Peters also recently read an interview with Drucker in the Australian Institute of Management's journal in which the latter was quoted as saying that "The purpose of professional schools is to educate competent mediocrities."
Drucker is one of my personal heroes--I reread "Managing Oneself" at least once a year to gauge my development as a professional and to inspire myself to take some risks and push myself further--so initially I was as surprised as Peters to learn that Drucker was apparently such a misanthrope.
Peters notes that Drucker "had personal experience with Nazis, and had closely observed Mao and Stalin," and wonders whether that colored his opinion of the human race. And several commenters have suggested that Drucker's critical view of professional education should be read as an indictment of business schools' methods and pedagogy, not necessarily of their students.
But the more I think about what I know of Drucker and what I've experienced of the world and people and business (and business schools), the less surprised I am. In fact, I think the impulse to rationalize away the seeming contradiction between Drucker's misanthropic attitudes and his inspirational genius is misguided.
Drucker was a Serious Person. I don't mean that he was somber or joyless but that he was extremely clear-eyed, ruthlessly realistic and had no time for bullshit. Most people--myself included--would like to operate that way, but we find it difficult to do so without becoming cynical or even bitter because there's just so much foolishness and wishful thinking and bullshit in this world. So we tolerate a little of it (or a lot) in order to keep our own hope and inspiration alive. (Maybe there really is a pony in there!)
I don't think Drucker needed that crutch. In the blood-soaked depths of the 20th century, he saw humanity at its worst, and he knew just what knaves and villains we could be. His misanthropy was a rational (and hard-earned) response to history. But unlike most of us, Drucker was able to balance a clear-eyed view of the human race and of our limited capabilities as individuals with the ability to hope for the future and to inspire us each to do our best. It's a rare gift, and I respect him all the more for it.