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Drucker on Totalitarianism and Salvation by Society
Drucker on Totalitarianism and Salvation by Society
  • 作者:Peter F. Drucker
  • 譯者:
  • 語言:英文
  • 出版日期:2021/10/6
  • ISBN:9786269506446
        I have long wanted to compile a volume that brings together Peter Drucker’s discourses on totalitarianism and salvation by society to make them easily accessible to readers. Now the work has finally been completed.
        The book is comprised of selections from five of Peter Drucker’s works, The End of Economic Man, The Ecological Vision, Landmarks of Tomorrow, Adventures of a Bystander, and A Functioning Society. My job was to sort the content into nine chapters, draw up titles, and write related introductions
to the chapters. Drucker’s reflections on and critiques of totalitarianism run through most of his works, but they are more focused and systematic in the five books mentioned above. Known as “the father of modern management”, Peter Drucker had a lifelong hatred of totalitarianism. He studied management because he felt that only the effective management of pluralistic social organizations—including non-profit organizations, industrial and commercial enterprises, and government agencies—could provide options or alternatives to resist totalitarian rule.
         Totalitarianism is an ugly phenomenon in human society and politics, and it is also a terrifying disease. It has caused more suffering to humankind than any other tyranny in history. What it seeks is to fully and thoroughly manipulate and control every individual, both in body and mind, turning humans not only into animals but also into machines and tools as well. Totalitarianism aims for absolute power, but no one except the Creator has such power. Hence, it manifests as a state of absurdity and madness in which “the movement (persecution) is everything, yet there is no purpose.” By its nature, totalitarianism cannot tolerate the existence of even a tiny bit of humanity. The Nazis’ “final solution” (genocide), the mass murder of Jews, is its logical result. Today, highly developed new technologies are also providing imaginative physical and psychological methods of manipulation, giving those with totalitarian ambitions the means to carry out a “final solution,” the extinction of unmankind (the extinction of human nature; that is, essentially exterminating the human species.)
           Totalitarianism is the result of the failure of “salvation by society”. History has repeatedly proven that any perfect, or nearly perfect society that claims to have no conflict, no class differences, complete fairness, justice, benevolence, and harmony, is a utopia. However, using society to eliminate evil in human nature, to save human beings from depravity, and transform them into perfect people, is merely a naïve fantasy. Marxism is the most recent, most rigorous, and most alluring social rescue plan but also the utmost failure at “salvation by society”. Today, political parties and nations still under the banner of Marxist communism or socialism have essentially sunken into totalitarianism.
          From the perspective of philosophy, “Salvation by society” belongs to the category of absolute rationalism. It originates from human beings’ pride and conceit, is the notion that people can grasp absolute truth and become the master of everything in the world, including their own destiny. Tracing their respective roots in different fields of knowledge, people regard their discoveries as the only correctness. They develop various “isms,” including progressivism, scientism, economic utilitarianism, rational liberalism, nationalism or ethnocentrism, and socialism and communism. These doctrines may be impeccable logically, and some are emotionally moving. But they all have an a priori hypothesis that cannot be empirically proven or falsified—that is, human beings can be absolutely rational and can comprehend absolute truth.
          Now we finally know this priori hypothesis is wrong, not because of logic’s merits or demerits, but because it simply doesn’t work in real life. So, where is the way out? Peter Drucker suggested that we return to spiritual values and faith: to experience and recognize there is a higher authority beyond society and above human beings. That authority has already planted compassion and justice in human’s hearts, what we usually call “conscience.” If humans indeed have a purely rational nature, conscience is its master. With conscience derived from faith, rationality can perform its beneficial functions. Like the conservatism’s counterrevolutionary movement that took place in the United States and Great Britain more than two hundred years ago, it shines with the glory of true freedom and genuine rationality: Those movements were constructive, not destructive; they appealed to the love, faith, and humility of Christ. Based on religious conviction, they firmly rejected human’s absolute rationality, or irrational absolutism, and were solemnly committed to human dignity.  
         Peter Drucker inherited the tradition of the conservatism’s counterrevolution in the United States and Great Britain. Inspired by observing social and political realities in the United States, he formed a social concept that differs from a social rescue plan (salvation by society): lesser evils instead of greater good. Although imperfect, it would create a less painful and tolerable society. Such a society should have the following characteristics:
        1. It would replace solipsistic “isms” with an open and tolerant attitude.
        2. It would replace centralized and uniform structures with diversified social organization and decentralized power centers.
        3. It would replace revolutionary dogma with experimental, gradual improvement and review from time to time.
        4. It would replace the rigid social relationship that mutually exclude and negate between individual and the whole, or between the different parts of the  society, with the principle of mutual dependence and mutual benefit to establish a dynamic equilibrium between the individuals and society, freedom and                    order.
         Such a society would not follow a preset scientific design, nor would it need to rely on charismatic leaders or supermen. It would not be perfect, but it would be better and achievable.
         It should be emphasized that Drucker’s openness, tolerance, diversity, and eclecticism are not without a bottom line. The bottom line is that he will never tolerate any form of totalitarian autocracy. Drucker noted that human beings have two essential qualities that other creatures don’t have—knowledge and power. These attributes can neither be removed nor avoided, and their aims and uses must be regulated and restricted. He was wary of sovereign states and modern governments. He believed that regardless of whether they adopted a democratic system or an autocratic system, they were essentially the same but only different in extent, to which they infringed on individual rights and freedoms. Therefore, within every sovereign state and modern government, there exists a gene for the growth of totalitarianism. When any nation abuses its knowledge and power to violate human rights, the international community must restrict or even deprive it of its sovereignty.
         However, Drucker believed that thus far, the United States may be the only country that has never entirely accepted the concept and system of a sovereign state. Therefore, as the leader of the free world and developed countries in the West, the United States is best suited to be the first to serve as a model for global actions to resist totalitarianism. Constructive frontiers of work are more important and decisive than confrontations in the military sphere. Such frontiers are not found in the East, where totalitarianism is firmly rooted and far-reaching, but in the free world, especially in the West, where the U.S. has an advantage. These “West” frontiers are:

         • the educated society;
• the world economy of dynamic development;
• the new political concepts and institutions needed in this pluralist age, internationally, nationally and locally; and civilizations that can take the place of the    East that has vanished.
          Ultimately, when the “West” constructive endeavors bring forth the tolerable new society that Ducker envisioned, restoring confidence in freedom and equality, totalitarianism will evaporate just as the sun rises and the dew will naturally be disappeared, losing its deceptive magic.
          For those who are not free today, who unfortunately live under totalitarian rule or in totalitarian revolutionary movements, Drucker offers advice on how to deal with the environment based on his personal experiences in Europe as a teenager. The first is what not to do. Power has the potential for absolute and comprehensive control, and human nature is weak, unable to withstand the threats and temptations of power, let alone face the opening of “Pandora’sBox”—totalitarianism. If a person is not ready to stand up, fight, and sacrifice him—or herself for righteousness— and it is only the few of the best, noblest, and courageous among us who can do that—the wisest thing to do is to break off with totalitarianism. If some people try to control it with ambition or to make a deal with it by using wisdom and ingenuity, whether out of selfish motives or sincere goodwill, totalitarianism will use them, and they will become accomplices to its evildoing. In “The Monster and the Lamb” of this book, Drucker termed the former type “monster” and the latter “lamb.” Compared with above two types of people who voluntarily join the totalitarian camp, the other type of people is often the majority. Although they do not participate in themselves, they acquiesce totalitarianism to abuse others, they turn their heads, safely latch their door then enjoy “peace and quiet.” Totalitarian careerists derive their greatest encouragement from public indifference, which is an “endorsement” to behave unscrupulously and do whatever they please.
            As for what people should do vs what should not do, Drucker didn’t give an easy answer. He didn’t tell us what proactive actions we can take under the terror, pressure, and false propaganda of totalitarianism that would effectively weaken totalitarian rule while protecting as much as possible ourselves and families. The situation is similar to the Biblical story of Abraham, who accepted God’s order to sacrifice his son. Abraham felt compelled to obey God’s command, yet also wanted to save his beloved son Isaac. Considering and formulating what strategies and courses of action is the responsibility of every entrepreneur, teacher, scholar, media person, government official, professional knowledge worker, and citizen. However, the principles and directions have been given, and the constraints of the objective environment are also clear. Therefore, we can at least know the understanding of ethics, morals, and performance are required for holding a position or running a business in a totalitarian country are different than they would be for the same position or business in a democratic country. For example, if you have to set up a business in a totalitarian country, your goal should not be to contribute to the country’s GDP or tax revenue. Nor should you aid in strengthening its national defense or “stabilizing” its society. And, not to mention that you should never use the national ideology to educate employees and unite them.  
            Now I hope I have already summarized the book’s major points for readers. In general, my narration follows the sequence of the nine chapters in the book. The first six chapters and the first half of Chapter 7 are mainly exposé and criticism, that is, pointing out what is unacceptable. Starting from the second half of Chapter 7, “A Society that May Be the Best We Can Possibly Hope For,” to the end of Chapter 9, this part is more on the constructive side, that is, what to do so we can resist totalitarianism effectively, even though this part is only directional. Editing this book was a challenge for me due to my limitation on academic qualifications, vision, and ability, there will be errors and omissions. I apologize in advance and sincerely hope that readers will not hesitate to correct me! To submit your critiques, please write to MLA FUND Ltd. in Taipei, Taiwan.
            Lastly, I’d like to point out that the book ends on an optimistic note, which Drucker wrote in 1959. He was fifty years old then, vigorous and confident. He saw a pluralistic and autonomous organizational new society taking shape in the United States and the West. The boom in modern management and the emergence of an educated group of knowledge workers (also known as the “middle class”) complementing each other at that time. But on the other hand, he also noticed that mankind had begun to master knowledge of the natural science and behavioral science that could end up destroying humanity. And that kind of knowledge was creating conditions for the exercise of absolute power. In that era of great change, he urged society, human beings, and individuals to “return to spiritual values and return to religion,” and he emphasized knowledge workers’ responsibilities, because in inherence, “knowledge is power, and power is responsibility.” It is also because only through the specific and subtle practice of assuming responsibility and thus realizing dignity at the individual level could humankind’s long-standing grand and lofty ideal of “freedom and equality” be achieved. Hereby, I would like to revisit with the readers on Drucker’s clarion call that he made sixty years ago as encouragement for us all:

           “Everyone must be ready to take over alone and without notice, and show himself saint or hero, villain or coward... played out in one’s daily life, in one’s work, in one’s citizenship, in one’s compassion or lack of it, in one’s courage to stick to an unpopular principle, and in one’s refusal to sanction man’s inhumanity to man in an age of cruelty and moral numbness.
        In a time of change and challenge, new vision and new danger, new frontiers and permanent crisis, suffering and achievement, in a time of overlap such as ours, the individual is both all-powerless and all-powerful. He is powerless, however exalted his station, if he believes that he can impose his will, that he can command the tides of history. He is all-powerful, no matter how lowly, if he knows himself to be responsible.”

Ming Lo Shao, Editor
October 2020, in Los Angeles, USA
            My father’s escape from—and opposition to—totalitarianism dominated much of his writing. It permeated his beliefs about the empowerment of individuals, and the moral responsibility of organizationsto empower the individuals within their sphere.
           This collection emphasizes the principles of human choice, dignity; self-worth; and society’s role to achieve these ends, within a fair and equitable system.
           It was based on this shared belief system that my father and Ming Lo Shao developed a warm friendship—a friendship nurtured and maintained, with mutual respect, for many years until my father’s passing in 2005.
            This collection demonstrates the timeliness of my father’s writings, and their applicability to some of the critical situations facing our world today, almost 90 years after they were first penned.
             The Drucker family thanks Ming Lo Shao for his work in creating this anthology, and for his dedication to keeping Drucker’s writings alive and relevant for a new generation.
                                                               Joan Drucker Winstein
                                                              Denver, Colorado, USA
                                                                      August, 2020
If the author of this book, Peter Drucker, were still alive, faced with the reality of the current rifts in American politics and society, I believe he would warn and advise us all, particularly the young and enthusiastic among us, with the following words from the preface of The End of Economic Man, reprinted in 1969: 

But can we still be sure? Or are there not signs around us that totalitarianism may re-infest us, may indeed overwhelm us again? The problems of our times are very different from those of the ’twenties and ’thirties, and so are our realities. But some of our reactions to these problems are ominously reminiscent of the “despair of the masses” that plunged Europe into Hitler’s totalitarianism and into World War II. In their behavior some groups—they racists, white and black, but also some of the student “activists” on the so-called Left—are frighteninglyreminiscent of Hitler’s stormtroopers—in their refusal to grant any rights, free speech for instance, to anyone else; in their use of character assassination; in their joy in destruction and vandalism.
In their rhetoric these groups are odiously similar to Hitler’s speeches and so is the dreary nihilism of their prophets to hatred from Mao to Marcus. But above all, these groups on the “Right” as well as on the “Left,” like the totalitarians of the generation ago, believe that to say “no” is a positive policy; that to have compassion is to be weak; and that to manipulate idealism for the pursuit of power is to be “idealistic.” They have not learned the one great lesson of our recent past: hatred is no answer to despair. 
Understanding of the dynamics of the totalitarianism of yesterday may help us better to understand today and to prevent a recurrence of yesterday. It may, I hope above all, help young people today to turn their idealism, their genuine distress over the horrors of this world, and their desire for a better and braver tomorrow into constructive action for, rather than into totalitarian nihilism as their predecessors did thirty years ago. For at the end of this road there could only be another Hitler and another “ultimate solution” with its gas chambers and extermination camps.

Those words not only embody the book’s practical significance today but also the historical importance it will have in the future. 
November 2, 2020, American Presidential Election Eve
Los Angeles, USA







The Morbid Phenomena of Totalitarian Countries
1 The Totalitarian Economic System and the “Noneconomic Society” 
2 By Justifying Personal Sacrifice to Deny the Meaning of Life and Society 
3 Create Enemies and Incite Hatred Between Classes, Races, and Nations 
4 Control the Entire Country and Society by One Top-to-bottom Totalitarian Organization 
5 Mystifying Leader, Creating an Atmosphere of Personal Worship 
6 Encourage Informers and Undermine Traditional Ethical Values 
The Origins and Essence of Totalitarianism from the Prospective of Society and Politics
1 The Total Failure of Marxism Had Been a Main Reason for the Europe’s Masses to Supported Totalitarianism 
2 Why Can Totalitarianism Win the Support of the Masses? 
3 No Revolutionary Leader Can Oppose the Inner Dynamic of the Revolution or Impose Measures That Go Against Public Opinion 
Totalitarianism Inevitably be Replaced by a New Noneconomic Society Based on Individual Freedom and Equality
The Origins and Essence of Totalitarianism from the Perspective of Rationality and Faith
1 From Rousseau to Hitler 
2 Why Society Is Not Enough: Introduction to The Unfashionable Kierkegaard 
3 The Unfashionable Kierkegaard 
The Origins and Essence of Totalitarianism from the Perspective of Technology Progress
Abstraction Part One of The Human Situation Today 
Criticism of Marxism
1 How Did Marxist “Political Economics” Be Debunked? 
2 Marxism’s Failure 
Do We Want “Salvation by Society” or a Society That Is Not Perfect but Tolerable?
1 No More Salvation by Society 
2 A Society that May Be the Best We Can Possibly Hope For 
The Free World’s “West” Strategy to Resist Totalitarianism
1 “The Work to Be Done”—The Overview of the “West” Strategy 
2 Discussion on the Frontiers of “West” Strategy 
How Should Individuals Deal with the Threat and Temptation of Totalitarianism?
1 The Maverick Young Drucker 
2 The Monster and the Lamb 
3 Abstraction Part Two of The Human Situation Tod