The scientific management method seeks to increase the efficiency of businesses, organizations, or even the general society. The concept is uncomplicated; modern humans are inefficient for modern-day production and mass assembly. The truth is that humans are not naturally able to produce at an excessive level required to satisfy the ambitions of rapid technology growth. Thus, people must be assisted or modified by other forms of technology and through scientific methods that re-focus humanity to achieve the “greater good.” At some point, one must begin to wonder if technology has become an advantage or a threat.
From a logical standpoint, scientific management makes sense. However, for me, it does create questions. What is the desired outcome? When will “enough” really be enough? Ponder these the words from Ted Kaczynski’s, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” that claim, “The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs [instead] human behavior [is] modified to fit the needs of the system” (qtd in Moreno).
To many (myself included), this quote appears to be rational. However, Mr. Kaczynski was a child prodigy turned society drop out and then would become the Unabomber terrorist. The Unabomber may have been a creation of the system that he would later attack. Isn’t technological advances supposed to improve humankind? If so, has this purpose been lost in today’s world?
As technology “grows” the world continues to enter unknown territory. The world continues to be changed forever as humanity does not seem interested in stagnation nor regression. However, what is our “ultimate” goal? Much of our growth seems aimed at monetary gains (with some exceptions). Collectively, we often overlook or disregard the impact of our choices on both the world and its inhabitants. For instance, is a never-ending desire for monetary gain worth the long-term damage to both the environment and humankind?
To further expand my scientific management dilemma, let’s revisit the tale of Ted Kaczynski. At the age of sixteen, Mr. Kaczynski entered Harvard. During this time, he was subjected to a three-year experiment by Dr. Henry Murray. Ironically, “the future Unabomber’s [experiment] code name…was “Lawful”; but the experiment was anything but lawful. [It was sadistic with] intent…to undermine the students’ sense of self-worth. [Murray himself described the research] as ‘vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive’ attacks” (1959–1962: Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber).
After college, Kaczynski would work just long enough to build a small cabin in Montana. In 1971, his life “off the grid” began, he was content, and then one day that changed. In his words, Mr. Kaczynski states, “The best place, to me, was [a] plateau that dates from the Tertiary age. [In the Summer of 1983] there were too many people around [so I decided to go on a two-day hike] back to the plateau, and when I got there [discovered], they had put a road right through the middle of it.” It was at this point he decided to “work on getting back at the system. Revenge” (Interview with Ted Kaczynski). Years of carnage would follow with three deaths and twenty-three injured.
One must wonder, how did such severe psychological abuse impact a young Kaczynski? Is it plausible that the Unabomber was created by science aimed to “benefit” humanity? Would Ted Kaczynski have harmed anyone if he had been left alone? Do the people that wish left out of society, deserve that right? Or do we just infringe growth upon everyone and label those that respond to perceived acts of aggression as crazy? In this example, Mr. Kaczynski appears to have been a victim of a society that he would later victimize. His promising genius reduced to villainy.
Perhaps, he was a man born at the wrong time. If he were only born 500-1000 years earlier, maybe he would be a great philosopher instead of an infamous lunatic. Are efficiency gains through principles, such as scientific management, beneficial for society or merely a never-ending human sacrifice for profit? My point is simple; we are a foolish lot.