I shouldn’t start a sentence; whether we like it or not. It’s too easy to say that a state of affairs is unchangeable and give no proof to that effect. C.S. Lewis said: “Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.” I don’t agree with him but there it is again; no evidence needed because God is invoked.
So, I’ll get around this conundrum and offer some reasons why we just must accept we cannot change a situation that is proving to be more than challenging.
It’s a technocratic world. Or you could say; the geeks have it. My reference goes back to the mid-70s. In that time, we lived in an analogue world. Yes, there were exotic computers being used and predictions coming from science fiction about robots and endless leisure time ahead but most day-to-day experiences involved simple stuff like a pen and paper and a telephone.
To an extent, early digital equipment started to bring more structure into work life as kitchen table management gave way of planning tools and schedules. In the 1980s, the widespread take-up of personal computers meant that the creation of elaborate Gantt charts and spreadsheets became every day. A need for structure and systems gradually overtook the “seat of the pants” way of working.
This was not for everyone, as some organisations considered themselves immune or languished in a holding pattern. A danger of decline faced those who resisted adopting the latest technology and ways of working. Generally, the institutes of Government were slow to change. In particular, the long-lived democratic institutions struggled with the wave of systematic ways of working that have become the mode.
What’s my point? It’s evident to me that, this week, the signals coming from negotiations in Brussels are not good. That part of what is going on is a clash between the new and the old. When systematic and methodical people meet casual, make-it-up-as-you-go along people there’s inevitably a clash. Who’s in the right or who’s in the wrong hardly matters at all if two parties can’t see eye-to-eye. Let’s go back to my initial assertion; it’s a technocratic world. Well it is and the laissez-faire people who try to deny that fact aren’t going to be winners.