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When the music stops grab a chair - The Ex-Communicator

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June 24th, 2011


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05:33 pm - When the music stops grab a chair
I think I'd like this to be an open post, because some people not on lj read my journal, that I used to work with and so on. I went to a meet-up this week, with people from my old organisation, which was a government agency closed by the coalition. I have said before that I think stopping capable people from working is a waste not a saving. I think it unlikely that intelligent and highly educated people generate less value than they cost. Seriously, if the government couldn't get more value by employing me than I would cost in wages they deserve a kicking: I am an asset not a liability. Not being arrogant but come on. The majority of people I met are not working as much as they used to, and how can this be good for the economy? I was surprised how many are now literally earning nothing. Many are now supported by partners, or have retired early.

On the whole I would say the people who took their work most seriously, worked most selflessly, put in the longest hours, were most dedicated to the public good, have fared worst. These people have been used and discarded. They were not cynical and aggressive like I am. They trusted the system.

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From:espresso_addict
Date:June 24th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
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...the people who took their work most seriously, worked most selflessly, put in the longest hours, were most dedicated to the public good, have fared worst.

That's one of the things that stopped me working for other people. My obsessive dedication to whatever I was supposed to be doing just got abused, and I watched the same happening to others around me.
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From:communicator
Date:June 24th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
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I think because such people often did not look ahead or make alternative plans. All their eggs were in one basket.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:June 24th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
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From personal experience I found it hard to make plans given how little energy I had for anything other than the task in hand.
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From:communicator
Date:June 25th, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)
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I see what you mean. I think that post got all mixed up between two points - one was just me ruminating on myself, and I should have left that to one side, because the important point really is the squandering of that energy from other people.
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From:sjkasabi
Date:June 25th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
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Hmm. That's sort of what happened to my academic career, in a roundabout way. Now that I have a public service one instead, I have to keep reminding myself that the only way to have any sort of career in any industry in the modern world, is to treat it like a role playing game that you want to win. The system has no use for individuals.

I'm having to remind myself of that extra hard at the moment, as I am in the process of being sort-of-poached into an internal job whose work is my dream work, and which is more money and a better desk and all those little things too. All my instincts are to feel that I owe loyalty to my current area, that I personally need to ensure my backfill is as good as I was, that I'd be letting people down if I went. They are not useful instincts in the modern world of employment.

No wonder big organisations are so anti-social, when even the people who feel well towards them have to act differently if they want to look after their own interests.
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From:communicator
Date:June 25th, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
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treat it like a role playing game that you want to win

That's a good one.

That feeling of obligation to colleagues and wanting to leave things in good order and so on, is in my opinion a huge resource, it's part of the capital of an enterprise. But it is neglected, as you say something that you are forced to suppress.
From:policy-police.blogspot.com
Date:June 25th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
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Just to flag up: I am one of Communicator's former colleagues. The role-play thing is interesting. What I did was produce a comic (you can find it if you follow my link) where I exorcised a lot of the bad stuff.

I'm not sure I'm with you on the keeping capable people working argument - I must there were plenty of times I felt I was capably doing the wrong thing. Especially when it came to things like "efficiency" - I sometimes went home at the end of the day feeling quite ill. I think that on balance I did more good than harm, though it was a close call at times.

I remember having a discussion with another ex-colleague about whether if you're employed to build a concentration camp, do you build a good wall out of loyalty to your craft, or a bad wall in the hope that people might escape? While I could recognise the tension, I was much more inclined to the "bad wall" side. While I don't think I was ever put in the position of doing something hideous, I felt that "bad" was in sight sometimes, and doing something "stupid" was the better alternative.
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From:communicator
Date:June 25th, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
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I think that's the Bridge on the River Kwai dilemma.

And those who stayed - as you and I chose not to do - are now even more starkly employed supporting something 'bad'.

My hope is that as the old system of mandated incompetence withers away a new system, which allows people to work constructively on constructive things, comes into being. Yes, I am a disgruntled old Marxist.
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From:happytune
Date:June 25th, 2011 09:36 am (UTC)
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"I think that on balance I did more good than harm, though it was a close call at times."

Oh - I hear this (and I'm another of Communicator's former colleagues). You want to work hard - I mean people's tax pound is paying your salary. You want Good Things to happen in the world. But what do you do when you see something that is just simply wrong, and even if you disassociate yourself from it, you have no power to really change it?

Reminds me a bit of that book by Philip Zimbardo (The Lucifer Effect), which, while a pretty dodgy book in imho, does take a closer look at the relationship between individual ethic and institutional pressure. His thesis is that putting the Abu Ghraib individuals on trial for torture is fruitless and unjust, and that when rot sets in at the institutional level it is almost impossible to resist.

Now, I'm not sure I believe that. My grandparents were in the resistance during the war, and they didn't succumb to institutional rot. My parents were (admittedly privileged white) activists in apartheid South Africa, and they didn't succumb either. So it is possible to resist. But how do we learn to resist when there are bills to be paid? How do we maintain some sense of individual morality in a context where we're expected to be so deeply conventional? How do we teach our children to be authentic? (I do appreciate that these are the concerns of someone with the luxury of living in a developed country, with every possible privilege at her disposal - it isn't such a tough life!)

Having said all that, I've always derived much 'role play' proxy release from reading your comic. You don't feel so alone when themes are being repeated by people you trust, in a medium you enjoy. I wish I'd found a way of handling those dodgy moments more creatively, instead of shooting my mouth off on numerous occasions...
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From:archbishopm
Date:June 25th, 2011 10:30 am (UTC)
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Oh so you're Canadian? I never knew

The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

:-)
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From:communicator
Date:June 25th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
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The people who have most to lose from the current system breaking down, because they are at the top of it, are trying to dismantle it. Like sitting on a branch sawing away at it.

Anyway, the pendulum will swing the other way soonish.
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From:communicator
Date:June 26th, 2011 06:12 am (UTC)
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PS I'm sorry you took off your comment about mistral, I thought it was very moving.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 26th, 2011 07:37 am (UTC)
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Sorry...upon reflection I thought maybe saying "oh yeah I totally hated her" immediately upon hearing of someone's demise was, you know, nisi bonum and stuff...
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From:archbishopm
Date:June 26th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
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Oops, replied as anon. Hope you can see it.

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