The Empty Raincoat
by Charles Handy
Hutchinson Business, 1994
Many people could be forgiven for believing that the end of communism was validated the rise and rise of capitalism. However, in capitalist societies, it is becoming more apparent that economic progress has come with a heavy price. While champions of capitalism extol its virtues of increased freedom and choice, for many these new freedoms have meant less equality and consequently more misery. It seems that success - both professional and economic - comes with a disproportionate cost attached, not necessarily for the wealthy few but certainly for the remainder of society. According to Charles Handy this is one of the greatest paradoxes of our time.
His book, The Empty Raincoat, addresses this issue along with other paradoxes that, he says, we must begin to face and manage. "We were not destined to be empty raincoats, nameless numbers on a payroll, role occupants, the raw material of economics or sociology, statistics in some government report", he writes. "If that is to be its price, then economic progress is an empty promise." Handy believes that it is every individual’s challenge to fill their empty raincoat. to make meaning in their life.