First I will treat you as ego-fodder. You will sit in rows, or in a circle,and you will listen to me drone on and on about my hobby-horse du jour.
I don’t care what you know about the topic.
I don’t want to take time away from hearing my own voice to hear your perspectives.
I don’t care about you getting to know the other people in the room
I don’t want to take time away from hearing my own voice for you to build networks
Why do I want this? Because I am Important, dammit. I may not have had all the adulation and obedience that I should have had. But that is because I am a Dissident, and a Rebel.
But I have you all here now, and You. Will. Listen. To. Me. In this “workshop.” That’s a new definition, by the way, of “workshop.” Do you like it? Say yes. If you don’t, well, I don’t care.
But I am not a monster. Of course I am not a monster. Am I? I understand that having used you all, you – well, one or two of you perhaps – might then expect to use me and the rest of you in a similar way. Without my insight, my brilliance, it’s true. So the most of us, and even me- because I am not a monster, am I – will sit in rows or in a circle and we will listen to one or two you drone on and on about your hobby-horse du jour. Fair is fair, after all.
Not all of you, that would be impossible. No, just perhaps three or five or so other people who are also FOTO-genic. Friends Of The Organisers, that is. We will run the day as a series of sequential “consensual” autophagous meetings. Just don’t think too hard about the acronym there, okay?
You don’t know what autophagous means? Oh dear. Perhaps you didn’t go to a good school? Perhaps you did not take your own education in hand, as I have? Perhaps you could reflect on how this might mean that rather than being one of the important people, who talks, you are merely one of those who is allowed to listen. But fear not, they also serve who only sit and listen. But since you’re not very well-educated, you probably don’t even get that particular bon mot? I should not cast my pearls of wisdom before such swine.
You see, by sitting there, by OBEY-ing, provide proof to the important people, like me, that we are important, that our hobby-horses are not old nags, but thoroughbreds.
Where was I? Autophagous…. It means an entity that eats itself. Self-cannibalism. It’s like that Stephen King short story – Survivor Type.
And in order to do the important things – namely for me to feel important – we have to perpetuate social movement failure. We have to keep doing meetings where new – or actually often old, half-baked – ideas come from the front. From the FOTO-genics. And we will not do good meeting design. And we will not do facilitation in any meaningful way. For if that were to be done, well, it would detract from my opportunities to use you to boost, albeit fleetingly, my self-importance.
That new people are bored, so what? That they don’t come back and they tell other potential members that at the meeting they went to they were bored, patronised, their input neither sought nor welcome? So what. That after a while the meetings, conferences get smaller and wink out of existence? That the campaign has in effect eaten itself, to meet the insatiable appetites for attention by the FOTO-genics? That when the issue next exercises the public, new “organisations”, bereft of experience, competence, innovation, repeat the same ghastly repertoires? So so what?
For, you see, this is a balance, a difficult decision. All of those minor, even trivial downsides, compared to me feeling important for 55 minutes. As Madeleine Albright said when asked about the sanctions on Iraq costing the lives of half a million children – “This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”