We are all indebted to professionals. The ‘professionals’ that I have especially in mind are those people who work in political, educational, healthcare, welfare, legal and other services. Through their knowledge, expertise and commitment, they help us when we are in need, they make our lives easier, safer and more fulfilling, and they smooth the way forward for us to achieve our potentials and our goals in life. The same may be said for managerial and administrative staff in private organisations such as financial and commercial enterprises.
But could it not also be this? That rather than assist us they can too often be a hindrance? That without their intervention we can sometimes make a better job of things by ourselves? That they may even at times undermine our own ability and confidence to determine what is in our best interests and carry out what is required (and if necessary learn how to)? That some may be no more ‘experts’ in what they do than non-professionals or people simply possessed of reasonable intelligence and common sense? Is it possible that too often their own needs take precedence over those of the people who are supposed to be benefitting from their attention? And could it not be that there are just too many of them?
Is it reasonable to speak of a modern ‘tyranny’, one that is having a malign effect on our society, and which we may call ‘the tyranny of the professionals’? Indeed, my current pipedream is to have a book published entitled The Tyranny of the Professions. Another apposite title would be Disabling Professions, but a book of that name already exists, authored by Ivan Illich and others (London: Marion Bowers, 1977; accessible online at:
I seriously invite anyone who feels an immediate and strong affinity to this title to consider joining me in my enterprise.