Staying friends with the Crocodile

"If you live in the river, it is better to stay friends with the crocodile" (Pakistani proverb).

A sociologist's study of patronage in housing in Pakistan offers insight on the patronage culture at KPFA

by Curt Gray

I googled *job trust* and *patronage culture* and could not find much, these phrases seem to be undefined, which makes it harder for people to grasp it, even as it happens in front of them, or to them. One thing I did find was this link to a PDF, which is about patronage in housing in Pakistan in the Nineties. Strangely, it was the best thing I found for understanding perhaps why more unpaid KPFA workers don't utilize their rights to vote, and put their efforts into organizing the UPSO and the Program Council as a way to improve opportunities for the unpaid workforce.

Just change *poor people* to un-paid programmer, change *patron* to paid staff members, change *land* to show or job, change *government* to KPFA management. Try scrolling down till the heading: *Patronage and Policy Implementation* and read a few paragraphs and see how well it fits with the workplace culture within KPFA. It is disappointing that there does not seem to be a sophisticated Left / Labor analysis of this frequent social phenomenon, including in 'progressive' workplaces.

Many people here have spent long years trying to empower the unpaid majority through voting rights, expanding decision-making bodies to be more representative (like the Program Council), creating and recreating unpaid staff organizations. Mary Berg has been working inside the station on that very thing for 20 years. Yet you see the sad results. It is not that good people have not tried, it is that the realpolitik dynamics within the station cause many to calculate the advantage of their actions on an individual basis, not a collective one.

Haves have control, or are aligned with those who control resources that are both limited in number and absolutely essential. Have-nots understand who can give and who can take away, and that there is always someone else in line, so don't antagonize the gate-keepers. Most keep their heads down, and try to see which way the wind is shifting. Can they really imagine a fairer system for all, or just musical chairs with a new set of winners and a new set of losers? I know that some will, but will enough KPFA unpaid risk their individual positions to collectively change things for the better for the station if they themselves don't directly benefit, or even might lose something in the bargain? So far the answer has been mostly no.

March 4, 2011

the above referred to article is:

On Popular Participation in a Culture of Patronage; Patrons and Grassroots Organization in a Sites and Services Project in Hyderabad, Pakistan by Jan van der Linden, senior lecturer in the Department of Development Sociology, Free University, Amsterdam and also associated with the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) in Rotterdam.

also on this subject:

The Patronage Culture at KPFA by Curt Gray, a founding member of the original 1993 Save KPFA which fought for listener democracy at KPFA/Pacifica. The name "Save KPFA" was recently appropriated by a very different group, the "Concerned Listeners" (CL'ers), who represent the patronage clique.

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