Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Corporate Leftism

I guess we’re all aware of this not-Onion piece of news:

http://www.unz.com/isteve/starbucks-to-encourage-baristas-to-discuss-race-relations-with-customers/

The original press release is here:

http://news.starbucks.com/news/what-race-together-means-for-starbucks-partners-and-customers

I think the most productive way of thinking about this is asking: what would a Martian think? What are these humans up to?
A second-best option is to put yourself in the place of a 18 year old Chinese high school kid studying for an English exam. He reads this:

“we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”

What does that even mean? “staying silent is not who we are”? Why is a nominalized verb phrase the referent of “who”? And why is that verb the subject of “are”? English very hard mom do I really have to study abroad?

One of the best book of the 20th century was The Selfish Gene, because it gave a good explanation of human behavior in zoologic terms. Sex relations, tit-for-tat. Dawkins got a bit lost on Memetics though. Surely brains don’t get infected just like that. That’s where Haidt, Atran and others are trying to solve the problem. Humans are social; social behavior is complex, but it’s still mechanistic. And that’s why signalling explains so much.

So why is Schultz doing this? Running a bunch of absurd sentence without propositional value on the national press, making all their employees feel awkward, and I guess most of the executives feeling confused.

Either he is:
1- A true believer (whatever that means)
2- He has actual intelligence that this will sell, or at least produce enough attention that will eventually produce higher revenue.
3- Signalling to his wife, his friends, his fellow country club members how holy he is
4- Sending a probe inside his corporate HQ to see how his executives react to his nonsense; and thus appraise their loyalty.

 

Number 4 is the famous story of Zhao Gao, the eunuch in charge of the recently unified Qin empire, who brought a deer to court and asked everyone what they thought of his magnificient horse. Those who didn’t agree it was a horse were summarily executed.

My point here is that our brains have a little module which harbors miniature Chinese eunuchs who throw stupid ideas around just to see how people react. And that’s a reason why people generally dislike high standards of evidence. That’s just no fun. It’s not useful for social life. But absurd ideas and empty speech are very, very useful.

PS: Note how Schultz in the video says: “All our forums have been unscripted, but they’ve all been exactly the same.” No kidding. Now why would that be?

Bonus: Taiwanese animation news on the subject

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10 responses to “Corporate Leftism

  1. Pingback: Corporate Leftism | Neoreactive

  2. thrasymachus33308 March 19, 2015 at 16:22

    The short answer is #3.

    I read his autobiography. He is a very interesting guy. He would seem to be from the last generation of Ashkenazi Jews to grow up poor. He did all the super achiever, bootstraps stuff. Of course with a lot of help from the right people, including Bill Gates Sr.

    He’s insanely rich and has everything, but in his social environment he’s just another billionaire, nobody special. But he has thousands of people and a public stage to play moral posturing with. It gets his name in the paper as a good guy, plus he gets the raw power play of humiliating thousands of people, employees and customers.

  3. Richard Brookes March 19, 2015 at 17:14

    One point of your recent pieces on Mao is surely that #3 and #4 are not mutually exclusive: demonstrating your own loyalty and inviting others to incriminate themselves go hand in hand.

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  7. ascomanni March 27, 2015 at 03:38

    You forgot:
    5) He’s a shallow middle age businessman filled with insecurity over the loss of his youthful virility desperate to look cool and hip for all the young baristas.

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