Impersonal Tyranny

Impersonal Tyranny, by the Z-Man.

A century ago, most men were directly ruled by other men in their daily lives. This is not about political structures, although that was often true, but rather the interpersonal relations of daily life. Men worked for other men. Whether it was in a factory, at the docks, in agriculture or anywhere else, men worked for men in a very direct and personal way. They had a boss who bossed them around.

A man working on the docks, unloading ships, would show up for the daily muster and a supervisor would assign him to a gang. He and the other men in the gang would be directed by some other man. Correction was in the form of yelling and threats. If there was some confusion, the man in charge took control and told the other men what they should be doing. There was no committee that issued a bland directive or a bit of software that compelled a certain type of behavior.

That is a big difference compared to today. While most people have a boss in their work place, the boss has no real authority. He is just a conduit for company policy. He gets trained in people skills, the sorts of passive-aggressive cajoling that passes for management skills in the modern corporation. Increasingly, he does not actually manage his people. He uses software to measure productivity and issues bland e-mails to his staff. He measures compliance with the software system.

This is most obvious in a warehouse facility. In the old days, men would pick pack and stack items in the warehouse, at the direction of a supervisor. If they screwed up or screwed off, the boss would yell at them. Today, they are directed by an algorithm that guides their work. A hand held corrects their mistakes in real time and provides structure to their movements. Software tracks their productivity. The people inside an Amazon facility are ruled by robots, not men. …

Interpersonal skills are diminishing fast:

A big driver is the declining personal skills of modern people. Each generation becomes less secure in confronting their fellow humans. A century ago, the boss enthusiastically corrected his people and his people just accepted it. Getting reamed out by the boss was just a part of life on the job. Today, getting corrected by the boss could very well result in counseling sessions for both parties. …

As technology allowed businesses, for example, to improve error rates, they began to subtly select for different types of people. The hands-on, direct style of management slowly fell out of favor. Similarly, the best people to hire as workers were those comfortable using technology. Each generation was more tuned to the impersonal styled than the prior generation. …

Where we are now, however, is a curious place. Spend time on a college campus and some things jump out at you. One is the students are surprisingly compliant. The days of college pranks and rebellion are largely over, especially at the elite colleges. The students are consumed with adhering to the rules, as well as currying favor with their human superiors. The woke rage heads get headlines, but college life is now mostly a culture of banal conformity.

It has also made young people socially awkward. Young people have grown up interacting with one another through the medium of technology. Participation in sports, for example, is at all-time lows. Free play is unheard of today. Instead, the young generation has been raised to have a robot master gently nudging them along, even in their interactions with their fellow humans. One consequence has been the sharp decline in sex. It turns out that socially awkward weirdos have less sex.