All entries for Friday 25 November 2005

November 25, 2005

squeamishness over warwick boar opinion piece: empty, clichéd and frankly rather scary

Hello whores.

Now, I don't mean for those two opening words to be in anyway disparaging. Ok, actually I did, but I feel I need to clarify my point. Maybe I should start again.

Hello corporate whores.

That's better. It removes the rather nasty taste of a possibly gender-based insult (incorrect, as I use the word "whore" unisexually).

Ok, when I started this I had a point, but I have become sidetracked.

I like to read the Warwick Boar in the same way masochists like to apply burning irons to their genitals. This is not strictly accurate: while a masochist will actually receive pleasure from the pain, I will receive…anger from the anger? This makes no sense, and, coincidentally, neither does the article that I am about to discuss.

Ok, I have still not got onto my point.

Last Tuesday I read an opinion piece in the Boar by one Jennie Holmes. Maybe the alarm bells should have started ringing when I saw the phrase "business student". Maybe the alarm bells should have been klaxoning my head to pieces when I started reading opinion pieces in the Boar, the quality of which can be likened to a drunk penguin with a pen in its beak. But this particular article would have made the penguin commit a Hemingway-style suicide due to the sad realisation that all the genius in the world cannot stop editors in all sections of the media, student or otherwise, from giving cretins the space to write utter bollocks. I would prefer to distance myself from phrases as inelegant as the one I have just used, but I feel it is necessary to make my point: this article was utter bollocks, and was apparently written by a cretin.

A number of points I feel emphasise the level of cretinhood (no, this is not a word) on display:

"Whilst everyone may not aspire to live in a capitalist society, this is very much the nature of our time"

Does this mean that any attempts to alter or improve it must be abandoned? Is the economic structure of society so permanent that any efforts to reform it are futile and should be abandoned pre-inception? Is going to university for reasons other than to maximise one's own earning potential somehow wrong? Am I myself taking a valuable spot that could instead be filled by a future nine-to-fiver at Bains & Ernst? Apologies if I am, but I still labour under the impression that education itself has a value beyond the money it can put in your pocket.

"The people inclined to say that ‘money doesn’t matter’ tend to be those who are having their accommodation paid for and receive a nice weekly allowance from daddy (who works in a big corporation)."

Insulting the "opposition" without any evidence beyond the unverifiable/anecdotal is the first refuge of the terminally clueless. I realise this statement of mine is not entirely free from hypocrisy given that I opened this entry with the phrase "hello whores", but there you go. Yes, there certainly could be a truth behind the assumption that those with the necessary capital might be more inclined to debate the values of capital than those who depend upon the accruement of capital to help aid their own rise from desperate circumstances. But exactly what proportion of Warwick students are free from monetary woes to the extent that considerations of future employment are not pertinent? Are Warwick Socialists a cabal of rich kids who will never do a day's work in their lives. Why have I never met these people? Why are socialists generally drawn from as wide a section of society as numerous other political affiliations? Why did the word "bullshit" cry out in my mind when I read this article? Oh, such cruel, unanswerable questions.

There seems to me to be a fundamental confusion in Ms. Holmes' following statements:

"many students and academics are still afraid of the corporate giants who may use their bones to make their bread"

"people inclined to say that ‘money doesn’t matter’ tend to be those who are having their accommodation paid for and receive a nice weekly allowance from daddy (who works in a big corporation)".

Are we supposed to believe that there is a clear divide between wealthy students who are predominantly anti-capitalist, and less wealthy students who are geared towards bettering themselves via lucrative employment? Is this supposed to be merely a general trend. Or is it, as I suspect, a load of cretinous bollocks?

Regardless, onwards with the quotation:

"We all need money, and these huge businesses are the ones to provide it. Many people turn away corporate opportunities on ethical grounds, but the reality is that ethics don’t tend to pay bills"

Wonderful, any crime I may ever commit has just been justified. Short on cash? Kill a random passer-by and sell his/her possessions. This sound ridiculous? Note that Ms. Holmes does not link ethics with the letter of the law, possibly because these corporations are frequently found to be flouting the law when it suits them. Hey, ethics doesn't pay the bills, so surely it would be a fallacy to assume that obeying the law does as well?

"for the same reasons that many student Lib Dems shift to Labour or Conservative, free-spirited graduates switch to big companies"

I would argue that this isn't "for the same reasons" in the slightest. I think it would be fair to assume that this particular example of cretinology (again, not a word) belongs to either the Conservative or the Labour party, for they seem to associate such a shift in politics as correct in the same manner that they see a shift in business ethics as being correct. Don't agree? Sorry, you're merely a rich kid who'll never work a day in their lives.

"Why shouldn’t the ‘generosity’ of McDonald’s be exploited in the way that the company exploits their workers, taking what they can and benefiting from it, whilst feeling no obligation to uphold corporate commitments."

I don't mean to disparage Ms. Holmes (other than repeatingly calling them a cretin) but I hope their career in business never calls upon them to become involved in the world of advertising in any way. If this was to happen, I fear that their complete inability to understand the basic concept of what an advert is or does would hinder them greatly, to the extent that their employer might ask "what kind of cretin are you"?

I particularly admired the quote marks around "generosity" – it lets the reader know that the author is not quite stupid enough to assume that this is genuine generosity on the part of the corporation, whilst retaining the full force of the fact that the author doesn't appear to understand how sponsorship and advertising works.

"No corporation is perfect, but some are better than others. For example Shell and Esso are widely criticised for ‘unethical’ environmental policies, whilst BP has just launched a massive ‘beyond petroleum’ campaign. They are all selling a product which is destructive to the environment, but BP is doing it in an apparently more ethical and responsible manner."

Hang on, I thought educated students were immune to the effects of advertising? If BP simply says " we are ethical now" does that make them an ethical company in reality? This use of two completely contravening versions of logic in consecutive paragraphs leads me to one of two conclusions: either the author has penned an extremely sly and effective work of satire concerning the ethically dubious career-orientated Warwick student of 2005, or they are incredibly thick.

"Corporations are slowly changing as the consumer changes, as we are becoming more aware, and as CEO’s begin to realise that they can make a larger profit from presenting a ‘caring’ and ‘ethical’ image."

Is such change necessary? The previous paragraph proved that the only change necessary is to put "we are ethical honest" in very large (green) letters, and the modern day prospective employee/consumer will lap it up. Unless the average prospective employee is not, as I am led to believe by this article, as thick as the average housebrick.

Again, the quotation marks lead me to believe that this is in fact a cunning work of satire, that has successfully drawn me in as a sucker to comment upon. Alternatively, the author really doesn't consider genuine ethics to be of any importance. If this is the case, it would reinforce many of the anti-capitalist prejudices held by those nasty socialist kids from extremely wealthy homes.

"Graduates take note: in a corporation the most powerful place to be is at the top. What better position to change corporate values from?"

Well, I would personally argue that the best place to enact change from is not a position which requires an individual to spend twenty or so years in its climate prior to being in a position to enact change. How many politicians have entered on a ticket of reform and left having become thoroughly converted to the culture they once wished to alter? In such circumstances, less time has elapsed than would normally do so in the average businessperson's climb up the corporate ladder. Again two kinds of logic have been used concurrently: whereas previously the logic of "they'll learn that they used to be wrong" was utilised to explain the conversion from Liberal Democrat to Labour/Conservative. Now a contrary logic of "they'll keep their opinions until they can successfully bring them into being" is being employed.

To conclude: prospective corporate employees, enjoy your job at whatever corporation chooses to recruit you. I'm sure you deserve it as much as they deserve you.

scott pilgrim is really awesome

yeah, he is really awesome

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