Charlie's Diary

[ Site Index] [ Feedback ]

Sat, 08 May 2004

Happy talk

Y'know, I currently have this overwhelming urge to jam my fingers in my ears, jump up and down, and yell: "no! This is not happening! Everything is just fine!" The impulse towards denial is enormous. Unfortunately, corroborating information that draws an ugly picture is virtually impossible to avoid. And that's before we look at the allegations that US forces participated in prisoner massacres in Afghanistan.

It seems to me that the state is the only body that rots from the top down ...

I have an itchy feeling that it's no coincidence that Bush is the first US President to be an MBA, and that this stuff is happening on his watch.

In another discussion of this subject, Brian Bruxvoort remarked, "the focus on the release of the pictures instead of the actions seems in-line with a administration that thinks of itself like a business. The damage they see is PR fallout, the tarnished image of the company, not the acutal human suffering they've caused."

I think he's quite right. Corporate managers can afford to ignore the broader consequences of their actions for society at large because that's not part of their job description. Their job is to maximize shareholder value, and leave the State (or charities) to pick up the pieces after the next round of downsizing. If you're running the government, then picking up the pieces and looking after the big picture is what you're supposed to be doing. But this is an administration of executives trained in business management rather than government. Bush's MBA, Cheney's position at Halliburton ... they're all business leaders. Their entire experience leads them to focus on their business goals while telling them that they can leave dealing with the fallout for somebody else.

Moreover, their attitude to dissent can be explained by the hypothesis that they're trying to run the USA like a corporation rather than a country. Compare and contrast their denunciations of any dissenting opinion with Tony Blair's nuanced willingness to accept that dissenting viewpoints are legitimate, even if he isn't going to act on them. What's going on here -- why are these politicians -- supposedly politics is the art of reconcilling distinct viewpoints -- so unreceptive to argument?

In general, most corporations are internally constituted as perfect Stalinist dictatorships, directed from the center by managers who are free to do anything as long as it furthers their mission. There is an almost total lack of accountability from the employees, except where it may be imposed by external regulatory authorities. The corporate model is as profoundly anti-democratic a system as can be imagined, but we put up with it because it has the saving grace that it exists as a little island within a larger society. Corporations have a strictly limited scope for oppression.

The problem I'm noticing is people with the mind-set of corporate upper management trying to run a country as if it is a corporation. Dissent is suppressed, all actions must be goal-oriented, policy is dictated unilaterally from the centre and collateral damage is ignored. The emphasis on appearances that typifies the current administration is simply an old ingrained habit from operating within the constraints of a broader context (of a corporation in a market regulated by a bigger entity); the contempt displayed for dissenting viewpoints is characteristic of the worst excesses of a corporate monopoly.

Rumsfeld is a corporate manager. Bush is, too. So is Cheney. It all seems to be of a piece with the willingness to use any means to get results, however evil, the obsession with meeting goals regardless of colateral damage, the determination to spin criticism as subversion or treason, and so on. They think they're running America, Inc., may the devil take the hind-most, and society can look after itself. In this kind of climate, is it any surprise that low-level employees try to shape up to the perceived expectations of their masters and deliver results by any means necessary, however dehumanizing or monstrous? And is it any surprise that they refuse to be held to account by anyone except their shareholders? (And I'm not talking about Congress here.)

(I'm going to go away now and think happy thoughts about fluffy pretty things and try not to get any more depressed than I am already, before my head explodes.)

[Discuss Iraq invasion]

posted at: 13:22 | path: /wartime | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

Quick links:

RSS Feed (Moved!)

Who am I?

Contact me

Buy my books: (FAQ)

Missile Gap
Via Subterranean Press (US HC -- due Jan, 2007)

The Jennifer Morgue
Via Golden Gryphon (US HC -- due Nov, 2006)

Via (US HC -- due June 30, 2006)

The Clan Corporate
Via (US HC -- out now)

Via (US HC)
Via (US PB -- due June 27, 2006)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)
Free download

The Hidden Family
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

The Family Trade
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

Iron Sunrise
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)

The Atrocity Archives
Via (Trade PB)
Via (Trade PB)
Via Golden Gryphon (HC)
Via (HC)
Via (HC)

Singularity Sky
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (US ebook)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)


Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

[ Site Index] [ Feedback ]

Powered by Blosxom!