Here were my first impressions, formed after reading 20 pages or so:
Ha ha. Many factual errors in the opening pages. (Communism got its start by 1816, huh?) Many broad generalizations and catch-phrases. Just who is this guy trying to fool? Oh, his audience is all those management types who haven't had the time to get properly informed because they've been so busy chasing profits. I see. And these people want to run the world? Egads. Remember, these people and their way of thinking have given us our present Dilbert landscape.[Don't get me wrong. Making a profit is often good and moral. But in the right context and over many time periods.]
Then again, Drucker says some sensible, though downright obvious, things about the current change in economies. I guess those management types need to be told these things by someone they'll listen to. So be it. But keep thine history books at hand, folks, because he plays fast and loose with the facts.Well, I stand by my first impressions. While reading this book, I often got the sense that Peter Drucker has an axe to grind, especially regarding taxes and tax policy. Many of his views seem like pontification from way above the fray of the every day workings of the economy. In particular, he always seems to take the birds-eye view of organizations. The details get lost. But both God and the devil are in the details.
A far better book to read would be Jane Jacobs' Systems of Survival (review pending).
The whole orientation of the book bothers me. He argues that we live in a time fundamentally different from all previous time because the owners of major capital are no longer the managers of capital: pension funds are major pools of capital in the economy, and corporations are controlled by professional managers. In that sense we do live in a post-capitalist society, but it would be more precise to say our society is no longer dominated by a small number of capitalists. But this is not an unprecedented situation. It does not require radical action, as his premise suggests. (Cf: Notice that with this bull market we are again seeing headlines like ``Is the business cycle dead?'' Uh, no. But these short memories are cut from the same cloth.)
As I said, Drucker does say some sensible things. But he may as well have written the book by throwing darts. I would beware of following his prescriptions because his flawed reasoning shows he really doesn't understand the issues. Never did I feel that something he wrote had ``the ring of truth.''
The book is filled with non-sequiturs. In particular, Peter Drucker shows incredible flashes of innumeracy. They make Post-Capitalist Society darned frustrating reading for a trained critical thinker. Beware.
What to read instead? Anything by Jane Jacobs.
This book is concise, although some may argue it's a bit thin. See also her excellent follow-on, Shooting the Hippo.
This is a current best-seller (and was on my Christmas list) about the nationhood of Canada. Richard Gwynn just seems to make so much sense in his columns for the Toronto Star, so I thought I'd give him a look in book-length format.
The basic argument is this: the "Rest of Canada" is really English Canada, but it has lost the nerve to call itself that. Gwynn celebrates the origins of equality and tolerance in the roots of English culture. He then goes on to argue that official multiculturalism has outgrown its usefulness, as it has now given rise to a "rights frenzy" based on identity politics, and the fact that many people feel threatened by this trend. He also discusses the Quebec situation (the book was finished on the eve of the 1995 referendum) and the increasing gap between rich and poor.
He makes the case for a certain vague plan of action to save Canada from simply evaporating. Unfortunately, a few weeks after reading the book, I've already forgotten that plan. (I'm trying to remember if it's basically this: stick with small L liberal values, and scrap official multiculturalism). Ho hum. Altogether, it's not a very memorable book. Alas. I was disappointed, and at times offended.