Friday, March 12, 2010

The Future of Industrial Man, Chapter 4: Industrial Reality of the 20th Century (pt 3)

A reader has reminded me that Coconuts is also a great Kaufman comedy. I concede that this is true.

In this project, I have to keep returning to the time in which the book was published. He is writing in 1943 and is dealing with a simpler social idea. Small towns. Independent bankers. Responsible shareholders. John Steinbeck. George Bailey. All the rest. Kaufman, too, I suppose, as he has a nostalgic eye even though he writes about urban life.

It is an age before mutual funds and corporate investors. These institutions will ultimately form a countervailing power to corporate management. Manage has a real check on its power when they face someone who owns a substantial fraction of the company.

At the same time, Druckers divides the economy into two parts. The first is the economy of production. The second is the economy of rights and finance. He calls the first real and the second symbolic. The first conveys power but not wealth. The second has wealth but no power. The growth of mutual funds is part of the symbolic economy and it is some attempt to get power but it still lives in the world of symbol.

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