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Friday, March 31, 2017
What is Fisher about, anyway?
JAMES R. FISHER, JR., Ph.D.
© March 29, 2017
Entrepreneur, publisher, essayist and quintessential Renaissance Man, Ken Shelton, recently published a mini-essay in which he mentions my book Work Without Managers in his communique to me, but failed to mention the book in his discussion of his principles of leadership. I simply wrote to Ken, whom I’ve never met, but have had an intellectual relationship with for more than twenty years: “It would have been nice if you mentioned WORK WITHOUT MANAGERS.” This generated the following response. I share my work and reflections with some 300 people on my e-mail list. I am not however on Face Book or any other social media. Like Ken, I’ve never met this person but value his comments because I sense they are genuine.
A READER WRITES:
I’m wondering what you’re about. I read your stuff; ponder it; occasionally send you a comment. I’ve not read your book, don’t think I need to. I do sometimes marvel at your simple but powerful declarative sentences: It would have been nice if you had mentioned WORK WITHOUT MANAGERS. Tell me I am wrong, but that sounded angry. Am I right? Please comment.
DR. FISHER RESPONDS:
Thank you for your observation and candor. I am trying to complete a book and so I’ll try to be brief, but hopefully equally candid.
In my own case as a witness to history, since I was born when Hitler came to power; experienced the Great Depression; the surprise attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor; followed by WWII concluding with the atomic bombing of Japan; then the Korean War which was not a war but a police action because it was not declared a war; followed by the Cold War with the USSR; then the election and assassination of President John F. Kennedy; then President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “guns and butter” Great Society with nearly a half million fighting troops in the Viet Nam War; only to lose that war in full humiliating retreat; meanwhile the Civil Rights Movement led to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; with the Boomer Generation spawning the Hippie Counterculture; in that midst the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of the assassinated president; then in this same time warp there was Watergate and President Nixon resigning in disgrace; only to have things continue to unravel with the Islam terrorist attack on the Twin Towers; followed by President George W. Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq, then the War in Afghanistan, and now the Civil War in Syria, and the collapse of the Middle East around that conflagration. Tens of thousands into the millions have lost their lives during my life span, mainly as collateral damage to war, while tens of trillions of dollars have been spent in a mainly hysterical reaction to events showing what was construed as leadership was not leadership at all but something else entirely, the panic of fear.
I have made no secret of my low birth in the scheme of things; nor have I apologized for claiming I have worked at every level of the complex organization from being a laborer in a chemical plant to a top executive in two Fortune 500 companies. In that span of more than fifty years I’ve never joined the corporate club. You might say I have been a perspicacious observer.
Corporate society is not new. It was conceived in Europe in the 18th century, but only found its legs in the 20th century. Since the 20th century, it has discovered the best way to stay in power is not to lead, but to exploit fear. Leaderless leadership has followed.
We toss around the terms “social security” and “national security” when this is only the content and context of “corporate security.”
Corpocracy has discovered that Americans are vulnerable to the “politics of terror” and are most pliable to that psychology because it leaves them off the hook to find their own way in life.
We have reentered the “Age of Fear.”
Gone is the sense that the skills with which we entered a profession or job would be the relevant skills for our working lifetime.
Gone is the certainty that you can reasonably expect a comfortable retirement to follow from a successful working career.
Gone is the sense that you marry for love and have a family and that family will not look outside itself for more excitement and adventure and forget the original commitment made for life.
Gone is the belief in God and the need for the safe haven provided by a church, temple, synagogue or mosque.
Gone is the pride in regional community that is out of the main stream and a little hokey and doesn’t apologize for its hokiness.
Gone is the family and its members that looks for answers within the family from the wisdom of family history and family’s values.
Gone is the person who believes marriage is between a man and a woman and is not afraid to face the ridicule and derision it might generate.
Gone is the pride in work whatever the work may be thinking that some work is more important than other work because people doing that work make more money.
Gone are happy campers with a moral compass governing their actions now believing instead they must look to experts and specialists to find their way.
Gone is self-respect as well as self-awareness and self-acceptance as everyone seems to want to be somebody else doing something else some other place then where they are.
People consumed with fear flock to gated communities to be in the comfort of their own kind believing within this cage there is security and peace and comfort. They send their children to prep schools to ensure they are with their own kind. Everyone in this xenophobic nutshell stays away from places where most people of limited means shop such as Walmart and K-Mart, fearing a stranger might accost them with a bomb.
There is fear that the government can no longer control the circumstances of their lives. Consequently, they fear people of color and different ethnicity and language and custom believing it might impinge on their space as if that space belongs to them, alone.
This “Analysis of Fear” is new to most Americans but familiar to the rest of the world for an eternity. The United States of America has lived in a gated community for its entire existence separated as it has been – before the current digital age – by two gigantic oceans and by neighbors from the North (Canada) and the South (Mexico) whom they considered no threat to them in any way. They now fear and wonder if they can remain a gated community against the world.
That one security, that belief that Americans are exceptional and can be protected from the chaos and calamity of the rest of the world has ushered in President Donald J. Trump, who clearly understands this subtext of fear better than any politician in the realm, and carried it against incredible odds to the presidency.
Fear is not leadership; the threat of global warming is not leadership; the mobilization of fear around trapped emotions between the unknown and unknowable is however grist for the dystopian novelist.
Fear is the mask politicians and corporate leaders wear, keeping politicians in power and corporate leaders still able to vote themselves huge incomes in the tens of millions of dollars while workers’ wages remain stagnant.
Fear ultimately leads to revolution. It always has and it always well. And if we could just get past the blarney of economists, we would realize that capitalism has been on life support for decades. It, too, will run its course. It starts with fear and separation; then mounts to divisive polarity; and then explodes into bitter irrational mind numbing hatred.
Once common needs and shared interests unravel, then you have what social psychologist Gustave Le Bon warned: crowd psychology rules!
This is written hastily and for that I apologize as I am completing a book on SELF-CONFIDENCE which is the bane to fear. Confidence like fear exists in the subtext, not in the content and context of our lives. I live in subtext.