Monday, February 1, 2010

The End of Economic Man, Chapter 3

The Return of the Demons.

It’s hard to keep focused on the idea that this is a book in 1939 about fascism. I keep wanting to turn it into a modern book about our current conflicts, especially those that I can connect to technology. There are a lot of ideas that are relevant but analogy is an imperfect process. We see ourselves at points of history that reflect the policies that we would like to implement.

We tell ourselves that our era is similar to the end of the Roman Empire or to the one that saw the invention of movable type or the rise of the national phone system. All may be true. None may be true. We only hope that history gives us a little perspective.

Drucker continues to focus on two issues: freedom and equality. As he sees it, European capitalism failed to provide equality, so people turned to Communism. Communism did nothing to help achieve equality and destroyed freedom. With the failure of communism, which he believed was evident in 1939, Europeans needed to turn to something else and the system that they found was Fascism, which had no theory beyond the obvious statement that it was neither capitalism nor communism.

Does any part of his argument apply to us? I would prefer to look beyond the partisan politics of the moment, which seems all too ready to raise the flag of socialism, and think about the global business environment. Drucker provided the ideas that drove the globalization of business. If he thought that Europe had failed to provide a satisfactory environment for business, how did he think that global business would work, as it straddled different cultures and political systems?

He was probably unconcerned with such things, as the global environment was a large war and two decades away.

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