Why Corporate Leaders Became Progressive Activists
Some of them are rock-star entrepreneurs. But most of them are variations on the Organization Man, veterans of MBA programs, management consultancies, financial firms, and 10,000 corporate-strategy meetings. If you have not read it, spare a moment for William H. Whyte’s Cold War classic. In the 1950s, Whyte, a writer for Fortune, interviewed dozens of important CEOs and found that they mostly rejected the ethos of rugged individualism in favor of a more collectivist view of the world. The capitalists were not much interested in defending the culture of capitalism. What he found was that the psychological and operational mechanics of large corporations were much like those of other large organizations, including government agencies, and that American CEOs believed, as they had believed since at least the time of Frederick Winslow Taylor and his 19th-century cult of “scientific management,” that expertise deployed through bureaucracy could impose rationality on such unruly social entities as free markets, culture, family, and sexuality. The supplanting of spontaneous order with political discipline is the essence of progressivism, then and now.
The birth of the hive mind
Not all of Chesterton’s targets were socialists. If many socialists loved the vision of a society tightly organized like an anthill, many conservatives and businessmen shared the same vision. They were in thrall of factories full of unmammal-like men and women; worker bees with the emphasis on bee. No wonder Taylorism proved so seductive to the business and managerial class.
From Taylorism to Reengineering to ERP the private sector managerial class has fallen for one fad after another that promote command, control, uniformity, and the massacre of the drones.
Insect worship helps explain why hip Apple loves to build their expensive trinkets in the world’s largest Stalinist state.