The Misnomer of Public “Service”

All too often public “servants” come to serve nothing but their own interests. When entrusted with the property of the community, they ususally come to regard such wealth as their own, rather than something they hold on trust for the public at large. Or some segment of the public.

Members or Parliament, government ministers, local government officials and so on right down to the humble parish council all fall prey to the same damaging illusion.

It is all part of the Darwinian struggle for survival and dominance. The promotion of one’s worthless genes. Grab what you can and repel all boarders. Dominate, rule, govern, subdue the ignorant lumpen proletariat.

I read a little of Marx and Engels recently and was most impressed. They hit the nail on the head. While the profit motive forms the heart of our economic model, we are doomed to be governed by greed and self interest.

The trouble is of course that Communists proved to be all too human. Seizing control by violent revolution, they took the art of appropriating public property to new heights and murdered countless millions in the process.

What is that phrase about power corrupting? It is all too true at every level, and none of us are immune to the temptation of getting our own way and pursuing ruthless smash and grab.

Should I have succeeded in promoting choral music and the Book of Common Prayer at the dying church of St Martins, Great Mongeham, would I have banned the awful happy clappies and their dreadful music? And their equally trite prayers. I hope not but we can all fall to temptation, and only constant discipline and extreme self awareness can save us from error and tyranny.

Take another example and google Bernie Boverill. You will see the amusing struggle of an anonymous group of individuals, determinined to stamp out cronyism and the abuse of power at the posh Hurlingham Club, frequented by privileged scions of the House of Windsor.

The awful ruling committee had become self selected by dint of ruthless persecution of any who opposed them. Anyone who refused to bow to their will was expelled from the Club.

Mercifully, Boverill and the Reform Hurlingham group forced the oligarchy out of power but as Mr Boverill said it will doubtless prove to be a question of “New Bulls, Same old Shit”. Human nature is just what it is.

In extreme cases such as Soviet Russia (and it is still Soviet under Comrade Putin) public service entails rape of the public purse and wholesale execution of the oposition.

In lesser cases, government entails being courted by slimy salesmen from the truly dreadful corporate world, who make party donations in return for access and influence. And doubtless lucrative contracts. And lavish entertainment is also a valued tool of the louche Uriah Heaps who populate the corporate muck heaps.

At the lowest level of government, absolute power is still exerted, even if the financial rewards are limited to inflated salaries and free meals.

What is to be done? Well in my own case absolutely nothing. I view the world with detached amusement and let it trundle on its tiresome, weary way.

If I could, I would vote with my feet and go off grid in Patagonia or Alaska.  Or better still, relocate to a part of the universe run by The Culture. As it is, my deeply suburban wife is likely to insist I remain stuck in middle class Fulham.