Posted by: bravo22c | 27/03/2010


I was sitting in the smoking lounge this morning, drinking my first coffee of the day – I’m actually a tea-drinker, but that is another story – and chatting to a few of the company’s drivers. One of my team, a recently graduated management trainee, was also in the lounge with some other colleagues. She came to my office with a query a little while after we had finished our coffee break and, in conversation, asked me why I had chosen to sit with ‘those drivers,’ rather than her and the others of the team; ‘They speak such awful Russian, you are learning bad words.’

Apart from the fact that I like to be able to speak ‘street’ language when appropriate, I pointed out to her that ‘those drivers,’ are likely to know more about what is actually going on in the company than a great many of the managers. They drive the movers and shakers of the company, they hear their conversations and their phone calls, and, all in all, they are good sources for a security manager to cultivate. (Taxi drivers are other good sources.)

What was interesting about the remark, to me, anyway, was the social attitude it seemed to reveal. The same attitude is often apparent in other societies. Sometimes, the people who do the vital, but less attractive work in our society are, somehow, looked down upon by those who do ‘less demeaning’ work – gay and lesbian outreach workers, children’s play facilitators, carbon reduction consultants, equal opportunities facilitator, european commissioners, and the like.

In my view, it is instructive to consider the effect upon our daily life of say, a bin-men’s strike as compared to a strike by gay and lesbian outreach workers. The latter might be much better paid than the former, and might look down upon them for that reason – or others, but it might be considered that their contribution to our general social environment may not justify such snobbery.

Worse than that, there is a line where snobbery becomes transmuted into social darwinism. The view is formed that the opinions, values and capabilities of the ‘lower classes’ are, somehow, of less value than those of others and that the former must, ‘for their own good,’ conform to whatever fashion dictates is the current value – be it in health, nutrition, social attitude, or whatever the opinon-forming classes decide. This requires that the broad masses must be regulated and that such regulation must be inspected, measured and analysed. In turn, this means that inspectorates must be established, inspectors employed to inspect and bureaucrats employed to measure the results.

Once established, such bureaucracies are then required to justify their existence, so more things that require regulation, inspection and analysis are proposed, more inspectors and bureaucrats of ever-increasing gravity and self-importance are required and…..

And all of this because of snobbery. It’s easy to avoid. All you have to do is remember that there is no ‘they’ only ‘we.’ The chief ills of our societies are not, as many of the superstitious would have it, to be laid at the door of atheist, libertarian, egalitarian and practical people, but at the feet of the superstitious, the centralists and the bigotted, hand-wringing, breast beating chatterati who pontificate and worse, legislate on the basis of what they perceive should be, rather than what is.

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