Jane Jacobs, [Systems of survival. A dialogue on the moral foundations of commerce and politics]
Handel en bestuur: twee stelsels. Een dialoog over morele grondslagen
Translation: Niels Helsloot
Utrecht: Jan van Arkel 1997
ISBN 90 6224 388 6
Once in a while, all of us struggle with moral conflicts and puzzles interfering with our work. Why is it sometimes necessary to tell lies? Why is industriousness sometimes disastrous? In Systems of survival Jane Jacobs presents six characters which in intelligent and humourous ways search for directions for their behaviour. They discover that codes valid for one profession don't always apply to another profession. Behaviour is dominated by the existence of two different moral systems: the guardian syndrome and the commercial syndrome.
The former arises from behaviour we share with animals: foraging for food and protecting our territories. Guardians work for instance in the army, the police, ministries, courts and religious organizations. The commercial syndrome arises from an endeavour unique to human beings: the production and trade of goods. Part of this syndrome are among others merchants, craftsmen and service providers.
Both systems, as shown by the debates between the characters in this book, need one another and are at odds at the same time. Comprehension of those systems and an insight into the field of tension between them explain both success and most of what apparently without reason may go wrong in the world of commerce and politics.