Just as what came to be called "globalization" was really a creation of new political alignments, policy decisions, and new bureaucracies—which were only later followed by physical technologies like containerized shipping, or the Internet—so the pervasive bureaucratization of everyday life made possible by the computers is not, itself, the result of technological development. Rather it's the other way around. Technological change is simply not an independent variable. Technology will advance, and often in surprising and unexpected ways. But the overall direction it takes also depends on social factors.
This is easy to forget because our immediate experience of everyday bureaucratization is entirely caught up in new information technologies: Facebook, smartphone banking, Amazon, PayPal, endless handheld devices that reduce the world around us to maps, forms, codes, and graphs. Still, they key alignments that made all this possible are precisely those that I have been describing in this essay, that first took place in the seventies and eighties, with the alliance of finance and corporate bureaucrats, the new corporate culture that emerged from it, and its ability to invade educational, scientific, and government circles in such a way that public and private bureaucracies finally merged together in a mass of paperwork designed to facilitate the direct extraction of wealth. This was not a product of new technologies. To the contrary, the appropriate technologies took decades to emerge. In the seventies, computers were still something of a joke. Banks and government offices were keen on putting them into service, but for most of those on the receiving end, they were the very definition of bureaucratic idiocy; whenever something was terribly, obviously wrong, the reaction was always to throw up one's eyes and blame "some computer." After forty years and the endless investment of research funding into information technologies, we have gotten to the point where the kinds of computers bankers employ, and provide, are our very definition of infallible, magical efficiency.