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Saturday, 19 May 2012

I'm not your stepping stone...

"If politics involves the acquisition and deployment of power, and social work is 'one of the most political of all professions' an understanding of power must be more than normally important for social workers".

So wrote Robert Harris, in a social care book I cant be bothered to reference.

I released this by default; due to some niche positions I managed to get, because these niche positions had no evolved managerial structure I had to liaise with senior social care managers directly. And by and large, I didn't like what I saw. I saw empty beige suits, with unhealthy responsibility and directives, welded to the political will of coming and going elected councils and the directors of social care. Social care directors appear to come and go every three years or so. They seem to have only one remit; change. Now change is good, but only good if it has this criteria; point. Not as an achievement to list in a CV so you can move on up.

So the more politics I saw, I figured becoming politically savvy was the way forward. Maybe politics could change the system, a system someone once described "The McDonaldization of Social Work" in the book by Donna Dustin. This book, "based upon George Ritzer's McDonaldization of Society thesis and incorporating aspects of social theory, examines the introduction of care management to social work practice. Donna Dustin analyzes care management as an example of the managerial application of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control to social work practice. These principles, put to good use in organizations that produce tangible outputs at a profit, are being increasingly applied in non-profit public sector organizations where the outcomes require intangibles such as professional relationships."

In short; management techniques and workplace culture from Curry's Electrical has been placed in the social care sector. If you like buying your toasters from a merciless Ferengi empire, via a disinterested and clueless teenager, fine. But I don't think that system should be employed in the care of people and the planning of that care. To the tune of performance indicators.

But of course, learning about politics, rather than adapting me to the system made me hate it more. But that position came gradually.

I hate New Labour. I hate the way a respectable (but terminally flawed) system like socialism ended up in the Nanny Fascism and celebrated lying of Tony Blair, Peter Mandleson and Alastair Campbell. Although Tory MP Michael Howard certainly has "something of the night about him" (classic quote, Ann Widdecombe) I also think he spoke with incredible truth about the evil core of New Labour in this old Newsnight clip...

Given that nobody knows what the Liberals Democrats actually do, I figured I should explore the Conservatives. Plus they were the only likely candidates to topple the B-liar legacy, and they had allegedly been rewired with a new creed- the enigmatic Red Tory book by Philip Blond. The book had many critics and curate egg reviews like this one, (and this is another good one) but having read it I thought his ideas could well change society, and consequently social care as well. Large parts of the book were used by the Tories as part of their social policy road map.

But the problem is the two words "large parts". Mate, a Jaguar shares large parts with a Ford Focus, but I know which one I'm choosing given a choice. I like large parts of a steak and kidney pudding, but I detest kidneys- so I don't buy steak and kidney puddings. Although I reserve the right to steal much of my wife's one at our next pub lunch.  And in fact, getting serious, you cant like large parts of a creed or a signpost when it comes to implementing that system and expect that system to work only half applied. And that's what happened to the Red Tory idea; Philip Blond saw his ideas as a way to get Britain off its drip feed of learnt fiscal helplessness and moral nosedive. Instead we got cuts, cuts and more cuts by a modern day equivalent of a circa 1299 feudal Britain.

But politicians do that, not so much all the time, but by nature. They are a strange blend of cult of personality, hunger for power, and dark rescue all floating in a fog of delusion.  They 
can't change society for good, they can only change society.

The end of our Union Group (church home group) went into this territory the  other night. In history, and even right now, Christian's are lobbying parliament and/or running for election, hoping to be salt and light. But my experience, even backed by some research, is that all good things are done locally by local people (and even better when this is done "off the grid" as per the very mad Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone, or TAZ) Good people get diluted when they realise they cant change a great deal and even the little they can change from the corridors of power involves so much lying, conniving, politicking and nasty plop why stress yourself and loose your good character?

Should Christians expend so much energy trying to lobby? Why do we care what parliament says? Why not just model the stuff? And when I say model, do it with 100% church resources so we are not answerable to some PC commissar?

We are called to be salt and light. But how is it done best? The Anabaptist model or via state church?

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