Apple sent this message to a developer. It essentially states Silicon Valley policy: if enough people complain about something, the user who posted it must be destroyed.
This is typical Leftist crowd-oriented thinking. It enables any group that can muster a handful of complainers to destroy someone else, no matter how much time and effort they put into their content, and how much of it previous to that time was inoffensive.
Soft totalitarianism of this nature occurs whenever human individuals become too powerful as a mass, instead of being regulated by a hierarchy and values system.
The FANG companies — Facebook, Apple/Amazon, Netflix and Google — control most of the internet because they regulate its traffic. Sites not listed in Google disappear. Companies whose apps are rejected by Apple die out. Keywords and hashtags filtered by Facebook vanish.
The age of government censorship may not be over, but with “virtual spaces,” our public areas are owned by companies who have no obligation toward “free speech” under the law. As such, as they get more powerful, they will remove anything that threatens them by making their properties less valuable.
An obvious solution is to decentralize: go back to a web of RSS, blogs, independent sites and open protocols like USENET and IRC. Get away from big sites who hope to make money off of us as content providers, and then delete that content when someone whines.
Under Neoreactionary theory, small states will form that compete on the basis of cost and services offered to citizens, essentially formalizing the knowledge that governments are self-interested corporations and not benevolent charities. While this fails to address the national question and the actual motivation for most human decisions, it does explain the Irish state tax haven.
Apple announced its intentions to move its iTunes biz to Ireland in September when it transferred an estimated $9 billion of iTunes assets. At that time it also shuffled all existing developer contracts to Ireland-based Apple Distribution International. Like Luxembourg, Ireland is known for being a low-tax haven for international businesses. Last month, both Apple and Ireland announced they would appeal a record $14 billion tax bill from the European Commission, which earlier found it had been underpaying tax on profits across the European bloc from 2003 to 2014. Apple today is the biggest private employer in Cork, the Irish Republic’s second-largest city, with a workforce exceeding 5,500. Economists estimate Apple’s Cork operation pumps around $17 billion annually in salaries, tax and investment into the Irish economy.
If Ireland were to set up a libertarian free-trade zone as part of the country, say a major city, and offer citizens the benefits of living in a European country without the high taxes and insane regulations that this normally means, it could see a similar boom in income which would be more important than taxes as it would offer a thriving country which could then achieve financial independence by taking existing tax revenues and investing them in its corporations, providing an eternal revenue stream.
You are controlled, whether you acknowledge it or not, by a narrative of self-pity that induces you to act against your best interests.
This self-pity narrative takes the following form: some large and shadowy organization or government is manipulating you, and you are a victim, and so the best option is to overthrow and take what is yours along with everyone else.
These narrative never pay attention to how large controlling entities are created. When people revolt, chaos results, and then there is a need for some strong power to keep basic order, like having the lights stay on and the trains run roughly on time. The more people revolt, the greater the power of what comes to rule them in the next step.
And yet, people never learn. They refuse to, because in order to learn, they must accept first that the problem is us, or really, our intent. We intend to be “free,” but have no idea what that means, so we abolish sensible rules alongside the bad ones, and end up with a failure of social order and then the tyrants step in, promising to solve our problems — in exchange, of course, for power.
Even in the most free societies this happens, but instead of granting power to one tyrant, we create many: government, industry, special interest groups, mafias, unions, lobbyists and gigantic corporations. We then try to regulate those, but this makes them more powerful by giving them a maze of rules to hide behind.
Witness the narrative of self-pity:
The bad guys control you. You win by rebelling against them. And then, you get another large company which extracts money from you by making products which are designed not to be repaired. It has been the same every time. The victimizer is us, and we are our own victims.
The cabal of media companies that now control the web are hated because they replaced an open standard with a closed one and are using that to manipulate us. Google, Apple, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook and Reddit have all come under fire for censorship, which has caused some people to speak the sophomoric maxim that they are not censoring anything, because they are private companies.
A more accurate analysis is that these companies, by replacing an open net, have taken it over and now want to “curate” the experience to both (1) remove controversial ideas and (2) turn us into good media sheep like the legacy media empire they replaced. As one writer observes:
In 2014, I was pardoned and released from a prison in Tehran where I spent six years over my web activism. Before I was imprisoned in 2008, all the hype and rage on the internet was found on blogs.
Blogs were the best thing that had ever happened on the internet. They democratized writing and publishing — at least in many parts of the world…All that was made possible because of a brilliant and powerful, but simple and modest innovation: hyperlinks.
The World Wide Web was founded on the links, and without links, there won’t be a web. Without links the experience of being on the internet will become one of a centralized, linear, passive, inward-looking and homogeneous kind. This is happening already, and despite Zuckerberg’s sermon, it is largely Facebook and Instagram who are to be blame for the demise of links, and thereby the death of the open web and all its potentials for a more peaceful world.
Zuckerberg killed links (and the web) because he has created a space that is more like the future of television rather than the internet. Unlike what he preaches, Facebook has divided us into small personal bubbles of comfort.
This is the difference between the open web and the corporate web. On the open web, there are many information providers and you go visit them. The downside is that these sites are not uniform and may not all load quickly. On the corporate web, Google and Facebook show you what they want you to see, ideally while remaining on one of their sites like YouTube or Instagram.
What this means is that these companies are no longer private entities, but have taken over a public space, and are now censoring it for their own benefit. This includes removal of controversial ideas, often by sneaky methods:
That's interesting. Although I never muted @amerika_blog, when I went to his TL I found him muted. There is some trickery afoot.
Why is this important? The forces that be have realized that government is too easily criticized, and are aiming for another form of opinion control. When they talk about “fake news,” they mean any information outside of this approved arena. When they shadowban accounts, they mean that deviating information threatens their bottom line and cannot be tolerated.
They do all of this while promising to beat back big corporations and liberate you from horrible conservatives.
Perhaps the lasting lesson is that salespeople lie, and that this tendency couples with the eternal human tendency toward attention fixation that causes us to, when made aware of our bad behavior, accuse those who have noticed this bad behavior of the same behavior. This is why the anti-censors are censors and the liberators are enslavers, every time.
As a long-term strategy, this will not work among the people who have any experience of life. This is why the high-end consumers and natural leaders of society have mostly abandoned these platforms. That means that they are left with the audience of people with little purpose in life, minimal influence, and low income.
You know; I’m just not an Apple Guy. I tend to just view computers, cars and the rest as exactly what they are – machinery. But today I’m writing in praise of Apple’s usually-execrable CEO Tim Cook. He has taken on the leviathan and told it to go blow one out its monstrous rear-end. Well done, Tim. You just made your home state of Alabama proud.
You see, Tim Cook recently had a learning experience, an epiphany if you will. He reached the point where he got it. He came down out of the elite bubble, the Davos Smug-Cloud and really understood how badly life could suck down here on Earth. Down here in Amerika. It was when the FBI leaned on him to give them a backdoor code to allow them unfettered access to Apple’s iPhone products that he finally learned what it was like to spend a day being a regular human being under the power of an oppressive “people-powered” government like INGSOC.
Our FBI is attempting to hack an iPhone that belonged to one of the terrorists who shot up the San Bernardino Christmas Party this past December. They’ve got their smart guys, the real Harvard Men; measuring every physical dimension of the iPhone with their laser micrometers and their slide-rules. It was all going well and the investigation was making progress! But the iPhone then asked for a password so the whole electronic phase of things where they piece together what phone numbers the terrorist called has kind of stalled out.
So it now becomes Tim Cook’s patriotic duty as an Amerikan to fork over code that will allow Wile E Coyote Supra-Genus to instantly access any password protected iPhone through physical means or Wi-Fi with or without the user’s knowledge or permission.
At this juncture, one can imagine Tim Cook as an NFL head coach on the sideline. He has just watched his multi-million dollar franchise get jobbed out of a potential game-clinching touchdown by one of the worst officiating mistakes he has ever seen in his life. He stands there somewhat aghast and asks himself a vital epistemological question. Perhaps he phrases it like this: “Did I really just f*&^%$# see that?!”
Upon convincing himself to that he really did f*&^%@# see that, his face turns a rather unhealthy purplish-orange color. His blood pressure could get a moon rocket fifty feet off the launching pad. He rummages in the back pocket of his Bike Coaches’ Pants and dramatically tosses his Red Bullsh!t flag onto the field to demand a replay challenge of the offending call. Kevin Williamson at NRO gives us the broader extended rant that occurs after CBS Sports quickly pans the camera away before six-year old kids accomplish too much lip-reading.
Yes, of course we’d like to have some prosecutions and convictions in the San Bernardino case, inasmuch as it is clear that the jihadists there did not act without some assistance. And, yes, there probably is some useful information to be had from that iPhone. But there is something deeply unseemly about a gigantic and gigantically powerful national-security apparatus’s being stymied by ordinary consumer electronics and then putting a gun to the head of Apple executives and demanding that they do Uncle Stupid’s job for him. You know what would be better than prosecuting those who helped the San Bernardino jihadists? Stopping them, i.e., for the Men in Black to do their goddamned jobs. An arranged marriage to a Pakistani woman who spent years doing . . . something . . . in Saudi Arabia? Those two murderous misfits had more red flags on them than Bernie Sanders’s front yard on May Day, and the best minds in American law enforcement and intelligence did precisely squat to stop their rampage. Having failed to do its job, the federal government now seeks even more power — the power to compel Apple to write code rendering the security measures in its products useless — as a reward for its failure.
One can imagine Coach Cook at a post-game press conference after his disappointing loss. He is now trying to patiently explain to the media what he really meant by all the nasty and unrepeatable things he said during what we’ll politely describe as a loss of sideline demeanor. He politely suggests that such a software code does not exist and is “too dangerous to create” because it could fall into Hillary Clinton’s toilet Internet-server, oops; I mean the wrong hands. This is a far better PR strategy than giving in to his baser desires, snapping off some beat reporter’s geeky, little head and driving a nice pile of steaming feces down that tosser’s pathetic, bloody stump of a neck. A careful observer can notice that Coach Cook’s hands shake to an unsettling degree while he struggles to maintain a calm and soothing tone of voice. Now is not the time to ask Coach Cook about the playoffs.
In conclusion, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shown what Earnest Hemmingway described as the true measure of a worthy man. Unlike the fictional Coach Cook described above, he has displayed grace under pressure. He properly and exquisitely dealt with the outrage he must have felt when he was strong-armed by our desperate, incompetent excuse for a government. It has been said by many that all of us are Conservatives about the things we truly care for and cherish. Attempting to jack Apple’s intellectual property, at least for the nonce, brought forth an impressive streak of small-government, libertarian conservatism from one of Amerika’s most conspicuously SJW CEOs. I congratulate Mr. Cook on his quantum of enlightenment. I hope that it causes him to reevaluate some of his decisions and lead his particular corner of America to a far better place in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Wilkinson has an excellent article about the Apple debacle which is coming up in the future, but it makes sense to clarify the technical issues first. Vox has an article which describes the technical challenges in this issue:
But the fact that we don’t know how to make an encryption algorithm that can be compromised only by law enforcement doesn’t imply that we don’t know how to make a technology product that can be unlocked only by law enforcement.
The fight over the iPhone’s encryption is not really a fight about encryption. Backdooring encryption is a bad idea because if the bad guys find the backdoor, there is no way to protect any of the encrypted traffic. But we have a workaround: We The People can command Apple to put a backdoor into the operating system that allows us to control specific phones.
That is what this fight is about. Can a government compel a private company to modify its products so that at government request, specific units can be compromised?
Legally, the answer is yes, of course. If the people vote for such a thing, it can be done. If there are civil rights or human rights objections, the answer will always be that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, a concept I find problematic because it assumes the equality of people as if we could be weighed by the pound and our value thereby determined.
In realistic thinking of course the answer is no. The real issue here is far from the question of iPhones or governments. If we drill down to the core of this fight, it is thus: government cannot substitute for culture.
You will never have enough cops, judges, lawyers and spies to control a population. You would need not just a true panopticon, where every act was visible, but an observed panopticon where a wise and alert cop watched every act all the time. Only then do you have safety; but even then, there are many points of failure.
Those of us who want a Restoration point out that you either have a society of good people or the bad people win. There are no grey areas and no middle ground. People must police themselves. When your culture rewards good behavior and is intolerant of bad, terrorists and other crazies can have no place in your society. This works far better than police enforcement and spying on people through their phones.
Our people hang on to one thing above all else: our economy with its technology will save us. This is why we live so long, have such comforts, and are wealthy. They do not want to face the obvious fact that our industry is oversold because it produces little of actual value, and exists on hype value alone.
Like dying civilizations, dying businesses go into a final period where people exist simply to milk the wealth of the past. They started with a useful product, but then the bloat got to them as it does in every human venture. The Crowd simply tears them apart with many demands: public image, hyping stock value, regulations, hiring enough people and making the right political statements. This reveals an inherent flaw in the democratic model from a business standpoint.
As a result, they stop improving their product in vital ways — in part from fear of disrupting what they know works — and instead start making many discoordinated tiny “improvements” which because they do not come from a singular focus and plan, actually make the product worse. At the same time, since their market is not expanding, they find ways to reduce cost so their new wider margins can take over the profit creation that they formerly received from an expanding market. This is why over time every product gets cheaper and more ornate, but does less well.
Right now, it seems like our internet wunderkind — Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon — are on top of the world. Millennials love their products and use them regularly. Their stocks trade highly. But as with all markets, the price is set by what people are willing to pay for something, and if that is based on illusion, it stays strong until right before it collapses.
Google has some obvious weaknesses. Its ad revenue per page has been declining for years because the internet is now coated in ads, and very few people on the internet actually buy anything. This has caused sites to become clickbait in order to draw in enough traffic to get a decent income from the lower-paying ads they now run; this in turn causes a concentration of traffic on relatively few sites. That puts us right back in the place where we were with old media where six big companies ran the show, and this has decreased the value of the internet as a news source.
Facebook wallows in weakness as well. It has tons of users because people can access it from at phones or on the job. The problem is that these people, beyond a few product categories, do not represent consumers. They are there to screw around. As a result, while Facebook and other social media have many users, they do not have many buyers. It’s not even clear that ads on these sites attract eyes from people who want to buy the products, which is why the ads are getting more random and more frequent, becoming a genteel form of spam. Twitter suffers the same problem.
Amazon similarly seems healthy on the outside but has deep problems within. It has a captive audience of millennials who buy products through it, but no longer has the advantage of being tax-free or even cheap. It is relying on convenience alone to sell products, and thus like many trends, it is running its course. Its improvements have essentially made it into a less unruly eBay, since it now has thousands of merchants and millions of individuals selling used products, but its market remains mostly entertainment products. As those wane, so does Amazon.
We have all heard of the miracle of Apple, but this is a company with a long history of having one good idea per decade and then declining growth. This occurs because the Apple model is based on hype: getting a whole bunch of people excited to spend credit and welfare money on trendy products. Over time, these products decline in cost and quality and the excitement moves on, as it did with the Macintosh in the 90s and the aging Apple PCs in the late 80s.
All of these products exist in cycles of hype. The cell phone was the “next big thing,” so the entirely industry reconfigured itself around selling apps and online games. But hype dies as its newness fades and its utility becomes revealed as relatively low. Government pumps the economy by dumping money on the theoretically impoverished, who can be counted on to spend it on gadgets and entertainment as the last sixty years of welfare spending show. This keeps the hype alive, but also makes these companies fragile.
Companies with declining futures tend to change audiences. In America and Europe, new products gain acceptance when the more cutting-edge users in the upper half of the middle classes adopt them. This group values its time intensely, and so is also the first to move on to what it perceives as better technologies or simply to flee from dying technologies. At that point, businesses try to find a new and easier-to-acquire audience, and so start moving down the socioeconomic ladder. This is how MySpace went from a place filled with college students to one cluttered with older people, and finally, became the general public and drove out the power users and upper half of middle class people. It is easier to acquire less discerning audiences, but it marks a decline in the product because less discerning buyers have less loyalty to brand and cannot be counted on to make the kind of analytical buying choices that advertising targets.
For these firms to get ahead, they would have to markedly improve their products. There’s not much chance of that once a company employs tens of thousands. Instead, they spread out and expand into as many areas as possible, adulterating their original focus.
The last two decades have shown America and Europe increasingly reliant on this technology-hype-welfare cycle. It has also been used to justify importing more H1-B labor, despite the fact that programming “by the pound” contributes to the bloat. Like our dying societies, these firms are built on hype and cannot improve, and instead keep the illusion afloat however they have to, knowing that someday — coming sooner than ever before — a collapse will take them into darkness.
In a society driven by commerce, we are expected to distinguish ourselves by what products we buy. Some products, while claiming to be the antithesis of this plastic culture, in fact enforce it by equating themselves with an identity. Clearly, the classic example is a car, but there’s a more mundane example closer to home: a Macintosh computer.
For over twenty years, Apple Computer has marketed its machines as “superior” with questionable data to support that assertion. They have never attempted to resolve this disparity, as all that is required of them is that they convince the roughly one in twenty computer users out there that Macintosh is a brand overlooked by a global conspiracy toward boredom. The user, usually an egodramatic sort, finds this type of thinking fits into her worldview: the great Right-wing conspiracy in Washington denies the unprivileged, the boring corporate machine denies individuality, most people never see the simple profundity of movies like “Save the Last Dance,” and so on. This person has succumbed to an intricate form of pity in which, by pitying themselves, they are required to think that the world denies all quality, and therefore, they look for “quality” in the minority options of any decision-making process.
Back when Apple made machines based around Western Design, Inc’s 6502 processors, they portrayed IBM who, if you can believe it, was the leading computer maker of that time, as the big bag guys in ugly suits who wanted you to have a boring, tedious experience. Never mind that IBM’s operating system could do many things Apple could not, and that their machines were faster and not that much more expensive (after a few years: substantially less expensive). Apple wanted to market their computers as “unique,” which was a way of avoiding direct competition with IBM.
When the Macintosh came out, Apple ran a series of “1984” ads that portrayed Mac users as the “freedom fighters” (gosh, sounds like something the Bush administration would say!) rebelling against the evil and stupid empire of Big Brother. The idea was that if you bought a machine with a visual interface, you would be fighting back against the tedium. Oddly, the fact was that the Mac was far more expensive than the other machines available at the time, and it was already round two of Apple’s attempts to make such a machine, having already failed with the $10,000 Lisa. Oh, and did we mention that GUIs – graphical user interfaces – were actually common at the time, having been invented by Xerox PARC almost ten years earlier. Does anyone remember GEOS for the 6502 machines? Or X windows? Yes, well.
Apple kept the propaganda machine churning, and they live by it to this day, selling machines that are three to four times the cost of equivalent PCs to a devoted userbase. Even more grotesque, these machines cannot be sanely upgraded (general upgrade price between computer lines: $1500 per two years) and thus result in giant mountains of landfill because unlike a PC, a five-year-old Macintosh is just about useless because all the software etc has been upgraded and is now inaccessible to it. These are $2,000 machines, mind you.
Currently, if you go to look at computers, you will see two major options: any number of PC clones, and a series of Apple machines that look better and have a much fancier interface. Thanks to technology borrowed from Steve Jobs’ other company, NeXT, which went bankrupt after a series of bad business decisions, the new Apple machines even have a decent underlying operating system, OS X. The only problem is that the interface does not match the machine, and therefore, like Macs for time immemorial, much of what you need to do is hidden behind cryptic layers of first visual and then textual interface.
Apple, of course, will tell you how much superior their machines are, from physical plant onward. This is nothing new. They insisted the 68000 processor delivered more power than an equivalent Pentium, but soon that was not true, and they switched to the Power PC, while claiming the same thing. Recently, they’ve switched to Intel, mainly because they cannot get the superior power they’ve been claiming for years out of the Power PC chip. Few have asked them, but it’s pretty obvious that Apple was lying for all those years of statistics that put them ahead of PCs. Even more, it’s obvious much of their propaganda had a dodgy origin, including their dubious claim that using Macs made users more efficient. When one looks carefully at any Apple statistics, one finds a reek of bad science: when testing equivalent machines, the Apple box uses custom software and installations, and the PC box uses the most blockhead generic installation and software possible. There is no pretense of fairness, but Apple doesn’t need it, because their company does not sell products based on their superiority, all rhetoric aside. They sell them as an identity.
If you buy an Apple, the ads claim, you have automatically (for ticket price $2,000) entered the small elite group who actually know What’s Up, and therefore buy the hidden superior product instead of the blockhead machines everyone else carries home. Even more, there’s a whole agenda associated with Apple. If you buy an Apple, you support “expressing yourself” and “personal freedom” and being artistic. Thanks to their ads, you may even be supporting your right to be stoned, or to be gay (this is the company that had the rainbow logo, remember?). It’s a wonderful, wonderful pluralistic world with Apple, mainly because when you buy an Apple, it’s all about you.
And this is what sells computers for them. Clearly their userbase does not care if they are superior; they want the identity. Most people are fine with PCs, because recent versions of Windows are quite solid and run on a range of hardware, giving one quite a few options. Further, most people don’t actually care how great the GUI on the machine is, because they only need it for a few functions – and most of what Apple adds to their GUI does not make those functions easier, it only makes them more obvious. It’s like increasing the font size on streetsigns and using very simple words. It’s the computer for those who fear computers. When they have something of reasonable quality, they claim the world of it, but they also do the same when their machines cannot even compete. How would one ever trust such a company?
The answer is that one doesn’t trust, but like a drug addict, one needs one’s ego fix. The modern citizen is without cultural context, or really anything they would be willing to die for, as far as beliefs go. They’ll vote for whatever makes them feel better about themselves, usually through the mechanism of generosity and pity. They’ll buy things that make them feel like they are somehow different than all the other people who bought the same product. Isn’t it wonderful, to think that because of a mathematically unique combination of bathroom and home furnishing products, you, too, are an “individual” like the rest! These people do not derive individuality, as once was done, from actions or creativity, but from the process of “different” arrangements of familiar objects. In that case, I know a sure way to be the most individual: be insane, because you’ll never use anything for its actual purpose!
Apple likes to tell you that they’re the alternative to Big Brother, but really, they are Big Brother. What the powers that be do is manipulate you into thinking you’re unique, worrying about pity, thinking about anything but reality; this lets them run the show behind the scenes while you’re distracted. Furthermore, they convince you that somewhere in this society there is some other group which is naturally given more than you, and thus in the cosmic balance of good ‘n’ evil, you are “owed” something by them and must take revenge upon them. This is the mentality of not only Apple Computers, but George Bush’s neocons, Marxists, corporate marketers, drug dealers and pedophiles everywhere. It is manipulative. You either stand against this, by looking critically at it and seeing what it actually is, or you join the mass revolt procession toward oblivion that currently grips our society. Apple is part of this deathmarch, and if your soul is so weak that you need something external to ratify your self-worth, they’ll gladly sell it to you with soothing words and endless distractions.
Those who follow the computer industry probably allowed themselves a grin over Apple Computer’s announcement last week that it would be henceforth manufacturing machines based on Intel’s pentium processors. While the hypnotized zombies who believe every word of Apple’s press releases continue to insist otherwise, this is the death knell for Apple as a hardware manufacturer. It may take years, or even decades, but Apple is now on the slippery slope of gradually eroding market share and will soon be known for selling iPods and software.
The reasons for this are not as straightforward as they would seem. It is not that Apple will now be in the clutches of the evil Windows-Intel hierarchy, nor that Apple will now be forced to bring its machines down to the supposedly mediocre standards of PCs. Like most modern dilemmas, this one is simple once one strips away the layers of dogma and socially-reinforced assumptions: Apple will cease to exist as a computer hardware maker because there is no longer any reason to buy Apples.
For the last twenty-one years, Apple has marketed itself as the alternative to corporate dominance of computing. Don’t let the suits take over, warned the Apple ads, buy the machine that creative people love. With this assumption comes a raft of other ideas which cluster around the concept of buying a machine as an identity, “creative person,” instead of for sheerly technical reasons. The mythos goes as such: creative people don’t have time for technical annoyances, not being those dead-in-the-forebrain suited types, and thus they prefer a more dramatic, emotional, social computer maker.
This identity remains popular with certain segments of the world because it allows them to think of themselves as not-evil, where evil is the grey suited ones, and thus to build a self-image around their choice of machine. Once one makes that association, it becomes necessary to defend it, often by bending logic. Windows machines are only faster when you use the fascist-approved industry standard benchmarks, and Windows machines are only cheaper because they’re part of the great Intel conspiracy. If you don’t like this corporate fascism, you can always buy Apple, which is the great alternative.
Apple did well, until it reversed itself in several fundamental ways. First, it did go corporate, and left behind the idea of the happy friendly creative computer, marketing itself instead in terms of raw speed and power. This put it on an equal footing to the corporates, and changed its audience from the computer-savvy who were sick of tedious interfaces, to the computer-alienated whose main outlook was one of fear, and needing an excuse (“I’m a creative person, not a grey suited technical type”) to justify that isolation. Then, after years of claiming its software was superior, Apple switched to that ancient and archaic system of UNIX, installing its interface into it.
These two moves essentially left Apple as a corporate company whose marketing was different, not its practices or products. While its internal neurosis – the CEOs who fought, the business plan that changed five times a year, the fractious divisions that could rarely cooperate – had always been a downside, now it had been brought into Apple’s public face. Add to this the customers who got tired of years of fancy-looking equipment that often worked poorly, or required parts so nonstandard the expense and rarity of them created as much downtime as the arcana of CP/M had in its day, not to mention those $1500 upgrades after a year of machine ownership to keep it “current,” and the grounds for a palpable shift in userbase could be felt.
Now comes the latest, where Apple, after years of calling Intel and Windows a conspiracy by stodgy corporate types to make computing obscure, has decided to use Intel chips. At this point, for a consumer to use Apple, they have to decide that a technically identical but far cheaper Windows machine bundled with the rock-solid and user-friendly Windows XP OS is too difficult, and must also decide that installing increasingly user-friendly UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems is not worth saving a thousand or more on hardware costs (note that where Apple was most competitive was in its laptop machines, in which the gap between comparable Windows boxes was narrower).
In short, at this point, Apple stands revealed as (1) a pretty interface and (2) a pretty pretense of being something “progressive” and “creative” where really, it’s the same old neurotic corporate committee-driven lack of vision dressed up in anything other than a suit. It’s like a banker in a Hawaiian shirt, or a cop wearing a jogging suit and bling-bling: another subterfuge, in a nation that is increasingly accustomed to and sick to death of such things. Further, Apple has revealed itself much as Communism slowly revealed itself to be, in the guise of “empowering the people,” the exact opposite, and in fact more dangerous than the alternative, because unlike the other empires of the world it did seek world domination and a single central authority whose inefficiency would bleed the people dry.
To put it in other terms, Apple’s business model is as follows. The one true computer company, surrounded by droids, will forge ahead and sell you the only possible deliverance from droid-dom, but you must return to the mothership in order to get your fix and be validated as a creative type and not a droid. Further, only they decide who is or isn’t a droid, and therefore you must play exclusively by their rules. Finally, they’ve instilled a political outlook to the functional process of computing, where you no longer seek the best but the most dogma-compatible outcome. Where Hitler wanted Germany, and Mussolini wanted Italy, Apple like the Soviet Union wants all of Europe, and wants to bend it all to a single “enlightened” standard.
But this standard, no matter how “progressive” it seems, requires absolute obedience and a limiting rather than proliferation of choices. Think how the PC industry works: you can buy a $50 motherboard or a $250 one, with a corresponding range of function to each. Your standard cheap-ass Dell or HP might be a piece of junk, but if you have the foresight to squeeze a few more months out of the old machine, you can pony up an additional $500 and get a far better unit that will not only last longer but work better. Alienware, for example, has made a solid business out of selling high performance machines designed for gamers to a corporate audience. Interestingly, this model is closest to the old Apple theory: build a better unit and you spend less time fiddling with the recalcitrant computer, and more time using it to do great things.
Where the Wintel world was like a coral reef, or a basic superstructure onto which many companies and different grades of computing power could grow, Apple was like Jesus Christ: all salvation must be had through me, and please be sure to ignore reality, because salvation in the next world (“creative” heaven) is more important than function in this one. The PC world allowed natural growth, where Apple insisted – all with good intentions, of course, of course – on allegiance to a single path. As a result, PCs developed in parallel and outpaced Apple radically, forcing Apple to compromise its basic vision by becoming another corporation with an expensive logo. It’s as if Ralph Lauren suddenly contrast Hanes Beefy T to make its shirts, and used silk-screening for the famous “gay Englishman on horse” logo.
The example of Apple Computer is important because it mirrors the political growth of the West in the last 2,000 years. Nature was seen as the big corporate enemy, because it was only function devoid of convenience of a morality of saving each and every sorry little ass out there; nature was red in truth and claw, and often incovenient, involving bowel movements and slow deaths from gruesome disease. The “progressive” mindset alleged an imminent utopia if we just began thinking of individual humans as more holy than any collective task, and most of all, more divine than nature itself; it created a fantasy world where only the progressive ideology led to the one narrow path to spiritual victory.
As a consequence, the world spilled out in great initial growth, expanding recklessly by empowering every individual to be “creative” through the innovation of not applying any standard of reality to their desires. Wish to be wasteful, or live a degenerate life? Well, it’s your right, God bless you. We won’t judge. This populist vision pitted the drama queen in each of us against the corporate stodge of conservatism, or doing things as they’ve been proven to work for the generalized best, and made each who took it on feel special, almost holy, for bringing that one point of light into a dark world. It’s a feel-good, us-versus-the-ignorance viewpoint that’s hard to argue down, since it bases itself on personal choice and not any kind of practicality.
However, much as the computer market has changed, the political situation has changed, and with the rise of Political Correctness, the softened leftism of wealthy countries in North America and Europe was seen for what it really was: the same obsessive desire for power, for justification (“I’m a creative person, not one of those boring grey-suited conservative types”) and for revenge that Communism was, with the same disastrous results awaiting, albeit on a longer scale as leftism is less dynamically violent than Communism. But disaster waits none the less. Leftism shows us one path that will only be happy with world domination, and then will turn on itself; while modern “conservatism” is basically conservative-flavored leftism (as Apple is now creative-flavored corporate stodge), the systems of organizing civilization that existed before this split were more like PCs: there was no equality among motherboards, but sensible choices were rewarded, moving the best people up in rank.
Apple’s Stalingrad has been one of those seemingly happy stories about the little guy who somehow held out against the evil empire. If you listen to Apple propaganda, Apple is something we should all try to emulate, a beacon of individualism and creativity standing up bravely against the drudgery and authoritarian power. It is not dissimilar to the rhetoric of the Democratic party, which portrays itself as a champion of the little guy, the lone individual, against the encroaching power of Republic Christian dogma (while not noting, of course, that Christian dogma and liberal dogma are terrifyingly similar).
While clearly this metaphor seems strained, it’s interesting to note how accurate it is on the whole. As we watch Apple slowly sink into becoming yet another Intel computer manufactuer, it will be gratifying to watch leftism (including conservatism) descend to the same autumnal state, the threshold before the door to oblivion. In this basic division between the one right path away from nature, and the natural path applied as rightly as each can see, there’s a lesson for our future, should we choose to heed it.