Thursday, February 21, 2013

more fodder for my book

as you all know, i am part of a local group that was elected in a more or less (emphasis on less) democratic process early last summer to oversee the establishment of a new "culture house" in our little town. the group is composed of 7 members and 2 non-voting extras (who perform a sort of runner-up role, in the event one of the elected members is unable to fulfill their duties, one of these will step up). this has already happened, as one of the members, fed up with the way the chairman behaves, recently resigned, so one of our runners-up has already stepped up to take his crown.

the chairman's latest bid in a series of methods for exercising control is to write a 17-point "business order" document for the group (apparently you can never have too much bureaucracy and by-laws, while holy writ, are not enough). it covers everything from how to conduct the first meeting (tho' that ship sailed long ago) to what the agenda should consist of to that the meetings are closed (tho' who would want to attend them if they didn't have to is beyond me) to who can call for meetings and how far ahead they must do so (it states the agenda must be sent out 8 days before the meetings, something which has never happened in the 9 months we've been meeting). probably the most interesting point is #4, which says that there is a chosen group within the larger group, called, literally, the "business chosen ones (forretningsudvalg)." this group consists of the chairman, the vice chairman and one chosen crony of their choice (because really, we can't trust the democracy and a group of seven can hardly be expected to get anything done, right?). it struck me as i read it that the soviet way of doing things isn't as dead and gone as one might think and that it apparently extended farther west than we realized.

even more interesting is another document accompanying the first one. it contains only four points, but they are a broad brush mandate for "the business chosen ones (forretningsudvalg)." it is the mandate of this group to:

  1. take care of the daily interests of the board (not stated is why the board is incapable of this themselves).
  2. only members of this group may contact public authorities, cooperation partners and the press.
  3. this group can, when it's expedient/necessary, make fast decisions which affect the budget and/or the group as a whole to a high degree.
  4. the group is responsible to the board and refers to the board.

in other words, the chosen ones can make whatever decisions they want whenever they want, without asking the board until afterwards. and it occurred to me that what i am a witness to here isn't so much soviet-style bureaucracy as fascism. after all, fascism postulates that a chosen few are not only allowed to dominate on behalf of the inferior elements of society, but they must do so for the common good. i should say that i do hesitate to throw the word fascism around, because as george orwell wrote in 1944, "the word 'fascism' is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any english person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'fascist'." basically, our troglodyte pal is moving to formalize (bureaucratize?) his mandate to bully the group as he sees fit.

the documents are so transparent in their attempt at control and happily, leave so many loopholes uncovered, that they are quite laughable. of course, in the early days of the nazis, their antics were also thought laughable and look where that led, so one has to be vigilant. for now, my inner anthropologist finds the documents give a fascinating insight into the mindset and yes, the fears, of the small-minded, small-hearted man who is, for whatever reason, at the helm of this group. he has exposed himself for all to see. and it's not a pretty sight. but it is fodder for my book. and for that, i am deliciously grateful.


will said...

Beware of having to wear uniforms!

My guess is, there are many small community groups thinking, "We need structure and rules in order to function".

Why they think this, I don't know but I have experienced this over the top, silly way to get things done.

And, as with your situations, there's ALWAYS someone who pushes forward to be The Leader. El Presidente. El Hefe. The Chief. The Man. The Czar. The Majordomo of self-appointed importance. All hail the Boss!

It's classic PTA on crack perhaps with shots of LSD as chasers.

If anyone ever asks, "Why does it take so long to get things done and why are things so muddled?" You know the answer.

Elizabeth said...

And has the group of 7 already voted on this very important document? .... LOL