Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Laberal Party

The name says it all. In Australia, the two main parties are the Liberals (conservatives) and Labor (once socialist in tendencies).

For all intents and purposes these two parties are now virtually wings of the same neo-conservative political system, hence the term "laberal" -- the merger, if you will, of two bands of people seeking to win the middle ground.

Unfortunately, in so doing, it is the conservative philosophy which has well and truly captured this middle ground. Fortunately, it could be a lot worse. Unfortunately, the prognosis is that it will; that is, the loss of any sense of equity and compassion in the mad rush to the fiscal trough.

It leaves those of us who believe the body politic is more that a collection of "Homo Economicus", that we are more than our pocket books, and social life is more than working to earn so we can work to earn more so we can work to earn more etc. ad nauseum. Sometimes I think our capitalist based system is like a huge real-time game of Monoply; and the resources are getting sucked up by fewer and fewer players as time goes by.

Oh well, if democracy -- even our warped one -- was not so utterly precious, I would think about leaving it. But, looking around the world, nothing works better. But, and it's a very big BUT, it will only work well if there is an enlightened electorate, with strict rules of political behaviour, and equal opportunity for all to get involved. Not through moribund party machines, and not, certainly, through the exchange of dollars.

Maybe I'll start a counter to the Laberals. What fun.

Enough for now.
P B White

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Strike up the bland...

In my last posting I talked about the various cultivars of conservatism. Today I want to discuss what happens when conservatism strikes up an unholy alliance with managerialism. This latter term is defined as "Operating the firm for the benefit of managers, persuing objectives attractive to the management team but which are not necessarily beneficial to the shareholders." For shareholders write in any particular group of people who the organisation is meant to serve. Thus, when conservatives and managers gang up on the the stakeholders (i.e. those who have an interest in the organisation, such as the workers, shareholders, or the general public, depending on what sort of organisation it is), we have the unique operation of the managers managing up, rather than down.

John Ralston Saul, the great Canadian philosopher, political historian, executive and writer, discusses this phenomenon in vast detail in his book "Voltaire's Bastards". Managerialism is the end result of a generation of university courses training people to be better managers, based on "rational planning" and more lately "economic rationalism".

Among the many inordinate disasters that this alliance has claimed, is that of squashing individuality and creativity. Why, one might ask is this so, as the conservatives have always prided themselves on private initiative and enterprise, and yet support, condone, and actively participate in, the demise of individual initiative -- to support the greater "corporate goal" of sameness.

And who then runs the organisation? It would seem from my perspective in a university at least, that the organisation is run by the managers, who nominally answer to the senior academics, but often run their own shows. The main answer the managers come up with to solve a large organisation's problems, is to make everything the same -- or at least look the same. This is "corporate badging". We no longer have just a logo and a company badge, everything that goes out from the organisation has to look the same. And it's all bland, and non-creative.

After all, who wants creative people, who invariably stir things up and make things administratively untidy. Can't have that.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the modern neo-feudal state -- er -- corporation.

More on this when the neurone fires again.

P B White

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