All modern states engage bureaucratic apparatus. As Mandelstam was not nomenklatura but intelligentsia she is unlikely to be competent to speak to the necessity of specific bureaucracy to maintaining Soviet (ie nomenklatura) power. Additionally given her background, and her political position against the nomenklatura, her capacity to speak to the necessity of specific bureaucracy for the function of the nomenklatura’s system is limited to political pronunciamentos. And we already know the content of her politics: her statements aren’t useful on the systemic function of bureaucracy, and only useful on the desirability of that function should we agree with her.
Soviet bureaucracy sought to document reality and thereby command it. With the obvious problem of attempting to command reality by redocumenting it. The solution to poor documentation was documentary checks on documentation. Leading to an entire hermeneutics of suspicious statistics. The solution to suspicion was investigation and purge which lead to further documentation.
The documentation was not only the function of state repression in general, but economic coordination separate to prices of account, but also the state repression in specific of individuals and groups for failed economic and social policies, but also the justification of the “intelligentsia” as a class alongside the “peasantry” and “working class,” but also the very name and power of the ruling class itself: nomenklatura: approved names list.
This was the function of Soviet bureaucracy. It was the generalised system of ruling class social control over itself and other classes.
Whether this is desirable or not is more a question of normative values. Should one imagine that a red bourgeoisie addicted to list making is desirable, why then it is no farrago at all. Should one believe otherwise it is not the list making behaviour that one is criticising, but the existence of a red bourgeoisie (the farrago is soviet not bureaucratic, the memorialist has no capacity for determining essential from inessential bureaucracy). The list making is merely how it keeps power and entirely rational to that end. Including the inefficiencies of the list of lists which require purges to the lists of names.
a requested digression on methods of subordination and ruling classes: The Yugoslavian nomenklatura relied more on internal markets and contracts. The “Leninist” RSFSR in war communism relied on managed democracy before one man management, in direct negotiation with autonomous workers councils in factories. The Yen’nan Soviet similarly relied on managed democracy, in negotiation with peasant/rural worker communes. Western firms similarly have weak internal markets, few internal contracts, and rely on policy and lists. Management / elite anarchy is also possible, consider the German state’s splintered governance 1933-1945