The Persuasion Industry
In one way or another a growing percentage of workers in the UK are engaged in various sectors of the persuasion industry. Call it new media, education, publishing, marketing, sales, customer relations, call centres, advertising, entertainment, legal services, lobbying, consulting, advice bureaux, research institutes, awareness raising charities, they are all in the multi-billion pound business of persuading. These businesses try to persuade us to buy products, borrow more money, adapt our lifestyles, seek diagnosis for some previously unheard-of medical condition, support a political party, place our faith in large corporations, support government policies, panic about media-fabricated problems. Even those of us not directly involved in the media sector service it by providing its infrastructure in the form of satellite dishes, computer hardware and software, catering, cosmetic surgery, hairdressing etc.
Let us have a look at some representative team players in the 21st century persuasion industry:
- Public information officer:
- With various titles such people impart filtered information on behalf of their clients, the key word here being filtered. Far from redressing bias, they merely serve the highest bidder making sure the only opinions available through trusted establishment media outlets reflects the interests of their clients. Many such public information officers work for organisations that are technically charities, but in reality fronts for big business. Consider the moral universe of a mental health information officer working for a research institute funded in large part by pharmaceutical multinationals. Such a person may dismiss the organisation's spurious funding as corporate benevolence and deceive herself that her work is actually helping sufferers of emotional disturbance overcome their problems, when in reality she is promoting drugs to mask people's problems. People like to be do-gooders and greater conformism tends to suppress any critical analysis of the adverse side effects of our jobs.
- Personal loan advisor:
- They sell you the myth that we can keep expropriating resources from the rest of the world as long as we let banks create virtual money out of thin air, but to repay your debt you have to be a good team player within the system. An indebted person is usually a more docile conformist person.
- As a front-line propagandist, a teacher is responsible for moulding tomorrow's loyal workers, but increasingly focus not so much on encouraging children to teach themselves, but to learn acceptable behaviour. These days good self-confidence and team-playing are considered more important than trigonometry or critical analysis. Children are trained to be good project managers, but not to create the things we really need unless that is part of larger enterprise. For more read the writings of John Taylor Gatto.
- Project Manager:
They smile, converse and write reports to co-ordinate and motivate the people who really do the actual work. As such they have no particular concrete expertise other than excellent people management skills, but despite their apparent empathy they are trained to consider the real human beings who implement their projects as mere resources, expendable in the same away as computer hardware. Their real task is to hide the real purpose of a project from the various resources involved in different stages of its implementation. The ideal project manager is thoroughly brainwashed with a special talent for subconscious denial.
In some firms these account for 25% to 50% of office staff. Project managers are required to talk the talk, but with a few honourable exceptions seldom have to walk the walk. All PMs, often recentgraduates, have bosses, essentially project manager managers, who impart instructions on how to manage the human resources to whom they allocate the actual work that needs to be done. The whole American business management model is based on the notion that technical staff tend to lack the so-called social skills needed to negotiate with irate corporate clients. However, some megabuck clients may not be pleased to learn that at least in the world of commercial software development PMs account for a sizeable slice of the human resources budget. Typically a PM in the IT sector graduated in computer sciences and tends to know an awful lot of theory infused with corporate propaganda. The need for best practices in project management soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as consultants routinely attribute the failure of projects to bad project management.