Una paura chiamata amore (Percorsi dellanima) (Italian Edition)
I am very happy. Ughino started to get off the bike and then hesitated. Would you like some juice? He looked at Markus and said: I have to continue my deliveries I just wanted to say hello. He looked at Angela, trying to let her know. She understood immediately and said: I have to go help my parents get set up. Then Ughino got off his bike, stopped pretending he was happy and hugged Markus.
Then Markus pulled his bicycle out of the garage and pointing to the road said: He was ten years old, but because of the emotions and the grief that life had reserved for him, he could teach good judgment and maturity to his fifteen-year-old friends. The engineers of the municipality had tried various times to have the two legally evicted, as the dwelling was considered not desirable for health reasons, but every time, independent groups of people had dissuaded them and convinced them to defer action.
Paola, the mother, was still young, but she looked like an elderly woman. She was afflicted by many ailments and when she was able to rustle up a little alms money, she would always go home with a bottle of wine in her hands. Paola was an orphan and she had never known her parents. She grew up in a convent and when she was twenty she had gone to work as an attendant at a summer camp for children on the Emilia Romagna coast, where she had met her first and last love. Salvatore, a tourist traveling in that area, invited her to dinner and they stayed together until morning, when Paola had to go back to work.
The following days she waited for him in vain on the beach where they had met. She looked for him in a futile search throughout the whole city, only to realize the only thing she knew about him was his first name. Salvatore had left her, much like her mother had done. At the end of the season, she returned to the village pregnant with Ughino, her mind totally empty. As the baby was getting bigger, the mother was withering away. Her body slowly sagged like a bamboo whipped by the wind and only alcohol could make her bear the eternal grief of life. Ughino understood immediately, since he was very small, that he had to take care of himself, as well as his mother.
So he would go to school and after school he would take care of the house, helping Paola as if she were a little girl. Despite his sad destiny, Ughino smiled all the time and he would play with his friends, who loved him a lot, any chance he got. The boy did not want his friends to pity him because of his condition, so often he would tell innocent lies to mask his meager truth. Sometimes, he was invited to lunch by families of friends, and was served with wonderful dishes of Umbrian tradition.
He would then thank the hostess by saying: Just the way my mom fixes it! Things were different with him. He spent a lot of time with him and thought of him as an older brother. Once, when school let out, a couple of older boys arrogantly stopped Ughino. It was Giovanni Montaldi and Piero De Lisis, sons of two wealthy businesspeople from Orvieto, dressed from top to bottom in fashionable clothes. They did not have many friends at school, but their private alliance seemed to satisfy them and they did not feel they had to be friendly to other people.
Always bold and arrogant, they had several times shown lack of courage in their actions. Therefore, they usually would bother the younger and the weaker kids. Ughino was one of them. One time, Giovanni and Piero started making fun of him because of his older shoes with holes, shoving him around as they spoke, while he was trying to resolve the situation with a smile. Suddenly Piero kicked him and his backpack filled with his school notebooks fell in the sand. Then Ughino turned and saw the boy turning red, because an arm, behind him, was grabbing him by the neck.
With a yank, Piero fell on the ground and immediately Markus was on top of him, beating him up, while a couple of friends were holding Giovanni back. During the summer, Ughino helped Mario, the manager of the only food store in the village, with deliveries to clients. Since during the summer holidays the number of people increased because of the arrival of all the people who owned a country cottage, the need for deliveries increased, as the store was getting bigger and acquired more clients.
So, Mario had given Ughino a bicycle he had modified for small deliveries: Little Ugo felt mighty proud when he was riding this unique vehicle and often he would come back from his deliveries full speed, doing acrobatics on two wheels. But when he went home, he left his cheerfulness outside the door, like a coat hanging from the door. The boy would put his love and patience clothes on and cross the door bravely.
His mother would usually sit by the window, crossing her legs, with her foot constantly moving up and down. Her gaze was lost in empty infinity and nearly always she did not even know her son had come back. Ughino thought his mother was the most beautiful woman in the world and he hoped every day that she would heal quickly. His continuous care and attention was not enough, he thought. Maybe he should take her to the hospital. But how could he love her more? He loved her more than himself! Every day he tried to be more affectionate. His heart would break, for he could not see any improvement.
He would cook for her, talk to her, he cared for her hands and feet, and he would tell her about what was happening in school, but she would rarely answer, and when she did, only in monosyllables. He would then go in the bathroom, turn on the faucet and cry his heart out, hitting his head with all his strength, crying rivers of steaming tears into the basin, clutching his heart because of the pain. She is completely mad. I met her yesterday and took her home. He tried to change the topic: Do you want to go to the beach with us? Do you remember the last time, when she fled at night and we found her on the bridge?
Who gets to the square first decides the punishment! Markus looked at him straight in the eyes and said: Let us through, I have to go to the store! Piero did not move. The left window of the car was lowered and a voice screamed from inside: Giovanni grabbed his bike and started pedaling towards the descent.
But he did not need to; he already knew it was a heavy person with white withered skin, with his head dripping with sweat and black sun glasses perennially resting on his forehead. Not because of you. Ughino got off his tricycle and said: He enjoyed watching the women in and out of the store, chatting, with bags filled with heads of lettuce and loaves of bread.
Those images were engraved in his mind since he was small, even though they were not keepsakes from his own land. He only remembered a lot of confusion and the icy cold of the huge supermarket in the city where he was born. The younger told the oldest: You see how nice and polite he is? Despite all the bad things that happened to him Just yesterday, I found his mother at my front door.
She had finished the wine. Once in a while she comes over to my house too. But what should I do? I would feel like I did Ughino wrong. But now we have to do something. And we can take turns caring for the boy. How much trouble can that polite boy be? I know he takes care of all the housework, he could even help me! He wanted to tell those women that if they really loved Ughino, the last thing to do was to separate him from his mother. He had to find a solution. Meanwhile, Ughino had left the store and was loading the bags on the cart. When they were alone again on the road, Ughino continued: Tell me about your idea.
But we know nothing about him; he has been living there by himself for years, since he first came to the area! But they call him Doctor Draconis, and I heard that he was a doctor. He may be able to help me. How did you come to think of him? Maybe because I heard he was a doctor, and maybe because nobody can help mom. What do you say? Would you go see him with me, and ask for his advice? Are you aware of what everybody around here says about him? There is just one thing She is a friend of mine and you can trust her. Let me know when you intend to go. I have to go home now. Markus was happy to see him like that, even if deep inside he was doubtful of the decision he had made.
He lived with his cat, Bastet, in a decrepit house, lost in a small wooded area between the villages of Sugano and Orvieto. Nobody knew what he did all-day, but if you walked along the house you could nearly always hear the sound of a clarinet, which — from the windows up high — would meander up to the top of leafy trees. It was not a pretty house and it certainly did not bring a smile to the people passing by. The window shutters were hanging down like the eyebrows of sad eyes. The outside walls served as a perennial bed to the gigantic climbing vegetation and even the main front door was so misshapen that it appeared to be grinning with contempt and grief.
In winter, he would always wear a long, black overcoat and a large hat with brims curved towards the bottom, while in summer, he would dress entirely in white. Shirt and pants were so big that his thin, tall figure would appear ghostly. His face was thin and sunken under his cheek bones and his eyes were set deep and overshadowed by his sockets, blocked and hidden from any observer.
His hair was long and smooth, down to his shoulders, by now partially grey, even though the age of the doctor was a mystery. When he would go to the village, he would speak to people in a very polite manner, often speaking in a polished style, not characteristic of that area. His speech was concise, just what was necessary and no more.
Under no circumstances he had appeared hesitant when starting a conversation with unknown people. He was heard talking in public only once. It was when, at the market, a mother was screaming to her son, who apparently had stolen a pen from a man who sold stationary.
The woman hit him on the back, as she was screaming: I am hitting you also for having lied, for saying you did not steal that pen! Hermes was the one who told him to lie. And who is this Er When they found out, the young Hermes denied it repeatedly; he lied with strength and courage to the God who was accusing him. Faced by such impertinence, Apollo started to laugh and forgave him. Children must lie, Hermes tells them to. When he would leave the house to do some shopping, he would walk on foot through the wooded area, dragging behind him a small four-wheel wooden cart on which he would load his supplies.
The title of doctor had been given to him by the inhabitants of the village, as it looked like in the past he had practiced medicine. No one knew, however, what kind of medicine, nor if he ever had taken care of, or healed anybody. The elderly ladies were very suspicious and if they happened to meet him, they preferred to go another way. Talk had it that he did not have any children and that he had moved to his house a long time before, following the untimely death of his young wife, whom, as a doctor, he apparently had not been able to save… Since then, he had been a recluse in his own house, a house where the only sound was that coming from his sad clarinet.
Doctor Draconis lived in that area in great privacy and this had created stories, testimonies and fairy tales about him. One of the stories about Draconis around San Quirico was that while he was travelling around the world looking for answers to his questions, young Doctor Draconis met and fell in love with Suseri, a Japanese girl. Once, unbeknown to him- he hid a poisonous spider in the pocket of a jacket hanging in the closet.
As fate would have it, that morning, Draconis did not wear it when he left. The spider bit her and she fell on the ground, where she died after a few minutes. When Draconis returned home, he found her on the ground and tried to save her, unsuccessfully. Word has it, that the grief was of such magnitude that the doctor from that day onward became a loner. The inhabitants of Porano had an addition to the story: Draconis would communicate with the spirit of the young Suseri through the sound of the clarinet. Someone also said he had seen him at night go down the well in front of his house and come out only in the morning.
No one could tell if the stories were true or born from the imagination of the people. The truth of the matter is that Draconis was, by then, an integral part of that environment, just like the woods, the houses, the vineyards and the vegetable gardens. That afternoon he was going with him to the Orvieto library to pick up some books Josh had ordered the week before. He climbed on the seat of the jeep that was already in motion and they took off on the white road leading to the highway. Markus had an open and sincere rapport with his father and often shared his interests leafing through his papers, articles and books.
When the family moved to Italy, through the whole delicate moving phase, Josh had been very close to his son, trying his best to offer him a strong and firm support at a time of great uncertainty. As they were getting onto the highway, they met Ughino who was entering the road, going towards the Allen residence on his delivery tricycle. I have to ask Ughino something. I will be right back. I can come by around six. Be at my house at six. Markus was lost in thought. I often think about him and I am tempted to go visit him to write an article.
But Mary discourages me all the time On the other hand, not even Melampus was aware he was one! He was the first mortal granted divine powers by the gods. You know I love it when you tell me mythic stories! It was as if there was a universal mould for every occasion. Wait; let me think about the story He would understand the language of birds and insects because it seemed that two serpents, grateful for a favor, licked his ears.
The man had been sick since he was a young boy, ever since he had witnessed the sacrifice of two rams by his father, when he saw him walking holding a knife covered with blood. That sight made Ificlus sick, but no one understood that, with the exception of the two birds of prey that witnessed the fact. He ran to get the old knife that was still stuck in the trunk of a tree and made Ificlus drink the rust formed by the blood of the ram, dissolved in a little water. Somehow, he had to get rid of that terrible image from his childhood, and perhaps the blood of the ram reminded him of that.
And what does Melampus have to do with Draconis? It was just to show you that Melampus was a doctor without knowing it. They got out of the car and started walking towards the escalators that were climbing inside the hill like a worm making its way upwards inside an apple. All around, they were surrounded by the tuff walls of the gallery, the color of toasted hazelnuts.
The gallery was a steep climb, until it exited near Piazza Raineri. When they got off the escalators, the two turned to the right towards via Loggia dei Mercanti and when they stopped in front of the Piccolomini Hotel, they had to flatten against the wall to make room for a car with a powerful engine that was coming down the alleyway. Markus was familiar with that car. I am happy to see you. And since city hall gave us the license, it would be very useful if you could write an article for your American editors. And the tourists would be very happy to know that here they could find the same food they eat in their own country!
His small eyes hidden by the fat of his cheeks and his nose, flat above his swollen lips, made him truly grotesque. They said goodbye and as soon as the car was gone, Markus vented his disappointment: You even promised him you would write him an article? But I did not tell him what I will write in the article! As they were paying for their snack, Josh heard someone calling him: Come sit with us for a little while! I find you very well. Looking towards the display case of the news vendor, Markus said: He said he is going to be at my house at six.
We'll go there together. He motioned Markus who was approaching them. Then Angela turned to her mother saying: I will see you later, at home. Matilde used to go to the cemetery every week. She would clean and shine up the marble slab that had been guarding the memory of Anselmo, hear husband, for over ten years. To her, that visit was a pleasurable break from her daily monotony and after having taken care of the flowers, changed the water and washed the marble, she would sit on the stool she brought from home, and chat peacefully with Anselmo's smiling picture.
At the village, nothing new, except the seasonal tourists are coming and at least there is someone on the road. Fausto and Teresa are here too, and they say hello. I have always taken care of them you know, just like you used to do, and I remembered that in November you prune only the stems that didn't bloom during the season, leaving only the flowers dry on the other stems. Next spring you will have hydrangeas as large as watermelons!
The lavender bush has grown a lot too. This time though, I am going to take all the branches off and make them into scented laundry baskets like my mother used to do when she was alive. She told me that after the summer, Giovanna and she are going to city hall to convince them to put Paola Stoppa, that poor soul, in an institution, while Ughino is taken care of. Life was unkind to her since her birth, but now Ughino needs a normal life with a normal family.
He needs someone to take care of him. This is another one of her lunacies: Did you know she comes on foot from Sugano? She never takes the bus and the road is very long! She was holding a bunch of small wild flowers she had likely picked up along the way and from time to time, she would put one in the vases of the loculus. What are you saying? We give her wine, anytime she wants it! In the meantime, Paola seemed happy with her visit and she started moving towards the exit of the cemetery, lazily dragging her feet on the stone pavement. When she reached the large entrance gate, she turned towards the tombs one more time and observed them, turning her head from right to left in a collegiate greeting and exited towards the road.
From the back seat, Angela pointed to the woman and said: He then stopped in an open space. Markus got out of the car and moved towards the woman. Then, running, he caught up with her. After they left, Josh asked: Do you have someone there? Markus helped the woman get out of the car and accompanied her inside. On the way home, Josh — deep in thoughts — could only say: He was trying to shoot a basketball, but he was probably too short for that.
He waved cheerfully to all of them and Josh stopped the jeep. I am going in, have fun and Ughino placed the ball on the ground, tucked his shirt inside his pants and said: As soon as they reached the highway, they crossed it, entering an alley in the front that ran along the perimeter of a thicket.
The other side of the road was delimited by grassy fields that sloped along the side of the hill; the grass was very tall and, for the most part, dry. We have to leave our bicycles next to the large oak tree. Then, they had left, for they thought they heard some steps coming down the stairs.
Markus remembered that day well, because it was very cold and on the way back home it had started to rain cats and dogs. They arrived in the vicinity of the turn to the inside of the wooded area. The pair on the tricycle was moving slower and at every pothole Ughino would jump really high, almost falling to the ground. She was standing by the road, looking in the direction of a tree.
We almost hit you! She turned towards them, her mouth open and in disbelief, pointing to the tree. It was standing still in the middle of the road and would not move Then it opened his mouth and I thought it was about to speak! It had an acorn in its paw and Then it retreated to the tree Markus bent down and grabbed an acorn in his hand. Suddenly acorns began to pour from the tree, hitting the children from up high, nonstop, as a thick hailstorm. As they stopped, Angela slid on the leaves and fell right next to the trunk of the big chestnut tree.
Angela was sitting on the ground, looking up high towards the top of the trees, in all directions. But what was wrong with those squirrels? It would have been impossible to use the bicycles. Unexpected notes, from very heavy to very light acute trills, the notes floated through the vegetation, to the ears of the children. Two small bushes of red berries, like bony, bleeding hands marked the entrance to the garden.
The three crossed the threshold of the fence, and found themselves in the green area in front of the house. The house seemed abandoned, as did everything else around it. In the middle of the area in front of the house, there was an old well made of rock stone, which brightly stood out against the green. Angela and Markus kept approaching the front door of the house cautiously, when they realized that Ughino was moving towards the well.
I want to see. You could not see the bottom, but along the side there was a long metallic ladder hooked onto a border stone. I thought there was some one Markus, was this here when we were here before? I remember it very well. Markus, you go ahead. Markus looked at his friends, sighed and lifted his hand to knock. He knocked three times. The music stopped immediately and a cat meowed. The children heard noises of chairs and moved objects coming from the first floor, along with heavy steps on a wooden ladder and a muffled grumble.
In the meantime, the cat must have reached the door, because the meows sounded much closer now and the steps were becoming heavier and sounder. The door snapped open, quickly, causing the three children to jump backwards. In his hands, he was holding a long wondrous clarinet made of ebony. He was holding it like a club and between his feet— in a pair of leather sandals — standing upright, a grey cat with velvety hair was observing them annoyingly. There are many doctors around. He then turned towards the door and walked into the house, slamming the door.
As he was climbing the stairs, you could hear him mumble: It was hard to tell whether Ughino was more frightened or disappointed after the short meeting. He stayed on the side, staring at the closed door, without saying a word. Angela put her arm on his shoulders, pulling him back towards the garden. He then started walking behind his friends, his gaze to the ground, while the sky was turning red and the nocturnal animals lazily began to yawn and wake up. After midnight, the sky filled with a multitude of stars and even the smallest ones were visible to the naked eye, from the hills that were void of the luminous shine of the metropolis.
You could also hear better. You could hear noises that during the day were hidden in the neglected acoustic background: But for Ughino, that was not a peaceful night. He kept turning in his bed over and over again, jabbering words during his agitated sleep, while thinking back to the images of a cold rusty ladder, down the bottom of a well. A continuous metallic noise resonated in his ears, caused perhaps by an object hitting the steps of the ladder.
In his sleep, he thought that was caused by the heel of a shoe, hitting an iron pole. He forced himself to open his eyes and in the darkness of the room, he looked up high towards the small open window that overlooked a small vegetable garden behind the house. The light of the moon lit the window panes, which were protected by metallic grids. In the square of light projected on the wall, Ughino noticed a large shadow that was knocking lightly on the metal grid.
The boy turned on the light on his night table and a faint soft light lit up the bluish walls of the room. Rubbing his eyes, he directed his attention to the small window, now able to see clearly what was happening. A large barn owl stood upright on the sill, hitting the metallic grid with its beak. The animal appeared proud and composed, as if taking pleasure in his wonderful attire illuminated by the moon. The light of the moon, in fact, made the whiteness of his facial feathers shaped like a heart really stand out. Ughino loved all the animals in the countryside and the presence of the night bird truly did not bother him.
The only thing that bothered him was the fact that the animal had woken him up, by hitting his beak on the grid. He had seen other barn owls during his summer nights on the hills, but that was unusually large. I am tired of hitting my beak against the grid; it was beginning to hurt! The barn owl had spoken! His voice was similar to that of an unexpectedly disappointed old grouch. Ughino then got out of his bed and said: Come closer and listen to me. The barn owl continued: They are waiting for you there with all the instructions.
I was dreaming of an iron ladder that was going down into But why do I have to go down there? I am a little scared. I have no time to waste. If you want to help your mother, go down the stair in the well and you will realize that it is not dangerous. That said, I bid you farewell. Slowly the boy sat at the side of the bed. Should he go down the metal stair? On the other side of the coin, how could he trust a night bird that spoke like an ill-tempered old man?
A grey feather was right next to the grid. Would anybody ever believe him? He had to go. It was a lucky break he was allowed to bring Markus and Angela along. Without them, it would have been a real problem. Yes, it was still night, but who could have slept after that encounter? Ughino looked at his old alarm clock on the night table. It was three in the morning. He grabbed his pants and shirt off the chair and got dressed in a hurry, silently. He pushed the door aside lightly, but in the semidarkness of the moonlight through the window, he saw an empty bed! Yet, he remembered he had wished her good night, the night before and that she was already in bed.
Maybe the barn owl had woken her up and she had gone into the kitchen to get a drink of water. The house, however, was immersed in darkness. He went into the small kitchen and turned the light on. As he was turning around, he thought he heard a soft noise coming from behind. He turned just in time to protect his head. Paola, from behind, lowered the bottle she was holding on the head of her son with all her might. She let an angry cry escape.
Ughino jumped to the side to avoid the woman. Luckily, the boy was so agile that he managed not to get hit. While he was jumping around, he grabbed a towel and wrapped his bleeding hand in it. Go away, you and your snakes! There was no other choice: Ughino then ran out of the door, climbing the stairs that were leading to the road. As soon as he got outside, he jumped on his delivery bicycle and started to pedal with all his might. He pedaled and cried. He cried and sobbed. His bicycle, though, knew the way. Servo Inutile General field: E' un riflesso al " saeculorum " finale.
Frutto delle preghiere dell'infanzia. Fin da bambino infatti, ho scorazzato nella chiesa di fronte alla mia casa. Una chiesa povera, austera come i suoi servitori. Burberi e severi frati Francescani Cappuccini. Quelli con la barba per intenderci. Ed ora sono qui. Se non osservassi l'orologio, uno Swatch da pochi soldi; un regalo delle mie figlie: Mi guardo intorno ed incrocio il volto dei colleghi. Nei loro occhi la medesima domanda: Vorrei poter sospendere tutto.
Io non ho colpe. Ma rimango e in silenzio, mi rivolgo ai miei Santi. A San Giuseppe mio patrono. A San Giovanni della Croce di cui avevo un'immaginetta bellissima. A Santa Bernardetta che non posso dimenticare. Alla Madonna di sale che aveva mia nonna e che baciavo tutte le sere prima di andare a letto. Salvate, salvate la mia anima. Non potevi trovare una scusa?
Bastava dire che non ti sentivi all'altezza. Bastava poco per non essere qui, cretino! Una paura atavica, ancestrale. Tutto quello che la mia formazione culturale non ammette. Anni di studi, anni di materie astruse come fisiologia, anatomia, patologia che impediscono di riconoscere quello che la fede non ha mai messo in dubbio. Rivolgo gli occhi a padre xxxy e tutto si placa. E' la sua voce che calma tutto. E una grande pace mi prende.
La mia gola articola in silenzio: Sono venuto con il pellegrinaggio che la mia Diocesi organizza ogni anno. Un viaggio in treno di millecinquecento chilometri, un convoglio di ventiquattro carrozze per ottocento pellegrini; una bolgia pazzesca. E' la quinta volta che vengo con loro ma prima, per altre tre volte, da giovane, con un gruppo di amici, sono stato in questo posto.
Mi si permetta, anche se potrebbe suonare blasfemo, di far riferimento alla mitologia. Ad Omero in particolare. Al canto delle sirene che irretiscono Ulisse. E' come se ci fosse un richiamo. Del consumismo sfrenato che circonda l'area sacra. Molti osservano di non aver visto nulla di particolare. Tanti sorridono ricordando le innumerevoli e variegate manifestazioni della fede popolare. Troppe persone sono ritornate da Lourdes a mani vuote. Era sufficiente leggere, prima di partire, il Vangelo di Matteo. E' questo quello che succede a Lourdes. A Lourdes quelli che sono ciechi nella fede: Quelli che zoppicano nella fede: Quelli che hanno una fede macchiata, piagata: Quelli che sono sordi al richiamo della fede: Quelli che sono morti nella loro fede: A tutti quelli che ascoltano: Caricare, senza disturbare alcuno, il mio tasso di nicotina nel sangue.
Stavo appunto tirando a pieni polmoni che ti vedo arrivare costui. Avrei compreso in seguito l'importanza che quest'ultima rivestiva per lui. Posso fare una domanda? Il tono nasale e stentato mi fece subito capire che si trattava di un francese. Il vestito scuro, accompagnato da una camicia grigia, ed in particolare la piccola croce sul risvolto della giacca mi fecero pensare che fosse un sacerdote.
Stavo per raccogliere nella mente una splendida risposta nella sua lingua che tra parentesi, amo tanto, quando lui mi precedette nuovamente. Non mi meravigliai per la sua perspicacia dato che indossavo un camice bianco e un fonendoscopio mi usciva di tasca. Avrei sempre potuto rifiutarmi in seguito, una volta conosciute le problematiche. Chiesi di che cosa si trattasse per potermi organizzare con eventuali sussidi terapeutici. Un prete, un malato, gli psichiatri. Stavo per dire che del paragrafo sulle ossessioni avevo studiato solo il titolo quando lui riprese: Quella sera, a cena, non stavo nella pelle.
Non mi seppi trattenere e parlai con due miei colleghi di quello che mi era successo. Anche loro convennero sull'importanza di quell'esperienza. Nessuno di noi aveva mai assistito ad un esorcismo, se di questo forse si trattava. Si, malati psichiatrici ne avevamo visti anche noi ma nessuno che avesse manifestato qualche tipo di possessione. Avrei ringraziato in seguito per la loro presenza. Il giorno dopo, oggi, ci siamo trovati tutti e tre puntuali all'appuntamento.
Il prete, padre xxxy ci aspettava assieme ad una suora. Nell'attesa che venga il malato, che ora sappiamo essere una malata, il padre ci spiega tutto quello che dobbiamo fare, quello che possiamo e quello che non dobbiamo fare. Mettetevi poi ai lati del malato.
Non correrete alcun pericolo se vi atterrete a questi consigli. E questa sarebbe l'indemoniata? Vengo distolto dalla sua presentazione. So che siete preoccupati ma Io non ho mai fatto male a nessuno. E ci vorrebbe che questo simpatico criceto, possa farmi male! Hai dormito troppo poco. Il sacerdote si avvicina e saluta la ragazza. Strano, osservo, il prete non le ha dato la mano. La ragazza mi squadra e poi mi strizza l'occhio.
Si china verso di me e sussurra: Sai, sono tre mesi che mi vede, due volte alla settimana. Qui non ci siamo! Mi sa che sto sbagliando tutto. Quando parla di Babilonia. Dopo, sono stata benissimo. Ma di cosa sta parlando? Quasi quasi me ne vado. Ad un cenno del padre lo seguiamo nella sacrestia. La ragazza viene mandata avanti, nella chiesa e il prete si rivolge a me. Dopo entriamo anche noi nella chiesa.
E' una chiesa a navata unica. Con il soffitto in legno sorretto da architravi. Due file di panche sono separate da uno spazio, lungo fino in fondo. Le panche sono di legno, leggere e facilmente spostabili. Ci avviciniamo e il sacerdote ci indica i posti. Io mi siedo alla destra della ragazza. I miei due colleghi, uno a sinistra e uno dietro.
Il prete si sposta di lato, a quasi due metri ed inizia la vestizione. Mentre ci guardiamo l'un l'altro, la suora sta armeggiando alle finestre. Ad una ad una le chiude e le spranga. Poi va alla porta da cui siamo entrati e la chiude a doppia mandata. Torno a guardare i colleghi e leggo nei loro occhi la stessa voglia di fuga. Di traverso, vedo la ragazza sorridere mentre si segna. Poi la voce lenta di padre xxxy ci raggiunge.
Il suo latino fa compiere alla mia mente un balzo di trent'anni ed io entro nel coro dei frati. Rispondiamo sperando che il Signore non consideri gli errori di latino. Segue, sempre in latino la preghiera del Padre Nostro e una decina di Avemarie. La ragazza, che osservo, prega sottovoce e ad un tratto appoggia la sua mano destra sulla mia gamba. Non solo appoggia ma prende quasi, con forza. Sta facendo altrettanto con la gamba del mio collega. Noi ci guardiamo in silenzio. Finite le preghiere iniziali il sacerdote prende il cestello dell'acqua santa con l'intenzione di aspergerci.
Le gocce arrivano sui corpi e le mani della ragazza cominciano ad artigliare le cosce. Spontaneamente, prendiamo con le mani le sue braccia. Il collega parla il linguaggio dei muti, articolando la mascella. Poi il padre apre la Bibbia, sul fondo e comincia a leggere. Veniva dal profondo della gola. A questo punto i gemiti della ragazza si traformarono in un pianto dirotto. Un pianto che non avevo mai udito. Straziante come se avesse subito una perdita irreparabile.
Nella mia vita ho pianto molte volte ed ho udito, anche a seguito della mia professione, molte persone piangere. Le usciva dalla gola un ruggito tremendo, profondo e allo stesso tempo acuto. Lo alternava a tratti con bestemmie rabbiose all'indirizzo della Madre di Dio. Con movimenti alternati in avanti e in dietro cercava di liberarsi dalle nostre prese.
Ci spinse tutti e tre improvvisamente e quello dietro rimase incastrato tra le due panche. Per fortuna la persona amica ci venne subito in aiuto altrimenti avremmo dovuto lasciarla. E questo era assolutamente da evitare secondo quanto ci aveva detto il prete. Come in un ballo assurdo giravamo per la chiesa, sempre trattenendola. Il suo unico scopo, per quanto mi parve di capire, era quello di raggiungere il sacerdote. Non volevo pensare a quello che avrebbe potuto fare se lo avesse preso.
A tratti, oserei dire per grazia di Dio, perdeva improvvisamente le forze e allora la lasciavamo scivolare a terra. Tutta rannicchiata, cominciava allora a tossire. Una tosse canina, insopportabile all'udito. Poi seguiva il vomito. Durante questo periodo, in due occasioni, mentre la ragazza era particolarmente debilitata, il sacerdote facendosi aiutare da noi, la ungeva con l'olio santo. In questi momenti lei diventava come una furia. Dopo, quando la ragazza e la persona amica se ne erano andate io parlai con padre xxxy. Le guarigioni del corpo sono bellissime ma le guarigioni dell'anima non sono definibili tanto sono belle agli occhi di Dio.
Sapessi quante vengono a cercarmi. Ogni settimana ne vedo quasi una decina. Si ritrasse come se l'avessi colpito. Quando la vidi per la prima volta le dissi che non potevo fidarmi della sua parola. Che dovevo, come un medico, vedere con i miei occhi. Andai allora al tabernacolo, indossai la stola e simulati i riti tornai con un'ostia non consacrata, solo un piccolo pezzo di pane. Poi la guardai e lei era stupita. La ragazza era decisamente preoccupata ed allora le chiesi se voleva riprovare.
Non posso prendere l'Eucaristia due volte lo stesso giorno. Compresi subito che conosceva le regole e allora incalzai dicendo: Presi tra le mani l'ostia consacrata e avvicinatomi feci per metterla nella sua bocca. Mentre urlava pensai tra me che qui c'era un problema.
Come anche tu puoi ben comprendere lei non poteva assolutamente conoscere la differenza tra i due pezzi di pane. Io rimasi in silenzio e trattenni a lungo in mano, mentre tornavo all'albergo, il biglietto con l'indirizzo del padre.
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Quella notte mentre dormivo, " lessi " il libro. Come sia possibile leggere e dormire non so spiegarlo ma, al mattino, sul letto accanto, trovai il testo. Qualche giorno prima, in una cartoleria del centro, in alto, su, dietro il grande Castello, avevo acquistato uno di quei " livre de brouillon " che solo i francesi sanno fare. Ma ora questo volume era tutto vergato da una scrittura fitta che non potevo non riconoscere. Mancava solo la mia firma al fondo ma tutto il resto non potevo averlo scritto che io.
Alla fine non mi rimase che pregare. Sono rimasto a lungo combattuto tra due idee diametralmente opposte. La seconda quella di pubblicarlo. I ceppi e le catene verranno tolti e vagheremo liberi e forti. Liberi e potenti come un tempo. Per rinserrare le fila, per coltivare l'albero della Vostra furia, per massimamente addestrarvi.
Di una Vostra tendenza a contemplare l' Abisso, a crogiolarvi nell'attuale moltitudine. Sono contate le anime del primo stadio. Tutto questo deve finire. Un nuovo ciclo di raccolta deve iniziare. Since then it has been the fastest-growing new function, and the study of it the fastest-growing new discipline. No function in history has emerged as quickly as has management in the past fifty or sixty years, and surely none has had such worldwide sweep in such a short period.
Management is still taught in most business schools as a bundle of techniques, such as budgeting and personnel relations. To be sure, management, like any other work, has its own tools and its own techniques. But just as the essence of medicine is not urinalysis important though that is , the essence of management is not techniques and procedures. The essence of management is to make knowledges productive. Management, in other words, is a social function.
And in its practice management is truly a liberal art. The old communities—family, village, parish, and so on—have all but disappeared in the knowledge society. Their place has largely been taken by the new unit of social integration, the organization. Where community was fate, organization is voluntary membership.
Where community claimed the entire person, organization is a means to a person's ends, a tool. For years a hot debate has been raging, especially in the West: Nobody would claim that the new organization is "organic. But who, then, does the community tasks? Two hundred years ago whatever social tasks were being done were done in all societies by a local community.
Very few if any of these tasks are being done by the old communities anymore. Nor would they be capable of doing them, considering that they no longer have control of their members or even a firm hold over them. People no longer stay where they were born, either in terms of geography or in terms of social position and status.
By definition, a knowledge society is a society of mobility. And all the social functions of the old communities, whether performed well or poorly and most were performed very poorly indeed , presupposed that the individual and the family would stay put. But the essence of a knowledge society is mobility in terms of where one lives, mobility in terms of what one does, mobility in terms of one's affiliations. People no longer have roots.
People no longer have a neighborhood that controls what their home is like, what they do, and, indeed, what their problems are allowed to be. The knowledge society is a society in which many more people than ever before can be successful. But it is therefore, by definition, also a society in which many more people than ever before can fail, or at least come in second. And if only because the application of knowledge to work has made developed societies so much richer than any earlier society could even dream of becoming, the failures, whether poor people or alcoholics, battered women or juvenile delinquents, are seen as failures of society.
Who, then, takes care of the social tasks in the knowledge society? We cannot ignore them. But the traditional community is incapable of tackling them. Two answers have emerged in the past century or so—a majority answer and a dissenting opinion. Both have proved to be wrong. The majority answer goes back more than a hundred years, to the s, when Bismarck's Germany took the first faltering steps toward the welfare state. This is still probably the answer that most people accept, especially in the developed countries of the West—even though most people probably no longer fully believe it.
But it has been totally disproved. Modern government, especially since the Second World War, has everywhere become a huge welfare bureaucracy. And the bulk of the budget in every developed country today is devoted to Entitlements—to payments for all kinds of social services. Yet in every developed country society is becoming sicker rather than healthier, and social problems are multiplying. Government has a big role to play in social tasks—the role of policymaker, of standard setter, and, to a substantial extent, of paymaster. But as the agency to run social services, it has proved almost totally incompetent.
I argued then that the new organization—and fifty years ago that meant the large business enterprise—would have to be the community in which the individual would find status and function, with the workplace community becoming the one in and through which social tasks would be organized.
In Japan though quite independently and without any debt to me the large employer—government agency or business—has indeed increasingly attempted to serve as a community for its employees. Lifetime employment is only one affirmation of this. Company housing, company health plans, company vacations, and so on all emphasize for the Japanese employee that the employer, and especially the big corporation, is the community and the successor to yesterday's village—even to yesterday's family.
This, however, has not worked either. There is need, especially in the West, to bring the employee increasingly into the government of the workplace community. What is now called empowerment is very similar to the things I talked about fifty years ago. But it does not create a community. Nor does it create the structure through which the social tasks of the knowledge society can be tackled. In fact, practically all these tasks—whether education or health care; the anomies and diseases of a developed and, especially, a rich society, such as alcohol and drug abuse; or the problems of incompetence and irresponsibility such as those of the underclass in the American city—lie outside the employing institution.
The right answer to the question Who takes care of the social challenges of the knowledge society? The answer is a separate and new social sector. It is less than fifty years, I believe, since we first talked in the United States of the two sectors of a modern society—the "public sector" government and the "private sector" business.
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In the past twenty years the United States has begun to talk of a third sector, the "nonprofit sector"—those organizations that increasingly take care of the social challenges of a modern society. In the United States, with its tradition of independent and competitive churches, such a sector has always existed. Even now churches are the largest single part of the social sector in the United States, receiving almost half the money given to charitable institutions, and about a third of the time volunteered by individuals.
But the nonchurch part of the social sector has been the growth sector in the United States. In the early s about a million organizations were registered in the United States as nonprofit or charitable organizations doing social-sector work. The overwhelming majority of these, some 70 percent, have come into existence in the past thirty years. And most are community services concerned with life on this earth rather than with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Quite a few of the new organizations are, of course, religious in their orientation, but for the most part these are not churches. They are "parachurches" engaged in a specific social task, such as the rehabilitation of alcohol and drug addicts, the rehabilitation of criminals, or elementary school education. Even within the church segment of the social sector the organizations that have shown the capacity to grow are radically new.
They are the "pastoral" churches, which focus on the spiritual needs of individuals, especially educated knowledge workers, and then put the spiritual energies of their members to work on the social challenges and social problems of the community—especially, of course, the urban community. We still talk of these organizations as "nonprofits. It means nothing except that under American law these organizations do not pay taxes. Whether they are organized as nonprofit or not is actually irrelevant to their function and behavior. Many American hospitals since or have become "for-profits" and are organized in what legally are business corporations.
They function in exactly the same way as traditional "nonprofit" hospitals. What matters is not the legal basis but that the social-sector institutions have a particular kind of purpose. Government demands compliance; it makes rules and enforces them. Business expects to be paid; it supplies. Social-sector institutions aim at changing the human being. The "product" of a school is the student who has learned something.
The "product" of a hospital is a cured patient. The "product" of a church is a churchgoer whose life is being changed. The task of social-sector organizations is to create human health and well being. Increasingly these organizations of the social sector serve a second and equally important purpose. Modern society and modern polity have become so big and complex that citizenship—that is, responsible participation—is no longer possible.
All we can do as citizens is to vote once every few years and to pay taxes all the time. As a volunteer in a social-sector institution, the individual can again make a difference. In the United States, where there is a long volunteer tradition because of the old independence of the churches, almost every other adult in the s is working at least three—and often five—hours a week as a volunteer in a social-sector organization.
Britain is the only other country with something like this tradition, although it exists there to a much lesser extent in part because the British welfare state is far more embracing, but in much larger part because it has an established church—paid for by the state and run as a civil service.
Outside the English-speaking countries there is not much of a volunteer tradition. In fact, the modern state in Europe and Japan has been openly hostile to anything that smacks of volunteerism—most so in France and Japan. It is ancien regime and suspected of being fundamentally subversive.
But even in these countries things are changing, because the knowledge society needs the social sector, and the social sector needs the volunteer. But knowledge workers also need a sphere in which they can act as citizens and create a community. The workplace does not give it to them. Nothing has been disproved faster than the concept of the "organization man," which was widely accepted forty years ago. In fact, the more satisfying one's knowledge work is, the more one needs a separate sphere of community activity.
Many social-sector organizations will become partners with government—as is the case in a great many "privatizations," where, for instance, a city pays for street cleaning and an outside contractor does the work. In American education over the next twenty years there will be more and more government-paid vouchers that will enable parents to put their children into a variety of different schools, some public and tax supported, some private and largely dependent on the income from the vouchers.
These social-sector organizations, although partners with government, also clearly compete with government. The relationship between the two has yet to be worked out—and there is practically no precedent for it. What constitutes performance for social-sector organizations, and especially for those that, being nonprofit and charitable, do not have the discipline of a financial bottom line, has also yet to be worked out. We know that social-sector organizations need management. But what precisely management means for the social-sector organization is just beginning to be studied.
With respect to the management of the nonprofit organization we are in many ways pretty much where we were fifty or sixty years ago with respect to the management of the business enterprise: But one thing is already clear. The knowledge society has to be a society of three sectors: And I submit that it is becoming increasingly clear that through the social sector a modern developed society can again create responsible and achieving citizenship, and can again give individuals—especially knowledge workers—a sphere in which they can make a difference in society and re-create community.
Knowledge has become the key resource, for a nation's military strength as well as for its economic strength. And this knowledge can be acquired only through schooling. It is not tied to any country. It can be created everywhere, fast and cheaply. Finally, it is by definition changing. Knowledge as the key resource is fundamentally different from the traditional key resources of the economist—land, labor, and even capital. That knowledge has become the key resource means that there is a world economy, and that the world economy, rather than the national economy, is in control.
Every country, every industry, and every business will be in an increasingly competitive environment. Every country, every industry, and every business will, in its decisions, have to consider its competitive standing in the world economy and the competitiveness of its knowledge competencies. Politics and policies still center on domestic issues in every country.
Few if any politicians, journalists, or civil servants look beyond the boundaries of their own country when a new measure such as taxes, the regulation of business, or social spending is being discussed. Even in Germany—Europe's most export-conscious and export-dependent major country—this is true. Almost no one in the West asked in what the government's unbridled spending in the East would do to Germany's competitiveness. This will no longer do. Every country and every industry will have to learn that the first question is not Is this measure desirable?
We need to develop in politics something similar to the environmental-impact statement, which in the United States is now required for any government action affecting the quality of the environment: The impact on one's competitive position in the world economy should not necessarily be the main factor in a decision. But to make a decision without considering it has become irresponsible.
Altogether, the fact that knowledge has become the key resource means that the standing of a country in the world economy will increasingly determine its domestic prosperity. Since a country's ability to improve its position in the world economy has been the main and perhaps the sole determinant of performance in the domestic economy. Monetary and fiscal policies have been practically irrelevant, for better and, very largely, even for worse with the single exception of governmental policies creating inflation, which very rapidly undermines both a country's competitive standing in the world economy and its domestic stability and ability to grow.
The primacy of foreign affairs is an old political precept going back in European politics to the seventeenth century. Since the Second World War it has also been accepted in American politics—though only grudgingly so, and only in emergencies. It has always meant that military security was to be given priority over domestic policies, and in all likelihood this is what it will continue to mean, Cold War or no Cold War.
But the primacy of foreign affairs is now acquiring a different dimension. This is that a country's competitive position in the world economy—and also an industry's and an organization's—has to be the first consideration in its domestic policies and strategies. This holds true for a country that is only marginally involved in the world economy should there still be such a one , and for a business that is only marginally involved in the world economy, and for a university that sees itself as totally domestic.
Knowledge knows no boundaries. There is no domestic knowledge and no international knowledge. There is only knowledge. And with knowledge becoming the key resource, there is only a world economy, even though the individual organization in its daily activities operates within a national, regional, or even local setting.
Social tasks are increasingly being done by individual organizations, each created for one, and only one, social task, whether education, health care, or street cleaning. Society, therefore, is rapidly becoming pluralist. Yet our social and political theories still assume that there are no power centers except government.
To destroy or at least to render impotent all other power centers was, in fact, the thrust of Western history and Western politics for years, from the fourteenth century on. This drive culminated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when, except in the United States, such early institutions as still survived—for example, the universities and the churches—became organs of the state, with their functionaries becoming civil servants.
But then, beginning in the mid nineteenth century, new centers arose—the first one, the modern business enterprise, around And since then one new organization after another has come into being. The new institutions—the labor union, the modern hospital, the mega church, the research university—of the society of organizations have no interest in public power.
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They do not want to be governments. But they demand—and, indeed, need—autonomy with respect to their functions. Even at the extreme of Stalinism the managers of major industrial enterprises were largely masters within their enterprises, and the individual industry was largely autonomous. So were the university, the research lab, and the military. In the "pluralism" of yesterday—in societies in which control was shared by various institutions, such as feudal Europe in the Middle Ages and Edo Japan in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—pluralist organizations tried to be in control of whatever went on in their community.
At least, they tried to prevent any other organization from having control of any community concern or community institution within their domain. But in the society of organizations each of the new institutions is concerned only with its own purpose and mission. It does not claim power over anything else. But it also does not assume responsibility for anything else. Who, then, is concerned with the common good? This has always been a central problem of pluralism. No earlier pluralism solved it. The problem remains, but in a new guise.
So far it has been seen as imposing limits on social institutions—forbidding them to do things in the pursuit of their mission, function, and interest which encroach upon the public domain or violate public policy. The laws against discrimination—by race, sex, age, educational level, health status, and so on—which have proliferated in the United States in the past forty years all forbid socially undesirable behavior. But we are increasingly raising the question of the social responsibility of social institutions: What do institutions have to do—in addition to discharging their own functions—to advance the public good?
This, however, though nobody seems to realize it, is a demand to return to the old pluralism, the pluralism of feudalism. It is a demand that private hands assume public power. This could seriously threaten the functioning of the new organizations, as the example of the schools in the United States makes abundantly clear.
One of the major reasons for the steady decline in the capacity of the schools to do their job—that is, to teach children elementary knowledge skills—is surely that since the s the United States has increasingly made the schools the carriers of all kinds of social policies: Whether we have actually made any progress in assuaging social ills is highly debatable; so far the schools have not proved particularly effective as tools for social reform. But making the school the organ of social policies has, without any doubt, severely impaired its capacity to do its own job.
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The new pluralism has a new problem: This makes doubly important the emergence of a b and functioning social sector. It is an additional reason why the social sector will increasingly be crucial to the performance, if not to the cohesion, of the knowledge society. Of the new organizations under consideration here, the first to arise, years ago, was the business enterprise. It was only natural, therefore, that the problem of the emerging society of organizations was first seen as the relationship of government and business.
It was also natural that the new interests were first seen as economic interests. The first attempt to come to grips with the politics of the emerging society of organizations aimed, therefore, at making economic interests serve the political process. The first to pursue this goal was an American, Mark Hanna, the restorer of the Republican Party in the s and, in many ways, the founding father of twentieth-century American politics.
His definition of politics as a dynamic disequilibrium between the major economic interests—farmers, business, and labor—remained the foundation of American politics until the Second World War. In fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt restored the Democratic Party by reformulating Hanna. And the basic political position of this philosophy is evident in the title of the most influential political book written during the New Deal years—Politics: Mark Hanna in knew very well that there are plenty of concerns other than economic concerns. And yet it was obvious to him—as it was to Roosevelt forty years later—that economic interests had to be used to integrate all the others.
This is still the assumption underlying most analyses of American politics—and, in fact, of politics in all developed countries. But the assumption is no longer tenable. Underlying Hanna's formula of economic interests is the view of land, labor, and capital as the existing resources. But knowledge, the new resource for economic performance, is not in itself economic. It cannot be bought or sold. The fruits of knowledge, such as the income from a patent, can be bought or sold; the knowledge that went into the patent cannot be conveyed at any price.
No matter how much a suffering person is willing to pay a neurosurgeon, the neurosurgeon cannot sell to him—and surely cannot convey to him—the knowledge that is the foundation of the neurosurgeon's performance and income. The acquisition of knowledge has a cost, as has the acquisition of anything. But the acquisition of knowledge has no price. Economic interests can therefore no longer integrate all other concerns and interests.
As soon as knowledge became the key economic resource, the integration of interests—and with it the integration of the pluralism of a modern polity—began to be lost. Increasingly, non-economic interests are becoming the new pluralism—the special interests, the single-cause organizations, and so on. Increasingly, politics is not about "who gets what, when, how" but about values, each of them considered to be an absolute. Politics is about the right to life of the embryo in the womb as against the right of a woman to control her own body and to abort an embryo.
It is about the environment. It is about gaining equality for groups alleged to be oppressed and discriminated against. None of these issues is economic. All are fundamentally moral. Economic interests can be compromised, which is the great strength of basing politics on economic interests. But half a baby, in the biblical story of the judgment of Solomon, is not half a child.
No compromise is possible. To an environmentalist, half an endangered species is an extinct species. This greatly aggravates the crisis of modern government. Newspapers and commentators still tend to report in economic terms what goes on in Washington, in London, in Bonn, or in Tokyo. But more and more of the lobbyists who determine governmental laws and governmental actions are no longer lobbyists for economic interests. They lobby for and against measures that they—and their paymasters—see as moral, spiritual, cultural.
And each of these new moral concerns, each represented by a new organization, claims to stand for an absolute. Dividing their loaf is not compromise; it is treason. There is thus in the society of organizations no one integrating force that pulls individual organizations in society and community into coalition. The traditional parties—perhaps the most successful political creations of the nineteenth century—can no longer integrate divergent groups and divergent points of view into a common pursuit of power.
Rather, they have become battlefields between groups, each of them fighting for absolute victory and not content with anything but total surrender of the enemy. The twenty-first century will surely be one of continuing social, economic, and political turmoil and challenge, at least in its early decades. What I have called the age of social transformation is not over yet. And the challenges looming ahead may be more serious and more daunting than those posed by the social transformations that have already come about, the social transformations of the twentieth century.
Yet we will not even have a chance to resolve these new and looming problems of tomorrow unless we first address the challenges posed by the developments that are already accomplished facts, the developments reported in the earlier sections of this essay. These are the priority tasks. For only if they are tackled can we in the developed democratic free market countries hope to have the social cohesion, the economic strength, and the governmental capacity needed to tackle the new challenges.
The first order of business—for sociologists, political scientists, and economists; for educators; for business executives, politicians, and nonprofit-group leaders; for people in all walks of life, as parents, as employees, as citizens—is to work on these priority tasks, for few of which we so far have a precedent, let alone tested solutions.
We will have to think through education—its purpose, its values, its content. We will have to learn to define the quality of education and the productivity of education, to measure both and to manage both. We need systematic work on the quality of knowledge and the productivity of knowledge—neither even defined so far.
The performance capacity, if not the survival, of any organization in the knowledge society will come increasingly to depend on those two factors. But so will the performance capacity, if not the survival, of any individual in the knowledge society. And what responsibility does knowledge have? What are the responsibilities of the knowledge worker, and especially of a person with highly specialized knowledge?
Increasingly, the policy of any country—and especially of any developed country—will have to give primacy to the country's competitive position in an increasingly competitive world economy. Any proposed domestic policy needs to be shaped so as to improve that position, or at least to minimize adverse impacts on it. The same holds true for the policies and strategies of any institution within a nation, whether a local government, a business, a university, or a hospital. But then we also need to develop an economic theory appropriate to a world economy in which knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant, if not the only, source of comparative advantage.
We are beginning to understand the new integrating mechanism: But we still have to think through how to balance two apparently contradictory requirements. Organizations must competently perform the one social function for the sake of which they exist—the school to teach, the hospital to cure the sick, and the business to produce goods, services, or the capital to provide for the risks of the future. They can do so only if they single-mindedly concentrate on their specialized mission. But there is also society's need for these organizations to take social responsibility—to work on the problems and challenges of the community.
Together these organizations are the community. The emergence of a b, independent, capable social sector—neither public sector nor private sector—is thus a central need of the society of organizations. But by itself it is not enough—the organizations of both the public and the private sector must share in the work. The function of government and its functioning must be central to political thought and political action.
The megastate in which this century indulged has not performed, either in its totalitarian or in its democratic version. It has not delivered on a single one of its promises. And government by countervailing lobbyists is neither particularly effective—in fact, it is paralysis—nor particularly attractive. Yet effective government has never been needed more than in this highly competitive and fast-changing world of ours, in which the dangers created by the pollution of the physical environment are matched only by the dangers of worldwide armaments pollution.
And we do not have even the beginnings of political theory or the political institutions needed for effective government in the knowledge-based society of organizations. If the twentieth century was one of social transformations,. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? What are the moral limits of markets? In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations.
Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be? In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Wall Street has responded — predictably, I suppose — by whining and throwing temper tantrums. And it has, in a way, been funny to see how childish and thin-skinned the Masters of the Universe turn out to be.
Remember when Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase characterized any discussion of income inequality as an attack on the very notion of success? Once upon a time, this fairy tale tells us, America was a land of lazy managers and slacker workers. Productivity languished, and American industry was fading away in the face of foreign competition. Then square-jawed, tough-minded buyout kings like Mitt Romney and the fictional Gordon Gekko came to the rescue, imposing financial and work discipline. But the result was a great economic revival, whose benefits trickled down to everyone.
For the alleged productivity surge never actually happened. In fact, overall business productivity in America grew faster in the postwar generation, an era in which banks were tightly regulated and private equity barely existed, than it has since our political system decided that greed was good. We now think of America as a nation doomed to perpetual trade deficits, but it was not always thus. From the s through the s, we generally had more or less balanced trade, exporting about as much as we imported.
The big trade deficits only started in the Reagan years, that is, during the era of runaway finance. And what about that trickle-down? It never took place. However, only a small part of those gains got passed on to American workers. So, no, financial wheeling and dealing did not do wonders for the American economy, and there are real questions about why, exactly, the wheeler-dealers have made so much money while generating such dubious results. But while this behavior may be funny, it is also deeply immoral.
Think about where we are right now, in the fifth year of a slump brought on by irresponsible bankers. The bankers themselves have been bailed out, but the rest of the nation continues to suffer terribly, with long-term unemployment still at levels not seen since the Great Depression, with a whole cohort of young Americans graduating into an abysmal job market.
And in the midst of this national nightmare, all too many members of the economic elite seem mainly concerned with the way the president apparently hurt their feelings. The author uses history to gauge the significance of e-commerce -- "a totally unexpected development" -- and to throw light on the future of "the knowledge worker," his own coinage. The online version of this article appears in three parts. Click here to go to parts two and three. THE truly revolutionary impact of the Information Revolution is just beginning to be felt.
But it is not "information" that fuels this impact. It is not "artificial intelligence. It is something that practically no one foresaw or, indeed, even talked about ten or fifteen years ago: This is profoundly changing economies, markets, and industry structures; products and services and their flow; consumer segmentation, consumer values, and consumer behavior; jobs and labor markets.
But the impact may be even greater on societies and politics and, above all, on the way we see the world and ourselves in it. At the same time, new and unexpected industries will no doubt emerge, and fast. One is already here: Within the next fifty years fish farming may change us from hunters and gatherers on the seas into "marine pastoralists" -- just as a similar innovation some 10, years ago changed our ancestors from hunters and gatherers on the land into agriculturists and pastoralists.
It is likely that other new technologies will appear suddenly, leading to major new industries. What they may be is impossible even to guess at. But it is highly probable -- indeed, nearly certain -- that they will emerge, and fairly soon. And it is nearly certain that few of them -- and few industries based on them -- will come out of computer and information technology. Like biotechnology and fish farming, each will emerge from its own unique and unexpected technology. Of course, these are only predictions. But they are made on the assumption that the Information Revolution will evolve as several earlier technology-based "revolutions" have evolved over the past years, since Gutenberg's printing revolution, around In particular the assumption is that the Information Revolution will be like the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
And that is indeed exactly how the Information Revolution has been during its first fifty years. HE Information Revolution is now at the point at which the Industrial Revolution was in the early s, about forty years after James Watt's improved steam engine first installed in was first applied, in , to an industrial operation -- the spinning of cotton. And the steam engine was to the first Industrial Revolution what the computer has been to the Information Revolution -- its trigger, but above all its symbol.
Almost everybody today believes that nothing in economic history has ever moved as fast as, or had a greater impact than, the Information Revolution. But the Industrial Revolution moved at least as fast in the same time span, and had probably an equal impact if not a greater one.
In short order it mechanized the great majority of manufacturing processes, beginning with the production of the most important industrial commodity of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: Moore's Law asserts that the price of the Information Revolution's basic element, the microchip, drops by 50 percent every eighteen months. The same was true of the products whose manufacture was mechanized by the first Industrial Revolution. The price of cotton textiles fell by 90 percent in the fifty years spanning the start of the eighteenth century.
The production of cotton textiles increased at least fold in Britain alone in the same period. And although textiles were the most visible product of its early years, the Industrial Revolution mechanized the production of practically all other major goods, such as paper, glass, leather, and bricks. Its impact was by no means confined to consumer goods.
The production of iron and ironware -- for example, wire -- became mechanized and steam-driven as fast as did that of textiles, with the same effects on cost, price, and output. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars the making of guns was steam-driven throughout Europe; cannons were made ten to twenty times as fast as before, and their cost dropped by more than two thirds.
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By that time Eli Whitney had similarly mechanized the manufacture of muskets in America and had created the first mass-production industry. These forty or fifty years gave rise to the factory and the "working class. But psychologically they had come to dominate and soon would politically also.
Before there were factories in America, Alexander Hamilton foresaw an industrialized country in his Report on Manufactures. A decade later, in , a French economist, Jean-Baptiste Say, saw that the Industrial Revolution had changed economics by creating the "entrepreneur. The social consequences went far beyond factory and working class. As the historian Paul Johnson has pointed out, in A History of the American People , it was the explosive growth of the steam-engine-based textile industry that revived slavery.
Considered to be practically dead by the Founders of the American Republic, slavery roared back to life as the cotton gin -- soon steam-driven -- created a huge demand for low-cost labor and made breeding slaves America's most profitable industry for some decades. The Industrial Revolution also had a great impact on the family. The nuclear family had long been the unit of production.
On the farm and in the artisan's workshop husband, wife, and children worked together. The factory, almost for the first time in history, took worker and work out of the home and moved them into the workplace, leaving family members behind -- whether spouses of adult factory workers or, especially in the early stages, parents of child factory workers. Indeed, the "crisis of the family" did not begin after the Second World War.
It began with the Industrial Revolution -- and was in fact a stock concern of those who opposed the Industrial Revolution and the factory system. The best description of the divorce of work and family, and of its effect on both, is probably Charles Dickens's novel Hard Times. But despite all these effects, the Industrial Revolution in its first half century only mechanized the production of goods that had been in existence all along. It tremendously increased output and tremendously decreased cost. It created both consumers and consumer products. But the products themselves had been around all along.
And products made in the new factories differed from traditional products only in that they were uniform, with fewer defects than existed in products made by any but the top craftsmen of earlier periods. There was only one important exception, one new product, in those first fifty years: It had little impact until thirty or forty years later. In fact, until almost the end of the nineteenth century more freight was carried on the world's oceans by sailing vessels than by steamships.
Then, in , came the railroad, a product truly without precedent, and it forever changed economy, society, and politics. In retrospect it is difficult to imagine why the invention of the railroad took so long. Rails to move carts had been around in coal mines for a very long time. What could be more obvious than to put a steam engine on a cart to drive it, rather than have it pushed by people or pulled by horses? But the railroad did not emerge from the cart in the mines. It was developed quite independently. And it was not intended to carry freight. On the contrary, for a long time it was seen only as a way to carry people.
Railroads became freight carriers thirty years later, in America. In fact, as late as the s and s the British engineers who were hired to build the railroads of newly Westernized Japan designed them to carry passengers -- and to this day Japanese railroads are not equipped to carry freight.
But until the first railroad actually began to operate, it was virtually unanticipated. Within five years, however, the Western world was engulfed by the biggest boom history had ever seen -- the railroad boom. Punctuated by the most spectacular busts in economic history, the boom continued in Europe for thirty years, until the late s, by which time most of today's major railroads had been built.
The railroad was the truly revolutionary element of the Industrial Revolution, for not only did it create a new economic dimension but also it rapidly changed what I would call the mental geography. For the first time in history human beings had true mobility. For the first time the horizons of ordinary people expanded. Contemporaries immediately realized that a fundamental change in mentality had occurred. A good account of this can be found in what is surely the best portrayal of the Industrial Revolution's society in transition, George Eliot's novel Middlemarch.
As the great French historian Fernand Braudel pointed out in his last major work, The Identity of France , it was the railroad that made France into one nation and one culture. It had previously been a congeries of self-contained regions, held together only politically. And the role of the railroad in creating the American West is, of course, a commonplace in U. IKE the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago, the Information Revolution so far -- that is, since the first computers, in the mids -- has only transformed processes that were here all along.
In fact, the real impact of the Information Revolution has not been in the form of "information" at all. Almost none of the effects of information envisaged forty years ago have actually happened. For instance, there has been practically no change in the way major decisions are made in business or government.
But the Information Revolution has routinized traditional processes in an untold number of areas. The software for tuning a piano converts a process that traditionally took three hours into one that takes twenty minutes. There is software for payrolls, for inventory control, for delivery schedules, and for all the other routine processes of a business. Drawing the inside arrangements of a major building heating, water supply, sewerage, and so on such as a prison or a hospital formerly took, say, twenty-five highly skilled draftsmen up to fifty days; now there is a program that enables one draftsman to do the job in a couple of days, at a tiny fraction of the cost.
There is software to help people do their tax returns and software that teaches hospital residents how to take out a gall bladder. The people who now speculate in the stock market online do exactly what their predecessors in the s did while spending hours each day in a brokerage office. The processes have not been changed at all.
They have been routinized, step by step, with a tremendous saving in time and, often, in cost. The psychological impact of the Information Revolution, like that of the Industrial Revolution, has been enormous. It has perhaps been greatest on the way in which young children learn. Beginning at age four and often earlier , children now rapidly develop computer skills, soon surpassing their elders; computers are their toys and their learning tools. Fifty years hence we may well conclude that there was no "crisis of American education" in the closing years of the twentieth century -- there was only a growing incongruence between the way twentieth-century schools taught and the way late-twentieth-century children learned.
Something similar happened in the sixteenth-century university, a hundred years after the invention of the printing press and movable type. But as to the way we work, the Information Revolution has so far simply routinized what was done all along. The only exception is the CD- ROM , invented around twenty years ago to present operas, university courses, a writer's oeuvre, in an entirely new way. The Meaning of E-commerce. And like the railroad years ago, e-commerce is creating a new and distinct boom, rapidly changing the economy, society, and politics.
A mid-sized company in America's industrial Midwest, founded in the s and now run by the grandchildren of the founder, used to have some 60 percent of the market in inexpensive dinnerware for fast-food eateries, school and office cafeterias, and hospitals within a hundred-mile radius of its factory. China is heavy and breaks easily, so cheap china is traditionally sold within a small area. Almost overnight this company lost more than half of its market. One of its customers, a hospital cafeteria where someone went "surfing" on the Internet, discovered a European manufacturer that offered china of apparently better quality at a lower price and shipped cheaply by air.
Within a few months the main customers in the area shifted to the European supplier. Few of them, it seems, realize -- let alone care -- that the stuff comes from Europe. In the new mental geography created by the railroad, humanity mastered distance. In the mental geography of e-commerce, distance has been eliminated. There is only one economy and only one market. One consequence of this is that every business must become globally competitive, even if it manufactures or sells only within a local or regional market.
The competition is not local anymore -- in fact, it knows no boundaries. Every company has to become transnational in the way it is run. Yet the traditional multinational may well become obsolete. It manufactures and distributes in a number of distinct geographies, in which it is a local company. But in e-commerce there are neither local companies nor distinct geographies. Where to manufacture, where to sell, and how to sell will remain important business decisions.
But in another twenty years they may no longer determine what a company does, how it does it, and where it does it. At the same time, it is not yet clear what kinds of goods and services will be bought and sold through e-commerce and what kinds will turn out to be unsuitable for it. This has been true whenever a new distribution channel has arisen.
Why, for instance, did the railroad change both the mental and the economic geography of the West, whereas the steamboat -- with its equal impact on world trade and passenger traffic -- did neither? Why was there no "steamboat boom"? Equally unclear has been the impact of more-recent changes in distribution channels -- in the shift, for instance, from the local grocery store to the supermarket, from the individual supermarket to the supermarket chain, and from the supermarket chain to Wal-Mart and other discount chains.
It is already clear that the shift to e-commerce will be just as eclectic and unexpected. Here are a few examples. Twenty-five years ago it was generally believed that within a few decades the printed word would be dispatched electronically to individual subscribers' computer screens. Subscribers would then either read text on their computer screens or download it and print it out.
Thus any number of newspapers and magazines, by no means only in the United States, established themselves online; few, so far, have become gold mines. But anyone who twenty years ago predicted the business of Amazon. The first order for the U. Ten years ago one of the world's leading automobile companies made a thorough study of the expected impact on automobile sales of the then emerging Internet. It concluded that the Internet would become a major distribution channel for used cars, but that customers would still want to see new cars, to touch them, to test-drive them. In actuality, at least so far, most used cars are still being bought not over the Internet but in a dealer's lot.
However, as many as half of all new cars sold excluding luxury cars may now actually be "bought" over the Internet. Dealers only deliver cars that customers have chosen well before they enter the dealership. What does this mean for the future of the local automobile dealership, the twentieth century's most profitable small business? Traders in the American stock-market boom of and increasingly buy and sell online. But investors seem to be shifting away from buying electronically.
And whereas almost half of all mutual funds a few years ago were bought electronically, it is estimated that the figure will drop to 35 percent next year and to 20 percent by This is the opposite of what "everybody expected" ten or fifteen years ago. The fastest-growing e-commerce in the United States is in an area where there was no "commerce" until now -- in jobs for professionals and managers. The result is a completely new labor market. This illustrates another important effect of e-commerce.
New distribution channels change who the customers are. They change not only how customers buy but also what they buy. They change consumer behavior, savings patterns, industry structure -- in short, the entire economy. This is what is now happening, and not only in the United States but increasingly in the rest of the developed world, and in a good many emerging countries, including mainland China.
Luther, Machiavelli, and the Salmon. HE railroad made the Industrial Revolution accomplished fact.
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What had been revolution became establishment. And the boom it triggered lasted almost a hundred years. The technology of the steam engine did not end with the railroad.