Friday, 14 October 2011

The disengagement strategy

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As a society becomes increasingly corrupt (such that real motivations of officials are selfish and short-termist rather than truly operating in pursuit of the 'officially-designated' functions) the citizens tend to develop the default of 'disengagement'.

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This means a disposition to avoid contact with institutions; because to ask for help is to draw attention to oneself, with potential to be drawn-into the pervasive corruption.

Disengagement is, of course, exacerbated when organizations are ineffective and unlikely to provide genuine help.

In a corrupt society, institutions are - on the one hand - dangerous and - on the other hand - useless: so it makes sense for the majority of people to have as little to do with them as possible.

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So, ordinary, decent people tend to avoid, if possible, calling in the police or consulting lawyers; sick people would try to avoid medical contact or hospital admission; a private 'economy' grows detached from the sight and influence of the public administration; and the population increasingly ignores government and media information - as being merely propaganda - and instead relies on personal experience and trusted personal contacts.

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In the past England stood at the extreme opposite of this kind of corruption and ineffectiveness - with a high level of trust and confidence in 'officials': police, national and local government; the 'serious' media (the BBC, the broadsheet newspaper); doctors, nurses and the National Health Service...

Yet I feel a culture of disengagement emerging ever-more-strongly in the past couple of decades and accelerating year on year.

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