Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks that “the Apple way” is right out of the old Soviet playbook. In fact, I’m in some fairly distinguished company.
Lawrence Lessig, 1999: “Apple’s response to free speech would make Stalin proud”:
[O]n an Apple-hosted forum … an Apple employee posted a schoolmarmish missive: Apple never promised upgradeability, the employee astutely observed, warning that “additional posts to the thread will be removed, and since the entire thread is off-topic, it will most likely be removed as well.” True to the threat, Apple then deleted the unhappy messages — airbrushing the discontent away with an ease that the Soviets would have envied. …
I do find this corporate response to criticism interesting. We live in a “free-speech” world; our national identity is tied to the ideals of the First Amendment. And yet we treat it as obvious that in corporate space, the Bolsheviks rule. We trust free speech where it doesn’t really matter (politics); we banish it where money is the bottom line (business).
Machiavelli had the right idea: the business world is governed by force, not by virtue. … This is the principle that Apple has always lived by, and kept us coming back for more, in a sick, twisted way. (Think I’m exaggerating? Raise your hand if you love the Mac. Keep your hand raised if you love Apple. I arrest my case.).
I think it was Stalin who stood in front of his men with a live chicken. He then plucked the feathers off that chicken, one by excruciatingly one. When he finished, he then began walking away from the chicken. The dazed chicken amazingly followed Stalin, and even worse, ate out of Stalin’s hands. …
Mark my words. The more successful Apple gets, the crazier Steve will get. It’s a truism. You’ve heard the stories about how an Apple employee can get in the elevator with Steve and find himself fired by the time he reaches ground floor. I’m sure that was when Apple was at its zenith, in all its glory. Also, the converse is true: when Apple reached its nadir, I’m sure Steve was humble, congenial, downright human.
Sam Beckwith, Prague TV, 2005, reviews an exhibit of Soviet art:
The second section, With Lenin For Ever, looks at communism as a pseudo-religion, which means lots of posters of Lenin and Stalin … There’s also an “inspirational” quote from Pravda:
“Should you ever run into difficulties at work, or suddenly doubt your abilities, think of him – of Stalin – and you’ll find the necessary self-confidence. Should you feel tired at a time when a man should not be tired, think of him – of Stalin – and work will become easier. Should you be at a loss as to how you should act, think of him – of Stalin – and your decision will be the right one.”
I intend to apply this to my own life, but substituting Steve Jobs for Stalin.