The New Realities

Peter Drucker points out that it is often only in retrospect that we recognize the beginnings of a new age. THE NEW REALITIES introduces us to our own age, which Drucker says began during the late 1960’s and was unmistakably announced by Nixon’s floating of the dollar and by the “oil shock” of 1973.

In world politics, this new age is one which social utopias have been dismissed as impractical, colonialism has been abandoned with the passing of the Soviet empire, and arms have become counterproductive. The role of government, led by pragmatic, hardworking insiders, is to perform well-defined functions rather than to initiate social action, which has become the domain of small but powerful interest groups to which government must remain responsive. Economics requires a new theoretical structure that recognizes a vast transnational money market, new time horizons within the microeconomies, the shocks of innovation, the subtleties of pervasive and complex mathematics, and the incentives of productivity and competitiveness rather than short-range consumer or producer benefits. The new work environment is one where knowledge is the prime commodity and where specialists work in teams led by managers who serve as coaches at the corporate level and as the new purveyors of liberal arts at the cultural level.

Drucker’s vision is afforded by a historian’s perspective and by the mature assimilation of the thought of his intellectual forebears, from philosophers to statesmen, from economists to novelists. Drucker places before us a mirror in which we see our cohesive, collective image for the first time. His new worldview, presented in short, easily digestible chapters, is both enlightening and thought-provoking, and Drucker would hope that the thoughts provoked generate action that incorporates the new realities rather than resisting them, as does so much contemporary policy and practice.