Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Future of Industrial Man, 2: What is a Functioning Society? (pt 2)

Drucker’s cricitics, when considering his political economics, often complain that he is too metaphysical. Apparently, I must live in a more metaphysical universe than they for his arguments tend to make more sense than theirs. When Drucker claims that an illegitimate force can only maintain power through tyranny, I find his arguments credible. I am clearly less of an empiricist than I should be.

In addition to the issue of legitimate power, this book rests upon the idea that a functioning society must rest upon the foundation of providing purpose and status to all of its members. This point fairly obvious at this point and he doesn’t dwell upon it long. At the same time, it has made be ponder the anti-social programmer and all the hours that they spent – and of course I spent – hunched over a keyboard. If they are employed, then the job provides the status, purpose and reward. But what if they are not employed? And what about the gamers who can spend hours in a world of their own creation?

You can look at it several ways, I suppose. One can consider it a form of self-investment or education. In an anthropological sense, it could be a way of building signs and symbols of mastery. It this work is completely disassociated from an outside society, programming for the sake of programming, it then becomes a religious rite, a means of improving one own mental discipline in the midst of a material world.

I doubt that we can really point to examples of programming work that are completely disconnected from society. Certainly one gains a skill that has market value in the long run. Yet, it does seem to be an aspect of technological life that can be at least a little distance from the beliefs of the larger society.

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