charismatic leaders + charismatic leadership = ?

OK.  Am sophisticated enough to know events and personalities are just as important as the long sweep of history; but …

At one time we were just as overwhelmed with Blair as we are now with Corbyn.

It’s cool when a leader with the political empathy people like both the aforementioned have shown catalyse moribund societies into action: provide the much-needed bridges against the walls the bad and sad always build; say what we are unable to verbalise; capture our thoughts and display them before we even knew we ever had them.

And I am not proposing we compare the politics of Corbyn and Blair at all here.

But when charismatic leaders and charismatic leadership (see Weber for the latter – and Harold Evans!) come together, the power to act becomes almost Harry Potter-like!  Mean it, honest …

Magically explosive, just about almost.

Am not putting a dampener on the proceedings; not my intention at all.  But I would like the future to be good, not dark.  We’re too accustomed to dark of late.  We don’t deserve to be any more.

It’s OK to star; more than OK.  But we should star to make space for others to do more, not star to push the envelope of our own belief systems around these others, who in principle have every right to co-exist on equal terms.

tetchy tech (or a story of asshole nihilism)


I’ve had quite a few downsides and run-ins with tech over the past few weeks, impacting really negatively on my ability to work on my MA.

I know they tell us we should take ownership of our reactions.  But this is a way of saying what we feel is ours to own, and we have no right to own anything else that happens.  Instead, maybe resigning ourselves to its reality is about as far as we can go.

The whole world an asshole as the man said?  (It was almost certainly a man …)  I don’t know.  What’s clear is that a lack of oversight on processes end-to-end is crapping the life out of us.

One fairly recent example.  The housing trust maisonette where we live is on the first floor.  It shares a fairly new downstairs door (at the foot of equally shared stairs) with our lovely neighbours across the way.  They are, by the way, the best neighbours you could ever hope for.  The best.

The fairly new door was a replacement for the previous fairly shabby door.  However, the functionality of the shabby cousin was far greater than that of its replacement.  Let me explain.  The latter has very nice frosted windows, is made (I think) of white PVC, and has a letterbox.  All to the superficial good.  And therein its true idiocy.

To all intents and purposes the door now looks like it leads to a house, not a shared flight of stairs and on to two dwellings on the first floor.  A cursory examination of postal legislation would have revealed that where there is a letterbox, even if shared (the two flat numbers are clearly present, by the way – something I neglected to mention above), postal services have no obligation to go any further.  No one in the housing trust who sanctioned the now fairly new door ever thought to look at end-to-end process, it is clear.  Over the past two years or so our shared experience (ie that of our lovely neighbours and ourselves) with the wretched “first point of delivery” in question has been dreadful: multiple lost deliveries from couriers various as packages got left in full view of the street; muddy and damp letters and post when they do arrive; untold numbers of re-deliveries required as the delivery people knock at the bottom, get no immediate reply, and scurry off; and multiple unfulfilled assurances from Royal Mail to not do what the next shift of postal officers always ends up doing.

Overall a much worse service – and intractably so! – than when we had the old and shabby original.

And all due to the fact that someone, somewhere, in a procurement department miles away from the issues, thought that a brand new door with letterbox and two numbers would be a vast improvement for the security and safety of everyone and everything concerned.

End-to-end process analysis is rapidly becoming a lost art: lost to the ever-increasing specialisations of our world, where we are strongly, systemically, encouraged to dip our heads into ever-decreasing circles of knowledge, and thus find ourselves failing altogether to see the wider connections.

And that is what brings me back to the world and its asshole.  So maybe such extreme nihilism is unwarranted, and maybe such vigorous resignation is unhelpful, and maybe we do need to take ownership for our own reactions above and beyond what happens to us on a daily basis.  But even so, and even when said, and even when accepted, there remains this reality: good people are doing shit things because shit systems and lines of command and control and overarching strategies and perhaps, simply, a general lack of interest in or understanding of what is going on is more the rule than the exception.

Write the beautiful new door with its shiny letterbox and flat numbers to a broader audience of work, leisure, consumerism, business and political activity and it begins to become so much easier to understand why asshole nihilism is becoming the default position of so many citizens.

‘Question is: how do we work out together a way of shrugging off the vicious circles which are currently embracing us in no congenial way at all?  How do we move on from simply having to own asshole nihilism on this dreadful daily basis – and dealing with our tragic and broader bereavement from intelligent behaviours – to actually making environments and worlds where our first response doesn’t need to be one of wiping up spilt milk but rather, much more handsomely, drinking its sexy and freshly churned warmth with an intellectual joy that befits the 21st century?


red top

It’s frustrating to live in a world where people don’t take their responsibilities seriously, nor care to anticipate the impact their carelessness has on other people: both the latter’s personal confidence as well as simply their livelihoods.

But worse than carelessness is a deliberation to trample on others without appearing to do so.

The red top of violent undermining which overarches the lives of so many of the defenceless is wrong.

And experiencing this is unjust.  It is also unjustifiable, unjustified … and plain abusive.

Robbing a human being of their dignity is bad enough.  Robbing them of their connection with reality – and their right and capacity to share this connection – is, however, tantamount to robbing a life in its entirety: boxing it up and wrapping it round and tying it down and – ultimately – breaking the will of the person to be an individual.

And once as a society we lose our ability to value the individual above the common, then does indeed the common become very common.

And those who benefit from such a step stumble not at all in the hubris they engineer.

But those who become the stones on which the hubris-engineers stride as they build and grow their empires of casual hate never achieve their potential.

To be not a stepping-stone of the engineers but a brook of the beloving.

I would this be, if I could.  But I have to accept your challenge.  I offered peace.  You hunger for conflict.  Your desire for conflict is ultimately stronger than my capacity for love.

And the failure, in this, entirely is now mine.

Even as it remains forever and always in your power to engineer for the good – and forget your awful awful thirst for hubris.

And even as I shall never give up on the desire you may one day rediscover from an innocence of childhood long  neglected.

The red top of naked openness versus the men and women who know only how to hide away the truth.  

So which do you choose, my friend?  Which do you choose?  What kind of friend do you want to be?  What kind of friend do you think I want?  Do you even know how to be a friend any more?

I do, for sure.  But I now seriously doubt even your wish, never mind your ability.

You have lost my trust.

And more than hubris, you now need to engineer bridges.  If, that is, you still care to remember how.

If, that is, you even remember why.