Microsoft is Dead

2007-05-14T09:38:00

Read Microsoft is Dead,by Paul Graham Read also:The cliff notes A few reader comments for the first article caught my attention, especially one in which the reader critically examines the modern `corporate culture'. The last paragraph is truly striking: In summary, my problem is not with capitalism, and I am not a socialist. I merely fear that the inevitable end of capitalism is the type of corporate society that has been steadily evolving in the U.S. and elsewhere, one in which paper and numbers are more important than people. Here is the complete comment - I am putting it in-line because I don't see any link: Wow, this is obviously the viewpoint of someone who is not at all familiar with gift societies, someone who seems to me to be desperately clinging to a dogmatism in order to convince him- or herself that his or her life has been lived in a moral manner. The truth is that it's not all black and white. Socialist != Evil, and Capitalist != Good. You speak of corporations bringing happiness to people, but I would like to point out something that I heard a month or so ago. It used to be that people had necessities and very basic desires which were fulfilled by entrepreneurs (merchants and guildworkers) in a capitalist system. In the present-day US and several other countries, however, that is no longer the case. Companies used to be in the business of manufacturing goods to fulfill needs. Nowadays, they instead manufacture needs to sell goods. Why do you think advertising is such a huge industry? It's all kind of funny when you consider the cycle. The current corporate structure relies on a large amount of drone workers doing the majority of the work for a small cut of the pay. The only way to make these workers do this work that no one in their right mind would do willingly is to pay them. Why do they need that money? To buy the very things that these corporations are telling them that they need to be buying. It's all a crazy, vicious cycle, and I'm afraid that it is the inevitable result of long-term capitalist societies. Do you see anything changing for the better in these regards? In an Anthropology class a few years ago, we talked about studies that some researchers had done in comparing the lives of people in developed countries to hunter-gatherer tribes in South America and Africa. The people in these tribes typically spent 2-3 hours a day to provide their food and shelter, and the rest of the time was spent chatting, telling stories, singing, dancing, sporting, and other tribal activities. I would argue that that is happiness, not going to work 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week so that I can get a new car that gets me to work more comfortably. To compare Open Source software to development at gunpoint is absurd. If I have an interesting idea for a piece of software that I would like to write, I am going to write the software and be very happy to share it with the open source community. This has nothing to do with violence; I have enjoyed the benefits of a completely free computing system with extensive functionality, and I am quite happy to return the favor. This is known as a gift society, not violent, immoral ideologies. And this money-for-happiness equation that you are promoting looks a lot like pie in the sky. I worked for 2 years for a small grocer in a country gas station / food mart. The store had been in his family for something like 40 years, and he served a valuable need to the surrounding community in providing the only gas and groceries for 20 miles around. He and his wife worked long days and were by no means rich, but they made enough to live on. His regular customers knew him by name, and he was a regular bidder at the 4-H auctions every summer. Clearly, in this case, the exchange of money for goods is happy for everyone. Unfortunately, cutthroat companies like Wal-Mart move into town who have no concern for the well-being of the community, doing things like storing materials in parking lots which poison water supplies during rain, avoiding a golf cart security guard in their parking lot even though it has proven to reduce crime to 0%, relying on federal programs to cover worker health benefits, and driving all local businesses out and then moving out when the profit margins are no longer good. So the customers save money, yes, but they lose out in so many other ways. This is the problem with faceless corporations who do not see things at a human level. In summary, my problem is not with capitalism, and I am not a socialist. I merely fear that the inevitable end of capitalism is the type of corporate society that has been steadily evolving in the U.S. and elsewhere, one in which paper and numbers are more important than people. In India too,we are witnessing the kind of `development' triggered by big, greedy, faceless corporates whose sole objective is making money - they have a rotten and top-to-bottom corrupt government and beauracracy to help them achieve their goal.

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