What is occurring today could only happen in the United States of America. Its roots are the American birthright. Its essence re-imagines the American Dream.
The Work Strong blog is an ongoing and regularly updated excerpt from Peter Weddle’s 2010 book, The Career Activist Republic.
To transform yourself into a career activist and claim the rights of workplace democracy for yourself, buy The Career Activist Republic today. Click here to get the book at Amazon.com. Or, click here to order it directly from WEDDLE’s.
Excerpt Number 1, September 9, 2010.
The Career Activist Republic
The age of career activism is dawning in America. It is not yet fully formed—indeed, its final shape will likely take some time to emerge—but the urges that are propelling it have already begun to recast the American workplace. Their effects can be felt in Irvine and Indianapolis, in Chicago, Baltimore and Boston and everywhere in between. They are subtly, but inexorably forging a new contract between the country’s employers and its working men and women.
The Genesis of the Activism
It took a Great Recession to unleash these urges. Americans were advised of their appropriateness, however, four decades ago, in 1970. That year, the economist Milton Friedman wrote that a corporation’s only responsibility is to its shareholders. Its sole obligation is to increase its profits.
A private sector organization may be composed of people, but it isn’t responsible to or for them. Whatever may be written in its corporate handbook, whatever the Chief Executive Officer may opine on talk shows and in sugar-coated magazine articles, a corporation doesn’t care about its employees. It isn’t supposed to. They must care for themselves.
Today’s career activists are the protagonists of that sensibility. It is a radically ordinary concept, at least in the United States of America. Career activists accept that they cannot trust their wellbeing to others; they understand that they cannot count on the self-anointed monarchs of Wall Street or the corner office grandees of corporate enterprises. They acknowledge that they can and must depend upon themselves.
This reassignment of responsibility represents the leading edge of a revolutionary shift toward democracy at work. Career activists, however, are not striking for union representation. They are striking out on their own. They don’t seek to establish a socialist economy. They are simply claiming their inalienable rights in the workplace. Their only objective is to represent themselves—to work as free and independent persons of talent.