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The Iron Fist In A Velvet Glove

May 25th, 2009

In this Post I am going to write about money and power. People get upset about the ‘money’ side of capitalism, especially clerics. They should be more concerned about the abuse of power, the power that money brings; it is also the power that communism, socialism, yes even our democracy brings. And when I talk about the abuse of power, I am talking about power over people, religious as well as secular, commercial as well as political.

Power does not exist in a vacuum.
As Justice Brandeis has warned:

‘Experience should teach us to be most on our guard when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.’

‘The first task of a society that would have liberty and privacy is to guard against the misuse of physical coercion on the part of the state and private parties. The second task is to guard against the softer forms of secret and manipulative control. Because they are subtle, indirect, invisible, diffuse, deceptive, and shrouded in benign justifications, this is clearly the more difficult task’. [Olmstead, 1927]

What is important to understand is not just how power is used or misused, but our increasing vulnerability to it.

Many people are directly employed by the State and will retain or enhance that employment by being subservient to it. Many are not employed by the State but owe their livelihood to it. Lawyers get briefs. They aspire to become QCs or judges – state appointments. Leading firms of accountants and Academia get millions of pounds worth of consultation work from Departments of State. None of them will want to be too argumentative or too ‘independent.’ All have families to feed, and a comfortable retirement to look forward to.

Beyond that, the State controls where children are educated as well as the medicines that we are entitled to. It now has a stake in our banks and building societies that control our money supply.

It should not be altogether surprising that there are all those working in the public sector who feel obliged to do some things they know they shouldn’t be doing, or not do things that they should. There are school governors, and people like them, who are doing valuable voluntary work within the community, but who are deliberately denied the tools to do it properly by those who prefer to do it themselves, but want to make it look otherwise.

It is the System that needs looking at, the con’ in consultation, the charade of partnership.

Here’s one small suggestion.

Shouldn’t the school governors be involved in writing the references for a head teacher, not just the Local Educational Authority? Surely no-one knows the head teacher better.  This would be just a tiny change that could help to free up head teachers to be true to themselves and not slaves to a system. I hope that this helps you to see what I am getting at.

Can you think of any other small things that would help to empower people?

Remember, a game of chess consists of many small moves, the largest wall many tiny bricks