Zman finds 21st Century corporate conformism a lot worse than that of the previous century.
America is now a corporation, rather than a country. It is why the public space is being transformed into something that looks like a corporate training center. You donâ€™t go there to express an opinion or advance your interests, but to learn the latest policies. The person in charge sees herself as a facilitator, using behavioral techniques she learned in graduate school, in order to help you reach your potential an employee.
Just look at how the big social media platforms censure people. It is not traditional censorship we would see in an ideological state. Instead, the first violation gets you a day off to think about what you have done. The next violation gets you a longer bit of time off, which everyone knows means youâ€™re on the list. The next downsizing means you get let go, regardless of your performance. Finally, like an employee that never fit into the corporate culture, youâ€™re fired from the platform.
Note too that the enforcers at these firms clearly share information with one another about violators. One day the problematic user wakes up and his Twitter has been suspended, his Facebook is deleted and his YouTube channel nuked. This happens for the same reason the HR department ticks the box â€œNot eligible for rehireâ€ when youâ€™re riffed out of the place. It is not about you. Youâ€™re dead to them now. It is a service to their peers, so they can avoid hiring the same mistake.
This is why our radicals now sound like every human resource department and our politicians look like everyone at a corporate retreat. The managerial elite is imposing its corporate sensibilities on the country. The dreary sameness we see all around us is what you see inside every corporation. Everything must serve the point of the enterprise, even the aesthetic. Everything is subject to the quest for efficiency, so everything that makes life interesting is removed.
The regions of the country are no longer unique cultures with unique histories, but subsidiaries that must be normalized into the cooperate culture. Movies and television are repetitive and shallow, because corporate culture eschews creativity as risky and embraces banality because it is predictable and safe. Sports are drenched in identity politics because cross-marketing says the way to promote a new product is to attach it to the most successful product in the catalog.
Corporations travel a well-known arc. They start with a frontier mentality, in which the creative and daring control the enterprise. They are trying to develop a new market or subvert an existing market, so they canâ€™t follow old rules. This attracts people who are goal oriented, not process oriented. This is the culture of every start-up, which is why they can find new ways to attack the market and maneuver the company around larger, better established competitors.
That success eventually outgrows the capacity of the start-up culture. Eventually, the people being hired to do the things the enterprise needs doing need to be managed and that means managers and rules. A new type of employee is brought in, the sort who enjoys the process. They enjoy creating employee manuals. Soon they are joined by another type of employee, who values conformity. Her job is to make sure everyone follows the rules and does so with enthusiasm.
This is the current phase of Corporate America. The thing that matters most to the managers is not ideology. In the corporate state, ideology is about as authentic and meaningful as corporate culture. It is just a veneer to decorate the latest HR effort to boost morale. What matters to them is the quest to assimilate the wide range of assets now under corporate control. If you step back and look at the current crisis, it is not an ideological battle, but a war on variety and exception.
This is, in part, why the elites hate Trump. Itâ€™s not his politics, as his politics, stripped of the carny act, are rather conventional. They hate Trump because he is the guy who laughed at the white diversity trainer when she shared her painful experiences of oppression at Princeton. They hate him because he just wants to do his job and have a life and an identity outside the company. For the champions of the corporate state, nothing can exist outside the state.