Corporate Socialism in Tech
Why I believe that the Social Justice takeover in tech is just a symptom of a larger disease.
You can’t blame Social Justice warriors for every business problem. In fact, I posit that when you consider them in the context of the prevailing business ideology (known as corporate socialism), you can’t help but see them as an inevitable symptom.
What is Corporate Socialism?
Corporate socialism is the contrived intersection of corporatism and socialism. And as it turns out, it is a very nasty and pervasive thing. There are many, many aspects to it, but from a surface level, it starts with the mantra — “Socialize risk, privatize profits.” It’s Marxism when we fail, and Capitalism when we succeed. When there are costs, we spread them to the public. When there are rewards, we vacuum ‘em up. It’s also known as ‘Crony Capitalism’, ‘State Capitalism’, and in a sufficiently centralized economy, ‘Fascism’.
Corporate Socialism on the Inside
But that’s only at the surface level. Internally, it’s a whole other set of perversions. From an organizational standpoint, the mantra is, “Pull power up, push responsibility down.” The people at the top set up the rules so that all power of decision making goes to them, but all responsibility for the problems goes to the peons. In the context of tech, development methodologies like Collective Code Ownership are put in place to disenfranchise individual engineers, as well as keep them replaceable.
Engineering-wise, this is a very ineffective setup. The people with the most responsibility to solve engineering problems get the least amount of power to do so sustainably. Worse, when the top-heavy decision process leads to calamity, the peons are blamed for not working hard enough to execute it — or for not ‘getting with the program’.
Social Justice — Just Another Tool in the Corporate Toolbox
So let’s return to empathizing with the otherwise awful people that have been taking over tech in the name of Social Justice.
Assuming what I say about corporate socialism is true, can you really put the blame at the feet of Social Justice warriors for thriving in such an environment? Imagine if you were a modern Mussolini - could you dream of a more useful human weapon to deploy against dissidents, both public and internal?
Surely it’s just a matter of time before the public gets tired of subsidizing your losses.
Surely it’s just a matter of time before your worker bees get tired of being browbeaten and abused.
What better weapon to deploy against these malcontents than a rusty cudgel veiled in perfect virtue? An iron fist of authority gloved by the promise of equity? When the public complains, muddy the water with ‘progressive’ hiring programs. When the workers complain, attack their character and commitment. And when public contributors complain about the shit service this all results in… demonetize them on the pretext of ‘hate speech’!
As with Google, Twitter, and Facebook, it is all working very well — so far.
ADDENDUM: For more on Corporate Socialism in Tech, check out my other articles -
Strange bedfellows form an ironic union to censor mainstream, online, and social media.medium.com
How practices inspired by Marxist thinking have been disastrous for commercial software development.medium.com
ADDENDUM 2: “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!”
The conversation continued in a somewhat disjointed manner on Reddit, with the following observation from u/DryDrowner -
“What is the software industry? Its not a monolithic structure. One company will throw investor money at Gender Politics and will fail because it costs a lot and provides no gain at all (Twitter). Another will do the same and nothing will change because they have mountains of cash and want to pretend to be saints when they are in fact evil assholes (Google and Facebook live here). A small company or a startup will care for their money and budget, and will never invest in this bullshit and will keep hiring best people for a job. Even if it means having 10% or less of women in engineering positions.
“Most companies are obviously of the third kind and I do not see this changing anytime soon.
“The government may kick in and force companies to implement some parity but this will cause a lot of fuss and will be an unpopular policy among the industry leaders.
“So we will get this drama because there are people who earn money by being foe offended, on both sides. Articles will be written, youtube videos recorded, patreons pumped up and nothing will change. Why? Because business likes numbers and not fe fes.”
An interesting thought that merited my following rebuttal -
“I get this perspective, but I think it discounts the following reality -
“It is a small and incestuous group of left-leaning people who have control of almost all start-up capital in SV and SA. The world-changers of tomorrow are actively being starved of essential resources due to ideological initiatives. Conversely, useless nonsense start-ups are subsidized into maturity all the time. This is one reason why so many bullshit companies end up with such ridiculous valuations.
“What you also might discount is the capacity and tendency for powerful progressives to collaborate across an entire industry. If you think collusion in media is bad, you should look into this.
“In the words of George Carlin, ‘It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!’”
He followed up with -
“That won’t be possible over the long run, however, so long as the theory that SJW companies under-perform is true.
“There will be some subset of investors at the outset who do not care, even if there is a cabal of SJW-preferring investors who do care. This means the funding for the most productive companies come from outside the SJW circle, and over time, those produce better returns, so the non-SJW money pile grows as the SJW money pile shrinks.
“You can always follow the money. That’s the endpoint. If something isn’t productive and has to compete, it dies.”
To which I concluded -
“Eventually, perhaps. But given the fact that most investment money comes from currency created out of thin air or some numbered customer’s account, I think this complicates the story substantially. After all, if it’s not your money, you don’t as much mind prioritizing politics over profits. And ideologues have proven time and again that there exists nothing on God’s green earth that they won’t destroy in order to establish their utopia.
“But even if you are ultimately right, remember the old curse -
‘The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid.’
“Applying this to employment yields a corollary like -
‘The job market can stay irrational longer than you can stay alive without income.’
“Presuming that ‘it’s all just going to work out’ is not, IMO, very helpful. Dragons rarely slay themselves.”