Bureaucracy, Ideology and the Professions

In much of the Western world, especially Australia, it does not matter so much which political party is elected into office, since often a deeply imbedded bureaucracy remains, regardless of the ruling party of the day. This thick layer of bureaucracy tends to stay in place, despite electoral changes.

Moreover, these faceless bureaucrats can often have as much power and influence as politicians, and often their shelf life is even longer than that of many politicians. And it is also commonly acknowledged that perhaps most of these bureaucrats, or public servants as they are called in Australia, tend to be left of centre.

Thus these taxpayer-funded bureaucrats tend to have both job security – it is quite difficult to fire a public servant – and a large scope for bringing influence – usually of the leftist sort – to bear on the various social and political issues of the day.

Consider the whole field of social work. While there are plenty of social workers in the private sector, perhaps the bulk of them are government funded. And often they can be seen as change agents for the progressive side of politics.

Of course most people who go into social work and related fields do so for the best of intentions. They care about people and really want to make a difference in helping people with various problems. Thus this is not a critique of individual social workers as such, but more the whole field of social work.

Two main concerns have been levelled against social work. One is the tendency for this to become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. That is, there is always the temptation to almost see social problems as a good thing. After all, if there are no social problems, there would be no need for social workers. So there may be a tendency for some to actually relish continuing social dysfunction.

For example, the rising tide of marriage and family breakdown is providing a huge case load for social workers. They make their living out of picking up the pieces of such social upheaval. Yet there tends to be silence from this sector regarding the harm of divorce or the need to strengthen marriage. May this in part be attributed to the fact that family breakdown provides them with more work, with a guaranteed income? I do not mean to be overly cynical here, but more than one commentator has reflected on how whole industries have arisen which thrive on, and depend upon, social disorder and dysfunction.

A second main problem, as already noted, is that the whole profession tends to be largely in the grip of leftist ideology. Much of the field of social work has succumbed to strongly leftwing political views. This is aided and abetted by a social work education establishment which sees itself as the vanguard of leftist radicalism.

This fact was nicely documented in a recent column by American commentator John Leo. Entitled “Indoctrination 101,” his article demonstrates how in America at least, the whole field has largely been taken over by political radicals of the left. He begins,

“In 1997, the National Association of Social Work (NASW) altered its ethics code, ruling that all social workers must promote social justice ‘from local to global level.’ This call for mandatory advocacy raised the question: what kind of political action did the highly liberal field of social work have in mind? The answer wasn’t long in coming. The Council on Social Work Education, the national accreditor of social work education programs, says candidates must fight ‘oppression,’ and sees American society as pervaded by the ‘global interconnections of oppression.’ Now aspiring social workers must commit themselves, usually in writing, to a culturally left agenda, often including diversity programs, state-sponsored redistribution of income, and a readiness to combat heterosexism, ableism, and classism.”

This radicalisation of social work has been going on for some time now. So blatant has this leftist indoctrination been, that now there is a bit of a backlash to it all. Says Leo, “This was all too much for the National Association of Scholars. The NAS has just released a six-month study of social work education, examining the ten largest programs at public universities for which information was available. The report, ‘The Scandal of Social Work,’ says these programs ‘have lost sight of the difference between instruction and indoctrination to a scandalous extent. They have, for the most part, adopted an official ideological line, closing off debate on many questions that serious students of public policy would admit to be open to the play of contending viewpoints’.”

This radicalism has been rightly described as coercive utopianism. That is, to bring about this new enlightened social utopia, often very heavy-handed methods are required. Just as the Marxists were quite happy to use coercion to create their heaven on earth, so too, many of our social radicals are willing to force others into embracing their revolutionary agendas.

Leo continues, “Nine of the ten programs, the NAS reports, require students to accept the ideology-saturated NASW code of ethics to get a degree in social work. The University of Central Florida says students ‘must comply’ with the code of ethics if they wish to remain in school. Failure to accept the code constitutes ‘academic misconduct’ in the University of Michigan program and ‘can result in disciplinary action’ at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.”

Many examples of such coercion can be mentioned. Consider this one: “Interventions by free speech and religious liberties groups induced a few schools to back down in well-publicized cases of abuse. At Missouri State University’s undergraduate social work program, Emily Brooker received a ‘C’ after complaining that professor Frank Kauffman ‘routinely engaged in leftist diatribes.’ Kauffman instructed Brooker’s class to write the state legislature urging legal approval of adoption by gays. She refused on religious and moral grounds. As a result, Brooker was brought up on very serious charges; to get her degree, she had to promise to abide by the NASW code. After graduation, she sued and won a settlement.”

Despite a few such wins over the reigning mandatory political correctness, the ideology of “social justice requirements is intact and strongly holds sway in the schools. It dovetails with the general attitude on campuses that promoting liberal advocacy in the classroom is legitimate and necessary. So long as government agencies collaborate with the social work programs and ed schools, reform will remain a long way off.”

Leftist training in social work is of course just part of the whole of education in the West which has largely been taken over by radical social engineers. Thus if it is ever wondered why whole fields of the professions tend to be dominated by leftist ideology, a good part of the answer lies in Western universities mostly in the grip of leftism and radicalism.

Exposing such leftwing indoctrination is one thing. Finding a way to end it or overcome it is another issue altogether. But until we do, we will continue to see the stranglehold of leftwing bureaucracy and the domination of the professions by the political left.


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