Industrialization produces new wealth, but it also imposes rigid controls over human behaviour. Machines require workers to service them, calling for an adjustment of natural rhythms of the body to their mechanical processes. When labour became a mechanically regulated commodity, man lost part of himself. The worker, having lost control over both the conditions of his labour and the product of his work, became alienated from himself. The disintegrative, negative character of industrial society thus lies in its alienation of human labour and its denial of opportunities for men to fulfil themselves in meaningful work. This leads to a serious fall in morale which, with the boring and degrading conditions of work in modern industry, account for restrictions on output, wildcat strikes, outright sabotage and perhaps most common, in feelings of detachment from the entire work process. Rapid technological change dilutes old skills, makes others obsolete and creates demands for new ones, with the associated displacement of industries and the creation of depressed areas in prosperous economies. Men are dehumanized not only by the work situation but also by the ends for which society uses their work, primarily consumption for its own sake.
Alienation is a significant issue in any assessment of workers in a socialist state. Working conditions, and the worker's attitudes towards his conditions, are the focal point of this widespread feeling of alienation. Often the work itself is unsatisfying, being both monotonous and an inadequate source of livelihood, and the workers are isolated from one another because of a sense of competition fostered by managers who live in a world equally isolated from all workers.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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