Beer Kingdom
Part 2World of Things
To improve the design and increase the supply of things adapted to man's use and enjoyment is the most important object of life. This object is pursued with a fervor and a sense of dedication which in other societies and at other times have been devoted to the search for holiness and wisdom, or to warfare.

Any device or regulation which interferes, or can be conceived as interfering, with this supply of more and better things is resisted with unreasoning horror, as the religious resist blasphemy, or the warlike pacifism.

This is the picture which accounts for the quasi-religious overtone given to the phrase "private enterprise". It is this which gave meaning and warmth to the slogans of the expansive twenties. "The business of America is business". "What is good for business is good for America"

The recent development of treating the worker as part of the machine has already been discussed. As a thing the worker is as amenable to efficient exploitation as any other raw material, and a number of scientific and pragmatic techniques have been developed for this. And the more recent developments of industrial psychology have been successful in utilizing the workers' emotional life in the interests of greater productivity.

Fellow producers, competitors and rivals, could seldom be treated as things. They had to be treated as human beings and therefore as equals. Between equals the normal relationship should be one of competition-friendly competition, ideally, but anyhow competition.

And this competition is envisaged as one in which another man's gain is, inevitably, your loss; it is not envisaged, as it might have been, and as competition has been envisaged in other societies, as a situation in which everybody can win or even one in which the number of places at the top is indefinite, so that another person's success may be a spur rather than a challenge. If another person does better than you, you are humiliated, in so far as you accept the competition.

"Never give a sucker an even break"

is the folk-saying which identifies and justifies such conduct.

[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ]

a study in national character, by Geoffrey Gorer,
W.W.Norton & Company, NY
Copyright © 1948 and 1964

Copyright 1996 Bahus Enterprises