Marshall McLuhan
"The Man Who Came to Listen"

The Vienna in which Peter Drucker grew up had been a cultural and economic crossroads for centuries. It is only in recent years, with the discoveries of "quantum mechanics" and of "interface" as the principal of change and breakthrough, that we have begun to get adequate insights into the meanings of such cultural diversity. For example, the city planners have now recognized that blueprints would have been useless for creating the complex values that Vienna enjoyed and imparted to its citizens. 

Among the many unique interfaces of Vienna is its peculiar situation as a "city in the country." One consequence of this feature is that Vienna has long been a kind of "country" itself. It was long the centre of the Holy Roman Empire. The recognition of the "ministate" as a major development in our century is stressed in Drucker's latest work, The Age of Discontinuity:

In 1900 there were fewer than fifty sovereignities in the whole world - twenty in Europe and twenty in the Americas, with the rest of the world having fewer than a dozen. ... Now we have more than one hundred and sixty, with new ministates joining the ranks almost every month.
Drucker implies, without asserting it, that the cause of this rapid decentralization and of the sudden creation of ministries is the speedup of the electric-information environment.

The Vienna in which he was born, raised, and educated included Byzantium and Germany, the East and the West, in its traditions. This is the reason why the perceptual training of the Viennese naturally includes awareness of the arts. To the usual range of familiarity with the arts, Drucker adds a special devotion to Japanese art. The Japanese are the great masters of "tactile space," the art of the interval. The Japanese art of flower arrangement is one of spacing rather than of connecting. The Japanese facility in the world of "quantum mechanics" and electronics is also most readily appreciated through their art. the evry title of Drucker's Age of Discontinuity is thus an acknowledgment both of Oriental art on the one hand and of Western technology on the other hand.

It would be easy to dwell on the importance of this wide spectrum of sensibility and awareness as derived from Drucker's Viennese heritage. Son of a well-to-do and highly cultivated family, habituated to association with the great figures of that spheres - German, English, and American - with the easy assurance of a world citizen. It is important to recognize that an encyclopaedic and international cultural background is indispensable for coping with life in the electronic age. Drucker, if anyone, is an example of the new relevance of ancient traditions in the present time.

His legal training was no digression from the banking and economic experience gained in his father's house. Even in the British and American worlds, law schools remain residual legatees of the oldest humanistic studies of the trivium and quadrivium. The Elizabethan man, or the encyclopaedic humanist who is now returning to vogue in our time of new ecological awareness, originated in the Western world with the concept of the doctus orator.