Mandeville, LA – [Editor’s note: On Monday, 19 June’s Mike Church Show I covered Jeff Bezo’s purchase of Whole Foods and the danger of concentrating massive wealth in the hands of so few, poses to the rest of the peasantry. – Mike Church, Ed.] Most important in this context is the fact that the web of human relations is growing closer as a result of the steady increase in the number of dependent wage earners. The individual is getting caught in a situation of subordination and dependence in relation to centers of decision. This process is part of the great upheaval which the American economist K. E. Boulding calls the organizational revolution, and it disturbs the balance of human relations. The relation between independent market parties, the buyers and seners, is horizontal and loose, if not impersonal. As firms grow in size and the number of independent market parties diminishes, the market’s more or less impersonal and loose co-ordination is replaced by the vertical, close, and personal relation of subordination and authority.
Dependence upon the client or the supplier through a market wide enough to do away with rigid personal relationships is replaced by dependence upon the boss. People used to occupy positions side by side with each other, but now they are above and below each other, and the relation is charged with the constant tension of close personal contact within a limited, fixed group. With the diminution of individual independence, this is becoming the fate of the masses, and we all know the strain it puts on human relations. Intrigues, place-hunting, informing, ill will, bootlicking, envy, jealousy, and all the other poisons of close contact spread like the plague in all large organiza- tions and companies, as experience has shown again and again. Neurotics are in a position to make life hell for hundreds and thousands of people, and, as Boulding points out, there is a more than even chance that it will be precisely neurotics who get to the top and into a dominating position, because of their assertiveness and officiousness. A bad-tempered tax collector can let himself go with both his subordinates and with the taxpayers at his mercy; the psychologically unbalanced foreman can become the factory tyrant and intimidate all the other workers. But however irritated or worried the greengrocer may be, he has to pull himself together, without, on that account, having to feel that he is the slave of his customers. – Wilhelm Roepke, Toward A Humane Economy