We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata word for today: paraprofessional

their paramilitary character must be understood in connection with other professional party organisations, such as those for teachers, lawyers, physicians, students, university professors, technicians and workers. All these were primarily duplicates of existing non-totalitarian professional societies, paraprofessional as the stormtroopers were paramilitary. … None of these institutions had more professional value than the imitation of the army represented by the stormtroopers, but together they created a perfect world of appearances in which every reality in the non-totalitarian world was slavishly duplicated in the form of humbug. (Hannah Arendt, ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’)

After seizing power, the Nazi party ‘coordinated’ all the existing professional organisations they had already duplicated. Sometimes the party organisation was the direct instrument of ‘coordination’ but at other times it could be just the threat – the ‘coordinated’ organisation could survive and even thrive if it outdid its party rival in zeal for “working towards the fuhrer”. For people and for the organisations they led, out-radicalising your rival was key to survival.

David Burge described today’s ‘coordination’ technique in fewer words: Identify a respected institution. Kill it. Gut it. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

Each organisation they gain helps the paraprofessionals conquer the next. In the US, coordinating education helped them coordinate the media step by step. The death of standards in those two then assisted coordinating some electoral processes, which in turn is now enabling more vigorous work on coordinating the military – and much else.

Meanwhile, the trains themselves may not run on time but those who run them are well-coordinated. If your bank is not doing much for your wealth, then it’s probably doing wonders for your pronouns. Medical organisations march in coordinated lockstep, from the psychologists to the pharmacists; even your pet had better get used to the care of a coordinated vet. And I could write so much more.

Paraprofessional: I think it is a word we need again today. And, like Hannah Arendt, I think its relationship to ‘paramilitary’ needs to be understood.

11 comments to Samizdata word for today: paraprofessional

  • It’s all about the Gleichschaltung, baby. Same as it ever was.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    It ties into credentialism. I’m not sure whether the order of causation was that the modern trend for making so many of what were once just “jobs” into professions, as in licensed professions, made the “coordination” easy, or whether the push towards credentialism was always semi-consciously intended as a means to exclude non-conformists.

  • bobby b

    They’re not killing those respected organizations so much as they’re emulating the lamprey eel and attaching themselves to them and sucking their blood. A parasite needs a live host.

    Which is why it’s disturbing to me to watch what is happening to our military. If it completely turns into that “paramilitary”, things could get interesting. The live host is rapidly dying.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex) (July 12, 2022 at 6:07 pm), Adam Smith in 1776 (‘The Wealth of Nations’) and Milton Friedman in 1980 (‘Free to Choose’) both document the age-old temptation of producers to restrict entry of competitors into their market. Examples include the Hippocratic Oath of classical times and the mediaeval guilds. In both cases, high-minded (and not always merely hypocritical) professions of desire to maintain standards for the consumer accompanied mechanisms to ensure consumers did not ‘suffer’ from too many competitors for their custom. When the 1930s Democrats brought in the National Recovery Act in collusion with the Unions, and the Negro community renamed it the Negro Runaround Act after experiencing how its power to exclude was very much applied to them, that has analogies with modern wokeness but also with past history.

    So, as regards your question about “the order of causation“, I suggest the merely commercial desire to profit by excluding competition was always there, and collaboration between government and unions (including those unions that call themselves professional associations) was always the means. Modern woke-prejudice, like 30’s race-prejudice, was always usable in a merely secondary role (as Milton remarks apropos of 1930s racism, when the purpose is to reward some ‘we’ by excluding some ‘not-we’, the criteria for distinguishing are likely to be irrational). However because the mechanism’s function is to exclude (and because a side-effect of PC left-wing thought is never to notice how regulation and forced collectivism harm those they pretend to help), it was an excellent means to conduct a woke ideological purge – a suitable tool lying ready to hand, one might say.

  • bobby b (July 12, 2022 at 6:07 pm), in a formal sense they are indeed not ‘killing’ those “respected organizations” – on the contrary they typically seek to expand the organisation’s budgets and powers. But Hannah’s point was that coordination was invariably accompanied by a decline in the organisation’s performance of its ostensible task. (Hannah argues that, in 1934, Hitler – after much dithering – refused Rohm’s ideologically-attractive plan to make the stormtroopers the basis for the Third Reich’s army, instead crushing the SA and building up the Wehrmacht, precisely because he understood that, as Hannah says, the stormtroopers’ “imitation of an army” had no professional military value and he needed a trained military caste for his plans of conquest, planning to escape his dependence on it later.)

    Dave Burge may mean the same when he speaks of the woke “killing” the organisation. I don’t recall whether it was Glenn Reynolds or someone he quotes who said that, whenever your local authority starts talking of climate change, diversity, the evils of ‘zionism’ and etc., expect to experience potholed roads, poor rubbish collection and worse policing. Over time, ‘coordinating’ the organisation ‘kills’ (i.e. markedly and increasingly reduces) its ability to perform whatever task nominally justifies its existence. Eventually, the children don’t just get groomed as well as propagandised; they also emerge from school measurably less able to read, write or count, with each academic year worse than the last.

    The speed varies. When (after July 20th 1944), Hitler began subjugating the army to the party, Hannah describes the decline in the very demanding skill of warfare as precipitous, faster than in the less demanding civilian professional organisations coordinated earlier, but the same effect in both. So one can argue that bobby b’s image of a parasite slowly enfeebling its host is better than Dave Burge’s one of a predator swiftly killing its prey. But the coordinated organisation’s fall below its minimum prior standard of basic integrity can be gross and fast – and that may be Dave’s meaning. (Scroll down to ‘1933’ in this Chicago Boys post for an example – or read down, if you want the modern context.) Both analogies have their value.

  • My mom was a teacher’s aid for “special needs” students. Officially, her title was “paraprofessional”, but the union propaganda used the worse term SRP (school-related personnel), deliberately using a form of Newspeak to try to obfuscate things for people not already in the state education complex. A few years before she retired, the state mandated some form of credential, which she duly got, but it didn’t make any changes to the work she was already doing.

    I never could get anybody to explain to me the difference between “paraprofessional” and “para-amateur” either.

  • Dr. Chaotica

    I’m familiar with the word, but only because I was married to a librarian. Library work is a credentialized profession; you are not eligible for positions with “librarian” in the title unless you have a Master of Library Science degree. No exceptions. People who work in a library, but don’t have an MLS, are referred to as library paraprofessionals. Even if you have been a library paraprofessional for twenty years, you must still go back to school and earn an MLS before you can be promoted to librarian.

  • Ted Schuerzinger (July 13, 2022 at 8:40 am) and Dr. Chaotica (July 13, 2022 at 10:32 am), the prefix can be used for real – I’ve known para-medics who were very good at their jobs – but I was unaware that unqualified generic ‘paraprofessional’ had ever been anyone’s actual job title. Thanks for the information – especially as regards the jealously with which titles are guarded. I’ve encountered the same myself in medical research contexts.

    When applied to Nazi stormtroopers and the like, ‘paramilitary’ meant ‘would be little use against a real enemy army but are a lot of use for making civilian fellow citizens think twice about openly disagreeing’. The paraprofessionals who infest the teachers unions, the American Medical Association and other such nominal leadership bodies for their professions have the same uselessness for the profession’s ostensible function and the same usefulness for (literally) discouraging open dissent.

  • Douglas Whiddob

    A close friend of mine works for the school district. His job is to herd the special needs kids. His title is “paraprofessional” that is the official title for his job.

  • Paul Marks

    “The Rise and Decline of Nations” by Mancur Olson.

    Societies rise because they have secure private property rights and free competition – and decline because they are choked with compulsory guilds, licensing, and other regulations.

    During the collapse of the Roman Empire (the Late Empire being choked by taxes and regulations – and so overrun by groups of barbarians that the Republic or Early Empire would have crushed) some people fled to islands (which had fresh water supplies – that was vital) in a lagoon – the lagoon that became, over centuries, the heart of the Republic of Venice.

    For centuries the Republic of Venice was a centre of free manufacturing and trading – a light in a dark world. But the Republic started to become choked by regulations (compulsory guilds and other restrictive government practices).

    The same thing has happened in the United States – for example whatever one thinks of President Lincoln, his rise from a manual labourer (a rail hand) to a well known lawyer and then politician was impressive – and it would be impossible today, as to practice law one needs to be “educated” and to be “educated” costs vast amounts of money.

    It is the same for virtually every other trade and profession – not just law.

    As for the Marxist influence (which Niall rightly points to) it is all over the place – for example even mathematics classes in many schools and universities now contain far left propaganda (the “equity” agenda).

    The present system in the United States (and elsewhere) is totally twisted, a small elite prosper and most ordinary people find it harder and harder to get by – but this is NOT a natural process of “capitalism” (as the Marxists, who dominate the institutions, falsely claim), it has been MADE to happen by government policy – the Credit Money system (the “Cantillon Effect” on steroids), and endless licensing and other regulations.

  • Paul Marks

    “Make education free” cry the left – obscuring the fact that one of the largest costs of modern “education” is ideological conformity, of everyone following the official line – especially when the official line is totally wrong. If every trade and profession depends on being “educated”, in this sense, then society is set for stagnation and decline.

    For example, “Critical Theory” has nothing in common with Critical Thinking – indeed it is the opposite. Critical Theory is the UNcritical acceptance of leftist assumptions.

    Whether it is Frankfurt School “Equity” being taught in Calculus classes in universities (no – I am not making that up), or medical doctors being persecuted for trying get Early Treatment to save the lives of Covid 19 patients (alas – I am not making that up either), the present system is a twisted mess.