I’ve come to realise how intensely I dislike the hierarchical structures that exist inside most organisations, common-or-gardenly called ‘offices’.
Rather than being the systems to enable, empower and facilitate that they like to think themselves to be, they are in fact the very power engines of what is inhuman and disempowering in our society.
Just like the canteen culture inside the Metropolitan Police that was criticised by the Macpherson report for creating and upholding its institutional racism, ‘office culture’ takes otherwise well intentioned individuals and sucks them into the company ethos, turning them into company robots.
The process it uses to do this is the ‘social life’ of offices. By creating an atmosphere where workers strive to be accepted by their peers, the well-intentioned can easily be switched into pursuing the company agenda, no matter how unethical it may actually be. I don’t think it any coincidence that the escalation of this has coincided with the massive increase of Social Media apps like Facebook which have ingrained themselves so deeply into the social psyche of office workers in particular.
People who work in offices stick together. They don’t question, they just get on with the roles they’ve been assigned; often rigidly sticking to them beyond all reasoning. They literally become automatons; automatically working their way thru their in-tray, unwilling to allow real life to interfere with their workload. …’Simply following orders’ from above without any context or flexibility.
Offices are now so good at churning out workers like this, that it could quite rightly be said to be no accident that this is so ubiquitous throughout the Capitalist (read ‘Western’) world (including all those territories around the world touched by the historic hand of colonialism).
There is a reason that George Orwell singled out bureaucracy for particular ridicule and distain; far from being the fuel that drives progress, it is actually the club which churns out the gatekeepers that hold us back from it.
From Governments to Civil Servants, Unions to Local Authorities, Charities to Health Services, office culture is there to stifle and hold back, to stonewall and suppress change rather than managing and enabling it.
It is office culture which is responsible for the huge increase in the burden of stress that most modern day citizens have to carry. The pointless idiocy of the delivery appointment for goods that never arrives, the refusal to create an appointment at a convenient time, the accounting systems which say you’re in arrears when you’ve never missed a payment, the refunds that never arrive following cancelling a service, the residents’ ‘consultations’ that never take onboard what the residents actually want or ask for, the Fire Safety Committees that lie by saying they have been forced by the Fire Brigade to remove Fire Alarms to ‘avoid tenants panicking’ in the event of a fire (sadly true! Ask L&Q…!)
Literally entangling society in such a relentless onslaught of mud slinging that it’s virtually impossible to challenge or change any of it, regardless of how desperately out of step it may be with actual human need. The petty, mind numbing bureaucracy which masks a deep systemic stupidity…
Our recent Tory-led ConDem Government (my friend Kevin today dubbed it the ‘Demolition Government’) has become expert at this. Led by such grand masters as Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa May and Grant Shapps, they have escalated the art of lying and obsfucation to dizzying heights in order to smokescreen their real agenda and keep the people tied up in an endless, exhausting war against bureaucratic Civil Rights abuses which cover up their far deeper and long-planned Human Rights abuses.
In fact, so successful has this scatter-gun strategy been that it is simply not credible to believe it wasn’t orchestrated. With many deep parallels between Right Wing actions in both the USA and UK, it’s pretty apparent that this has been planned. Literally lighting so many tiny fires that campaigners and activists are so busy stomping out one fire that they miss or don’t have the energy to deal with(!) the one starting in their very back yard.
The deeply troubling thing to me is how a whole army of Civil Servants, previously fixated on customer care, honesty and quality, have been so readily turned into the killer ants so eager to do their masters’ evil bidding.
A disabled friend recently had his benefits arbitrarily stopped. When he phoned to complain, he tells me the person he spoke to kept ‘correcting’ him whenever he mentioned that they had stopped money he was entitled to…
It troubles me that the Civil Servant has so wholeheartedly swallowed the Tory HQ rhetoric of demonising the poor and the vulnerable, reframing them as scroungers unworthy of help and wrong in suggesting they have any legal entitlement to financial and social help.
Deeply troubling times…