Capitalism, the Human Person, and America (Part III in a Series)
And so, we arrive now at a point at which we must attempt to define the nature of a good work structure in a positive way. I would argue, of course, that this requires that the work at hand adheres to what American’s hold a central tenet, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” although I would a twist to this and add that these must be upheld precisely because of man’s ontological stature in creation. What separates man from the rest of the created order is his capacity for self-reflection, a capacity which allows for the dialogue of being, namely love.
In many ways, I agree with John Steward Mill’s assessment that it is through choice that humanity defines itself. As a corollary, I would add that the final definition of man is to be found in the freedom to choose Love above all else. Therefore, this requires the ability and room to have choice and self-determination in work and concomitantly requires that work have openness to self-development at best or flexibility which allows for that outside of the workplace at worst. The three realities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are merely three sides of the same reality, for they are all related to the central principle of the supreme happiness of man, namely Love.
Work must make some accommodation for the deep strivings of humanity in its desire to reach out to the other and develop the self in an other-centered way. While this may only be indirectly possible, it must allow for some relative development of the person and not quash the self-reflection which makes us most radically human. In a very practical way, this can be enacted by means of several methods, although I am not looking to write an exhaustive treatise on this. (Many greater minds would have to come together to truly exhaust this subject which is being briefly treated here.)
Work that allows for the liberty for love and the life well lived could be merely enacted by means of true intra-business collaboration which allows people to work together at their “work bench” in such a way as to not be isolated. Indeed, in order that man be truly happy, he requires ontological dialogue which can never be fed in a cubicle-laden world which is designed thus to provide barriers between workers. At the same rate, liberty does demand that some boundaries be drawn merely to allow the individual to choose those tasks, conversations, and events in which they would like to be involved. Additionally, the greatest strength lies in the removal of iron fists from management (although this does not require disorder or a lack of managed regulation). Perhaps the best means by which to allow the free pursuit of a happy work life is to allow the “breathing room” for collaborative freedom among groups of employees, for this will allow for the freest, most personally-desired acts of self-determination.