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Nicholas Berdyaev wrote somewhere that there is nothing ontological about individualism. In modern industrial society the individual has-as many an individual believes-tended to wither away. His choice of paths, he thinks, is hedged in ever more narrowly. He is jostled by his fellows, hectored by the state, "conditioned" by his school, "motivated" by his merchants, "propagandized" by his publicists. The voice is passive; the terms, barbarous. Worst of all, he begins to suspect that he is losing not only the power to resist but even the power to discern whether and what he ought to resist. Don Marquis' worm hated robins until he was swallowed by one, but he changed his mind as his worm-person was transmuted into robin-tissue.
The Organization Man, by William H. Whyte, Jr., is addressed to this problem, the seriousness of which may be measured by the book's swift climb to a place near the top of the list of best-selling non-fiction. According to the end-papers, Mr. Whyte, who is Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune, "spent three years of original research and study" in an "attempt to trace the long range shift... [that American organizational] life is bringing about in Americans' personal values." Parts of the book were published from time to time in Fortune. Thus the robin indulges the worm.
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