- Radar control with cameras 50 meters after a speed limit sign;
- Private detectives hired by insurance companies to spy on people (and other, more serious practices when it comes to avoiding payments);
- Corporate policies aiming for 100% control over every aspect of employees’ life at work and beyond: how to behave, how to communicate, how and what to think, down to the smallest details;
- Thick employment contracts, providing full legal protection for employers and hardly any for employees with similarly uneven distribution of rights and responsibilities between them;
All these, out of endless more examples, are clearly the result of ill will, administered by faceless bureaucracies. Both ill will and bureaucracy are accepted without challenge even by people with good intentions. One reason for this paradox is pragmatism which has become a corporate dogma.
Most don’t know that pragmatism in the original sense of the word is not positive at all. The Greeks differentiated between pragma and ergon. Ergon refers to activities that are organic to the person’s identity, to his life plan, to use Bela Hamvas’ term. Pragma is the opposite: it’s an impersonal activity that has nothing to do with the person performing it: “Like throwing a box of matches out of the window”, says Hamvas.
Now: it is not possible to get rid of the deep seated ill will that dominates the corporate world and similar bureaucracies without getting rid of pragmatism; and without this effort we can’t even begin to talk about ethics in the true sense of the word.
Image: Bela Hamvas as a warehouse worker