When my iPhone alerted me to Steve Jobs passing last night, I found myself awash with a profound level of sadness that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t explain it because I didn’t personally know Steve Jobs. My relationship with him didn’t extend beyond my enthusiasm for the products that he brought to market. Products that I absolutely love, by the way. But still, he was the CEO of a company that made stuff that I loved. It felt strange to feel such strong emotions under these circumstances. As I scrolled through social networking sites, I realized that I wasn’t alone. Lots of people were lamenting their seemingly irrational grief over the passing of a complete stranger.
The more I read, the more I realized that my reaction wasn’t “abnormal”. Steve Jobs had an unusual effect on millions of people that he never met. As I read messages of adulation and sadness, it occurred to me that in this time of worldwide disdain for corporate titans, the world was truly mourning the loss of a corporate titan. My G+ stream was filled with equal parts; Steve Jobs tributes, and Occupy Wall Street updates. Many of which were being posted by the same people.
And then I thought about the main stream media coverage (such as it is) of Occupy Wall Street. Most of it consists of dismissing the protesters as “dirty hippies”, or naive, confused children. Many of the derisive comments have been petty, commenting on the way the protesters look. They’re to be dismissed either because they’re unkempt and smelly, or because they’re wearing designer clothes and carrying around Apple products (that was really one criticism on a CNN discussion). Apparently, the media can’t make up their minds about which basis they should be dismissive of the protestors upon. And when the media isn’t derisive about the protests, they’re simply confused about why they’re even happening. They just can’t seem to crack the code of what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about. Seriously?
What does all of this Occupy Wall Street talk have to do with Steve Jobs? Simple; one of the things that opponents of the Occupy Wall Street movements like to say, is that the protesters are “anti-capitalism”. That line always pisses me off to no end. It’s the thinking of either a simpleton, who is incapable of any level of nuanced thinking, or of a hypocrite with an agenda to discredit the opposition.
Nobody is opposed to capitalism. No one. We’re opposed to being financially raped by a system designed to protect our rapists. We’re opposed to the idea of a health insurance CEO getting a $124 million bonus because his company had a banner year of fucking people out of life saving treatments, thereby increasing the company’s profit margin. Health insurance isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation. They’re not making a product that people want, they’re exploiting on the human desire to stay alive. We’re opposed to banks and investment firms making a goddamned fortune by fraudulently jacking up the value of real estate by giving mortgages to millions of people that should never have qualified for loans. That’s not capitalism. That’s fucking fraud.
The world mourns the loss of Steve Jobs at a time when corporations are reviled because Steve Jobs represents capitalism at its best. He created beautiful products that the world wants to buy because they work well. There’s something in it for the consumer. Apple’s approach has always been to entice consumers by making products that are irresistible in their design and performance. I’ve always said that I prefer Apple’s approach to Microsoft’s. Apple lures you in by making a product that you want. Microsoft pushes you into buying their products by making sure that you have to upgrade in order for your shit to keep working. I prefer to be lured rather than pushed because that’s good capitalism.
That’s the kind of capitalism that I can get behind. I want to say to all of the simpletons that accuse me of being anti-capitalist: Don’t worry, I’m fighting for you too, even if you’re too ignorant to fight for yourself.
R.I.P. Steve Jobs. Thanks for all of the good capitalism you brought to the world.