Thursday, 24 April 2014

Cynical young men grow up to become... managers

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Browsing the internet, as one does, I discovered a video of the most 'cynical' of my school teachers spouting meaningless management clich├ęs at the end of several decades of a 'successful' career in educational management.

It made me think back to the cynical young men who I have known through my life - the cool, witty guys who tended, grudgingly, to be admired for their detachment.

And how, again and again, these are exactly the people who most comprehensively sell-out - who abandon all principle for expediency.  

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But that is what nearly all managers epitomize, what Peter Sloterdijk (in his Critique of Cynical Reason) named 'enlightened false consciousness': that is to say - managers are in a false position, they know they are in a false position, and they carry on, and do very well, operating from that false position.

What young men call cynicism is an ability to be an organization man in public, to be loyal, to be ruthless, to be a total conformist; but in private wittily to dissociate themselves from what they have implemented, to snigger behind the hand at the process and the policies, to wash their hands of responsibility.

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These cynical people are, in a sense, most of what is most wrong about most of the modern world - middle managers of evil: they 'manage' to feel good about themselves while doing bad.

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