It was unavoidable: during my “linked life” I again and again met politicians and functionaries of associations and clubs. I am sure the representatives of these systems, too, are only human. You must not judge them too sternly. To my surprise, I find totally different “faces” among those persons.
In many clubs, you will find wonderful people working for a cause with competence, idealism and knowledge. They are also capable of integrating people. But even in these circles, I (too often) meet persons who will not work towards a shared idea, instead promoting “their own agenda”. And then, it is only a logical conclusion that decisions will not be in the interest of the common good, but instead for individual profit.
As soon as I turn away from clubs – where, after all, people often work on an honorary basis – and towards the world of associations and parties, my image will quickly become a negative one. This is where the system agents are the majority. More often than not, they are also “system agents” promoting their own interests. Consequently, there are quite a few persons both in the large-scale and in the small-sale “public domain” who I do not like at all.
Mostly, I am talking persons of mediocrity who define themselves hugely through their office and who want to distinguish themselves and look important. Because they are not really taken seriously in their lives, so they can only compensate for this lack through their office or role. They often hide behind rules, put particular emphasize on the fact that they have to consider circumstances, justify decisions that are not made by talking practical constraints, operate with moralizing (you cannot do that!) and basically accomplish nothing when all is said and done.
What is worse: due to non-existent education, intellect or personality, they confuse many things and live from the strength of their system which, although in the throngs of death (agony), can continue for quite some time because of the accumulated riches. They could not care less that they, along with “their” system, are less and less appreciated. After all, they still have the glamour (and often the significant income) of their offices.
How could these persons ever become the holders of their offices? More often than not, they managed to gain surprisingly good positions in the hierarchy of their association, club or party. Their main characteristic is their “steadiness” and being able to simply ignore negative feedback. Consequently, they climb the ladder in roles others consider “too stupid” and show persistence on their way through the system instances. During their march, they take in a lot, which is their true strength.
The final wages come in the form of long-sought-after importance. They do not care that said importance is only borrowed. With every step in their career, they get a little closer to the centre. When they reach their goal, they are finally “somebody” through their title. It feels like winning to them and mostly they also get quite some money in exchange (both directly and indirectly). Neither would have been possible for them in any other way.
The list of persons, associations and parties I am referring to is rather long. I am thinking of a number of representatives of all kinds of interest groups, business associations and IHK-s, employers’ and employees’ associations, big clubs like for instance for car drivers, diverse sports organizations and church associations; associations that represent classes or occupational groups belong there just like those who specialize on certain job-related topics or believe they own some secret for best practice or some such. Even NGO-s who want to do “good” suffer from these system agents. And more often than not, they will fall victim to commerce.
Incidentally, we now have an inflation of clubs and associations, for all possible purposes and intents. Consequently, there are ever more jobs for system agents. But it is even worse when I look at parties and lobbyism.
What seems disproportionally negative to me is the situation of the political parties and their associated institutions (for instance for opinion forming). In theory, it is their job to generate variants of social consensus that then can be democratically voted on. This concept no longer works. The mayor of a not very small city on the river Rhine once told me that usually persons joining a party hope for private advantages. Well, if even members behave in this way, can you actually hold it against political functionaries that they, too, base their decisions on personal advantages?
If such persons then lament that they are the only ones who do anything at all and accuse others of only talking, then I sometimes get truly angry.
The worst of all are the system agents of lobbyism, the lobbyists. They must and should promote the interests of the members of an association in society and politics. And consequently, they often have to push forward interests that are clearly against the common good with “carrot and stick”, i.e. by all possible means. Naturally, if that is what you have to do, you will need a particularly high degree of ruthlessness directed against the rest of the world. In my vocabulary, I would find the words: scum and vermin.
(Translated by EG)