Wednesday, April 08, 2015

10 Years After: 2011 -- Friedmans We Have Heard On High

The 10th blogiversary fundraiser continues with 2011:  Trench Warfare.

In 2011, I continued to refine my Photoshop skillz, and Tom Friedman continued to love Ideas.

Big, stupid Ideas.

Fundraiser Day 6: Tom Friedman Likes Big Ideas

Big, dumb ideas.

Actually he doesn't "like" them so much as he likes fiddling with them.

He likes clacking them around in his hand (and, by proxy, the lives and fates of the billions of people they represent) like Bogart playing with his ball-bearings

in "The Caine Mutiny".

See, in Mr. Friedman's future, the Earth and everything in it (including little people like you and me) end up being fed into the maw of unfettered global capitalism.

Which sounds like a bad thing.

But -- haha! -- maybe it's really a good thing!

Because little people like you and me are really awesome and plucky, so maybe being pitted as "individuals -- individuals --" against global corporations with limitless resources and exponentially growing power will actually make us better people: all it will require is complete, unswerving, monastic devotion to our jobs to the exclusion of every other thing.

Until, of course, that job is stripped and sold for parts.

At which point we will hop into "the flow" and transition into our second career.

Or third.

Or fourth.

(Aside --
Me, I'm up to my seventh or ninth distinctly identifiable career [depending on how you keep count] and am presently unemployed. And like so many millions of my fellow useless eaters [to quote Henry Kissinger], each "transition" laid waste to its own set of hope, dreams and plans. None of these transitions was a step forward or sideways, but a reset button that shoved me back to near square one. And none of them were occasioned by what I think of as "natural causes" such as poor performance or some fundamental and irreparable marketplace defect with the organization itself.

Quite the contrary: these career-crushers were almost always caused by a small clutch of people near the top of the organization making decisions out of pride or greed or panic or just plain mind-numbing stupidity to upgrade their personal fortunes at the expense of everyone else. )

Because during the few, pre-dawn hours we have not spent in monastic devotion to our jobs we have been taking extension course from Stanford via "the flow" in preparation for our next career. Which, if this were a documentary and not Tom Friedman's private fantasy, would ironically turn out to be the pretext for losing the previous jobs: preparing of our next career showed our employer that we're not sufficiently monastically devoted to our current career.

(Based on our extensive, up-close experience in seeing what does and does not work in the rough-and-tumble real world, we were also probably stupid enough to open our troublemaking pie holes once too often to warn management when they were about to commit some catastrophic fuck-up. Like selling off the one product line that makes money to capitalize the one that sucks because the VP in charge of ass-kissing loves the idea. Or blowing off what we actually promised the funder we would do in favor of what the VP in charge of visioneering wants to do. Or invading the wrong fucking country because, uh, because suck on this!)

So buh-bye us....and hello compliant 20-something intern!

Also maybe we will spontaneously evolve special gills and organs that will let us cope with the results of living on a planet that has been looted and poisoned to enrich a handful of billionaires and global corporations with Godlike powers.

Maybe we will suddenly discover that we like 130 degree summers and continent-wide hurricanes.

Maybe we will sprout wings and fly to Barsoom.

Or something.

Mr. Friedman also once again exhausts his quarterly ration of capital letters Explaining All Of This As Breathlessly as The Inherent Limits of His Terrible Prose Will Allow, and then ends this pointless on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other waste of ink, pixels, time, paper and opportunity as follows:
So there you have it: Two master narratives — one threat-based, one opportunity-based, but both involving seismic changes. Gilding is actually an optimist at heart. He believes that while the Great Disruption is inevitable, humanity is best in a crisis, and, once it all hits, we will rise to the occasion and produce transformational economic and social change (using tools of the Big Shift). Hagel is also an optimist. He knows the Great Disruption may be barreling down on us, but he believes that the Big Shift has also created a world where more people than ever have the tools, talents and potential to head it off. My heart is with Hagel, but my head says that you ignore Gilding at your peril.

You decide.
Actually there is a third "master narrative" which, while not offering you the freeze-dried, gullible-CEO-bait wisdom available in the Theory of Omninomic Everything section of your local bookstore, does explain Tom Friedman's otherwise utterly inexplicable presence at the apex of American journalism pretty well.

Lysenkoism (emphasis added):
Lysenkoism refers to an episode in Russian science featuring a non-scientific peasant plant-breeder named Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [1898-1976]. Lysenko was the leading proponent of Michurianism during the Lenin/Stalin years. I. V. Michurin, in turn, was a proponent of Lamarckism

According to Lamarck, evolution occurs because organisms can inherit traits which have been acquired by their ancestors.

Lamarckism is favored by those who see will as the primary driving force of life,

Under Lysenko's guidance, science was guided not by the most likely theories, backed by appropriately controlled experiments, but by the desired ideology. Science was practiced in the service of the State, or more precisely, in the service of ideology. The results were predictable: the steady deterioration of Soviet biology.
To avoid being drawn and quartered en masse, our corporate overlords need to market the Hell out of the idea that being sold into perpetual peonage is actually a good deal for little people like you and me, and so a variation of cultural Lysenkoism which holds that making the tribulations of the little people unimaginably worse will actually turn out to be good for them in the long run has been adapted to the task.

Of course no self-respecting writer would take such an assignment, but fortunately for our corporate overlords there are a variety of non-self-respecting writers available in a wide range of prices.

And thus Tom Friedman's career was born.

At the lowest levels, provision of this service can get you a goofy hat and a chance at a reachround from Andrew Brietbart; at the highest levels, one receives fame, fortune and enough clout to go anywhere, play golf with anyone, and have your terrible books pimped in every media outlet in Christendom.

And, Apparently, An Unlimited Per Diem For The Purchase Of Breathless Capital Letters.

Fundraiser is on.
The dough goes here!

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