Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview
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pointed out in his History of Florence, the poor, enduring oppressive conditions, were always ready to answer the call for a fight for freedom; but the net result of each revolt was merely to establish a new tyranny.

Many of the early capitalists sincerely fought for the freedom of individual conscience in relation to God; what they got as a result of the fighting was often a harsh and barren fundamentalism in theology but at the same time political power and economic privilege for themselves. So, today: we want to know what various persons and groups are thinking and doing; what they are thinking and doing has its effects on historical processes; but there is not obvious correspondence between the thoughts and the effects; and our central problem is to discover what the effects, in terms of social structure, will be.

It should be noted, and it will be seen in some detail, that the theory of the managerial revolution is not merely predicting what may happen in a hypothetical future. The theory is, to begin with, an interpretation of what already has happened and is now happening. Its prediction is simply that the process which has started and which has already gone a very great distance will continue and reach completion. The managerial revolution is not just around the corner, that corner which seems never quite to be reached. The corner of the managerial revolution was turned some while ago. The revolution itself is not something we or our children have to wait for; we may, if we wish, observe its stages before our eyes. Just as we seldom realize that we are growing old until we are already old, so do the contemporary actors in a major social change seldom realize that society is changing until the change has already come. The old words and beliefs persist long after the social reality that gave them life has dried up. Our wisdom in social questions is almost always retrospective only. This is, or ought to be, a humiliating experience for human beings: if justice is beyond us, we would like at least to claim knowledge.


· C. Wright Mills

For insurgent leaders, the terrible quality of politics lies in the fact that they cannot usually choose allies; they must often choose a path first and hope to create allies afterwards. If the labor leader goes against the main drift, he will be fighting hard against powerful social actors rather than allying himself with them. For a while he will be strategic in the creation and maintenance of a new power bloc. Rather than make deals on the top with powerful interests, he will have to accumulate power from the bottom. Thus the leader and the rank and file must keep in step; but now, if he would fight the main drift, the labor leader must take the first steps. He must modify the character and enlarge the scope of the labor union in America. He must widen the base of his own power by creating allies for the fight.


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Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations
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