Jon Husband – We are on our way towards ‘soft facism’

The overwhelming thing for me in terms of this discussion about collaboration is that, the mass of sociology and the impulses that forces towards transparency, the flows of data information overload, is that it will make… it’s imperative and it will happen anyway, it will make things clear.

The question then becomes one of philosophy and politics. And I remember writing about this, when I first wrote about Wirearchy 10 years ago. There has been a lot of writing on the positive Utopian collectiveness, collective consciousness and intelligence raising of this. There’s also a dark side of surveillance and control and invasion of privacy and so on and so forth. And neither will be fully resolved and both will be eternally present with us. But this getting clearer means then that things that are not dealt with will remain there, and we will collectively as a society or as an organization if you… will we acquiesce or not? We will say, ‘Yes’. And for me the big danger of this webified world… and I actually think we’re on our way there, this may disqualify me from further involvement in this project or something. I think we’re on our way towards what I call ‘soft fascism’ in certainly the industrialized countries. And I think what ultimately the web and collaboration forces bring to us is a need for the individual… a heightened need for responsibility for paying attention for… The constraints that have been put upon people to date have been typically from constraints from them acting like some… The metaphor that has often been used is we’re really children in grade school. And that’s what’s been behind a lot of the initiatives and the lamentations about empowerment for many years is that by large hierarchy in organizations doesn’t treat knowledge workers as adults, as responsible adults.

We are going to have to decide about those kinds of things. I think what I see in the United States is there has been actually… I think the danger of a lot of this is that there will actually be tightened control and hierarchy. I think that’s very real and very possible. And the control would be maintained by the flipside of all this, which is that people come and go from jobs.

So, it’s way easier to get rid of people in North America than it is in France. And it’s an enormous amount of corporate control of people by fear. I don’t see that changing particularly anytime soon. I mean behind all this, my final notes and my beginning notes is, involuting the competition versus collaboration strategy, behind all this is the philosophical issues of whether capitalism is, what organizations should be working at. Until you change capital markets, the demands for performance will demand control.

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