Today, the corporate world tends to forget history in order to free itself from restrictions resulting from past experiences. A direct consequence, however, is that when a new crop of executives enters the workplace, they have no historical references at all.


Old-timer TV managers, like Multicom’s Irv Holender, who hails from Hollywood, lament that today’s young executives cannot make educated sales appraisals because they don’t have any historical references. How can they correctly judge if a TV license fee is fair when they cannot compare it with past sales?

Being a magazine for buying and selling TV content, VideoAge runs many articles that give both historical references and comparisons, but it is the oldsters’ opinion that such reports are not fully appreciated by the new crop of TV executives.

The rationale is that everything moves so fast today that decisions have to be made taking only the current environment and circumstances into consideration since nothing from the past will be relevant to successful functioning in the here-and-now.

The immediate moment in time without taking history into account even has a linguistic name, “the synchronic,” while the long-term unfolding of time is called “the diachronic.”

Even the language young people use today has little connection with the past. Today, “information” is called “intel” (as in intelligence) and since they grew up in a globalized world, they’re essentially “rootless,” and thus less inclined to be sentimental about past places where they’ve lived.

And Multicom’s Holender is not the only one lamenting this lack of historical appreciation. Last March, in a New York Times article titled, “How Low Will Market for Antiques Actually Go?,” an interior designer explained that an English antique “represents something that is kind of sad and tired,” while contemporary design “represents something that’s a lot more optimistic and positive.”

Moreover, today’s young executives seem to be energized by the growing corporate power that also makes historical references needless.

Never mind that the corporate world is ancient, with the first corporations created by the Romans around 300 B.C. with their societas publicanorum, or public companies.

Today, the corporate world tends to forget history in order to free itself from restrictions that could be triggered by past experiences. At the same time, corporations get involved in getting public officials elected, and thus shape political agendas.

As author Adam Winkler explained in his latest volume, We the Corporations, “[Corporations] have not been passive recipients of legal changes but rather among its most si-gnificant architects.”

This rejection of historical references is also reflected at the political level, where people who embrace the religious right and even use ancient scriptures for guidance tend to disregard traditional practices like marital faithfulness and the divine nature of humans, instead endorsing unfaithfulness and accepting that corporations have the same soul-based characteristics as people, with the same inalienable rights guaranteed by the U.S. and other countries’ Constitutions.

So while TV executives such as Holender decry the lack of historical perspective from the newcomers, historians like Joshua B. Freeman, author of Behemoth, are asking how human beings can recognize when and how to balance economic good with environmental harm, and need with greed.

(By Dom Serafini)

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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