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The Futility of Politics

From Peter Drucker's Managing in a Time of Great Change

No century in human history has experienced so many social transformations and such radical ones as the twentieth century. They, I submit, shall turn out to be the most significant events of this our century, and shall be its lasting legacy. In the developed free-market countries—only one-fifth of the earth's population, but the model for the rest—work and work-force, society and polity are all, in the last decade of this century, qualitatively and quantitatively different both from those of the first years of this century and from anything ever experienced before in human history: different in their configurations, in their processes, in their problems, and in their structures.

Far smaller and far slower social changes in earlier periods triggered violent intellectual and spiritual crises, rebellions, and civil wars. The extreme social transformations of this century have hardly caused any stir. They proceeded with a minimum of friction, with a minimum of upheavals, and indeed with altogether a minimum of attention from scholars, politicians, the press, and the public. To be sure, this century of ours may well have been the cruelest and most violent century in human history, with its world wars and civil wars, its mass torturers, ethnic cleansings, and genocides. But all these killings, all these horrors inflicted on the human race by this century's Weltbeglücker,* hindsight clearly shows, were just that: senseless killings, senseless horrors. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, the three evil geniuses of this century, destroyed. But they created nothing.

Indeed, if this century proves anything, it is the futility of politics. Even the most dogmatic believer in historical determinism would have a hard time explaining the social transformations of this century as caused by the headline-making political events, or explaining the headline-making political events as caused by the social transformations. But it is the social transformations, running like ocean currents deep below the hurricane-tormented surface of the sea, that have had the lasting, indeed the permanent, effect. They rather than all the violence of the political surface—have transformed the society and the economy, the community, the polity we live in.

Continue reading A Century of Social Transformation


* Weltbeglücker refers to those who establish paradise on earth by killing off nonconformist, dissidents, resisters, and innocent bystanders, whether Jews, the bourgeoisie, kulaks, or intellectuals—an untranslatable German term, alas.

 

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker


The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context

 

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It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

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