Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Future of Industrial Man, Chapter 6: Free Society and Free Government

There is a scene in Tony Kushner’s play Slavs, which seems to be the outtakes from Angels in America, in which two aged Bolsheviks sit in some corner of heaven and complain about what has happened since they left earth. Neither is pleased. The Soviet Union has collapsed and they don’t see that as good. However, they aren’t concerned with the actions or state of society or the prosperity of the inhabitants. “Where is the theory?” The Soviet Union was based on a wonderful theory. Where is the theory of capitalist society?

Well, part of it is in this chapter.

The elements are familiar to anyone who has been following the political debates of the last two decades. Freedom is based on the ability to choose and the ability to make the wrong choice. It is tightly connected, in Drucker’s mind to limited government. However, Drucker also connects it, quite tightly, to the Christian idea of fallen man, of humanity being sinful and not able to see perfection in this world.

If he were writing the book in 2010, would he frame the issue that way? At the very least, it resonates with fewer people than it did in 1946. Still, it is one the endearing things about Drucker. He is writing about big ideas. At this point, the scope of his world is the Western civilization of mid-20th century Europe. Yet, he doesn’t see it as one possible framework for management. He conceives it as the only one.

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