Bitter experience over the decades working in and with a variety of institutions has taught me the immutable truth of what is known as O’Sullivan’s Law, laid down by my friend the writer John O’Sullivan in 1989 to explain why organisations such as Amnesty, which were created to be impartial, go nuts: “All organisations that are not actually Right-wing will, over time, become Left-wing.” It’s to do with the Left always being more driven, single-minded and intolerant than the Right.
That might be part of it but is not, I think, the real reason. The left don’t get that thing about the free in free markets. Which is that anyone can pitch up and have a go. Therefore the left is lax in founding new organisations. The preference is to take over those that exist.
I’d also mutter something about this being a more general failing. They say that BP must build solar plants – for example. Energy will be, in the future, provided by those who produce energy now. Money made from producing energy now should stay in the same company and be used to produce the new energy, the new way, within the same company. They’re not grasping the idea of a new thing to be done, let’s have a new organisation, optimised to do that new thing.
It’s possible to carry the muttering further. The misunderstanding about society itself. The current disposition of everything must be made fairer. More perfect perhaps. Without understanding that we also – perhaps more so – want society itself to advance rather than just become more equitable at this particular stage. Some of those perceived unfairnesses being the very features which encourage that advance.
Of course, this all becomes close to a theory of everything and those are always toss. But I do think there’s a distinct something to this. It’s the other side of that common observation of mine that there’s nothing so conservative as a lefty. They seem entirely incapable of grasping that change tends to come not from reforming the extant but from starting anew and through competition destroying the extant. This is true of companies and tech – the new near always comes from new orgs, not olds, the iPhone and IBM PC being used as contra-examples precisely because they’re so rare – but is a more general observation about society itself.
Of course, it could also be that the left are just too damn stupid to be able to set up a new organisation and that has explanatory power too.