Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Common Purpose Of The RSA

Opening my copy of the RSA Journal this morning my eye fell upon a brief interview with David Archer, co-author of Collaborative Leadership. The first thing I thought was that we don't need any more 'leaders' of any sort. Most of the problems the world suffers from are caused by 'leaders', ie politicians (and their friends, ie 'leaders' in the business and banking worlds). My experience is that people who regard themselves as leaders are nearly all egocentric tossers.

Then a phrase caught my attention towards the end of the article: 'different groups may have separate agendas but a leader must find a common purpose and handle the kind of conflicts that will inevitably occur'. Now, I like to think I've not become a conspiracy freak from having spent too much time reading blogs, but these days a little alarm goes off in my head when I read the words 'common' and 'purpose' in close proximity. As it did when I read this phrase - particularly as it was about leadership.

I thought no more about it until some ten seconds later, when the same phrase jumped out at me again: "Fairness and common purpose prevail over selfishness, even between anonymous strangers" - it's a subheading quote from an article 'The descent of rational man' by Pete Lunn. Bugger me, I thought, I'm just imagining it.

But I wasn't - just a couple more pages on and 'Our common purpose' springs out as the title of a piece by Paul Collier on how 'a bottom-up approach, driven by informed citizens, offers our best hope of addressing global problems.' Twice is coincidence; three times is not.

The RSA (its website strapline 'Removing barriers to social progress' - which doesn't strike me as exactly what the Society was originally set up for) has decidedly become more of an unofficial organ of New Labour and its worldview under the direction of Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair. The Society and its Journal are awash with all those buzzwords that you find in modern newspeak: 'new', 'innovative', 'global' (everything has to be global these days), 'community', 'common response', 'social capital', 're-engineering', 'regeneration', 'networks', etc. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find close connections between certain key members of the RSA and Common Purpose.

The Journal these days is a pretty bland read: I could do without the articles of pseudo-science ('behavioural economics', 'emotional brain' stuff) and the waffle about having to find 'global' responses to 'common' problems. This is all moonshine. You can't have a global response until you have global agreement - and that will never happen unless you have a global dictatorship. So we can see where that one's going.

I hate the way people are coming up with this nonsense about us facing 'new' challenges and having to confront 'new' realities and come up with 'new' responses to everything. It's cobblers. These are the same problems and realities we've always had to face: the stupidity of politicians and the cupidity of business. This isn't the first time the world has had to face collapsing economies, currencies, land and property prices, etc. Every time I hear someone talk about 'innovation' I want to punch them in the face. 'How about that as an innovative response?' I want to say.

Bah! that's it for now.

1 comment:

Stop Common Purpose said...

You can find out more about Common Purpose here: