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Liberals Should Have Known If I were a Lefty Strongman

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Yahoo's Marissa Mayer Wants to Dominate

by Christopher Chantrill
March 05, 2013 at 12:00 am

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WHILE WE ARE waiting for the hammer of God to fall on the sequester, let us note the fluttering of the dovecotes over Marissa Mayer. The CEO of Yahoo has just decreed an end to telecommuting.

Obviously this is heresy, because you are not allowed to question the virtue of work/life balance in America, especially on the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique. The very idea! It’s an insult! That’s the take of Joanna Weiss.

Insult one: Assuming that a major personnel decision, in a major US company, wonít get attention (or not caring if it does).

Insult two: Thinking no one will smell hypocrisy from a new-mom CEO who built a nursery next to her office.

Insult three: Hewing to an all-or-nothing paradigm that hasnít been relevant for years.

On the other hand Penelope Trunk, who has three corporate startups under her belt, is giving a rebel yell. She thinks it’s way past time to stop the hypocrisy on work/life balance.

The message here is that if you want to work at a company where people are doing big and important things, you have to give up everything. Itís okay to say that. [Facebook COO Sheryl] Sandberg and Mayer are giving up everything so why canít they ask that of everyone else?

Telecommuting is for people who donít want to give up everything for their company. Mayer doesnít want to work with people like that.

What we have here is duelling systems: the corporate profit system against the liberal feminist system. Who will dominate whom?

I have been cudgeling my brain recently this notion, that “System is Domination,” trying to understand what it means. I offered it up to my friend Stephen a week or so ago, and he didn’t like it. And you can see why.

Reason, science, system: these are the gods of the modern age, and everyone invokes these gods to cudgel their political foes. Liberals claim that conservatives are anti-science because they don’t like evolution and global warming. Conservatives think liberals are anti-science because they still believe in the economic superstitions of the 19th century and the earlier, economic Dark Ages.

The fact is that reason, science and system are fearfully powerful forces. We humans use them to dominate nature and other humans. When someone comes up with a new and powerful system, whether it’s a successful tech startup or an Obamacare, we need to think about what it all means, and how we should deal with its new power.

System is domination, whether it’s Yahoo’s corporate system or Joanna Weiss’s feminist system. If you have a bunch of high-powered chaps and chapettes eager to transform the economy Ė or the culture Ė they are going to end up transforming the face of America. But what about the people being ordered around, and what about the people left behind?

So the world has turned upside down. Capitalism 1.0 created factories where workers were disciplined to the assembly line with offers they couldn’t refuse. Now the best and brightest are saying that they want to work at elite corporations on creative projects that will take over their whole lives. People like Penelope Trunk want to be disciplined, so they can do big things. So did the Puritans, who honored disciplined “work in a calling.”

It is still the basic problem of the modern age. How do we deal with the permanent economic revolution we call capitalism? We’ve tried big government. We decided to educate the workers with a public school system that dominates our children. And we have a social insurance system that is neither social nor insurance, but certainly dominates all our working lives. And we have activist lefties that want to dominate the culture.

Perhaps it’s time to think about a new way to deal with the dominatory power of system. Maybe what we need to do is empower people so that in their families and neighborhoods and associations they can build, not a system to fight the other systems, but an organism of cooperation and good will as a defense against all systems. The idea is that people can decide to join Marissa Mayer’s high-powered Yahoo, if they want, or Joanna Weiss’s feminist sisterhood. Or they can decide that children and family are more important than the next big thing in social media or political activism and choose instead a low-powered life instead.

Don’t worry, there is no need for conservatives to reinvent the wheel on this. In To Empower People Richard Neuhaus and Peter Berger already did.

Instead of a battle of the systems, King Kong versus Godzilla, they proposed “mediating structures” to give people protection from the “megastructures” of big business and big government. In their empowered America, by the way, fiscal cliffs and sequesters wouldn’t matter much because Americans wouldn’t be held hostage to the corporate and activist ego-heads and their systemic plans for world domination.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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