Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft and Google: Corporate Ethics and Profitable Delusions

Reprinted with permission from Mitchel Lewis

Frankenstein cartoon

delusion, n., belief in something that is false

They say that ignorance is bliss. While I dare not argue with this fixture of the human condition, I tend to believe that delusions rooted in ignorance can also be immensely profitable under the right circumstances and that this is most evident among delusional yes-men and corporate Stans alike, especially among those employed by tech monopolies speaking on matters focused on corporate ethics. Although most devout employees in big tech would certainly disagree with me when I say this about them or their daddy Warbucks, including myself when I worked for Microsoft, there are many kinds of delusion distinguishing a corporate yes-man from a person of sound mind; few if any of which are self-actualized.

There also appears to be an over-abundance of corporate rituals, propaganda, and skullduggery working in parallel to supplant and reinforce these profitable delusions throughout their ranks which congeal into what they consider to be their ideal employee, much like that of a cult. Although there is a great deal of talent within their walls, this doesn’t seem to harden them against what could best be described as rudimentary propaganda tactics and tech monopolies appear to be preying on and fostering the various ignorances and delusions of their employees just the same, also very much like that of a cult.

As absurd as this may seem at first, if predominant religions and cults alike can be posited on what can best be described as nothing at all then it’s not difficult to imagine the cult-like affinity for a monopoly that a 6 figure paycheck signed by one of the wealthiest people to ever exist, stock options, non-existent dress codes and drug policies, and a Porsche in the driveway can generate. Because of this and almost as if they’re devout members of some money cult, there is no shortage of analogs to be found between employees of monopoly and members of a bonafide religion

For example and much like a religion, a commonly held delusion among even the most elite employees is the deeply held conviction that their employer is an egalitarian organization, left-leaning and ethical to its core with a social purpose far beyond that of maximizing shareholder value whose net benefit to the world is unmistakable; idolizing it if you will. Like anything else that’s idolized, many hold their company and its leadership above reproach (to a lower standard), won’t dignify the notion of either having a dark side, and refuse to even acknowledge current or previous transgressions. Sound familiar?

In my experience at Microsoft and despite there being no shortage of evidentiary support contradicting their narrative of being a decent company, it was difficult to find peers that had actually researched monopolies, Microsoft’s antics with respect to anti-competition, lock-in, the nature of its partner network, it’s complicity with American white nationalism, or peers that knew anything about its antitrust cases around the world. Despite being fined 10s of billions of dollars from the US and EU, losing their founder/CEO/wannabe demigod in the process, and being what could best be described as the predominant monopoly of the information age, this did not seem to stop them from ignoring matters entirely, from petulantly insisting that Microsoft wasn’t a monopoly, or from insisting that their ways are a thing of the past whenever their tainted legacy enters the discussion.

Barry Dorans of Microsoft

Even in the face of Microsoft being among the top GOP donors between the election and the riot on January 6th, them loyally empowering the likes of DHS (ICE and CBP) and the DOD with their software and services, and them amassing an internal gun club/NRA donor with a 5 figure member-base representing a plurality of white nationalists within their company, and them firing a Jewish employee for referring to white nationalists as nazis, Microsoft employees still insist that their company is left-leaning and socially purposed. Case in point, Barry Dorans of Microsoft, a brilliant person in his own right mind you, seems to think that hiring a few tokenized queer and left leaning people when the cameras are turned on offsets all of this. This isn’t to insult Barry but to highlight just how effective corporate propaganda can be on the best of us; plebs like me stand no chance.

Almost as if they graduated from the Milton Friedman school of ethics or are card carrying members of that weird political brotherhood that mistakes greed for good or wealth for divine blessing, another common delusion among ideal employees is the tendency to mistake a paycheck for an ethics waiver. Even though every realm of ethics is virtually at odds with monetary rewards and entities seeking to blind us with them, there are people hailing from every major ideology in the world applying in droves for every posted position despite these monopolies being in a well-documented zero-sum game with human existence which conflicts greatly with most prominent ideologies last time I checked. Oddly enough, this seems to be one of the few things that all major ideologies actually agree on.

Even weirder, many yes-men harbor the delusion that management, HR, legal, and the like are good, wholesome, and ethical people that have their best interests in mind and most certainly won’t retaliate against their peers even though it’s literally their job. From leadership getting profiled in all matter of prominent media outlets to an endless stream of internal media to perpetuate the illusion of divinity among their leadership and a wholesome company, there is no shortage of propaganda to foster such delusions.

Not OK Google

For another example of just how powerful these methods and most recently at Google and after quite a few employees raised various issues regarding corporate ethics with management and HR, said employees were actually surprised and caught off guard when they were surgically removed from the company like cancer for taking a public stance against their company. Despite it being universally known that management, HR, and legal are the axis of evil, these elite Google employees didn’t even consider the very likely possibility of retaliation from Google’s most deplorable ranks and were seemingly blindsided when they were met with just that as a consequence, resulting in their near immediate unemployment. This isn’t a slight on them though as many openly admit various corporate delusions in hindsight.

Further and even though most have only received ethics training from mandatory videos supplied by HR, which again are among the least ethical people in most rooms, most ideal employees maintain the delusion of they themselves being ethical. Despite most not being able to divulge anything of substance about ethics to save their life while being all but guided by various vices, prescribed medications, and self medication, many ideal employees would argue that they were sane and ethical until they were blue in the face and would not dignify an argument to the contrary for the life of them. All of which serve as hallmarks of an ignorant delusion.

Ironically though, many employees of monopolies jump on the public outcry bandwagon and still get furious at other monopolies for exhibiting the same exact behavior that they exhibit which also highlights another commonly held delusion of us seeming to hate the very thing in others that we fail to realize about ourselves. So at some level they seem to have an understanding of the true offense that such behavior poses. They just don’t seem to see this behavior within themselves or the consequent hypocrisy; yet another delusion.

While these delusions amount to what could best be described as profitable insanity, they pale in comparison to the delu-hoo-usions being applied among the executive ranks of monopolies. From maniacally amassing more wealth than they can ever hope to spend, just to go to work tomorrow to make more, to mistaking ones capacity for liquor for ones ability to lead and manage and justifying the protection abusers in management and leadership and retaliation against their victims in the name of maximizing shareholder value, delusion is king among the leadership ranks of monopolies too. In fact, I’d have to write an entirely different post just to cover the surface area of common executive delusions but I digress.

In summary and just as it’s impossible to be a member of the republican party in America without harboring substantial delusions, it appears to be impossible to be an employee or leader of a tech monopoly without harboring a fiesta of delusions just the same. Those mentioned above are merely a handful of many delusions propping monopolies up in modern day.

As much as I’d like to say that this cult-like behavior is unique to Microsoft or Google, the reality is that they’d be the only companies not partaking in this behavior if that were the case. So far as I can tell, such delusional dynamics are the standard throughout enterprise, not the exception, and some companies like Google and Microsoft are just better at it than others.

With respect to corporate ethics, upon realizing that which is ethical as being virtually synonymous with that which is sustainable while also accepting the threat these monopolies objectively pose to our existence, it’s difficult to consolidate how these companies or their employees can possibly be ethical. Given the many delusions required for one to thrive in such an environment, the immense physical and social rewards one receives for keeping said delusions intact, and the fact that being ethical in a corporate environment has proven to be a career limiting move, it’s generous to even suggest that employees of such companies could only ever hope to be ethical or sane for that matter if not by complete accident. That said, the devout belief in a monopoly somehow being ethical is quite possibly the most profitable delusion of them all.

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