Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic, and Righting

This article is a response to Noam Cohen’s recent New York Times article.

The political bridge at the end of this indictment of Silicon Valley belies a Republican agenda more assertive of contemporary apologetic politics than aggressively progressive economic achievement commonly referred to as the invisible hand of Silicon Valley.

We, those of us who strive, and who act with purpose, must acknowledge that the worldviews of lives are our choice and that each of us face a struggle of perspective throughout the day.

When Reid Hoffman refers to his philosophy as The Startup of You, the paradigm is one of translating the focused, analytical practices of designing a company to the personal practices by which we live our lives. The very notion that we treat ourselves with an emotional hesitation that our society and culture expect to be elevated above and transcended when we choose the habits of our company is at the heart of the Silicon Valley reasoning behind Mr. Hoffman’s book.

The moment you begin to take success for granted is the moment a competitor lunges for your jugular. Provided, of course, you occupy, within the privileges and resources of doing so, a competitive marketplace for which much is to be gained to win. Promoting on the basis of longevity and nepotism is to the detriment of a top performing organization. Provided, of course, accounting for the humanity and personal empathy of the employees and their personal lives have been factored into the company notion and measurement of performance.

To run a company any other way is a fallacy or a failure, which is precisely why Silicon Valley prides itself as an experimental lab of creating company cultures and best practices. Like any community there are its stalwarts and those on the long tail in both dimensions of resistance and talent.

This notion of Silicon Valley as Darwinian life is false. There are, and always has been, those who wish to and choose to lead, and those who wish to and choose to be employees. And exaggerating the claims of those who do not have their wishes and choices aligned has always and will always sow the seeds of resentment. The question Mr. Cohen should start devoting his waking obsessions to is a simpler and more readily productive one: Why?

The very notion of Mr. Trump sowing seeds of nostalgic fantasy through exploitation of the gap between the wishes and choices of a country is at fault. Learning to actualize one’s visions and strategically design its architectures is no small feat by any man on any stage. It is therefore important to always call into question the man’s motives and hopes for the future. Creating any environment otherwise is the elephant in the room for half the country that brought this man to power.

Instead of looking outward to the future of the Republican Party the voters of Mr. Trump who now question the veracity of their support should begin asking themselves what they fail to understand about the everyday economic politics of their own failure to achieve the futures they began to dream of choosing. Whereas personal resentments fester and turn gangrene until the limb must be cut off, resentments against an institution or community fail to bridge the understanding that enables learning from the lessons of the other enclaves.

And whereas Mr. Cohen speaks as a person who feels he has been left out of too many rooms of his own desire to disrupt, the economic and equity issues of this country are too important to be evangelized as personal politics.

For all the lessons the middle class and working class supporters could be learning right now, Silicon Valley’s offer to economically innovate void of the mental trappings of failure are surely ones made long overdue to the working class. That talent and achievement open doors and economic incentives construct bridges to class migration should be the bedrock of the leading American political party. And yet, not only are those viewpoints too absent from the political conversation and the architecture of sound policies so far from political action as to incite the acrimonious outrage fueling the national conversation, they lack practical incentive from the ruling parties of this country’s power and capital. Silicon Valley offers a shunt to the established constructions of the power elite, more disruptive and experimental than the other regions of this country, and yet amassed with institutions that have recognized the experiment of national proportions.

To not represent Silicon Valley as such is to not understand Silicon Valley.