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Fuck my potential. What about my passion? - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Fuck my potential. What about my passion?
Bill Gates announced last night that he is stepping down as Microsoft's chairman to pursue his other interest: directing the Gates Foundation, his philanthropic organization that has actually done some interesting and useful things along the way.

He made the announcement in front of a big cardboard state setting on which was written the current slogan of MS Business Solutions: "Your potential. Our passion." Reading the newspapers and actually watching the announcement, however, I realized just how deeply creeped out I am by Bill Gates, and I think I finally understood why.

Bill doesn't understand human beings. He views them as units in a production process, and his passion is to get you to do what he wants to the best of your ability. He really doesn't care what you want; indeed, his objective is to seduce you into doing what he wants. Part of his philanthropy is, I'm certain, rooted in humanitarian impulses, but they are to me unpleasant humanitarian impulses: this is not the humanitarianism of respect for your fellow human being, this is the dirgisme humanitarianism of seeing all of those intellectual resources, all those minds that could be doing something useful, instead scrabbling in the dirt for daily survival.

This is why Microsoft is the brutal beast that it is: if your passion is to write software that makes life more free, then it blunts MS's ability to channel your potential into their limited set of chosen outlets. We are the potential, the footsoldiers; Microsoft has the passion and gives the orders.

One newspaper today said of Gate's announcement, "Changing seats, but the mission stays the same: saving the world." That cape doesn't fit Bill very well, though.

I do hope the Gates Foundation does some philanthropic good; it has so far. I just fear that the cost of ongoing business with them is exactly like that of doing ongoing business with Microsoft, and unique organizations will someday find themselves vestigal organs stuck to the Foundation's side.

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Chemical Brothers, The Ultraviolet Catastrophe

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 16th, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
MS Business Solutions actual slogan: "Your money. Our profit."
blackcoat From: blackcoat Date: June 16th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty sure that the Gates Foundation was mostly Melinda's idea.
sierra_nevada From: sierra_nevada Date: June 16th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Elf, have you ever read Accidental Empires?

The chapter on Microsoft is (if I recall correctly) entitled, "Chairman Bill Leads The Happy Workers in Song."

Highly recommended. Ah, and here's someone's precis of it.
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