Above: Jeff Bezos, Sociopath
Everyone is talking about the big Amazon story in the Times today. This should be an open thread for that. I don’t have a whole lot to add, as the story speaks for itself. A couple of quick points.
1. People often praise these new tech leaders as heroes. Mostly they are sociopaths. That was the case with Steve Jobs and it is certainly the case with Jeff Bezos. These are terrible, awful human beings. It’s not necessarily so different from John D. Rockefeller and Henry Clay Frick, but we need to stop thinking of these people as heroes. Bezos has created a culture of 24-hour devotion to him and his company that kicks people with kids or who have cancer to curb for those truly committed to him. This is a sign of a tremendously evil person.
2. Internal Amazon culture, with its constant self-criticism and elimination of those above and below you reminds me of nothing so much as the Cultural Revolution. That’s not a good thing. It’s probably not sustainable in the long-run either, but so long as Bezos controls everything, it will remain. That this story comes out while other tech companies are creating more benefits for mid-level workers shows that if there are other options, workers are likely to take it.
3. That so many workers are not only willing to put up with this sort of treatment but actually revel and want it shows how far so many of us have gone in accepting the extremist corporate culture of the New Gilded Age that demands complete devotion to the employer. The entire culture around disruption and innovation is really a conversation about destroying other people’s lives for profit and that isn’t going to happen without an almost religious faith in the corporate culture of these companies.
4. Relatedly, what these people actually need is a union, or some other employee organization if they can’t unionize that would represent collective disgruntlement. But even for the most exploited of these workers, not only would I be shocked if they supported such a thing, but I think it would be anathema to them, even after experiencing the incredible exploitation of the Amazon workplace.