One of the most important issues completely ignored both by managers and the general public is the role of ideologies in business or the role business plays in spreading very specific ideologies.
Ideologies do play a central role in the organizational aspect of companies – something that is also almost completely ignored or is fully confused with mechanical processes. In fact, thinking that artificial, mechanical processes, that are merely the fantasies of unqualified specialists, constitute the organization, is an absurdity that speaks volumes about the dominating weltanschauung that serves as a foundation for the ideologies and actions of managers. The absurdity lies in the fact that a mechanical organization contains an inner contradiction: it’s an impossibility. Companies as they subsist today, are simply not organizations.
Philosophically we can depict two polar positions: naive realism and subjective idealism, the former serving as the de facto weltanschauung of all managers, the latter as the weltanschauung of the greatest leaders in the history of mankind. Naive realism has managed to produce companies only – a grotesque parody of organic organizations. Subjective idealism has produced organic states and societies; empires that have lasted for thousands, later, as the quality of people deteriorated, “only” for hundreds of years.
A characteristic specimen of naive realism is the celebrated manager Elon Musk, or the transhumanist Ray Kurzweil; although we could have picked practically any manager from Silicon Valley firms or from global corporations, we picked these two because of their “leading” role in selling naive realism as an ideology.
False ideologies are only able to support false agendas and they relate to the Truth with corruption. They lie even when they’re honest and they can’t escape an inner contradiction that is recognizable in everything they do: they claim to be pacifist but they are combatant to an irrational degree, they aggressively demand tolerance and diversity but they ruthlessly marginalize or eliminate different views, they hate the concept of elitism (their own necessarily grotesque concept of it that is) but they arrogantly marginalize everybody outside of their own bubble, they “value” intelligence but they confuse it with IQ, they “value” people but humiliate them as assets, resources or capital; the list continues.
The recent jerk – reactions from the managers and investors in Silicon Valley to Trump’s specific moves or to Trump simply being elected is a testament to all of the above.
We won’t deal with Trump here, but can’t not notice the irony of the situation since Trump represents the same weltanschauung as his opponents, ultimately both of them serving ideologies that, without a well-articulated world-view, neither of them understands, or want to understand: rolling up the sleeves and getting busy INSTEAD OF thinking, or as they say, instead of “philosophizing” is characteristic of both. By serving ideologies they don’t understand, they, unavoidably, are serving interests that are using such ideologies, without being aware.
One last note, offering for those interested, a 180 degree different view on organizations in the business domain: a company’s purpose is to offer the chance of self-realization for people. Once this is accepted and “done”, all absurd statements about people in business will become superfluous and political deviations will lose their foundation.
The majority of people living today are seriously affected by business on several levels. Not only because they can’t avoid taking part in it but also because their life is influenced by several pseudo-values that they receive – mostly gladly – directly from the business world.
To criticize business has become good business: it has evolved into the consulting industry and produced a lucrative specialization in academia. However the consulting business and academia, financed by business, never cross over a certain line. While the whole question of critique could be elegantly taken care of by simply pointing out -as others have already done- that capitalism is the economics aspect of liberalism and modern business – both as a system and as an organizational form – is the product of capitalism, the issue would remain too abstract for the majority to recognize its negative effects on their own thinking and life. Thus it would be perhaps useful to select some of the most absurd manifestations of the business world and take a closer look at them. We have of course addressed this with our book, on this website we’ll provide some additional details.
Our current topic is selected from the inexhaustible domain of the “corporate world” (F2000, venture backed startups, venture firms, private equity firms, etc: everything but small business): the personality cult.
Corporations are a modern phenomena, never before in the history of mankind could have emerged such an organizational form; they exhibit the polar opposite of organic organizations: highly mechanical entities created artificially for the purpose of maximizing profits. Profit itself has become a pseudo-ideology providing the only reason for the existence of the company. This is well known. It’s almost a cliche that people within the organization are reduced to being clogs in a machine. Yet: very few do reflect on what this actually means: that the factors of what makes them human are eliminated in their work environment and they are turned into strange, cyborg-like creatures even the most basic instincts of which are hardly functioning. This is what is commonly referred to as “professionalism”. We’ll address this in a separate post.
It’s interesting, although not surprising that the majority has has positive connotations about big corporations; the bigger they are, the better. Those not employed by them want to get in and those who are in, are able to completely identify with an abstract corporate brand and image.
When it comes to the desire of “getting hired” we should also notice that although it is completely contrary to elemental logic, the bigger the corporation is, the more prestigious it is considered to be able to get in and eventually become a part of the machine. To be fair this is truer nowadays in developing countries then in “advanced economies”. There are cases, like in the Silicon Valley when besides size, the coolness factor is also significant. What’s perceived to be cool is mostly the star appeal of the VC and/or the founder of the startup and of course how grandiose the vision is to make a dent in the universe or to at least to make the world a better place. There are of course quite particular interpretations behind these grand visions not only at startups but at big corporations, too; the workers in a simple project management software developer firm are just as convinced that they are making the world a better place as those working on the self-driving cars at Tesla, or at facebook, perhaps at Nestle whose board aims at eliminating the right for free drinking water.
This has lead to situations like that at Google for example, where -according to their own estimates- the proportion of PhD’s with the highest IQ working on tasks way below their potential is the highest in the industry – there is nothing to add to the relationship between IQ tests and actual intelligence. The highly paid but thus humiliated talent forms the target of daily jokes among the celebrated founders (celebrated by the same pathetic, overpaid, high IQ slaves).
Right around the time the mid-management phenomenon appeared in corporations, careers used to play an important role and although it may be weakening nowadays, they are still an important factor since people don’t show themselves that ready (yet) to sacrifice their life purely for money.
The promise of a career is that the company offers context and an environment for self-realization. This audacious scam implies that whoever is higher on the corporate hierarchy is a more perfect life form than whoever is lower: a better “person”. Nothing is farther from the truth. The prerequisite of a successful career is the adoption and representation of a false ideology.
It’s characteristic of sect members that although on the level of rationality they may understand the absurd concept of self-realization in context of a career, they, due to some dim loyalty, readily forget rational considerations.
The parallels between personality cults and the celebrity phenomenon are obvious but there’s more. While the celebrity phenomenon symbolizes the way and the style that is necessary for success at the moment, the ideology that lies behind the personality cults at large corporations is the same that defines communism, the other social aspect of materialism. The style of course always reflects the ideology. Personality cult as organizational style is characteristic of both capitalism and communism. The common denominator among Steve Jobs, Ceausescu, Jack Welsh, Fidel Castro, Larry Page, Peter Brabeck/Letmathe, “The Zuck”, “the Donald”, Stalin, Elon Musk, etc. is the applauding mass. Mass, because the individual that builds it doesn’t have an identity; they can adapt to anything, they can accept anything, they can follow anybody.
It’s ironic how fashionable is the leadership issue in the corporate world; how “business philosophers” create theories for differentiation between leadership and management typically assigning an ideological imperative to leaders which is of course always about liberal ideologies: it is decidedly difficult to come across with a CEO that exhibits monarchist views.
Due to the complete dominance of an absurd quantitative value system, the celebrated corporate leaders are also evaluated and judged exclusively by performance which mostly means growth and which may only be achieved by manipulation and cheating. People are ready to look the other way when it comes to certain character flaws and if necessary are prepared to blatantly sugarcoat these; this is how stupidity becomes creativity, criminal tendencies become commitment or flexibility, an out of control small man becomes tough or a straight shooter, perhaps sincere and pcyhopaths become horribile dictu charismatic.
Only the mass-man is able without hesitation to refer to a CEO or others as our leader, who are qualitatively not different from them, having the same orientation, the same fields of interest, goals and even the same style.
Perhaps we have all heard opinions (mostly from people who are the farthest from the coveted CEO post), proving all this, that “if he made it to the top he can’t be stupid” and similar, through their bizarre reasoning inadvertently depicting themselves as stupid or perhaps lazy (hard work being perceived as a typical success factor to reaching the top). Our points are also proved by people on the other side, by those who consider themselves men of success (for example because they have reached the top or did so in the past) and now present themselves as “gurus”and are indiscriminately spreading not only career advice to their grateful audience but – and this is much more unfortunate – also advice on life itself which is just as readily absorbed by the mass following the flowed logic of “if he made it in business he must also know how to live”.
As a closing remark it is perhaps not superfluous to mention the true leaders of past eras who manifested themselves as rulers and who called forth organic organizations and who, representing the Truth, were not vying for acknowledgement and who were followed and respected by the very best; all this in an age where there was no room for the mass in manifest existence.
It is very likely that in a theoretical scenario of a meeting between for example Romulus and a mass-man of today, the latter would experience an ontological fear since the existence of the former excludes the existence of the latter. This fear is obviously deeper than merely the fear for one’s life.
The tendency of degradation that eliminates qualitative elements from life and replaces them with pseudo-qualities or more precisely with contra-qualities, is reaching a new stage.
This tendency has already brutally removed a sacred hierarchy and replaced it with one that is based purely on quantitative (and mostly financial) measures; in parallel to this, with nationalism (a fundamentally left-wing concept) and then with its progression to internationalism it further deteriorated vertical differentiation and after the sub-human rise against the monarchs (with the symbolic stages of 1789, 1917 when they were bestially murdered), a little more subtly it eliminated nobility as well, continuing the top-down liquidation of values and replacing them with contra-human ideologies.
It didn’t stop there. In lack of values to comply with, the role of commerce has become pure profit and thus this tendency eliminated the organic function of the 3rd order (traders) and the 4th order as well, and what was before a phenomenon on the periphery of organic structures (beings of almost no quality) has become a mass phenomenon.
For emphasis: business, to use the modern term, has a place in an organic structure. But it’s not at the top, but on the third level at best. Why at best? Because it has the right to occupy the 3rd level only, if it’s not conducted according to modern ideals, but seamlessly aligns itself to the first 2 principles and corresponding levels.
The tendency of deterioration has also replaced the elites it murdered with a pseudo-elite. True elitism orientates itself to the superior: always up, on any level of the hierarchy, including the top one. Because of this orientation qualities are maintained that are unimaginable and unattainable both for the masses and their “keepers”: wisdom, intellect, power, loyalty, respect, sacrifice, responsibility, etc.
The pseudo elite also organizes itself vertically, but this is an anti-hierarchy: the context is unknown for the players – only the style and the method is clear: quantity and pragmatism. In this hierarchy, there is no “up”; in other words there is no top, only a bottom. It’s not an upside-down hierarchy, where the lowest is at the top (although when it comes to personal qualities, this is often true). It’s more like a bottomless hole where the players take turns jumping in and whoever falls faster “leads” the mass downward. To use their expression: everybody is a leader. Well, sort of.
There is no wisdom, because the Truth is out of reach. True power is unknown and is confused with violence. Loyalty, respect and sacrifice are running jokes in the comedy circuits.
Now the tendency of degeneration is approaching a new phase: democracy, which has been a good instrument in the elimination of qualitative differences is no longer needed and the pseudo-elite will directly control their peers, completing the circle and completely replacing all traditional values with anti-values, all principles with finance, thus creating the ultimate mockery of traditional structures: the reign of the stupid.
Nationalism and internationalism suffered a similar fate: they were invented, used and discarded. Now they use new terms in their rhetoric just as non-nonchalantly as when they used these in 1789 and 1917 all the way until now. The only constant is their enemy: Tradition and its manifestations: sovereignty, dignity, authenticity, organicity, loyalty and sacrifice for values that stem from the Truth and finally the Truth itself.
In their confused announcements they depict terms like values and tradition as nationalistic traits (which in their views are right – wing). They announce the end of the righ-left political spectrum (which was also just an instrument: there has never been true right – wing presence in democracies), announcing the beginning of the new spectrum: pro-business vs. contra – business, contra business being de facto insane (the pragmatists vs. the fist shakers) or ignorant.
“Perhaps politics will realign itself around the axis of globalization, with the fist-shakers on one side and the pragmatists on the other. The nationalists would win the loyalty of working-class and middle-class whites who see themselves as the defenders of sovereignty. The reformed center would include the beneficiaries of globalization and the poor and non-white and marginal citizens who recognize that the celebration of national identity excludes them.”
“Older people whose familiar world is vanishing beneath a welter of foreign tongues and multicultural celebrations are waving their fists at cosmopolitan elites. I was recently in Poland, where a far-right party appealing to nationalism and tradition has gained power despite years of undeniable prosperity under a centrist regime. Supporters use the same words again and again to explain their vote: “values and tradition.” They voted for Polishness against the modernity of Western Europe.”
It’s hard to miss the propagated agenda. The only thing honest about such a piece is the profound confusion of its author about the terms he’s using.
Alas, theatrically calling (same article) for a contra-elite to rise (on foreignpolicy.com!) was just a question of time; considering that this elite has long been on the top already, it’s quite cynical that they are not calling for them to simply step forward…maybe the time is not right for that.
Closing note: the pseudo-elite is evidently not differentiated from the masses by the same qualities that differentiates the true elite. In some (quantitative) respect they are differentiated from them, in most (qualitative ones) they are not. The analogy I used earlier about falling faster is quite precise. There are other analogies: “feeling out” where things are heading and trying to lead the way (typical in the tech business for example, but in politics, too). It would also be irrational to deny that the pseudo-elite on the highest levels is very powerful – but we must see that they are also blind and thus always under the influence and control of others!
And last but not least: there is no pseudo elite without the masses: the former needs the latter and both feel an existential threat in the presence of the true elite. From this point of view the term pseudo-elite is not strong enough; contra-elite is more fitting.
True elitism and the masses are mutually exclusive terms: when one is present, the other is not.
Some fragments for a little taste from the upcoming book from the Prakhsis Classics series on the organic ideal.
To understand modernity, contemporary man needs to change his views, since modernity can’t be understood from its own vantage point. This change of views must be fundamental. As we know people don’t change their views by reading books or by considering “rational” arguments; all these may help but this isn’t the key. The key is that only those people are able and willing to change their views that have intuition about the false nature of the views they hold and an uncompromising drive toward the Truth.
Since not having either intuition of or drive toward the truth is what qualifies them as moderns, only those may be able to understand modernity who –potentially or actually- are not modern: talking to modern man about modernity is simply absurd. For emphasis: not all contemporary men are modern; the overwhelming majority is, but not all.
Opposite to modernity stands Tradition; in fact in our world there is no bigger contrast than this and this contrast is palpable in all areas of life. Yet modern man, while all his life he thinks in opposites, always stands in opposition (to everything) and creates and is driven by conflicts, can’t notice this most fundamental contrast.
Tradition may be approached from several angles: philosophically, supra-philosophically, doctrinally, from the vantage point of culture, religion, arts or the sacred sciences. The approach we present now is reflective of the main theme of this book: the organic ideal.
The kernel of the organic ideal is authenticity; for everybody to be themselves as much as possible. People’s lack of identity is an important symptom of modernity. The individual literally can’t perceive himself as anything and is thus unable to organize organically. Looking at it from the structural point of view, modernity doesn’t offer any structures for people in which they may be fully who they are or where they may realize themselves, successfully unfolding their potentials.
Individualism, one of many meta-views* (for more meta-views see Critical Thinking – Introduction to navigating the irrational) of modernity compensates for the lack of identity with the view that “you may become anything you want” (including gender or racial identities). This has led to people keeping on changing their minds about what they want to be, or to adjusting to changing conditions with upbeat enthusiasm, cheerfully reinventing themselves whenever it becomes necessary. Of course being cheerful, upbeat or enthusiastic about this is cheating. Individualism conveniently forgets to address the problem of the Will.
Individuals don’t know what they want to be; instead, they focus on what they want to have. This is not a good substitute: irrespective of what they have, modern man lives in a deep existential crisis.
Moderns use many strategies to ease this crisis: they neuro-linguistically program themselves to be happy about their miserable situation; they buy more stuff or they swing to the other direction and go minimalistic and uncluttered; they dedicate their life to careers or the opposite, trying to make a living on a different beach every few months by writing and selling ebooks about how to make a living on a different beach every few months; or they put the emphasis specifically on not having a will by indiscriminately following their increasingly irrational impulses and changing even their gender or racial identities every few months or so; or they pick an irrational cause that’s rooted in one of the meta-views of modernity and fight in a way that contradicts their proclaimed belief system …
…. Ideologically, modern man (in other words the mass-individual) views himself as an insignificant pile of dust flying aimlessly somewhere in the periphery of the universe; practically he is a voracious, hedonistic, ego-centric consumer concerned only about the basic conditions of life in ever larger quantities: food, drinks, shelter, clothing and entertainment, preferably in a luxurious package: modern man is trying desperately to be happy with being conditioned; happy in his prison cell. Passion is a celebrated quality and the objects of desire are: objects.
Archaic men despised conditions and thrived for rising above them, through the only way possible: detachment.
Traditionalism, which brings us the view of the pre-historic (from another aspect supra-historical) archaic man, is concerned only with the Truth. Authenticity from the Traditional point of view is not a question of individual opinion. Identity is a supra – individual concept. Identity, in the simplest definition means being oneself. Each person and individual is themselves, but to a different degree; and each person and individual has a certain range of potentials available to them that he may actualize to become more of themselves.
This sounds evident, but modern man doesn’t understand the concept of identity and leads a completely inauthentic existence. Moderns don’t believe in actualizing potentials (they invented the career ladder as a substitute) and they believe that everybody has equal potentials: everybody is a more or less equal pile of dust with small quantitative differences. The view of archaic man on the question of identity is radically different. Based on to what degree one is being oneself he sees vertical differentiation between people: a sacred hierarchy. The purpose of life, the ultimate objective is to be(come) oneself: to actualize all potentials and become oneself to the highest possible degree…
… Modernity is seemingly the age of the mass-individual. While in the age of Tradition justice prevailed between people and everybody was in their place living a life most appropriate to them, in modern times the opposite is true: nobody is in their place, organic roles and functions have been eliminated and people don’t believe that there is such a thing as the Truth. Hatred is incited in people against superiority. This was not possible before modernity, when people viewed the actual superiority of others as the potential superiority of themselves. The measure in everything was the superior – this is part of justice. In the age of modernity the measure is quantity which may only be pursued and sustained by inferior people.
With this brief overview we wanted to highlight that Tradition and Modernity represent two ends of a vertical pole whereby Tradition represents the starting position of a process of gradual decline that is characterized by the disappearance of qualities and the increase of quantities; qualities and quantities with their analogies in all areas of life: in social structures and communities, in world views, in intelligence, in taste, in people. Our age is a stage in the continuing process of this involution. But Tradition and Modernity also depict states of consciousness and corresponding identities.
One can become only what one potentially is. Some may reacquire the world-view of Tradition; some may develop power, dominance, the taste, the life style of Tradition. In other words some people may become men of Tradition, or –which is the same thing- they may become authentic; and where authentic people meet, organic structures emerge.
In the Hindu caste system there was a category below the lowest caste. While people who belonged to the four main castes manifested qualities that were appropriate for the fulfillment of their organic functions, people who belonged to this category of outcastes disposed over no such qualities:
Their orientation and interests did not transcend the satisfaction of their most basic physical needs.
These people were called chandalas or untouchables. When it comes to mental faculties chandalas covered a broad range: some of them were only suitable for the most basic work (cleaning, burning, etc.) others were articulate and capable to successfully complete the curriculum of most universities today.
The term untouchable wasn’t meant to mean that touching them would be perhaps disgusting. It was meant to mean that those from the higher castes simply couldn’t touch them on any level. In other words no influence that is higher than the merely physical could reach them.
Consumer societies are comprised of (often highly educated) chandalas who judge everything based on short term benefits purely on a physical and economical basis. Cheap is good. Comfort is good. More is good.
While in previous times the chandalas were marginalized, today they have been made the standard and everything revolves around the pseudo-qualities and pseudo-values of the untouchables.
Even governments are run by chandalas whose modus operandi, being comprised by “career politicians” is precisely the same as that of consumers. Lots of deal making for individual benefits. Looking at this from another angle, the ideal medium for manipulation is precisely such a mass, since the mass is always influenced; if not from above, then from below.
This is the context in which to view all initiatives that “serve” consumers, including this one that appeared in The Guardian about Uber and other tech companies. And this is the context in which to view success stories especially in industries that target the masses!
And a last note regarding Uber specifically: considering all this, the choice of the name Uber could be considered quite cynical, but only from our point of view; in actuality, since quantity has replaced values, it was probably meant seriously, denoting the absurd idea of quantitative “superiority”.