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!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An opportunity to catch up

I will probably be out of access to the internet for the next few days – so please take the opportunity to check back on recent posts – most of which have dealt with the role of training public officials in countries emerging from autocratic rule. Or check the posts from exactly a year ago – for example the one for 10 November 2010 had a section which suggested we allow the wrong sort of people to be honoured and celebrated -
the first twenty years of my life, I focussed on the political – the "what”.
The last 20 years the focus has been on the "how”- on reforming the machinery of government. I’m still interested in the latter but, as the masthead quotation from JR Saul indicates, I think the value of technocrats is overrated and the role of citizens and the maligned politicians has to be asserted. And one of the things wrong with a lot of the reform writing is that it is too abstract. Change is a question of individuals – and we need more of the naming and shaming approach which I used myself for the first time a year ago when I picked out a State Secretary and analysed his (outdated) declaration of interest form which appeared on the Ministry website.
We also need to celebrate more those who are trying to make a positive mark on life – and, as I noted on a recent friend obituary, while they are still alive. One of the reasons I enjoyed Paul Kingsnorth’s book One No; many Yeses on the protests against the iniquities inflicted on the world by multi-national corporations is that it focused on the individuals in different parts of the world who are risking their lives and livelihoods to protest against the destruction being wrought by people running these organisations.
Business has been using the journal “portrait” for a long time to glorify their class – and most management books are little else than hero creation and worship. Only women like Rosabeth Kantor (with her marvellously mocking ten-rules-for-stifling-innovation and Shoshana Zuboff, it seems, are capable of resisting this inclination of business writers! But you don’t find such positive write-up of reformers – presumably because media ownership is so neo-liberal. And the publications of the reform movement tend to concentrate on ideas.
For example, I’ve wanted for some time to say something about one of the people I admire most – a Slovak friend of mine who, as Director of a training centre run on cooperative lines in a village, has utterly transformed an old palace, building up not only the facilities it offers (and the labour force) but commissioning local artists to create glorious murals to remind us of the place’s historical heritage and holding vernissages with painters from central europe, the Balkans, Central Asia etc. Walk into his huge office and he is almost lost amongst the books and paintings which are piled up around his desk. And his house is like a (living) museum – from all the artefacts he has brought back from his vacations throughout the world. He is such a lovely, modest man and I always feel a taste of heaven when I visit him at the Mojmirovce Kastiel.
I was stumped a few months back when I was asked who were the people I admired? Apart from a few inspirational friends such as my Slovak friend, the people I admire are those who have a combination of vision, social justice and communication for example Peter Drucker; Leopold Kohr; George Orwell; JK Galbraith; Ivan Illich; C Wright Mills; Ernst Schumacher. They’re all dead!

And the November 12 post poses four basic questions which are always worth posing and exploring.
So have a good rummage while I'm away......there is some good stuff there....

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