Google’s John Galt (!) Stops Short of Calling for Strike

A Google employee, software engineer James Damore, recently circulated a memo to criticize the corporate culture as an ideological echo chamber [sic], authoritative and oppressive. He identified the diversity policies in place as blind to biological facts. He found the overall workplace experience as counter-individual. The memo can be found here. The employee was reportedly fired yesterday. He made a statement that he was prepared for a legal course to protect his rights.

I don’t have information about Google as a workplace. The memo’s content may or may not be true. The intriguing part is why an individualist would want to work at Google in the first place!

Here’s how:

Google has been nourished in what is called the social market economy. Like anything that has the word social in its name, it is collectivist. It is an attempt to create an idea-friendly rich class and a hard-working middle class, where the former are presupposed fools who should sit back and squeezed by special taxes for the rich and the latter works more and harder in exchange of free healthcare instead of material accomplishment. The social market seeks formal equality. Its banks, its air transportation, its Internet, and its jobs are considered public commodities.

Google’s search engine delivers results by popularity, not accountability. If the Internet user opinion is 2 + 2 = 5, that’s what you get. It rests on the world view that what the society says is true.

YouTube is an uncomfortable place to exercise property rights. One’s content at the platform can’t be rewarded by individual customer anyway. It must be free access and can be rewarded by popular vote. Once again, society calls at a whim whether a content producer is worthy of pay.

Neither Google nor any other Internet platform is responsible for its content by US Communications Decency Act Section 230, as well as consistent European court rulings in the same direction. A platform publisher as such benefits from a product it is not responsible of. In exchange, they are under constant public scrutiny for matters the society finds sensitive. Anonymous activists name what those matters are under no accountability whatsoever. The platform publisher abides.

The Android operating system is free software. It is enforced upon consumers by hardware makers because it is the most cost-effective choice. Android doesn’t have to reach individual customer expectations. It is shielded from market competition.

An Internet platform is supposed to be a business of scale, a big-data miner. It has nothing to do with individual customer. An individual citizen of the globe is one of the many.

Accordingly, it is hard to tell how any one employee of an Internet platform business expects all the above to disappear when he steps in the work place and individualism to prevail.

Like any collectivist system, the social market is also doomed to fail. Depending on how emphasized the social part is, the process can be painful. The social market’s end will vary from country to country in this respect. An individualist world view wouldn’t replace it altogether. Rather, micro-collectivism is going to take place behind trade barriers. But because of the financial ridicule the social market is leaving behind, those micro-collectivist areas, that are, countries, will have to give more room to individualism within their borders so those who want would make actual economic activity.

The exclamation mark in the title is for the vague resemblance of the fiction character John Galt in this story: He becomes dissident in a collectivist world. He sells his business and goes into seclusion until collectivism reaches to its crisis. He then makes a public statement to call those, whose economic product is exploited under an altruistic pretext, to strike. They answer the call.

But that’s a novel and, however inspiring, heroism itself is altruistic.