Pre-planned Feelings

Today we received a document that describes the new procedure for creating an academic budget. It’s written in the most atrocious bureaucratese and lists 17 (seventeen) additional meetings on top of the ones in the already existing procedure. Every meeting is described not only in terms of the date, attendees and action items but also a list of feelings (yes, feelings) people should experience after each meeting.

Example. “February 16, 2023. We leave the meeting with a sense of confidence in our capacity to improve the budget and a sense of excitement regarding the new strategic budgeting process.”

There is a separate column for these feelings. Every sentence in it starts with “We leave the meeting with a sense of.” Please note that these meetings haven’t happened yet. These are future meetings. But the feelings they are supposed to inspire have already been pre-planned. And put down in writing by people who lack any sense of humor.

I know everybody is already tired of me bringing up the USSR but I’ll say it again. We weren’t this stupid in the USSR. The pre-planned feelings worked only until Stalin’s death. Once there were no mass executions, nobody took pre-planned feelings seriously.

This is a long, very detailed document. 5 pages, single-spaced, 10 pt font. Somebody got paid actual money to write this unreadable, moronic garbage. It was approved by the administration. What is wrong with us that we let this happen?

11 thoughts on “Pre-planned Feelings

  1. “We leave the meeting with a sense of confidence in our capacity to improve the budget and a sense of excitement regarding the new strategic budgeting process.”

    You DID just make this up as a joke, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I swear it’s true. I wouldn’t be able to come up with this by myself no matter how hard I tried. I copied verbatim from the document. And there are 17 of these statements, for each of the meetings.


  2. “nobody took pre-planned feelings seriously”

    I think this is less Soviet and more millenial (and whatever comes after them… I’ve seen different names) magical thinking. They seem to literally think that if they write it and print it and people read it then it’s reality.
    It’s either by them or intended for them so they’ll have to go through the motions….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But in the USSR the government was actually responsible for making things work.

    In SA the government does even more idiotic stuff. They can get away with it because all the real work is outsourced to private companies or consultants, so they just have to try to look useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “What is wrong with us that we let this happen?”

    Do you seriously want a list? 🙂

    If you put a Millennial Snowflake Army in positions of influence without power, what’s the first thing that you’ll expect they want to grab?

    And if they can’t imagine how to do real goal convergence, they can imagine using their influence to push convergence of feelings instead.

    So the major difference between Western bureaucracy and Soviet bureaucracy is that Western bureaucrats want to imagine people feeling good about surrendering to the bureaucrats instead of merely tolerating their existence and wishing they didn’t have one.

    In terms of philosophy this is a result of the unchecked and uncritiqued spread of “nominalism”, the favourite philosophical stance of the neo-conservatives.

    Even so-called Progressives took pages from the neo-con playbook because the talking points sound plausibly like the kind of authority they wish they had.

    Influence and power are two different things, and one does not necessarily flow from the other.

    As for that infamous “chto delat” part that’s coming where the banal revolutionaries imagine what they can do next?

    They won’t have to do anything because it’s already being done for them.

    It’s coming in the form of “the spectre of mass uselessness” which was coming for them long before the emergence of certain forms of AI.

    Pushback was already happening in the form of replacing the institutions that were being converged, and so now that this is happening to you, it’s an open recognition that whatever it is that your institution is doing, it can be done by others potentially better without all of those requirements.

    That’s what’s powerful about DeSantis imagining a Hillsdale in Florida.


      1. All “turn about is fair play” games apply.

        What’s powerful about DeSantis doesn’t involve whether this one measure is successful.

        Doing what he’s doing puts an entire “class break” within reach by moving the “Overton window” in such a way that people can imagine doing without the now-broken institutions.

        I’ll provide an example in architecture: there are things not to like about New Urbanism, and there are things not to like about the design charettes they use as brainstorming and consensus-gathering meetings.

        Having design charettes that are too open to non-stakeholders merely encourages activists to hijack the design process.

        However … they are also useful for doing counter-intelligence work on who the activists are who are going to work toward sabotaging the development process.

        Even if DeSantis doesn’t win with this new Florida Hillsdale project, he will reveal so many of these activists in such a way that the next one will succeed.

        When you become what Nicholas Taleb called “outcome independent”, that’s when you can turn a little influence and a little power into good results.

        Down in Naples, there were all sorts of would-be activists to screw up the architectural refactorings of the old downtown area.

        Andres Duany and his team stuck to the technical side while enlisting political actors who could make the politics work out, and that’s why they keep inviting him back.

        Whoever can turn New College into a Florida Hillsdale is going to be the Andres Duany of refactoring woke campuses into something that regains the ability to teach students what they need to know.

        Power isn’t necessarily vested in a single individual, and that’s the mistake people make with DeSantis.

        What DeSantis probably wants and doesn’t say out loud would probably scare them even more.

        If DeSantis truly wants a legacy, that will mess up their plans even more than if he merely wanted a win with a Florida Hillsdale.

        I’m also pretty sure he does.

        So here’s Clarissa’s real problem: she’s being pushed around by these bullies and doesn’t have an “outcome independent” way to push back where they will always lose even if she doesn’t always win.

        Make every meeting hurt.

        Liked by 1 person

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