Monday, February 7, 2011

Selling Out

What does it mean when people accuse other people of this?  Usually it is a mix between these overlapping claims:

a) You're propelled by an intent to make money

b) You no longer care about values

c) You no longer care about me (because of what we shared)

d) You are going to work for a corporation or the government.

So, do any of these make sense?

Well, the idea that money and values are exclusive to each other is a dubious one, though it goes right to the core of what we believe selling out might be (I think).  Consider, though, that corporations respond to, and create, demand for items.  We know what they're after: profit.  Not revenge, or psychological warfare.  Consider further that to maximize anything but the shortest profit, corporations should consider how their products affect consumers.  More directly, corporations care about the commons so long as a) they can still make money from their products because there's a place to utilize the product, and b) that the time frame is long enough out to consider in a business decision and c) that caring is a pre-requisite to selling items because people look for clues that a corporation cares (think charity).

Also consider that consumers care much more about appealing to norms around equality when they're confronted with an audience, even a perceived one.

I read a book recently, I'll have to find it--a it was this one:

Consider a number of environmental activists at a rally.  The speaker says: are you willing to get arrested for the environment?  The audience yells back, yeah!  The speaker says: are you willing to go to jail for the environment? The audience yells back, yah!  Then the speaker says: are you willing to cut your hair, take a shower, don a suit and go to law or business school for the environment?  The answer: silence.The point is this: adhering to group norms is more highly valued than the professed topic of conversation, or rally, etc.  Selling out means that you aid the universal wrong, the most evident evil, or the professed malicious intent.  To the point, and maybe I'm wrong, but a lot of our highest values are accomplished when we're alone.

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