Bob Cringely writes IT class warfare – It’s not just IBM. The essay embraces the complexity, nuance, and global dimensions of the self-destruction of the IT industry. He writes primarily to speak to the legions of unemployed older and previously well-paid U.S. IT professionals. But the ills discussed don’t just apply to IBM … or the IT industry. As he writes, “It is about the culture of large corporations today, not yesterday.”
Technology has become synonymous with innovation. It’s a growth engine that has transformed business and everyday life and even led to the creative destruction of a few industries. It’s telling when this poster child for capitalism is just another casualty.
Cringely calls it an issue of a new culture. But he refers to the wrong culture. It’s not the state of affairs in the boardroom. He mentions Wall Street number crunchers, CEOs pushing for short-term results, an economic depression. Such business factors, as well as CEOs both ruthless and enlightened, have come and gone over the decades.
The latter half of the 20th century had reached a social balance where the wealthy and their proxy in commerce – large companies – shared power with the government and the people. Economies were strong, workers were empowered, and the middle class thrived in an engine of increasing consumer demand that grew and benefited everyone.
That balance tipped with the rush to a fully free and open marketplace. This is the culture that has changed and created the “corpocracy“, the rise and supremacy of corporations. Externalities, real costs, consumer safeguards, social commitments, and civic responsibilities withered against the onslaught of unchecked capitalism.
The result indeed is class warfare. Under corpocracy the rich got richer and everyone else got poorer. The middle class that drove the economy dried up. Job stability, benefits, pensions, healthcare, and true middle class pay have been eroding the past few decades for IBMers … IT workers … and all Americans.