How many control freaks does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A bit of satire in response to the question, “How many control freaks does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Any resemblance to organizations you may have heard of is completely coincidental.


To the Control Freak Light Bulb Screwing-In Community:

A friendly member of our committee has asked a question of us, which members have every right to do, and we will give him the benefit of the doubt as to the constructive intentions behind it. The question is, “How many control freaks does it take to screw in a light bulb?” After conferring in an exemplary way with a minimum of bristling and rancor, we of the informal leadership group have decided that this is an opportune time to share with the Committee the Committee’s guidelines, which have been changed by us only slightly since the last time they were shared. We believe that our friendly member’s question is answered as well as possible by the guidelines, which follow:



The name of this committee shall be the Control Freak Light Bulb Screwing-In Committee.


The purpose of the Control Freak Light Bulb Screwing-In Committee shall be to shed light on the complex realities of social life, political conflict, and objects in rooms by screwing in light bulbs when requested by authorized persons.


The motto of the Control Freak Light Bulb Screwing-In Committee shall be, “Please Stand Aside So That We Can Bring Light out of Darkness.”


a). “We” (or “Us,” or “Our”) has a two-fold meaning. In the first sense, it refers not to the committee as a whole nor to the governing subcommittee but to an undefined group of leaders (“The Leadership”), some of whom, at any given time, are original founders of the committee. The Leadership have a deep understanding of the committee’s reason for being and are driven by a total commitment to its purpose. The term “inner circle” is not an approved term, and those who use it are to be considered ideologically questionable, at best, and are to be shunned (mandatory). In the second sense, the word “We” refers warmly and generously to the control freak lightbulb screwing-in community as a whole insofar as it is composed of people who recognize the Leadership and our deep understanding of light bulb screwing-in in its political and social context. The committee as defined by its official membership may or may not be congruent to this larger sense of “We,” depending on the situation at hand.

b). “Light” may seem to the uninitiated to be a term with an obvious meaning that need not be defined here. However, the centrality of Light to our mission has required us to investigate its social underpinnings and subject it to analysis. The paradox that “turns the bulb,” as it were, lies in the fact that while light is irreducibly ideological, it is also required for seeing (at least for those who have not fully purged themselves of ideology, which is the accomplishment that allows us, the leadership, to see in the dark when others cannot). Because of the inherent ideological structure of light, and by extension any light-emitting devices such as light bulbs, the seriousness of our mission and its dire importance to society should be self-evident. The analysis of the social structuration of light and light bulbs is a complex matter requiring a hard-won consciousness of the electromagnetic spectrum, and may be explained to members from time to time as we find it necessary (in terms relative to the Leadership agenda).

c). “Guidelines” is a term with a deliberately different meaning from “Bylaws,” and our choice to use the word “Guidelines” rather than “Bylaws” stems from our commitment to democracy and informality. The term “Guidelines” has a looser meaning, which shows that we are relaxed, hip, and informal. It also implies flexibility, which we favor, because rules, as we know, are imposed undemocratically. Because we have guidelines rather than rules, we have some “wiggle room” that we might need at times when things are tricky. As a result, accountability is informal, which is appropriate among friends like us. Disagreements are resolved with reference to our vague defining principles, about which the Leadership has the final say. (To complain about this is unfriendly and inappropriate in an informal, friendly group such as ours.) We are proud to provide the wider world with such an example of democratic self-government, since democracy is in such short supply outside of our own committee.

d). “Control Freak” is a derisive term which we have re-appropriated to emphasize our dedication to a mission and a set of values. This mission and values-set is one that others may not understand or may lack the ethical commitment to prioritize over expediency and bourgeois comforts. Accordingly, it is also a mission and values-set that we are generally unable to explain to others to their satisfaction. But the ignorant remain ignorant by their own choice, and this is the basis for our entitlement to control in the crucial area of light bulb-screwing-in.



a). Composition. [Nota bene, inquirer.] The Light Bulb Screwing In Committee is composed of an even number of elected control freaks, including the chair, serving in three year terms, elected in a staggered sequence (see ARTICLE VII: ELECTIONS). The number of members is variable and must equal either seven or a one-twentieth portion of the represented stakeholders (voting constituency) (rounded up) needing light at nightfall thirty days before the election, whichever is greater. This formulation was arrived at through a process of spirited discussion spanning several years, and is an “unfinished work,” meaning that it is subject to change at the discretion of the Committee.

b). New Members. The Leadership encourages – IN THE STRONGEST TERMS POSSIBLE – new people to stand for election to the committee. We recognize the importance of new ideas for adapting to changing circumstances. New ideas are good. We are not afraid of them, and we are not afraid of new people. We are not opposed to change. Change is needed at times. New ideas are needed at times. Our ideas were new once and in some senses remain new and always will be new. However, many people who show an interest in participating in our light bulb screwing-in project have not yet learned to see light bulbs in the full scope of their social and historical context, and to understand the political nature of every turn in the screwing-in process. The bulbs, the ladders, the technique – all exist within a network of actions in a utopian political context and cannot properly be understood apart from their sorry history. Sometimes there is corrosion. Do you know what to do about corrosion? We, you see, know what to do about corrosion. You may have read something about toothbrushes and baking soda. But potential problems with that technique – not to mention its factional origins – have been pointed out. It is complicated. But, as we say, we encourage new people to join us and we encourage new ideas. People wanting to stand for election to the committee are advised to first find a sponsor on the committee, which will ensure publication of their standing for election in the newsletter prior to the election. New committee members wishing to propose a new idea are invited to submit their idea to the chair for review. Upon review, the idea will be shared with the rest of the committee with the endorsement of the chair. New ideas distributed to the committee without first being submitted to the chair will be regarded as an attempt to undermine the solidarity of the group. We appreciate having everyone on the same page and committed to the same mission. It would be one thing if we were just a debating society. But we are organized for an active purpose, and for that purpose to be accomplished, sometimes lines need to be drawn. We do this – and how regrettable it is that it needs to be said at all – in order to fully realize our commitment to a democratic society, which is what lightbulb screwing-in is all about.

c). Purgation, Blacklisting, and Threats Thereof. This section of ARTICLE VI is in order to make it clear that no members of the Control Freak Light Bulb Screwing-In Committee have ever been purged or ever will be purged, nor has any community member been blacklisted nor will be blacklisted, nor have any threats related to such political tactics been made or will be made. Some former committee members, with motivations about which we will nobly refrain from speculating, have told false tales of purgation, blacklisting, or threats. As a group that prizes democracy in all of our processes, we are above such tactics, and do not take kindly to their suggestion. Those who have spread such rumors have gone on to regret it.

d). Chair. After each election a member of the committee shall be chosen by the committee to serve as its chair. The committee member selected will serve as chair over the course of the following year. Everyone seems to be happy with me in the position of chair, however, so until there is evidence to the contrary, we will proceed informally and forgo a formal selection process.




In keeping with Gandhi’s exhortation to “be the change you wish to see in the world” (because we are such followers of Gandhi and his peaceful ways), we have a policy of ignoring money issues for as long as possible and only dealing with them when someone else steps in and starts dealing with them for us. This policy has worked out for us pretty well so far, so we’ll just stick to it. Thank you, Gandhi, for your moral example, the claiming of which seems to entitle us to all kinds of bailouts from our parent organizations. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and we don’t mean nickels and dimes. And be sure to look for those subsidized compact flourescents when available. A dollar for a twenty-watter is a good deal, and those twenty-watters shed a lot more light than they seem to, when their lumens are measured using the proper equipment. Leaving financial matters to someone else may not seem like control freak behavior, but like most passive-aggressive strategies, part of its value lies in its deflection of non-utopian reality.




These bylaws were approved by a meeting of the ad hoc governing subcommittee by a unanimous vote on February 15, 2010.

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