News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Soft Fascism 2

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Soft Fascism 2

Richard Sennett addresses the complacency that you call attention to. He sees the complacency towards the soft fascism and finds its causes in the current economic environment. In his book, _The Corrosion of Charcater_, he identifies a spiritual/ethical malaise afflicting the modern employee. In the face of various management practices such as downsizing, flexibility, teaming, and "flat" corporations, many employees find themselves faced with seeking some value in themselves and in the world.

Note the author's conclusion: "The solution to soft fascism may, however, lie far beyond party politics." He is addressing an ethical dilemma here. Faced with modern contradictions in contemporary economic and work, the individual American resorts to cultural issues rather than addressing the economic issues that underlie their fears and anxieties. As the author puts is, they "convert" work problems into cultural issues; these result from contradictions induced by individual ethical/spiritual aspirations versus the possibilities of accomplishing those aspirations within the modern American economic landscape.

In contradistinction to values found in the work world only several generations ago, which exhibited features like a "career," sacrifice for the future, and the virtue of work itself, the modern employee is faced with increasing individual and social stress. Individually, they seek to form something called character, to find ethical values that they can pass on to their children. But the modern workplace places a value on adaptability, lack of responsibility for the work product by upper management, geographical mobility, ability to work in teams, "flexibility."

It is within this modern workplace that the American worker cannot satisfy those very basic human desires for finding meaning in the world of work and family. The soft fascism emanates from the fear that the modern employee feels for their job, their individual self-worth--the invisible hand that no one is responsible for but which controls so many aspects of American life.

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