in common with Sturgeon’s More than Human than it does with, say, Whipping Star.

h2. See also
Arendt, Organizational Theory, Bester