what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, July 11, 2011

British Arab Spring?

For several decades, British political leaders have been operating a Faustian deal – hoping that toeing the agenda of media barons like Rupert Murdoch would buy them political immortality. Within weeks of his being elected Leader of the Labour party in the early 1990s, Tony Bliar notoriously flew half way round the world to pay homage at the baron’s court; seeking and getting acceptance as someone who would not upset the applecart and subsequently glowing in positive press coverage in the baron’s newspapers. Everything radical was strippped from the programmes and speeches of politicians for fear of losing media support.
But such abuse of power always has its come-uppance. A (Canadian) media mogul (who had owned one of Britain’s famous newspapers) went to prison in 2007 – and the biggest of the lot (Murdoch who owns almost 100 newspapers globally including 4 UK papers and was hoping to take over a major TV channel) seems now to be heading for perdition. It was a Guardian journalist who for 3 years relentlessly and fearlessly pursued the malpractices of the Murdoch empire – and it is therefore fitting that a Guardian journalist should gives us the best summary -
News of the World journalists ordered the hacking of as many as 4,000 people including grieving relatives of soldiers and of terror and murder victims because they thought their paper was untouchable. The cover-up was further evidence of this arrogance and included misleading Parliament and the Press Complaints Commission, the claimed bribery of the police, the intimidation of legitimate claimants and, it is now suggested, the destruction of digital files in Wapping. Little wonder that last year I wrote here that Murdoch, his children and clannish associates were beginning to match the profile of your average crime family.
This story is about the failure of the entire political class. Journalists and politicians, advisers, PR people, writers and lawyers drank Murdoch's champagne, swooned in his company and took his calls (with the current PM acutally appointing one of his editors as his Communications Director). Over more than three decades, the perversion of politics by and for Murdoch became institutionalised, a part of the landscape that no one dared question.
Serious crimes were committed and the police covered them up. Corrupt, or at least badly compromised, relationships became the norm and all but a very few politicians looked the other way, telling themselves this was how things were and always would be.
But let's not forget that a journalist, not a politicians was responsible for exposing the scandal
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Attending (on one’s own) a workshop at a leisure hotel is, I find, a great aid to reflection – especially if your role is observation. I’ve fallen into the habit of taking with me to these workshops stuff I haven’t been able to read at home. Last workshop, I took the printed version of all of this year’s blog posts (more than 100 pages) – just to see what sort of coherence (or duplication) these is in it all. This time I took a small book with the title A Very Short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying organisations which I had criticised in the Amazon reviews when I first read it. Yesterday I romped through it again and found it an enjoyable and powerful critique of management – even justifying the flippant definition I give in Just Words – a sceptic’s glosary of the verb „to manage” – „to make a mess of”.
Here is a useful article the author wrote in 2000 about the critical management school of thinking.

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