Earlier today, one of the hipper Silly Con Valley companies decided to blow its own dick off. Basecamp decided that employees were no longer welcome to make a big deal about diversity or inclusion or “wokeness” and offered a severance to anyone who didn’t like it, and lo and behold, a third of their staff – including the head of design, the head of marketing, the head of customer support, the entire iOS team and the entire Rails dev team – took them up on it. Which must smart, especially since the remaining two-thirds are probably going to look around and think whether it’s worth passing up six months severance to stay at a mortally wounded company.
The founders had made much in recent months of fighting back against Apple and their 30% cut in the App Store (leading one wag to say of the departures “you know how much they hate to give up 30% of anything”), in order to sell their invitation-only $100/year filter service disguised as “we fixed email.” Yet another self-inflicted wound of hubris in this valley, of the same variety as the guy in Florida who thought he could pay for sex with a minor on Venmo without issues. Who is himself of a piece with the bitcoin bros, the Slate Star Codex circle jerks, the Spartan obsessives, the gun suckers, the Gamergaters with the anime pillows they don’t wank to, all manner of QAnon nutters and status quo warriors…
I wrote a while back that God is the name for the handles we bolt onto the idea that nobody is above an ass-whooping. If you go through the people above, the common thread that links everything is freedom from consequence, the notion that accountability is for lesser beings than your CEO-Navy SEAL-white man self. It’s the Randian ethos, laundered through a weaponized flavor of the Southern Baptist belief that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God – grace and forgiveness become self-granted, you are always justified, and you get a healthy dose of Confederate-grade toxic masculinity and performative redneckery into the bargain.
Much like in the UK, where Remain/Leave on Brexit broke the traditional political alignment, or in Northern Ireland where religion and nationalism are starting to falter as signifiers and no longer reflect the Good Friday Agreement era’s guidelines, we are entering a world where ostensible enemies like “big tech” and “Real America” are actually driven by the same thing: the absence of accountability and the belief that the things you have done will never come back to hold you responsible.
You wonder if the two founders of Basecamp believe in this vision of God. Probably not. But rest assured, this God believes in them, and His hand was visible today. Mostly the middle finger.