Ever since I first encountered the world of business, even from schoolboy dealings with coins and chocolate bars, it made me feel extremely uneasy. Through the passing years my discomfort has slowly transformed itself into a solid loathing for everything even vaguely associated with the term “business”.
To me, business is the art of squeezing money out of something by crushing it until any creativity, humanity and beauty within has been turned to dust. Frequently there is no money to be had in the first place and so the destruction is pointless, except to help power the unrelenting business machine. Despite being created by humans, businesses are inhuman creations that behave like sociopathic monsters. This simile is explored in detail by the film The Corporation. Actually, rather than read my pathetic attempts at spelling something out that to me seems self evident, spare six minutes and watch George Carlin’s masterful description of the ruthless nature of business which not only sums it up but somehow manages to make it funny.
So there’s that. But then there’s the problem that the only way to be taken seriously in this society is to play the business game. At my age, being a techie isn’t really on unless you can bring something really special to the table. I can’t, but I’m persistent and have enough experience to blag my way through technical quagmires by fixing things that can only be fixed by obscure tricks picked up through the years. As a result, I’m still bottom of the ladder but in demand and pretty happy about it. The only fear is that it can’t last: why would someone want an elderly developer, who requires a great deal of sleep and AFK time, rather than a fresh-faced college gobshite who will happily work themselves to death for the tech-glory?
By now I should be managing a team and spending my life in the bizarre rituals and ceremonies of business protocol whilst communicating exclusively with phrases taken from the latest edition of the newspeak business dictionary. But I can’t. Physically, I can’t do it. Every time I attempt to get involved I just feel an overwhelming nausea that disgusts me. Every minute spent talking about the work we should be doing, but aren’t, because we’re talking about it, hurts. I’m not talking about planning, or practical discussions about how to attack the work – it’s the stuff that goes on in the rest of the business side that I can’t abide.
From the outside, the business side of any company looks like a continuous round of closed doors, behind which are endless people-hours of worthless discussions that result in nothing but the occasional egress of weary-looking people who claim to have been put under pressure “from above”. Infrequently, but frequently enough to be a perpetual nuisance, a decision is made during one of these meetings that involves we outsiders performing a task that is apparently the most urgent, high-priority thing in our to-do lists, and we are asked to ignore everything else until this task is completed. Obviously, our to-do lists are comprised of the previous outputs from previous meetings which were, at the time, the most urgent, highest priority things. Additionally, the new tasks are invariably born from terrible ideas, that totally invalidate other tasks on which we have been working. This goes on forever until someone dies, or the company goes bankrupt or gets sold.
How any of this makes money is the biggest mystery of all, but somehow it does. It seems that as long as you perform these rituals, the money just appears. How does talking bollocks produce money? There’s nothing about that in Marx or Keynes is there? I just don’t understand any of it.