Professionalism RIP

Professionalism RIP

Where have all the professionals gone, gone to self-interest every one. This is of course an exaggeration. Not every single professional has sold out.

Allen Greenspan has just written a book admitting his sell-out. Colin Powell sold his soul when he went before the UN. We see Doctors selling out there professionalism for business interests. CEO’s sell out their responsibility by taking the money and run. Economists are driven by ideology rather than professionalism. University professors sell out for grant money.

I think that we are witnessing the death of professionalism. Perhaps I am naïve to think that professionals were ever professional.

Wiki tells me that the classical meaning of professional was limited to Divinity, Medicine, and Law. Since classical times many other occupations than these three have come to be recognized within society as professional.

Arnold Toynbee wrote a “Study of History’, which “is the longest written work ever composed in the English language…In it he traces the birth, growth and decay of some 21 to 23 major civilizations in the world.”

“He argues that for civilizations to be born, the challenge must be a golden mean; that excessive challenge will crush the civilization, and too little challenge will cause it to stagnate. He argues that growth is driven by “Creative Minorities,” who lead the uncreative masses by example (called “mimesis”).”

“He argues that the breakdown of civilizations is not caused by loss of control over the environment, over the human environment, or attacks from outside, but from the deterioration of the “Creative Minority” (who leads the uncreative majority by example) into a “Dominant Minority” (who forces the majority to obey without meriting obedience). He argues that creative minorities deteriorate due to a worship of their “former self,” by which they become prideful, and fail to adequately address the next challenge they face. He argues that a civilization has broken down is when it forms a “Universal State,” which stifles political creativity.”

He argues that as civilizations decay, they form an Internal Proletariat and an External Proletariat. The Internal proletariat is held in subjugation by the dominant minority inside the civilization, and grows bitter; the external proletariat exists outside the civilization in poverty and chaos, and grows envious. He argues that as civilizations decay, there is a schism in the body social, whereby abandon and self-control replace creativity, and truancy and martyrdom replace discipleship by the creative minority.

In “Understanding Media” McLuhan notes Toynbee’s “explanation of how the lame and the crippled respond to their handicaps in a society of active warriors. They become specialists like Vulcan, the smith and armorer. And how do whole communities act when conquered and enslaved? The same strategy serves them as it does the lame individual in a society of warriors. They specialize and become indispensable to their masters. It is probably the long human history of enslavement, and the collapse into specialism as a counter-irritant, that have put the stigma of servitude and pusillanimity on the figure of the specialist, even in modern times. The capitulation of Western man to his technology, with its crescendo of specialized demands has always appeared to many observers of our world as a kind of enslavement.”

I argue that the ‘Creative Minority’, the lost professionals, consists of the university professors and the techno-graduates of our universities who have become specialists for Corporate America. These intellectuals have become ‘hired guns’ for Corporate America. What do you think?

These quotations regarding “The Study of History” are from: … istory.htm

spreading propaganda for the “I hate corporate america crowd” is very professional…


The first poroblem I see with your argument is the issue that millions of Americans with a high level of skill do not work for corporations. They are either working for themselves, or are in very small organisations where adaptation and flexiblity have caused them to become even more ‘special’ or fit to the function, than they ever were in Corporate America.

In my own experience the most skilled people rarely worked for a large business. The ones that were ‘A’ types, always left at some point.

With that said were I do see a problem, maybe, is that the word ‘education’ means fit for a job. This is why you can have a Harvard MBA walk out the door and sell his soul and that of others for a measily, meger, 200k a year.


You are correct the price of a good well educated soul comes very high. I suspect your other conclusions are sometimes correct and somethimes not so. However there is little doubt that the big bucks come from the big corporations.


But then again we’ve been handed(I don’t know if it is by design. If so I want to meet these people) a system in which one carves out a niche.

In other words, if you decide right now today to take this concept of ‘Professonalism in the shitter’ to the people you can do so by creating value.

You do not need to live in the street or on the run from an arbitrary power. You do not need to have been birthed by a special class, nor alligned with any particular group.

You can be almost completely autonomous and spontanious. It is with that condition Silicon Valley emerged. That two guys in a garage went on to change the world. And that all sorts of other stories, like a Sudanese refugee that become a doctor, get told.

If this is selling out… THEN SOLD!


I surely don’t understand it all, but I would just about bet you have a price to pay and that by design or by dialectic we choose from these two:

Either you

Allow most men/women to succeed knowing the caveat of specialization with no resident stability.

You allow certain men/women to succeed knwoing the caveat of generalization but with a certain form of stabalization.

All thought is saturated with egocentric and sociocentric presuppositions. That is, all thought contains highly motivating bias centered in the self or in ideologies such as political, religious, and economic theories. Some individuals are conscious of these internal forces but most people are not.

Those individuals who are conscious of these biases within their thinking can try to rid their judgments of that influence. Those who are not conscious, or little conscious of such bias, are bound to display a significant degree of irrational tendencies in their judgments.

“Can the intellectual, who is supposed to have a special and perhaps professional concern with truth, escape from or rise above the partiality and distortions of ideology?”

Our culture has tended to channel intellectuals, or perhaps more properly those who function as intellectuals, into academic professions. Gramsci makes the accurate distinction that all men and women “are intellectuals…but all do not have the function of intellectuals in society”.

An intellectual might be properly defined as those who are primarily or professionally concerned with matters of the mind and the imagination but who are socially non-attached. “The intellectual is thought of not as someone who displays great mental or imaginative ability but as someone who applies those abilities in more general areas such as religion, philosophy and social and political issues. It is the involvement in general and controversy outside of a specialization that is considered as the hallmark of an intellectual; it is a matter of choice of self definition, choice is supreme here.”

Even anti-ideological is ideological. If partisanship can be defended servility cannot; many have allowed themselves to become the tools of others.

We have moved into an age when the university is no longer an ivory tower and knowledge is king but knowledge has become a commodity and educators have become instruments of power; the university has become a privately owned think-tank. Brzerzinsky recognizes that

“A profound change in the intellectual community itself is inherent in this development. The largely humanist-oriented, occasionally ideological minded intellectual dissenter , who saw his role largely in terms of proffering social critiques, is rapidly being displaced either by experts and specialist, who become involved in special government undertakings, or by generalist-integrators, who become house-ideologues for those in power, providing overall intellectual integration for disparate actions.”

The subordination to power is not just at the individual level but also at the institutional level. Government funds are made available to universities and colleges not for use as they deem fit but for specific government needs. Private industry plays even a larger role in providing funds for educational institutions to perform management and business study. Private industry is not inclined ‘to waste’ money on activities that do not contribute to the bottom line. ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’

Each intellectual is spouting a different ideology, how does the individual choose what ideology? Trotsky once said “only a participant can be a profound spectator”. Is detachment then a virtue? To suggest that intellectuals rise above ideology is impractical. Explicit commitment is preferable to bogus neutrality. But truth is an indispensable touchstone.

I think that the proper role for the intellectual is commitment plus detachment. Do you think many of our present day intellectuals qualify as committed and detached?

Quotes and ideas from “Knowledge and Belief in Politics” Bhikhu Parekh