Yahoo's Marissa Mayer Wants to Dominate
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, won't 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 hasn't 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. It's okay to say that. [Facebook COO Sheryl] Sandberg and Mayer are giving up everything so why can't they ask that of everyone else?
Telecommuting is for people who don't want to give up everything for their company. Mayer doesn't want to work with people like that.
What we have here is dueling 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 -- or the culture -- 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 who want to dominate the culture.
Perhaps it's time to think about a new way to deal with the dominating 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 goodwill 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 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 (mailto:email@example.com) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.