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Friday, January 02, 2015

The still, cold hands of Power


For, after all, this deity of his, like the deity of every other man, was but his temperament exaggerated beyond life-size and put in perfect order — it was but the concretion of his constant feeling that nothing could be trusted to behave, freed from the still, cold hands of Power.

He had never trusted himself to act save under the authority of this peculiar deity, much less, then, could he feel that others could be trusted. This lack of trust — which was only, perhaps, a natural desire for putting everything and everybody in their proper places — had made him from a child eligible for almost any post of trust.

And Nature, recognising this, had used him a hundred thousand times, weeding him out from among his more irregular and trustful fellows, and piling him in layers, one on another, till she had built out of him in every division of the State, temples of Power. Two qualifications alone had she exacted; that he should not be trustful, and that he should be content to lie beneath the layer above him, until he should come in time to be that upper layer himself.
John Galsworthy - A Commentary (1900)

A fine fictional take on a real and intractable problem – the process-driven bureaucrat. Erosion of trust is not a new problem. People in positions of authority who cannot trust others, don’t value trust, don’t believe in trust. This is where our increasingly fanatical and repressive micro-audit culture comes from.

It is out of control.


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Paddington said...

And it always fails in the end, because people are not robots.

A K Haart said...

Paddington - I hope it always fails, although the failure itself can be yet another disaster.

Sackerson said...

Does your illustration suggest that the lust for power is a vice?

A K Haart said...

Sackers - partly. It's both a vice in your sense and a need to restrain.