One defining characteristic of autocratic systems throughout history, government and corporate, is the response to dissent of any kind. It is not to be tolerated, it is to be crushed, threatened, bullied, sanctioned, its perpetrators punished unreasonably. In contrast a democratic and civil organisation not only tolerates dissent, it is encouraged. Well, to some extent. Think of those politicians who seek their own satirisation in cartoons, even buying the originals for the walls of their palatial pads. That is the context of a healthy and thriving society.
So what has been the late reaction of the SMT to this humble blog and its criticisms and humorous excursions on Kingston University’s dismal management (after four years of existence)? Like that of the autocrats, according to comments circulating around the University. In Stalinist form, they have threatened anyone contributing to Dissenters Blog with the sack. The SMT has demanded that the UCU disown it. In management’s eyes you are probably a criminal for visiting this site. You have committed a reading crime; your thoughts are corporately impure. So it’s off to the gulag with all of you.
Healthy and thriving Kingston University is not, and we all know the reason for that — all except our infamous senior management. What would be the sensible response to this blog? The most sensible would be to take heed of the criticisms, as well as those implied in the staff survey, comments at meetings by those who dare, and so on. If the members of the SMT are unable to do this, the second most realistic response would be none at all. Ignore it; wear a fatuous grin and pretend it isn’t happening, as Peter Cook once said of the incumbent Prime Minister.
The worst reaction of all is the one they’ve made, insulting all the staff (yet again) and making absurd threats they could not possibly execute without legal action and terrible publicity. And the notion of telling staff what not to do in a university shows how far the notion of academic freedom has collapsed. One may speculate on who is the source of these SMT ructions. Could it be Simon Stoned, the non-academic shipped in to make a bigger mess from the mess left behind by past managers?
The Management seems incapable of seeing where the problems with KU lie. Yes, they’ve dumped a few of its hopeless members but merely replaced them with others equally hopeless. Meanwhile the beleaguered staff continue to receive the blame, and now so does this blog. No, not the blog nor the staff are the problem SMT if you’re reading this. The blame lies squarely with you.