I have to confess that I have issues with authorities.
It doesn’t matter what kind: School, work, governments, councils. It’s also not because I’m some kind of anarchist at heart – far from it! I don’t believe in the ‘greater goodness’ of people because I see every day the evil and selfishness people inflict on others. To have no authority, no management, no one working to maintain a law and order would merely see the eradication of the weak and the poor. Here in Bangladesh that point is very, very real but I’ve seen it in a more ‘subtle’ form in the UK too.
I’m also the kind of person who will, say, rant against some new rule school management have come up with that completely screws things up for everyone and makes life a misery for the kids – and then enforce it with my students when it becomes clear it is set in stone and nothing can change that. I don’t do this out of cowardice but from the belief that bad rules are always better than no rules at all. There have been times when I’ve taken a moral stand against a rule and refused to implement it but it has always got me into great trouble and I’ve never seen the rule changed or dropped. I’m afraid I’ve just never been important or powerful enough to make things change by shouting or pouting. I know lots of people who are, mind you…
So why am I so against authorities?
Simply this: almost without exception, those that manage and lead are out of touch with those they supposedly serve.
This, my friends, is in many ways the root of the problem. I have had virtually a slanging match with people in authority before today who, when outside the workplace or the schoolroom, I consider to be friends and good people who mean well. I don’t believe that every manager or politician wears a mask and behind that you’ll find the face of a Stalin or a Hitler. I think managers and leaders have impossible jobs filled with meetings and bureaucratic red-tape that would drive me mad. No these are good, well-meaning people (at least to begin with) whose job actually makes them, ultimately, the wrong people for that job.
It would be no different if I were to take the role on, I’m sure. I’d make an Orwellian future shaped in my image in a jiffy if I had absolute power.
All that is no excuse for when said leaders or managers say stupid things, and make stupid decisions on behalf of others that they clearly have not thought through.
Enter Iain Duncan Smith: the current Work and Pensions Secretary in the UK, millionaire and village idiot.
I don’t have anything against millionaires – heck I wouldn’t say no if a book of mine went ‘JK’ as it were and I could retire tomorrow – but I do have something against a government made up substantially of millionaires. 2/3rds of the cabinet are millionaires, collectively worth £70 million and the shadow cabinet is no better. In fact, it is guesstimated that there are very few MPs who are not millionaires.
So when only 0.7% of the British population are millionaires, just who do these politicians represent? Can they really have any idea what the shopkeepers, the nurses, the unemployed, the retired and the cleaners et al need to survive? Can they even understand the middle ‘professional’ classes? I think it could still be possible but see precious little evidence. I’d like to believe they could still do a good job though.
But when Market Trader, David Bennett, who lives on £53 per week and challenged the Iain Duncan Smith to live on that much the minister was foolish enough to state “if I had to, I would.”
That gets me annoyed.
So I’ve had no problem signing this petition electronically:
Please, if you’re British and agree with at least some of my sentiments above, go take a look and consider adding your name. It took me seconds to do and I have dreadful internet here in Bangladesh so it should take you no time at all.
I don’t, for one moment, believe we could actually persuade the minister to do this but that’s not the point. There is only one way that people can counter the ivory-tower thinking in our management structures and our governments and the internet makes this more possible than ever:
When enough of us shout, then we can’t be ignored. It doesn’t have to be violent, it doesn’t even have to mean strikes and causing mayhem which, in the end, only hurts ourselves. We just need to be heard.
It is for this reason that I’m proud of the youth in Bangladesh who support the Shahbhag movement. I don’t necessarily agree with all they stand for, but I do support the way they are being heard – without violence, strikes, murder or threats. The sharp contrast with how the BNP and Jamaat e Islami are behaving could not be any clearer. They are shouting and they are being heard.
I long for a day when those who are in power are made up of those who are in work. When we have farmers and shopkeepers working alongside the millionaires – who have their place too – and have the power to make changes that will benefit those who need it most. Surely this is really what is meant by democratic? Right now, I don’t believe we have anything other than a dictatorship by committee. Not just in the UK, not just in Bangladesh.
Anywhere. Even in the classrooms.
- Iain Duncan Smith: I could live on £53 a week (scotsman.com)
- Iain Duncan Smith petition: 100,000 urge smug minister to prove he can live on £7.50 a day (mirror.co.uk)
- Bangladesh: Is It The Shahbagh Spring? – Analysis (eurasiareview.com)