This excerpt was published in The New York Post:
I used to work not far from a temple in New Delhi dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey-faced Hindu deity who is the patron of the capital city — a 108-foot-tall statue of him looms over the Jhandewalan metro station.
Monkeys are a problem. Basically, you can’t screw with a monkey in Delhi, for religious and civic reasons, so there’s a plague of the things all over the city but especially in the temple precincts. They are basically high-IQ New York subway rats with opposable thumbs. It’s not good.
The pilgrims come to seek Hanuman’s blessing, and they feed the monkeys — feeding the plague. The amateurs bring them bananas and fruit and such, but the real pros — the Hanuman-worship insiders — bring the monkeys what they really like: McDonald’s.
They’re lovin’ it.
The monkeys in India are a gigantic pain in the ass and a genuine menace, too: Every now and then, they kill somebody, or maim somebody pretty good.
If you’ve ever been to the monkey house in one of those awful downscale zoos, you know what monkeys — these particular monkeys — are like: They jerk off and fling poo all day, generally using the same hand for both, and they don’t do a hell of a lot else, unless there’s McDonald’s. All day: jerk off, fling poo, jerk off, fling poo, jerk, fling, jerk, fling.
And after about 300,000 years of anatomically modern Homo sapiens, here we are again: monkeys, albeit monkeys with Wi-Fi. You could try being human beings. You could. You could try a little freedom on for size and see how it fits and feels. You aren’t going to. We both know that.
Jerk off, fling poo, jerk off, fling poo, jerk, fling, jerk, fling.
I hate monkeys.
This is their story.
As some of you may know, I worked for about three days at The Atlantic and was quickly fired — not over the one article I wrote but purportedly about some tweets I’d written years before. Or maybe it was about my views on transgender issues and my belief that biological sex is a reality. Or possibly it was a decade-old article on the troubles of East St. Louis. I heard about all of those and more. “What about people’s pronouns?” Oh, the blessed pronouns. This was all old news at the time I was hired, and, if anybody was worried about it, they never asked prior to offering me the job.
But the usual social-justice monkeys on Twitter, abetted by the ones at The New York Times and — more significant — the ones on the staff of The Atlantic itself had a conniption, which the editor and executives of The Atlantic were not prepared to endure. I had a very memorable conversation with Atlantic editor in chief Jeff Goldberg: “The thing that makes you a great writer,” he said, “is also the thing that makes it impossible for you to work here.” I’ve been fired from jobs before, but rarely with so much praise.
The stated goal of having me fired by that August Journalistic Institution was to prevent the sharing of my purportedly wicked views with the reading public. This, of course, was doomed to be a terrible failure: My next two pieces were in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, both of which have substantially larger readerships than does that August Journalistic Institution, and I became a regular columnist for The New York Post, which also is considerably larger in reach.
Everybody involved, except for the deeply stupid and the mentally damaged, knew from the beginning that this was going to be the case. It was just a virtual book-burning that, like an ordinary book-burning, was less about keeping the sentences in the book from being read in other contexts than making a public judgment on the works and their author.
Likewise, the campaign against James Damore, that Google nerd who was fired after being dumb enough to share his opinions with his colleagues when explicitly asked for them, brought his views to many more people than would have seen them without the mob attack. The target was not James Damore — it was the senior management of Google.
Likewise, Justine Sacco’s dumb joke about the white-privilege view of HIV in Africa — you remember #HasJustineLanded — was going to be seen by her 170 Twitter followers, some of whom would cringe at it, and that would have been the end without the ochlocratic convulsion — the target of which was her employer, IAC, not Justine Sacco. If the mob can demonstrate that it can make employers jump — make those corporate monkeys dance to its tune — then it has the power to demand conformity.
As much as the rampant unhinged egoist in me would like it to be otherwise, the fact is: This phenomenon isn’t really about me or about people like me. We are props. Seeing me fired is no doubt a kind of perverse moral perk for the sad specimens who get a jolt out of that sort of thing. But the point of the exercise is to bend the corporation to the will of the mob, repurposing the corporation as an instrument of political and intellectual suppression.
The mobsters would very much like to implement various kinds of censorship through the state and they remain active in that project.
But there are other simpler, more direct means to achieve much of the same goal. It is very difficult to take power in Congress and difficult to exercise that power once it is acquired. The current model is single-serving suppression: Hit targets one at a time until those who have not been hit simply keep ducking from instinct.
The little suppressors will still seek after formal political power, if only to silence the few who are willing to pay the price of speaking their minds and to enjoy the act of humiliating the people they hate by exercising state power over them. But the actual political work of intellectual suppression already will have been done.
Google will do it, along with Facebook, IAC, billionaire dilettantes like Laurene Powell, whose fortune, inherited from her late husband, Steve Jobs, now sustains The Atlantic.
And less august corporations ranging from Starbucks to Chipotle to (I giggle when I type the words) Mojo Burrito. In the first two cases, employees were fired after social-media mob scenes denounced them as racist for simply trying to enforce company policies. In the latter case, employees were theoretically dismissed for having very bad political opinions on their own time, and putting them on display at that white-power rally in Charlottesville, Va. But they were not fired for their political views, nor were they fired for anything they did at work. They were fired because the mob demanded their firings.
The Powers That Be at Mojo Burrito do not quiz potential employees about their political views before hiring them, nor do most businesses of the sort maintain policies regarding the private political, moral or religious beliefs of their employees. It is difficult to imagine anything more comically totalitarian than having the Powers That Be at Mojo Burrito giving their prospects political examinations as a condition of employment. In some cases, it would be illegal for them to do so under current law. Those on the left who are enthusiastic about this kind of thing should imagine being asked these questions in a job interview: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party? A socialist? An atheist? Do you believe in private property and the US Constitution?”
But the Williamsons, Damores and Saccos of the world are almost beside the point.
It is less important to the mob that we be punished for our political speech than that others see the example and never speak in the first place, thereby rendering certain ideas unspeakable in an ever-widening context.
It is not terrorization alone that drives this conformism. The desire to fit in, to be accepted by the people and institutions that one associates with status and with the good life, is natural and to some degree healthy; but as a thousand historical episodes from the Salem witch hunts to female genital mutilation testify, most people will continue to go along to get along even if that means cooperating with evil and horror — and their own intellectual suppression.
It is strange that the very progressives who claim to be most skeptical of and opposed to corporate power wish to give corporations the remarkable power to decide which political views are acceptable in the public square and which may be excluded. Progressives would not trust corporations with that kind of power if they did not believe that they could control them and thus wield that power themselves by proxy.
And they can — and do.
In a few short years, the Internet has gone from “Information wants to be free!” to “Follow the rules blindly!” And this has been treated as an improvement. Of course Facebook and YouTube can be used to publish propaganda, broadcast falsehoods and to coordinate crimes. So can a telephone, but there is no push to have T-Mobile tell us what we can and cannot say over its third-rate network.
Mark Zuckerberg is deeply invested in his social standing and in the high opinion of others. He is manifestly wounded — deeply — by the New York Times-led campaign to declare him and his firm responsible for the election of Donald Trump, the undermining of American democracy, the coarsening of our political culture and institutions and, presumably, genital warts and the lumbago.
Facebook’s efforts in 2017 and 2018 to reconfigure its internal workings have relatively little to do with Russian bots and troll farms — whose influence on the actual outcomes of American elections is almost certainly negligible — and still less to do with patriotism. He does not like being held up as an object of ridicule and scorn and, in spite of his billions of splendid f–k-you money, he does not have the balls to follow through with an actual “F–k you.”
Zuckerberg likes being rich. But he wants to be loved, too. Having the power to mau-mau a technology company or a magazine into firing an employee for holding unpopular political views is of course attractive to the teacup totalitarians who pursue such projects on social media. Bullies like that they do. But the campaign is bigger and wider and deeper than that.
While we are all arguing about what sort of political views justify firing a columnist or a burrito engineer, we implicitly accept the premise that corporations are legitimate venues for the enforcement of political discipline, that policing political thought and political speech is a natural part of the corporate jurisdiction and that using corporations as penal instruments to exclude nonconformists from common life in order to secure the spiritual blessings of intellectual uniformity is not a regrettably necessary social sanction but a positive good, an exercise in affirming our highest values.
There is no need for the left to revolutionize the corporations.
The monkeys shall revolutionize the people.