The Political Nature of Industry
“It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions — you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.” -Noam Chomsky
It is not uncommon at all for people to compare their office politics to that of our government. However and according to statistical mechanics and economics alike, macro states inherit their characteristic traits from micro states; not vice versa. Just as the color purple would be the macro state of a pile of red and blue sand grains at a certain scale or as Voltron is the macro state of 5 robotic lions, our government should also be inheriting and reflecting it’s political nature from the people and entities within their predominant micro states and not the other way around. If Noam Chomsky is right, he usually is, and since our government does technically limit the influence of business, at least to some degree, is it then reasonable to also consider the possibility that we may be able to find rampant propaganda, rhetoric, bias and nepotism within our industries, just as we find it throughout our government? I tend to think so and while most corporations make some incredibly grandiose claims within their mission and values statements in an attempt to distract people from this, few of them also manage to bring up profits and appeasing their shareholders; which is their prime directive no matter what they say to the contrary should be taken with anything more than a grain of salt. Below are a few examples:
“At the heart of Monsanto is a very clear and principled code of conduct — one we expect all employees, contractors and management to live by every day. We operate under a genuine value system — our pledge — that demonstrates integrity, respect, ethical behavior, perspective and honesty as a foundation for everything we do.” -Monsanto
“Our mission is:
To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit
To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions
To create value and make a difference.” -Coca Cola Company
Just as totalitarian governments use propaganda, some corporations seem to be no different and can even be more flagrant at times. As stated in a previous post, no dystopian empire will paint an accurate image of itself in their stated mission and value statements. In fact, I think that it’s safe to say that if their mission statement doesn’t say something about “profiteering”, then it is probably the work of propaganda panda. This does not stop them from trying to sound like they have actually read a Carol Dweck book though and it is still somewhat shocking as to how flagrant and misleading some of these companies can get with their stated missions and values. It also does not seem to matter whether it’s a car dealership, a diabetes dealing sugar water company, Monsanto or a big ‘ethical’ tech giant, almost all of them will subjectively claim to be anything but what they are. There is seemingly no limit to what they will try to say about themselves, archaic statistical models (pseudoscience), laughable value and culture statements, deceptive marketing, all of which often could not be further from the truth. Obviously, not all corporations conduct themselves like this way, but enough do and whether it is done by a government or a business, conducting yourself in this manner makes a solid argument for propaganda.
“That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything.” -Noam Chomsky
In order to see rhetoric at play, you can find it in the great lengths that some corporations go through in to hide the nature of their business or their true intentions. For instance, some HR departments in tech are having a rough time saving face right now because they cannot produce statistics which support their purported narratives on gender related equality, but this does not stop them from trying to spin it any way that they can. Quite often, you will see them using rudimentary tactics such as omitting data or using flawed statistical methods/models in order to showcase their results in a better light. From a scientific perspective though, this is the equivalent of covering cat turds in ketchup and subsequently calling it meat loaf. This is ‘cargo cult science’ at it’s finest, or pseudoscience if you’re not Richard Feynman, and one of the motivating forces behind the development of the scientific method. Propaganda is merely a manifestation of rhetoric and so are the ‘statistics’ propping it up like a light pole with a drunk leaned up against it. Unfortunately, the only way to truly use statistics is by using them for illumination and going wherever they may take you, instead of using them for support like said drunk. While trying to support a narrative that may not reflect reality, they function much like a rhetorician, sophist, or pseudoscientist whom manipulates data and facts for their own advantage instead of seeking the truth; individually or collectively.
Furthermore, there is no field of science which would advocate conducting yourself or a company in this manner, especially when their business model is hedged on science and technology. In fact, Socrates and Plato are only famous today for being able to refute such tactics and a large part of science and philosophy are built upon mitigating these innate ignorant tendencies. As far as science is concerned, this is simply how you lie with statistics and get out of solving the hard problems or to deflect from your shortcomings, but don’t take my word for it; you can research this for yourself by reading the book “How to Lie With Statistics”. Such practices are again, pseudoscience at best and boldfaced deceit at worst and it can be hard to tell which is which when a lot of the organizations acting like this seem to employ a great amount of people with ‘social science’ degrees; who will cry foul if you call their science a pseudoscience, but will often be reduced to silence or even ad hominem when you point out that they cannot define the scientific method or a single natural law. However, when tech companies, with virtually unlimited resources, also employ Ph.D data scientists, mathematicians and statisticians as well as plenty of other employees whom live and die by statistics, I am within my rights to question their ability or their integrity. Then again, they wouldn’t be resorting to propaganda tactics if they weren’t effective and they seem to use them against their own employees all the time. However, they are nowhere near as effective without the bad data used to corroborate a ruse and even though it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies above all things and the only thing that they have to do is nothing and collect a paycheck in order for propaganda to work efficiently.
“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” -Noam Chomsky
In tech and if you would like to see nepotism at play, simply ask that same trusty HR department to provide the promotion velocity statistics of frat boys in comparison to that of a female employees with a similar level of education and no fraternal affiliations of any sort. Don’t be shocked if they don’t produce this for you because they know that it will defeat the PC and progressive narrative they are often pedaling, but they also will not provide such data because a big part of their job is running cover and doing damage control for the Good Ol’ Boys clubs; which a lot of these frat boys just ‘stumble’ into and ‘somehow’ excel quickly. In reality, frat boys average below a 3.0 GPA and some probably had to cheat to even get that far while most seemingly need a lot of connections in order to compete for jobs against academics with higher GPA’s.
Besides compensating for their own inadequacy or accepting the world as it is, I cannot see a single reason for anyone to join a fraternity, let alone find a reason to roll out a red carpet for them during the hiring process. If these fraternity members were the best of the best, as some may wish you to believe, then they also would not need their HR department to clean up after them like some kind of Stepford Wife robot. However, if enough people see value in this behavior and actively seek it, then it is quite easy to see how they could create a work environment where gender, drinking, debauchery, networking and towing the company line are prioritized over ability, integrity, progress and intelligence. Obviously, I have no inherent problem with any one if they want to go drink their lives away and act like frat boys, but when they’re masquerading otherwise and lying about their intentions while injecting chaos into society as a result, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Yet, some HR departments aren’t even shy about trying to attract what could best be described as ‘fraternity behavior’ while openly trying to entice them with partying and booze.
This is how class systems fueled by nepotism work and how they have worked for thousands of years. Greek societies were formed around such notions pertaining to ’kinship’ and it is not hard to see how industry is inheriting a nepotistic Good Ol’ Boys club from academia which seemingly imitates the absolute worst aspects of greek society. Unfortunately, it’s not only frat boys that do this, but they seem to be the best at it and you would be a fool to think that their alumni go through all of the nonsense rituals that they go through just to drink at college or to think that this is not a proven method for obtaining personal wealth without any real personal responsibility. No, they are building lasting relationships which happen to open a lot of doors for them, which they may not otherwise be deemed deserving or competent enough to walk through otherwise and their prevalence throughout society is proof of these advantages.
Unfortunately, academia is still allowing affluent people to align themselves with draconian fraternities whom restrict membership on a gender based and even racial demarcation lines while hyper-empowering them instead of humbling them. We have a massive problem with gender and racial inequality in this country and supposedly the most highly educated, connected and influential people in the world, whom happen to be white males with a high rate of fraternity affiliation, don’t seem to see a problem with this until their paychecks are jeopardized; could this not be part of the problem? Is it any wonder that these same people seem to have no problem looking at people in such a binary fashion while devaluing difference as if it were the lesser instead of the standard? Just as the government can inherit its nature from industry, academia seems to have the same influence on industry; especially if graduation is a pre-requisite for most positions and especially² if we allow fraternity members to the front of the line.
In summary, it might be time to consider the true influence that academia and industry is having on government and start accepting our own culpability in the matter as necessary. The government is presently getting a horrible rap for being against science and the environment, which they deserve, but we are doing a disservice to the industries and institutions rooted in antiquity that are working through our government in order to fortify their own interests; including academia. Our push to bring jobs and manufacturing for instance is reflected in our efforts to walk back environmental regulations which hike up manufacturing costs, making them less competetive in comparison to countries such as China, which has much more ‘relaxed’ environmental standards. We tend to see a lot of government bashing from academia and industry, especially right now with regard to our governments deteriorating environmental agenda, which is as much of an affront to science as phrenology. However, few businesses or academics acknowledge the fact that they helped to create an environment where it is acceptable to benefit from similar tactics. At least to some extent, many of them depend on the government to favor them similarly in their own respective markets, although not always to the same degree. In a capitalistic society essentially run by lawyers, business and industry serve as the motivating force behind government and much like a lawyer, the government will do whatever the money tells them to do and will often go to the highest bidder. If you understand macroeconomics, then it should come as no surprise that just as a group of frat boys can function as one giant frat boy, just as a group of lawyers, also known as our governmental heirarchy, can function like one giant lawyer.
On a side note, it may also be time to see fraternities as the Depravity Olympics for which they truly are and possibly even consider their abolishment once and for all. Volunteering for an average of 10 hours/per year/ per undergrad while generating $5/per alumni/per year for philanthropic causes while maintaining an average GPA of 2.9 cannot possibly offset conducting themselves like closet Juggalos without face paint, let alone the havoc which they seem to be creating on a global scale. Often shrugged off at scale, nepotism can be incredibly counterproductive in conjunction with people seeking safety in numbers, or herd behavior, and is the functional equivalent to operational inbreeding under most circumstances within industry.
How to Lie with Statistics
Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece