Saturday, January 30, 2010

The End of Economic Man, Chapter 2 (pt 2)

End of Week 2. So far, so good.

I haven’t gotten into the idea that Drucker is arguing that the world of the Economic Man has come to an end because communism – rather than capitalism - has failed. It’s a tricky argument that is based on the idea that the European tradition promises people freedom and equality. He starts by noting that capitalism can’t deliver equality, even equality of opportunity. Communism can’t deliver either, so, according to him, the goals of the entire civilization collapses.

I wonder if he would write it differently after 1989, after the end of the Cold War?

I don’t see anything in his oeuvre to suggest that he thought about rewriting it. Maybe I will find a revisionist essay somewhere. If he didn’t, he was either happy with this argument or felt that it referred to an era in the distant past that need not be revisited.

Did the fall of the Berlin Wall invalidate his argument? Probably not. He argues that 20th century communism was not especially true to Marx but was just a form of trade unionism within capitalism.

I once had a discussion about the transition from communism to capitalism with a computer engineer from Moscow. He had once designed clones of western machines for the Soviet Union. After the wall fell, he tried to start a technology company but quickly was overwhelm by competition from Silicon Valley. He is now a consultant of some sort. I asked him if it was difficult to switch from trusting economic plans to trusting the market.

He gave me a long, cynical stare, like I was a niave little waif, and shrugged his shoulders. “We want to feed our children,” he said. “We’ll believe whatever you want us to believe.”

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