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pyramid to dna

The New Realities

by Peter Drucker — his other books

The New Realities

Amazon link: The New Realities


This book is not about “things to come.”

It is not about the “next century.”

Its thesis is that the “next century” is already here, indeed that we are well advanced into it.

We do not know the answers.

But we do know the issues.

The courses of action open to us can be discerned.

And so can those which, however popular, will be futile, if not counterproductive.

The realities are different from the issues on which politicians, economists, scholars, businessmen, union leaders still fix their attention, still write books, still make speeches.

The convincing proof of this is the profound sense of unreality that characterizes so much of today’s politics and economics.

And thus, while this book is not “futurism,” it attempts to define the concerns, the issues, the controversies that will be realities for years to come.

Some of the toughest problems we face are those created by the successes of the past—the success of the welfare state, for example; the success of this century’s invention of the fiscal state; the success of the knowledge society.

Some of the greatest impediments to effectiveness are the slogans, the commitments, the issues of yesterday, which still dominate public discourse, still confine our vision.

Also, some half-forgotten lessons of the past are becoming relevant again.

The nineteenth-century experiences of Austria-Hungary and of the British in India with the impact of economic development on nationalism and colonialism mean a great deal for the future of the Russian Empire, for instance.

This explains why a good deal of history is included.

This is an ambitious book that casts its net over a wide range of subjects.

Written in the United States by an American, it does not confine itself to American topics; it deals fully as much with government, society, and economy in Japan, in Western Europe, in Russia, and in the Third World of developing countries.

Yet the book may also be faulted for not being ambitious enough.

The impacts of technology on arms and defense; on the function and limits of government; on schools and learning are frequently discussed.

No chapter as such is however devoted to technology per se.

This subject, I felt, is abundantly discussed in a spate of works.

While highly important, technology is hardly “news” any more.

An even greater limitation: this book deals with the “surface,” the “social super-structure”—politics and government, society, economy and economics, social organization and education.

The foundations—world view and values and the shifts in both—are mentioned often, but are discussed only in a few short pages at the very end.

And there is no discussion of the spiritual agonies and moral horrors: the tyranny and brutal lust for power; the terror and cruelty; the naked cynicism, that have engulfed the world since the West’s descent into World War I. For this I lack both authority and competence.

This book does not focus on what to do tomorrow.

It focuses on what to do today in contemplation of tomorrow.

Within self-imposed limitations, it attempts to set the agenda.

  • The realities
    • “Next century” is already here
      • Well advanced into it
    • Are different
      • Power centers
      • Proof
    • The toughest problems we face
      • Problems created by the successes of the past
    • Half-forgotten lessons of the past becoming relevant again
      • 19th Century experiences
  • This book
    • Attempts to define … that will be realities for years to come
      • Concerns
      • Issues
      • Controversies
    • Focuses on what to do today
      • In contemplation of tomorrow
    • Attempts to set the agenda
    • Faulted for …
  • Political realities
    • The divide
      • Political terra incognita with few familiar landmarks to guide us
      • The (1965-)1973 divide
        • Entered “the next century”
        • Non-events
        • Political slogans
    • Organizing political principles
      • No more salvation by society
      • The end of FDR's America
      • Government
      • The Change in politics
    • When the Russian Empire is gone
      • The Last Colonial Power
      • The completion of the shift from “European” history to “world” history
      • What it means for the United States
      • North America as a New U.S. Concern
    • Now that arms are counterproductive
      • Arms race
      • Arms
      • Army No More School of the Nation
      • Military Aid and Political Malperformance
      • Cutting arms is not enough
      • What is required
        • Something far more difficult than disarmament
        • Reaffirmation of the role and importance of defense in the world’s political system
        • Reaffirmation of the governmental monopoly on arms of destruction
        • A return to defense and arms as the tools rather than the masters of policy
        • Rethinking the entire role and function of
        • A repositioning of the military in the body politic
        • First economic priority
  • Government and political process
    • Government
      • Not the only power center
      • From omnipotent government to privatization
      • What can governments do?
      • The limits of the fiscal state
    • Society and polity has become pluralist
      • Developed non-Communist countries
      • Each
        • New and unprecedented way
        • Different way
      • Both are now full of power centers
      • Pose major challenges to
      • New pluralism of society
      • New pluralism of the polity
    • The changed demands of political leadership
      • Recent campaigns
      • None of the traditional… fit the new political realities
      • Forces politics and politicians to be “dull”
      • Public distrust of traditional leaders
      • Political motto for the new political realities: “Beware Charisma!”
      • Competent leaders vastly preferable
      • Tremendous political tasks ahead
  • Economy, ecology, and economics
    • Transnational economy
      • The main features, challenges, opportunities
      • Manufacturing is increasingly becoming uncoupled from labor
      • The raw material economy and the industrial economy have become “uncoupled”
      • The economy is becoming less material-intensive
      • From international to transnational
      • No more superpower (Countries or companies)
      • Adversarial trade and reciprocity
      • Protecting the transnational economy
    • Transnational ecology
      • The endangered habitat of the human race
      • The crucial environmental needs
    • Economic development
      • The successes
      • The Dismal Failures
      • The Policies That Worked
      • The end of the development promise
    • Economics
      • Many policies of post WW II have not worked
      • Great progress & productivity
      • Need a new synthesis that simplifies
  • The new knowledge society
    • The post-business (knowledge) society
      • Shift to the knowledge society
      • Shift to the post-business society
      • Management
      • Business
      • Schools of business of management
      • Knowledge workers and business
      • University diploma
      • Workers without college credentials
    • Two countercultures
      • “Countercultures”
      • American labor force
      • Labor union
    • The information-based organization
      • Typical large organization
        • Large business or government agency
        • 20 years hence
          • 1/2 the levels of management
          • 1/3 the numbers of managers
          • Bear little resemblance to the typical manufacturing company, circa 1950
          • It will be information-based
          • Have little choice but to become information based
    • Management as social function and liberal art
      • Mis-managers
        • Ill-prepared tremendous challenges that now confront them
      • Management …
        • A new institution
        • The tremendous challenges that now confront managers
        • Origins & development
        • The new social function - World wide
        • Now embraces entrepreneurship
        • Legitimacy of management
        • What is management?
        • As a liberal art
    • The shifting knowledge base
      • Teaching
      • Educational Responsibilities
      • The American School and Its Priorities
      • Learning how to learn
      • Educated person
      • From teaching to learning
      • The New Leaning Technology
      • What is knowledge?
  • Conclusion: New world view: From analysis to perception
    • The mechanical universe
    • A new age is born—A new basic civilization came into being
    • The social impacts of information
    • Organization form and function. Form and Function Connections: see chapters On Being the Right Size and On Being the Wrong Size in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices and others.
    • From analysis to perception

Toward tomorrows

from pyramids to dna

pyramid to dna

Toward unimagined futures

bbx The End of Economic Man: The Origins of Totalitarianism (1939) There’s still lots to learn here!!!!

The Future of Industrial Man (1943)

The New Society: The Anatomy of Industrial Order (1950)

bbx Landmarks of Tomorrow (1957)

bbx The Age of Discontinuity (1968)

bbx The New Realities (1988)

bbx Post-Capitalist Society (1993)

bbx Managing in the Next Society (2002); Last section originally published earlier in The Economist (


“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




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

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.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



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