there is more to a human being

Look Back in Anger: how John Osborne liberated theatrical language ...

We are homo economicus in a post capital malaise – a thick stew unlovingly conceived, with bitter ingredients, forced on us, and permeating everything.

We are naturally human, made to work and think as machines; naturally intuitive, forced into extreme rationality; naturally modest, made to be egotistic; naturally cooperative, made competitive; naturally sharing, made acquisitive; naturally collective, made individualistic; naturally imaginative, made rational; naturally curious, made means tested.

We have the formulations of who we really are – simply the opposite to those devised by the technocrats.  We need only to resist them and take on again the mantle of our true natures.

Our current disregard of non-economic motivations is even more surprising when we learn that less than a century ago, the Enlightenment’s “narrow rational programme” for individual happiness had already become “the butt of ridicule and contempt” – as the Austrian modernist writer Robert Musil observed in 1922. Indeed, the pioneering works of sociology and psychology as well as modernist art and literature of the early 20th century were defined in part by their insistence that there is more to human beings than rational egoism, competition and acquisition, more to society than a contract between logically calculating and autonomous individuals, and more to politics than impersonal technocrats devising hyper-rational schemes of progress with the help of polls, surveys, statistics, mathematical models and technology.

Welcome to the Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra

carrots and sticks
February 10, 2011, 6:17 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

First days are full of hope and premonition.  I mean specifically first days in new work places, which has turned from being a once in a lifetime event – for our grandparents and some of our parents – to an increasingly frequent rite of passage, dependent on loyalty and itchy feet quotients among other things.

I walked into my last first day of a new job brimming with characteristic curiosity and apprehension.  Looking back on it now, the seemingly innocuous day had enough signs and flags to help make sense of the next year in that place.  Here are two:  no interview with the managers (I didn’t even meet the project managers until a week after I started the gig, and neither of them ever looked at my cv); and no clear experience relevant scope of work (just do this for now and we’ll eventually get you situated in something more appropriate, I was told on day one).

Needless to say, I wasn’t later properly situated; I’m assuming it was a common unhappy experience for colleagues.  The place felt like a mill; people didn’t matter so much as a magic ratio that had to be kept high:  the number of hours billed correlated with an appropriately high quantity of work.

Breathtaking how much is left out of this formula.  Personality and the ancient idea of giftedness – the idea that what I bring to the table is unique to me and therefore valuable – is a blank.  So is the idea of purpose or common goal.  Ignoring these basic realities of life and personality and work couldn’t be a good business strategy, could it?

No they couldn’t, says Dan Pink in his talk excerpted following:

there are three factors that science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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