The Perils Of Specialization: Statecraft, Technology, Education & Personal Growth

If any writer, thinker prepared American readers to understand the perils of specialization it was Dr. Peter Drucker, a contemporary of the late great Nobel winner in economics Fredrick Hayek.  Hayek knew Drucker from his days at the Austrian School of Economics, he even footnotes Drucker in his magisterial ‘The Road To Serfdom’.

Being educated in the ancient curriculum of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the quatrivium (astronomy, philosophy, math, music) gave both men the advantage of trained perception in finding the principle of intelligibility in any subject or endeavor.  They thought synoptically and engaged matters in a rigor that intimidated most who encounter this methodology as adult readers.  Nevertheless, Drucker spent most of his life as a student of Arnold Toynbee, meaning that he taught himself the ability to perceive the trajectory of any social impact, whether originating from an idea or technique. He admonished students of all ages to forgo any attachment to specialization.  He saw the immediate future as holistic, decentralized, person centered, with emphasis on interpersonal skills and foreign languages.  In a word, he taught students of a digital age to embrace the ever demanding challenge of growth.

For Drucker and Hayek, the fabric of the immediate future is moral and ethical.  Both were often quoted as saying that in the future we will not have rich or poor nations, we will have smart or ignorant ones.  This distinction was not long on his admirers, for the digital revolution has increased the quickened felt time and speed of contemporary life.  With the arrival of social impact, American culture as shifted toward embracing increased privacy and ethics.  Such developments are only a surprise to those adamant iconoclasts of secularism so dominant in academia, media, government and entertainment. For the rest of America, we happily acknowledge this felt shift of expression that now currently wrecks havoc on old ideals and formerly insurmountable institutions.  Both men acknowledged political consequences.

Have we not arrived where our Founders left off?  The arrival and defeat of Fascism, Communism were necessary tributaries in our growth as a nation secured to the moral proposition so eloquently proposed and embodied in Lincoln.  With those political enormities now vanquished  we have publicly acknowledged a need to help Islam engage modernity.  Our Founders may not have witnessed America as the staging ground for a centuries old battle with Islam; interrupted by both the discovery of the new world and the raging furies of neopagan sentiment known as Totalitarianism.  Yet we as a nation creatively respond to the challenges that dominate the west.  What remains clear, even if unacknowledged is the moral imperatives grounding exceptionalism.  Here our Founders embodied a moral radicalism in the hope of shaping a future for liberty.  It is here that Americans will find well trodden ground as we seek leaders and allies to engage another fascist impulse.  Starkly, we may need to go it alone again.

But what of the creative minority or leader required to embrace our challenges?

Sadly enough, the recent episode of the public demise of Tiger Woods is instructive, for it alloys our idealist concerns as we embrace leaders for the contemporary challenges that dominate the west.

Tiger Woods has discovered the pitfall that has vanquished most contemporary creative people.  Namely, the craven pusillanimity and servitude that come by embracing specialization.  The public shunning instructs us to acknowledge the return of a historically informed synoptic view in discerning both the qualities of our leaders and the ordering response to challenges.

History is dominated by those failures who relied on fortune or the idolization of an ephemeral technique to subdue their adversaries.  Our challenges today are far more consequential.  What Tiger Woods teaches us is simple to acknowledge yet difficult to embody.  Yet it remained the cornerstone of how and why the leaders of the American Revolution succeeded.  The Founders, embodied the moral imperatives of the revolution they sought to effect.  They did not separate the creative from the moral.  As such, the synoptic, moral view was before them always, informing and constraining their responses.  Never did it become a stumbling block for either the birth of this nation or personal growth.

The Enlightenment code that effective specialization in a vacuum was sufficient has now proved empty.  What import does this have for the character of democracy?  Can this view speak meaningfully about the limits of passion?

Both the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation begot social, political and psychological consequences that are only now surmounted with the arrival of domesticated technology.  What we witness today is the affective display of discarding compartmentalized life!  The public outrage over Tiger Woods marital indiscretions reveals a moral depth in need of quarry.

Witness the total lack of both perspective and pedagogy in the west, especially among media, as secularists struggle in a Janus like embrace to replace the moral and ethical foundation of integrity with private relativism.

Didn’t Joyce proclaim the artist as first to embody a healing repose?

Consequently, are American cultural values throughout entertainment and sports currently under review?  A fast glance may remain amiss of anything significant, but I fervently admire this current thrust toward the integral.  If we are to engage and defeat our enemies abroad then the informing cultural values that we embody, not merely display, will fortify our discernment of who qualifies as a leader.

What do we learn as we finally acknowledge the death of the disassociation of sensibility so flippantly adored as progress by hardened secularists?  What do we learn in the failed embrace of fleeting desire?  And how does such a recognition speak to and inform American values both public and private?

The writ across this nation was once primarily informed by both network television and a handful of media monopolists.  All now remain near death’s door as they spitefully ignore stark realities about their place in this great Republic.  America still possesses the creative energies required to shape ourselves and others abroad.  Do those inside the beltway embody the same moral clarity indicative of such exceptionalism?

About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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