The first full blog post from Croydonian anarchist, describing (and critiquing) a talk recently put on by his school about being "successful".
So, here is my first post. This may turn out to be a mad rant but I hope it contains some good political criticism from an anarchist position and some funny bits. Some bits may make it seem like I really hate school but in general, I’m fine with it, most of my teachers aren’t pricks to me most of the time and some of my friends are there. Enjoy
Alright, so this post is going to be in retrospect as there is nothing that happened recently that has captured my attention at school that would be relevant for this blog. However, I will now keep my eyes peeled so this blog can be updated as frequently as possible. This is going to be about when a big boss high up in BSkyB, David Tinney, came in for a seminar about being “successful”. I found a post I had made about the event in the libcom.org forums which was dated late May 2011, which would mean he came in when I was nearing the end of year 12 (students in year 12 are 16-17). The memory is still vivid, I remember storming into my history lesson afterwards muttering expletives under my breath and ranting to friends who thought I cared way too much, which I probably do
But before we get into the details of what happened in that hour and what I’ve managed to find out about the guy on the internet, I think it’s worth talking about just why a school would pay for a man like David Tinney to come in and have the opportunity to spout propaganda about the myth of a romanticized meritocratic capitalist democracy to an audience of silenced youth for an hour.
The answer lies in the function of a modern school, in this capitalist society. Schools, and in general the entire education system, are not made to teach people how to develop into individuals that question things and are capable of looking at things in a critical, rational and analytical manner. Instead, it is made to simply churn out ready wage slaves, equipped with qualifications that show nothing except that the individual can remember the curriculum for an exam, that know how to shut up, obey instructions, and submit to whatever authority they are confronted with in later life, whether it be the bank, the boss or the bastards that are in government. Maybe even the bishop if we include faith schools. The system is engineered to produce clones destined for a working life that eventually pays off for a more than un satisfactory pension, regardless if you’re in the private or public sector, a reality that some millions of workers have been trying to fight recently.
The format of the seminar David gave revolved around separate concepts or tips to help to become successful. From his website, I have picked up on some of these points. One such concept he talks about is the ability to ask effective questions. I can bet you that the question is more to do with tedious bureaucracy about self evaluation than it is to with organising with co workers to get pay rises or improved working conditions. Another thing mentioned is the simple yet vague command of “take action”. Again, I have a strange hunch this does not refer to direct action and class struggle. Perhaps he should add “(take action) but only of the in effective type through the accepted channels”.
On the home page of David Tinney’s website, in big letters, the over guiding principle is displayed proudly, “you are your own services company". In his seminar this one of the first things he talked about. He tried to get some crowd participation going, as he tried to show he was ‘cool’ and ‘in the know’ by asking us who had an account on facebook or twitter or linkedin. David was met with deafening silence as we refused to entertain his request. It was quite cringe worthy, and whilst it was funny there is a hideous under current to the statement “you are your own services company". In my opinion at least, these idea reeks of a capitalist perspective that totally de humanizes people and reduces them to be nothing but economic assets. I could even go as far as to say this represents the commodification of humans themselves. This is was what stuck with me and what most filled me with disgust after the seminar
It truly reveals what a capitalist David Tinney is. To aid the un veiling of his bourgeois character, he mentioned in passing that he had been involved in the higher echelons of a political party, the name of which he did not mention. Although I did try to ask at the end when he was taking questions to be sure, I would give no prizes for anyone guessing which party David Tinney was likely to of been referring to. And finally, as the seminar drew to a close, which had included a small section that he called “world view” where he tried to give the illusion that he had some global moral conscience (as if he cared about all the people he most certainly would of exploited to get where he is today), he casually told us he would be giving away signed copies of his book quickly, pretending this was not all a promotional/profit driven activity.
His book, called "The Advanced Power State” and sub titled “to make you successful in life”, also has a section devoted to it on his website. Even the front cover is telling, as it displays cogs turning together like clockwork, whose rotation is made smoother by the greasing that every workers blood sweat and tears provides. A well oiled machine. Once again, the web page bullet points the subjects the book will cover, which includes “motivation and behavior training”. This sounded very sinister to me. If the book was not so well disguised as a harm less self help publication, in this chapter it would provide comment on the fact that the sole motivation is monetary, about life being all about climbing the ladder whose rungs might as well be the outstretched, trodden on bodies of the proletariat dead or alive. You can see his website here at http://www.advancedknowledgesystems.co.uk/
To conclude what has been quite a long melodramatic ranting, I thought I would try to end on a more positive note. David Tinney’s book, seminar and indeed what seems to be his entire life, is about success. In his mind, success is about the accumulation of wealth. In mine however, success is not about this at all. Sure it will be nice to be able to live fairly comfortably, with a nice amount of cash to dispose of how I wish, but this is not all there is to life. All too often it comes across through the media and education that what we call life should be reduced to being born, going to school, going on to university, getting a job, getting married, having kids, retiring, and then dying, leaving a modest amount of money tied up in an estate that will be inherited by your offspring. I consider success to be less about career options and bank balances and more about happiness and personal fulfillment. If ticking the boxes I mentioned before constitutes fulfillment for you, whilst I would consider that to be somewhat depressing, I would have no right to insult the way your life. But I think most people secretly want there to be something more to life. I know that I certainly do, and I hope that anarchist communists do to.